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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Focus: December 2010

Editors' Picks: Our annual look at products that the OP Editors found to be particularly interesting and useful for nature photographers.

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Gitzo Ocean Traveler Tripod
I do the vast majority of my shooting handheld, but there are times when a tripod is essential. When I do need a tripod, I want one that’s steady, not cumbersome, and that can handle being set up wherever necessary. The Gitzo Ocean Traveler features stainless-steel castings to resist rust, Carbon 6X legs for less weight and sturdiness, and special Ocean Locks to keep water and debris out. It weighs 2.7 pounds, supports up to 8.8 pounds and provides heights from 7.7 to 54.7 inches. List Price: $1,299. Contact: Gitzo, (201) 818-9500, www.gitzo.us—MS
Canon PowerShot G12
Taking along a backup camera is always a good idea, and with the Canon PowerShot G12, you get SLR-like features in a compact body. Keeping the full range of shooting and recording modes found in previous models, the 10-megapixel G12 adds 720p HD video capture, a High Dynamic Range scene mode and a control dial on the front of the camera for easily adjusting settings similar to how you would on a DSLR. Other features include a 2.8-inch articulating LCD, a 28-140mm wide-angle zoom (35mm equivalent) and improved low-light performance thanks to the HS System and Hybrid IS technology that compensates for camera shake in multiple directions. List Price: $499. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com. —WP
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2
I love big midrange and high-end DSLRs, but there’s something to be said for a compact, lightweight “mini-DSLR” that’s easier to carry. Panasonic introduced the first mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera, the well-received LUMIX DMC-G1, a few years ago, and generational improvements have made today’s LUMIX DMC-G2 a great device. It has an eye-level electronic viewfinder that permits SLR-style use, plus a tilting/swiveling 3.0-inch LCD monitor with a touch-screen function that allows you to operate the camera without fumbling for buttons and dials. The G2 can shoot 12.1-megapixel still images and HD video, and can use all Micro Four Thirds System lenses (and pretty much any lens for which you can find an adapter). List Price: $799. Contact: Panasonic, (800) 211-PANA, www.panasonic.com. —MS
Nik Software HDR Efex Pro
HDR is about to go through a renaissance, and photographers have Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro largely to thank for it. The high dynamic range processing method combines multiple exposures into a single image that’s able to show far more detail than a camera sensor can capture, all the way from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights. HDR Efex Pro extends the possibilities of HDR imaging further using a simple, but robust interface. Adjustments can be made to the composited exposure, either to the entire image or to localized areas with Nik Software’s U Point technology. List Price: $159. Contact: Nik Software, (888) 284-4085, www.niksoftware.com. —D
Manfrotto 504HD Tripod System
For still photographers who are starting to shoot high-def video, one of the most important tools is a good fluid head tripod system for smooth tilts and pans. Manfrotto introduces the 504HD System, which contains Bridging Technology designed for the latest camcorders, as well as small HD DSLRs. The head somewhat resembles the shape of a bridge and is more rigid to dampen vibrations, yet provides maximum precision and responsiveness. It also has a wider and longer top and sliding plate for more stability for different sized camcorder or still cameras. Another innovative feature is the new variable friction components that allow precise adjustment of the fluidity of every movement and can be fine-tuned to your camera. HD DSLR shooters will definitely make good use of the new Easy-Link Connectors that allow you to mount accessories such as monitors or lights, freeing up the camera’s hot-shoe. Contact: Manfrotto, (201) 818-9500, www.manfrotto.us. —NM
Sony NEX-VG10
With all the attention focused on HD DSLRs for high-def video capture, it was only a matter of time before the camcorder industry would react. Sony’s new NEX-VG10 interchangeable-lens camcorder is the first compact camcorder to contain a large APS-C-sized sensor (titled APS HD), which is almost 20 times larger than typical consumer camcorder-sized sensors. Because of the large sensor, the VG10 delivers cinematic “35mm-like” shallow depth of field. In terms of lens options, the VG10 contains an E-mount that takes Sony’s new E lenses, as well as an adapter (sold separately) that can take A-mount lenses, which includes a variety of Sony G Series and Carl Zeiss lenses. A great feature that you won’t find on an HD DSLR is a high-quality Quad Capsule Spatial Array stereo microphone. If that wasn’t enough, the camcorder can be used to take stills, capturing 14-megapixel JPEGs. List Price: $1,999. Contact: Sony, (877) 865-SONY, www.sonystyle.com. —NM

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