Depending on how much gear you like taking into the field, the Kata D-Light DR Digital Rucksacks are made to fit your needs. The upper compartment holds photo gear or personal stuff. If you remove the padded bottom insert, you can convert it from a camera bag to a regular non-shooting daypack. With three sizes to choose from, the D-Light DR-467 offers the most room, holding a DSLR and mounted lens, three to four more lenses, a flash and laptops up to 17 inches. In the middle is the DR-466, which carries the same amount of gear except for a smaller 15.4-inch laptop. And the smallest, the DR-465, stores fewer lenses and no laptop. Estimated Street Price: $89 to $109. Contact: Kata, (201) 818-9500, www.kata-bags.us.
One of the standout features of the Olympus STYLUS SP-820UZ iHS, in addition to the huge zoom, is its iHS technology. Drawing on a high-sensitivity, 14-megapixel CMOS sensor and TruePic V image processor, originally developed for DSLRs, the SP-820UZ incorporates several high-end shooting features such as fast reaction times, solid low-light performance and zoom magnification that doesn't sacrifice image quality. The impressive 40x zoom delivers a 22.4-896mm equivalent focal-length range, and a Super-Resolution Zoom mode doubles the focus distance to 80x zoom magnification. The camera records 1080p HD video, and incorporates Dual Image Stabilization and Multi-Motion Movie Image Stabilization technology to produce sharp images. There are other shooting modes and filters for enhancing your creativity. Estimated Street Price: $329. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.getolympus.com.
HOYA EVO FILTERS Hoya's EVO (Evolution) filter series consists of UV (ultraviolet), CIR-PL (circular polarizer) and Protector units well-suited to landscape and nature photography. Besides being made of precision Hoya optical glass, the filters feature an improved Super Multicoating overlaid with a clear water- and stain-resistant coating that's easy to clean. Very low-profile aluminum frames provide rigidity to keep the glass perfectly parallel to the image plane and minimize vignetting with ultrawide-angle lenses. EVO filters are available in sizes from 49mm to 82mm. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
The "Remove Before Flight" tag on Vulture camera straps provides a clue: Inspired by military special-ops rigs and aviation cargo equipment, these are rugged devices, designed and manufactured for heavy-duty use in the field. Designed and built in the U.S. by a team that's experienced in developing mission-specific gear, the straps also carry a serious "cool" factor. The highly adjustable Alpha 4 Strap is made of highest-grade, 1.75-inch mil-spec nylon webbing and features a top-of-the-line military quick-release. Its "kid brother," the Alpha 2, drops the quick-release to save weight. The Alpha 2T Tensioner Strap serves as a "reverse monopod": Connect it to the camera and your foot at the other end to steady the camera in the field without a bulky tripod or monopod. Estimated Street Price: $179.99 (A4); $149.99 (A2); $129.99 (A2T). Contact: Vulture Equipment Works, www.VultureEquipmentWorks.com.
BUDDY THE BEAVER
Learning about animal behavior through the eyes of a child is enlightening to children and adults alike. Carson Clark, son of OP contributing editor Jim Clark, might be only 12 years old, but he shows the photography skills of an experienced elder. In the second book in The Adventures of Buddy The Beaver Series, the main character learns about migration and hibernation from his many friends who live near the pond. The story and photography are by Carson and Jim Clark. Contact:Carson Clark Photography, www.carsonclarkphoto.com.
The new Sirui G-10X and G-20X ballheads were introduced at the 2013 PMA@CES trade show. These models carry on Sirui's attention to detail with features like separate locking knobs for panning and locking the head down to your tripod, a secondary safety lock on the quick-release platform, a bubble level on top of the Arca-compatible quick-release platform and a second bubble level on the locking knob of the platform. There's a degree scale on the base of the ballhead that allows you to make precise adjustments when necessary. A particularly convenient feature is the slot on the Sirui quick-release plate that allows you to attach your camera strap without removing the quick-release plate. Maximum capacity is up to 44 pounds. The G-10X and G-20X ballheads come with a six-year warranty. Contact: Argraph, www.argraph.com.