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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Focus: December 2013

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Bundle up and go capture that dramatic light under stormy skies. LensCoat's RainCoat 2 Pro protects your camera from sudden showers, snow, dust, dirt and salty ocean spray so you can concentrate on what's in your viewfinder, not worrying about your gear. Made from lightweight, waterproof poly tricot, the RainCoat 2 Pro is available in several colors, including camouflage options for wildlife photographers, and in two sizes to accommodate your camera and a standard zoom or a larger telephoto lens. Integrated pockets give you easy access to camera and lens controls without compromising protection. List Price: $125. Contact: LensCoat, www.lenscoat.com. —WP
Time-lapses have been a popular subject for nature photographers lately thanks to very high-resolution images that can be strung together to create full HD and even Ultra HD 4K videos if using cameras with more than 4000 pixels in horizontal resolution. The Triggertrap Mobile application is far more capable for time-lapse than a standard intervalometer, offering wired control of features through Apple iOS and Android smart devices. Some of the many modes include numerous options for cable release, extended exposure settings, programmable variable intervals for automatically speeding up or slowing shutter releases over the course of the shoot, timed start and stop durations, vibration sensor, HDR capabilities and much more. The Triggertrap can also be triggered through sound, making it an ideal choice for capturing fast shots of quickly moving wildlife, and a Triggertrap Flash Adapter is available for triggering flashes from your phone rather than a camera. With support for most common camera companies, the Triggertrap Mobile app is free, but it requires an affordable dedicated dongle and cable to communicate with the camera. List Price: Free (Triggertrap Mobile); $31 (Triggertrap Mobile Dongle and cable set); $10 (additional connection cable); $31 (Triggertrap Flash Adapter). Contact: Triggertrap Ltd., triggertrap.com. —DW
The Metabones Speed Booster lens adapters are interesting for several reasons. The Speed Booster name refers to the heightened light transmission that the add-on adapters give attached lenses with an increase to maximum aperture of a complete stop. This gives faster shutter speeds and shallower focusing at the same time that the field of view of the lens is widened by 0.71x, particularly useful for Micro Four Thirds and APS-C cameras where the coverage from wide-angle lenses suffers thanks to the crop factor. Most importantly, lens solutions for mirrorless cameras are still somewhat lacking in focal lengths, and the Speed Booster lines will adapt lenses from different manufacturers to a selection of mirrorless cameras. With adapters supporting Fuji X, Sony NEX, Micro Four Thirds and Nikon E cameras, you can use lenses from ALPA, Canon EF, Contarex, Contax Yashica, Leica R, Nikon G and Sony A-mount. The Sony A-mount to Sony NEX Speed Booster, for example, will let you use Sony's line of DSLR lenses on their NEX line of mirrorless cameras and camcorders, while the Canon EF lens to Sony NEX model allows attachment of Canon lenses. MFT results are claimed to be improved by the Speed Boosters, as well. List Price: Begins at $399. Contact: Metabones, www.metabones.com. —DW
The effects of a neutral-density filter can't be replicated digitally. The optical filters feature varying layers of density for gaining control over light transmission to the sensor. This gives more control over depth of field, aperture and shutter speed, even when shooting in bright light. Singh-Ray offers a number of highly regarded neutral-density filters, including the powerful Mor-Slo 10-Stop Neutral Density, which can be stacked with other filters in the Singh-Ray line for up to 18 total stops of density. This will allow you to add desirable aesthetic effects to nature photographs and scenics, like motion blurs that produce the cotton-candy type of effects you see with moving water or clouds. Most long-exposure ND filters add a color cast, but the Mor-Slo 10-Stop only warms the image at roughly 700K in white balance shift, which is desirable in most cases and easily correctable when not. The filter is available in several filter and square mounts to fit the needs of different camera and lens types. List Price: Begins at $350. Contact: Singh-Ray, www.singh-ray.com. —DW
I really liked the affordably priced K-30 as a hiking camera, and now we have its successor, the Pentax K-50, with all of its good features and more. Like the K-30, the K-50 is fully weather-sealed, and is cold- and dust-proof (some DSLRs that cost $1,000 more aren't). It has a pentaprism viewfinder that shows 100% of the actual image area (other cameras in this price range have dimmer pentamirror finders), and its 16.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor delivers excellent image quality. The K-50 has a very effective sensor-shift shake-reduction system that works with all lenses, can shoot at 6 fps and provides a top shutter speed of 1⁄6000 sec. Video fans can shoot 1080 full HD at 30p and 720 HD at 60p. Like all Pentax DSLRs, the K-50 can use all Pentax lenses (note that not all are weatherproof like the camera body). And you can get a K-50 in your choice of 120 color combinations (some of which would make the camera very easy to spot in the field should you set it down and forget where). Dimensions are a compact 5.1x3.8x2.8 inches and 20.8 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Ricoh Imaging Americas, www.ricoh-imaging.com. —MS
By now you've seen those amazing action videos from cameras mounted on skiers, skydivers, kayakers and the like. Many were shot with GoPro's HERO-wearable video action cameras, which have become popular for their ability to put the viewer right into the action—and their low prices. The new HERO3+ Silver Edition is 15% smaller and lighter than its tiny predecessor, but twice as powerful, and with 30% better battery life. It can shoot 1080p video at 60 fps, and 720p at 120 fps, in ultrawide, medium and narrow formats, with improved audio. The HERO3+ can also shoot 10-megapixel still images at up to 10 fps and time-lapse at intervals of 0.5 to 60 seconds. It's waterproof to 131 feet. Built-in WiFi and the GoPro App let you operate the camera remotely, and transfer photos and videos to your smart device. You can also save images and videos on microSD cards. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: GoPro, www.gopro.com. —MS
The Hoodman Custom Finder Kit fixes two big problems with live-view shooting (which includes video): difficulty seeing the image on the external LCD monitor in bright light conditions and the instability of holding the camera out at arm's length to use the monitor. The kit includes a HoodLoupe that fits over the LCD screen, blocking extraneous light and providing convenient eye-to-camera shooting. Then there's the HoodLoupe Mag 3.0 eyecup, which provides 3X magnification. The kit also includes a Custom Finder Baseplate to securely attach the HoodLoupe to any DSLR, with or without battery grip. Kits are available for 3.2- and 3.0-inch LCD monitors. Estimated Street Price: $229; $129 (baseplate available separately for those who have a HoodLoupe 3.0 or 3.2. Contact: Hoodman, www.hoodmanusa.com. —MS


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