For nature photographers, there’s a lot to like about the Nikon D5000, including high-definition video capability and a 2.7-inch swing-out Live View LCD that can be tilted for framing low- and high-angle shots. The 12.3-megapixel camera uses the same sensor and 11-point autofocus system as the more advanced D90. In D-Movie Mode, it can record video at 720p (1280x720 pixels at 24 fps). Wildlife shooters will benefit from the subject-tracking AF mode, which automatically locks onto a moving subject. There are a total of four AF modes that activate simply by pressing a button. The D5000 will be sold as a kit with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G VR lens. List Price: $729 (body only); $849 (with lens). Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-UX, www.nikonusa.com.
COMPACT SHOOTER With a compact body that weighs just 13.4 ounces, the entry-level Olympus E-450 packs in a lot of the same powerful features used in the company’s advanced D-SLRs. The 10-megapixel camera has a large 2.7-inch Live View LCD, On-Screen Autofocus, Shadow Adjustment technology and Perfect Shot Preview, which allows you to preview settings like white balance and exposure as well as Art Filters effects. The camera comes with the ED 14-42mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 and ED 40-150mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 Zuiko lenses. List Price: $699. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.olympusamerica.com.
STABLE GLASS Take sharp handheld wildlife and landscape shots with Sigma’s compact 50-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 DC OS HSM. The high-performance lens now incorporates the company’s Optical Stabilizer function, which reduces camera movement so that subjects are clear in the viewfinder as well as the image. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 43.3 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.5. An inner focusing system eliminates front lens rotation, allowing you to use circular polarizers. List Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
PEN AND TABLET If you do a lot of work in Photoshop, Wacom pen tablets provide a more intuitive way of performing various editing tasks. The latest Intuos4 models have the same customizable keys featured in previous versions, but they now have illuminated displays that allow users to see what they’re currently set to. The slightest pen-to-tablet touch gets you started, with the pen featuring 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The design also is reversible so all of the shortcut and modifier keys are positioned well for right- and left-handers. List Price: $229 to $789. Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-6613, www.wacom.com.
ESSENTIAL SOFTWARE Get creative with your photos without spending a whole lot of time on the computer. Tiffen’s Dfx Essential software features 37 specialized filters and effects with hundreds of built-in presets. You also can create and save your own custom setups for easily repeating favorite looks. Essentials is a selective version of Tiffen’s pro Dfx Creative Digital Effects software and comes with an easy-to-follow tutorial. The intuitive filter palette with thumbnail previews lets you evaluate effects before applying them to an image. List Price: $59. Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.