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2008 Holiday Buyer’s Guide
With the holidays fast approaching, Outdoor Photographer offers our annual collection of photo gear to help you get better photographs. This year, we have everything from printers to software to photo backpacks. What you won’t find in this guide are cameras or lenses. Instead, we focus on the accessories that work with any camera or lens setup you have. Happy Holidays!
Technically, it’s version 11.0.0, but Photoshop CS4 is still the industry-standard photo-editing package. Some of our favorite features include a new Adjustments panel that’s more intuitive, with lots of useful presets, a new Masks panel that makes it easier to create and use masks, content-aware scaling (which lets you stretch or compress the aspect ratio of an image without stretching or compressing subjects like people in the scene), workspace enhancements, improved Camera Raw and extended depth-of-field features. Estimated Street Price: $699 ($199 upgrade). Contact: Adobe, www.adobe.com.
With the ability to print 13×19 inches and Epson’s professional UltraChrome K3 ink set, the Stylus Photo R2880 is a pro-level printer with a decidedly enthusiast-friendly price. The printer features pigment-based inks that produce exhibition-quality images that stand up to the rigors of time. Built-in Radiance technology ensures smooth tonal transitions and improved highlight and shadow detail. An exclusive Advanced Black-and-White Photo mode gives you four preset menus, each with custom sliders for maximum control. You can fit the unit with roll paper or use media like artist’s canvas if you desire. Estimated Street Price: $799. Contact: Epson, www.epson.com.
Outdoor photographers interested in black-and-white work should try Nik Software Silver Efex Pro, which makes it easier to produce first-class black-and-white results than ever before. Like all of the company’s software, the controls are intuitive and conceived from the perspective of a photographer rather than a software engineer. There are a number of presets you can choose from, and once selected, you can fine-tune the effect. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Nik Software, www.niksoftware.com.
Telephoto lenses are a great way to get a closer look at a distant subject, but nothing is a substitute for getting in close yourself. The Subaru Forester has the cargo capacity you need as a photographer and the all-wheel-drive capability to keep you from getting stuck on fire roads that might not be well maintained. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $19,995. Contact: Subaru, www.subaru.com
Getting deep into the backcountry really isn’t that difficult. Getting deep into the backcountry with all of your photo gear requires the help of a backpack. The Vertex 100AW is a premium photo backpack built to withstand the rigors of trekking deep into the field. Rugged construction, water-resistant zippers and a built-in All Weather cover make it an ideal companion for any outdoor photographer. The harness is adjustable to provide a good fit for just about any body type. Estimated Street Price: $239. Contact: Lowepro, www.lowepro.com.
Color calibration is like flossing. It’s just something you have to do if you want best results. You can ensure that the image you saw through the lens maintains its color on screen and in the final print with X-Rite’s ColorMunki. The all-in-one spectrophotometer measures monitor, projector and printer profiles. Use the easy mode with presets, or if you’re looking for more control, an advanced mode lets you set white point, ambient light and other measurements. By taking advantage of new printer-profiling technology, ColorMunki optimizes specific colors, black-and-white and flesh tones based on your images. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: X-Rite, www.xrite.com.
Keep all of your devices powered up when you’re on the road using the Ansmann Digicharger Vario. The charger works with more than 100 battery types, including AA/AAA, NiMH or NiCd batteries, and lithium-ion and lithium-polymer battery packs, all without an adapter plate. Simply plug it into a power socket or car cigarette lighter. The Vario charges quickly and has an overcharge protection mechanism that protects batteries from damage. Estimated Street Price: $58. Contact: Ansmann (HP Marketing Corp.), www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
If you’re into the special, selective-focus look that a tilt-shift lens creates, but you prefer to shoot sharp and adjust later, check out onOne Software’s FocalPoint 1.0. With a special on-screen control called the FocusBug, you can tilt the sweet-spot aperture in 3-D, mimicking the effect of a view camera or tilt-shift lens. What’s cool about this application is that the FocusBug acts as a “virtual” lens, allowing you to alter the focus and depth of field in post. You also can add a vignette by lightening or darkening the edges of the image. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: onOne Software, www.ononesoftware.com.
You just can’t have too much storage. Photographers, in particular, need as much capacity as possible for storing all those large image files. The Western Digital My Book Home Edition is available in capacities from 320 MB up to 1 TB. The external unit attaches to your computer via USB 2.0, FireWire or eSATA ports. Installation is simple because there’s no real installation. Plug in the drive, and you’re ready to go. The drive comes preloaded with software to get it running on your system as soon as you plug it in. An innovative capacity gauge on the unit lets you see how much space you have at your disposal with a quick glance at the case. Estimated Street Price: $129 (320 MB) to $259 (1 TB). Contact: Western Digital, www.westerndigital.com.
