Discover different tools to fit your photo needs and budget
Good photography requires creativity and imagination. You also need the right tools to translate your vision to that final print. But like any art, there isn’t one perfect tool. Just as there’s diversity in nature, a variety of cameras, lenses and printers are available to help transform the snap of the shutter into your final image.
High-quality optics give you a sharp view of tiny subjects
I love to work with macro lenses because they focus close enough to give me a window into another world. With a macro lens, common spiders become giant predators, and a grasshopper is a creature from outer space.
A wide-angle zoom with a fixed aperture delivers digitally
The Tokina AT-X 124 AF Pro DX lens provides photographers shooting with digital SLRs a high-performing and affordable 12-24mm wide-angle zoom. With a constant maximum aperture of ƒ/4 throughout its entire zoom range, this lens becomes a valuable addition to any landscape or travel photographer’s camera bag.
I’m power-hungry, although not in the way you might think. If your photo backpack is loaded up anything like mine, you have a lot of gear that requires batteries. Cameras, flashes, a light meter, a GPS receiver and a laptop computer make me more effective when I’m out shooting, but each piece of equipment requires power—lots of it. So when it comes to choosing the right battery to power all of those electronic gadgets, it’s important to understand our choices, especially when they impact our ability to create photographs.
The long-awaited, high-megapixel and high-capability flagship camera arrives
Certain cameras just fit well right from the first time you pick them up. For me, the new Nikon D2x provided exactly that experience. This is a solid, full-featured, high-megapixel camera in which Nikon can take great pride. The D2x is the company’s flagship camera and is perfect for that role. I shot with it for several weeks and the results never disappointed me.
Whether you’re photographing landscapes or wildlife, there are many ways to make your photographic life simpler. The latest technical advancements have led manufacturers to produce gadgets that help inspire your creative edge while easing unanticipated difficulties. Here’s Outdoor Photographer’s compilation of 20 of these exceptional items.
Take a look back at two decades of trends and technologies that changed photography
Little did we know that, like a boulder at the edge of a cliff, photography was poised for an unprecedented period of technological innovation when Outdoor Photographer debuted in 1985. Digital technology was the final push that sent us reeling over the precipice and set in motion a rush of advancements and new products that continues at a breakneck pace even up to today.
Fujifilm's latest D-SLR delivers improved quality and reduced noise
When it comes to digital SLRs, resolution is important, yet a high pixel count alone doesn’t automatically mean superior results. Today, we’re concerned with a camera’s ability to render color, reveal shadow and highlight details, and reduce the appearance of noise at high ISO settings. The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro addresses all of these issues while creating a unique niche for itself.
Computers are an integral part of digital photography, but carrying one and booting it up in the field can be problematic. Laptops aren’t ideally suited for working in the field because of the difficulty of viewing the screen outdoors, its additional weight and the extra time taken away from shooting. Once you’ve filled up your memory cards, however, they become a necessity.
These essential filters bring exposure for sky and ground inside a manageable range
When I was a photography student shooting a sunset 20 years ago, I encountered a vexing problem. When I metered for the sky glowing above Death Valley’s mountains in California, I got a wildly different reading than I did when I metered off the dunes below the horizon. Because I knew my slide film couldn’t handle more than a three- or four-stop exposure range, I realized I couldn’t get detail in both the sunset and the landscape beneath it. Sure enough, the shots exposed for the sky showed a silhouetted landform, and the shots exposed for the dunes blew out the bright sky completely.
This macro lens and electronic flash make a great combo for close-ups
I have a love-hate relationship with spiders. I find their webs and variation in body styles and colors to be fascinating subjects, but I don’t like walking into their webs at night, which happens too often at certain times of the year. I’d rather not have a spider crawling down my neck either! Recently, as I went outside one night to walk the dog, I pulled up short of entanglement with a head-high web barely visible in the moonlight. I noted a big spider and a striking web that promised some interesting images.
Image editing is as important a part of image creation now as lens selection, composition and exposure. Instead of leaving the final result to your local lab, today’s digital darkroom provides total control from the moment the shutter is released to the creation of the final print. Jasc Paint Shop Pro 9 is an affordable and powerful program that allows you to see your vision through. Paint Shop Pro 9 offers a wealth of tools, including a One Step Photo Fix that automatically enhances your images at the touch of a button, yet it’s the more advanced features that make it exceptional.
Ultralight, but steady tripods for hiking and travel
When I began using a new "lightweight" tripod in the late ’90s, I was relieved that it weighed just 8 1/2 pounds/five for the tripod and the rest for the head. It certainly seemed light because it was just half the weight of my first solid tripod, a 17-pound brute.
A rotating, live LCD and 7.1 megapixels make this an ideal field camera
The talk of digital for outdoor photographers is heavily oriented toward D-SLRs. Yet when I teach classes around the country, I hear many photographers admitting to loving the little advanced compact cameras for their size and capabilities. Canon‚’s latest model in this group is another G-series camera, the PowerShot G6. It offers a smart design with an SLR-style grip, a 7.1-megapixel sensor and all the photographic controls you’d expect in a digital SLR, but in a far more compact package.
A perfect test of the new Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM lens came while photographing seabirds on a foggy morning in Morro Bay, California. Bobbing around in a small kayak, I used the lens with its Image Stabilizer technology and composed dozens of sharp images during those early-morning hours. A kayak is no place for a tripod, and with the lens mounted on a handheld Canon EOS 20D, the resulting photos were remarkably crisp. The 70-300mm was easy to handle since it’s a mere 3.9 inches long and weighs just 25.4 ounces. Despite its performing at an equivalent 35mm focal length of nearly 500mm (112-480mm), the lens compensated for both body vibration and the unpredictable movement of the boat.