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In Focus: April 2010
The Samsung NX10 packs a 14.6-megapixel APS-C-format sensor in a body that’s just 1.6×4.2×3.4 inches. To make the body smaller than typical DSLRs, Samsung removed the mirror box, but retained an interchangeable-lens system, similar to Micro Four Thirds cameras. The camera takes new NX-mount lenses and will ship with an 18-55mm kit lens with optical image stabilization. A 50-200mm lens and 30mm lens also will be offered, along with a K-mount adapter for Pentax lenses to expand your options. Additional features include a built-in electronic viewfinder, pop-up flash and three-inch display. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Samsung, (800) 726-7864, www.samsung.com.
The weather-resistant Pentax D FA Macro 100mm ƒ/2.8 WR lens produces a life-size reproduction ratio at its minimum working distance of just over five inches. The lens features a rounded diaphragm for beautiful natural bokeh at large apertures. SP coating repels dust, water and fingerprints, while a Quick-Shift focus system allows for manual focusing without leaving AF mode. The lens can be used on all Pentax DSLRs, digital and 35mm, but is optimized for the APS-C sensor. Estimated Street Price: $849. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
Pack up your camera system in the Tamrac Expedition 9x backpack. The roomy bag was specifically designed to hold a DSLR with a 400mm, 500mm or 600mm lens attached. It has a multi-section divider system for long telephoto lenses of varying lengths and diameters, multiple camera bodies, flashes and accessories. The top section supports the camera and cinches tightly to the narrow portion of the lens where it attaches to the camera. The bottom section includes two foam-padded, plastic-reinforced vertical dividers and a horizontal divider that can be adjusted vertically to fit lenses of all sizes. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
Optimized for Canon, the PocketWizard MiniTT1 Transmitter and FlexTT5 Transceiver allow you to wirelessly control single or multiple off-camera flash units. The radios interpret exposure data sent via the camera’s hot-shoe and digitally transmit it through a radio signal. This allows you to place TTL or manual flash units anywhere you need to. Remote ETTL flash units are connected to dedicated FlexTT5 Transceivers for wireless TTL operation. The Version 5.0 firmware upgrade includes a new Automatic Camera Detection feature that allows the ControlTL system to automatically detect exactly which camera is being used for optimal performance. Estimated Street Price: $199 (MiniTT1); $219 (FlexTT5). Contact: PocketWizard, (914) 347-3300, www.pocketwizard.com.
For those who like the more intuitive way of working with images using pen tablets, Wacom has designed a version of the Intuos4 with Bluetooth wireless technology, adding more flexibility to your workflow. All of the same great features remain such as the Grip Pen, which has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and a pressure-sensitive eraser. The application-specific ExpressKeys have OLED-illuminated displays, allowing you to see what each key currently is set to. The tablet’s asymmetrical design puts the Touch Ring and ExpressKeys in a position that’s convenient for both right- and left-handers. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-6613, www.wacom.com.
Space is an obvious concern when you spend most of your time shooting outdoors, but you don’t have to sacrifice image quality with the Davis & Sanford Traverse tripod. The legs fold up over the head, saving several inches of space. The tripod opens up to a full size of 57 inches, folds down to just 16 inches and weighs just 3.3 pounds. The independent legs have two stops to shoot down to 16 inches or up to 57 inches. The legs are constructed of strong, durable, lightweight aluminum with quick-twist rubberized locks. Estimated Street Price: $119 (with BHQ8 ballhead); $169 (with BH11 ballhead). Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.
Stay dry in Columbia’s Power Terrain jacket. The waterproof shell is breathable, fully seam-sealed and made of a two-layer fabric infused with stretch for better movement. The brimmed, panoramic hood allows complete visibility by moving with you. The jacket incorporates Columbia’s Omni-Tech technology, which delivers maximum waterproof-breathable protection to keep outside elements from getting in, while moving moisture away from the skin. Estimated Street Price: $170. Contact: Columbia, (800) 622-6953, www.columbia.com.