Underwater photography has gone mainstream. Once the exclusive domain of a handful of dedicated professionals, today there are options that fit the price range and shooting level of just about any photographer. The popular Olympus EVOLT E-520 can be safely transported to the ocean’s depths with the Olympus PT-EO5 housing. The full-featured setup gives you complete TTL flash control when used with the Olympus UFL-2 underwater strobes and fiber-optic control cable. The housing takes a multitude of lens ports for a host of Olympus Zuiko Digital lenses. Rated to a depth of 130 feet, recreational scuba divers, as well as snorkelers, can get stunning, vivid photographs of the undersea world. Estimated Street Price: $1,199. Contact: Olympus, www.olympus.com.
For many OP readers, the polarizer is the single most important accessory they can carry. Hoya’s new HD CIR-PL circular polarizing filter works with digital and film SLR AF and metering systems. The filter features a high-transparency polarizing film like those used in the latest HD LCD TV systems, with 25 percent higher light transmission than standard polarizing films. Transmission is enhanced by an eight-layer water-repellent and scratch-resistant multicoating that has an average transmission of 99.35 percent in the visible spectrum (wavelengths between 400nm and 700nm). The HD CIR-PL is available in sizes from 52mm to 82mm. Estimated Street Price: $105 to $285. Contact: Hoya (THK Photo Products), www.thkphoto.com.
Backpacks are king for OP readers. They’re an efficient way to get a lot of photo equipment into the field with minimal hassles. The Tamrac Expedition 6x can haul not only your camera gear, but a laptop computer as well. The medium-sized backpack has a foam-padded computer pocket so you can edit images in the field. The pack has ample space for a D-SLR, lenses and accessories, and there’s plenty of padded protection for everything. Unique “wing” accessory pockets keep extras like memory cards and spare batteries conveniently placed independently of the main compartment. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Tamrac, www.tamrac.com.
Tripods continue to get sturdier and support more weight while weighing less themselves. The Gitzo GT3541L 6X Carbon-Fiber tripod legs use layered carbon-fiber construction for improved tubing that’s stronger than its predecessor. Load capacity is nearly 40 pounds, there’s an ultralow leg spread for ground-level shooting, and the Anti-Rotation Leg system and G-Lock design mechanism make setup fast. The GT3541LS is available without a column as part of the Gitzo Systematic series, which lets you add a center column of your choice. Estimated Street Price: $825 (GT3541L); $699 (GT3541LS). Contact: Gitzo (Bogen Imaging), www.bogenimaging.us.
Effects that used to take hours to achieve in a darkroom are now possible in just a few mouse clicks with Tiffen’s Dfx Digital Filter Suite. Included are hundreds of filters and special effects for replicating gels and filters, color to black-and-white conversions and particular film looks, as well as classic darkroom techniques like bleach bypass and more. The interactive EZ Mask tool simplifies separating different components of an image for further editing. You can choose from the Complete edition or a pared-down Select version. Estimated Street Price: $199 (Complete); $99 (Select). Contact: Tiffen, www.tiffen.com.
A tripod is usually the preferred tool for ensuring sharp photographs, but using one isn’t always possible. In situations when you want to have more freedom to move the camera but you still need something to help keep it steady, a monopod can do the trick. The Monostat-RS monopod is easy to carry, provides more stability than handholding (it can be used with the lens stabilizer on for added stability) and features a Swivel Toe Stabilizer that lets you shoot at up to a 60-degree angle from horizontal—something conventional monopods don’t allow. The toe also provides a good grip on slippery surfaces. Available in aluminum or carbon fiber, units support up to 30 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $175. Contact: Monostat of Switzerland (Accurate Sales, Inc.), www.monostat.us.
Moab by Legion Paper has been a favorite manufacturer for outdoor photographers for years. The company continues to provide top-quality inkjet paper and specialty media that can be used in a variety of printers and gives you the opportunity to create a special, out-of-the-ordinary look for your photography. Moenkopi Unryu 55 (Unryu is a Japanese word that translates as “cloud dragon paper”) continues that tradition. When the paper is being manufactured, long, coarse fibers are added to a layer of mulberry. The paper is suitable for use in most printers, but it was specifically designed for archival inkjet models. Moab Moenkopi Unryu 55 maintains the look and feel of fine Japanese Washi papers. Estimated Street Price: $19 to $269 (varies depending on size and quantity). Contact: Moab by Legion Paper, www.moabpaper.com.