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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In Focus: December 2011

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

Labels: In Focus
This Article Features Photo Zoom
Nikon has introduced its long-anticipated mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras. The two Nikon 1 models offer some interesting features, including the 13.2x8.8mm CX-format CMOS sensor, which has 10.1 megapixels and a 2.7x focal-length factor (a 10mm lens on the new Nikons frames like a 27mm on a 35mm camera). A 73-point advanced hybrid AF system incorporates phase-detection AF sensors on the image sensor and provides contrast AF off the sensor. You also can shoot full-resolution images at 10 fps with adaptive AF or at 60 fps with focus locked. The J1 measures 4.2x2.4x1.2 inches and weighs 8.3 ounces. The V1 is slightly larger and incorporates an eye-level EVF and a Multi-Accessory port that accepts a flash unit, GPS unit or stereo microphone. List Price: $649 (J1 with 10-30mm kit zoom); $899 (V1 with 10-30mm kit zoom). Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.—MS

For creating landscapes that have a handcrafted, almost painterly feel, Lensbaby delivers the perfect way to get your artistic juices flowing. Taking its predecessor, the Composer, a step further, the Composer Pro is constructed of all metal, including the ball-and-focus mechanism, making it more durable. The metal ball lets you aim the sweet spot of focus with smoother and more fluid movements. You can lock down the composition with the locking ring on the base. The ring also adjusts tension to slow movements or free them up. Compatible with a variety of Lensbaby optics, such as Fisheye, Plastic and Single, the lens can deliver a bunch of different looks. It ships with either the Double Glass or Sweet 35 optic installed. List Price: $300 (with Double Glass); $400 (with Sweet 35). Contact: Lensbaby, (877) 536-7222, www.lensbaby.com.—KC
SDXC means Secure Digital Extended Capacity, and PNY's new Professional X Series SDXC cards feature a capacity of 64 GB and Class 10 UHS-1 performance. That means they'll write at up to 30 MB/s and read at up to 60 MB/s—ideal for HD video and high-megapixel still shooting. The rugged cards feature shock protection and RTV silicone coating inside to protect against moisture and humidity, and have been tested at temperatures from -13° F to 185° F (-25° C to 85° C). Note that SDXC cards will work only with SDXC-compatible devices; some cameras and card readers aren't SDXC-compatible. List Price: TBA. Contact: PNY, www.pny.com.—MS
Earlier this year, I interviewed a photographer who created a stunning photo book of a trip he took to Italy, and the pictures were taken with just an iPhone. I asked him if he would continue taking his travel pics with his iPhone or was it a one-time thing. Turns out, he was planning to take the Fujifilm FinePix X100 with him, but the camera didn't make it in time. Now that he's got it, he can't put it down—and you can see why. Features like the throwback, retro looking style, extensive manual controls, built-in lens filters and a large, DSLR-sized sensor are hard to beat. A fast 35mm-equivalent ƒ/2 Fujinon lens lets you take top-notch pictures at fast shutter speeds with a shallow depth of field. Estimated Street Price: $1,200. Contact: Fujifilm, (800) 800-3854, www.fujifilmusa.com.—KC

I got a first look at the excellent Glidecam HD-2000 at this year's NAB show, where I was impressed by how exceedingly fast it was to set up and balance without any tools, especially when compared to many other stabilization systems I've used that can be complicated to configure and take a lot of practice to use correctly. A stabilization system is an absolute necessity when using video-capable DSLRs that are so prone to rolling shutter, also known as "jelly motion," and the HD-2000 is a fine choice at a relatively affordable price. List Price: $499. Contact: Glidecam, (800) 600-2011, www.glidecam.com.—DW
One bane of outdoor photographers is condensation on gear when moving from a cool hotel room or car to a hot, humid locale, or from a cold outdoor scene to a warm car or room. BRNO dri+Caps are camera body and lens caps that contain silica gel to absorb damaging moisture for maintaining an ideal 35% to 45% humidity level and minimizing condensation (and the resulting fungus/mold problems). The orange silica gel turns green when it's time to replace it. Kits are available for Canon or Nikon gear. Each contains an O-ringed camera body cap, an O-ringed rear lens cap and eight packets of silica gel. Estimated Street Price: $44. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.—MS

The Manfrotto 057-series carbon-fiber tripods come in 3- and 4-section versions, with geared or rapid columns. Sturdy and light, they incorporate a leveling bubble. The MT057C3 and MT057C3-G (for geared) feature 3-section legs, measure 24.41 inches collapsed and extend to 52 inches (61.8 inches with center column extended). They can position the camera as low as 8.7 inches, and weigh 6.2 and 6.6 pounds, respectively. The MT057C4 and MT057C4-G measure 26.2 inches collapsed and extend to 70.9 inches (80.7 inches with center column extended). They can position the camera down to 9.1 inches, and weigh 7.7 and 8.2 pounds, respectively. All feature 3 leg-angle adjustments. List Price: $934 (MT057C3 with ballhead); $889 (MT057C3-G); $945 (MT057C4); $1,000 (MT057C4-G). Contact: Manfrotto, (201) 818-9500, www.manfrotto.us.—MS


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