Navigate safely around the backcountry using the Suunto Core Extreme Edition Red. The multi-function watch features an altimeter, a barometer and a compass for gauging performance, direction and weather. The sunrise/sunset time feature lets you know how much daylight remains no matter where you roam, and a storm alarm feature activates when a rapid drop in air pressure is detected over a three-hour period. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: Suunto, (800) 426-4840, www.suunto.com.
Lace up the Garmont Vetta Hike GTX boots on your next hike. With Garmont’s Anatomically Directed Design (ADD), your foot uses its own ability to stabilize, absorb shock and propel efficiency. This enhanced fit better matches the characteristic symmetry of the average foot. Gore-Tex® XCR lining maintains comfort while keeping your feet dry even in wet weather. The Vibram Jabba outsole has deep lugs and an aggressive heel profile that provides self-cleaning traction on ascents and true heel support for braking on descents. Estimated Street Price: $174. Contact: Garmont, (802) 658-8322, www.garmontusa.com.
Get a good night’s sleep in the Eureka! Riner 40° Hybrid sleeping bag, which delivers minimal pack size and weight while providing warmth in temperate climates. The hybrid shape meets the needs of those who value a roomy, yet compactable sleeping bag. The shell is made of 50D polyester ripstop and the interior is insulated with Rteq fill, a highly compressible material made from four fibers for delivering warmth and durability. The bag weighs 2.8 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $89. Contact: Eureka!, (800) 572-8822, www.eurekatent.com.
Boost the focal length of your lenses with Kenko’s DGX TelePlus series of teleconverters. The TelePlus MC4 AF 1.4X DGX multiplies the focal length of your lens by 1.4x, has a four-element design, and full autofocus is possible at apertures of ƒ/4 or brighter. The TelePlus MC4 AF 2.0X DGX and MC7 AF 2.0X DGX double the focal length of a lens, turning a 300mm lens into an equivalent 600mm lens. The MC4 features a four-element design while the MC7 has seven elements. For both, full autofocus is possible at apertures of ƒ/2.8 or brighter. Autofocus may be possible with lenses slower than ƒ/4 or ƒ/2.8, but it depends on the amount of light and contrast. The converters are available for Canon EOS EF and Nikon AF lenses. Estimated Street Price: $179 to $259. Contact: THK Photo, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
Capture images that are tack-sharp using Gitzo’s revamped Basalt collection of tripods that are up to 22 percent stronger than previous models. The lineup includes six tripods with maximum height ranging up to 44.7 inches, and up to 65.2 inches when the center column is extended. The heaviest model weighs six pounds and can support 33 pounds. Overall, basalt-rock fiber is about 20 percent lighter than aluminum. Three quick-release center ballheads, a monopod and boom round out the collection. The ballheads feature three independent leveling bubbles, including one in the ball stem. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Gitzo, (201) 818-9500, www.gitzo.us.
With SuperSpeed USB 3.0 connectivity, the WD My Book 3.0 operates up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 external hard drives, so files can be opened up and saved in much less time. Available in 1 TB and 2 TB capacities, the drive includes an optional USB 3.0 PCIe (gen2) adapter card, upgrading current PCs to USB 3.0. The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port can then offer data-transfer rates of up to 5 GB/s. SuperSpeed USB 3.0 is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1. Estimated Street Price: $199 (1 TB); $279 (2 TB). Contact: Western Digital, (877) 934-6972, www.westerndigital.com.
Shoot with a faster, larger-capacity memory card using Lexar’s Professional 300x CF, Professional 223x CF or Professional 133x SDHC series. The 300x CF lineup now offers 32 GB of capacity, and the 233x CF lineup now comes in 16 and 32 GB. The cards deliver minimum sustained write speeds of 45 MB/s (300x) and 35 MB/s (233x). For SDHC users, the 133x lineup now has a Class 10 speed rating with 20 MB/s write-speed capability. Higher speeds are especially helpful for rapid-fire still photography and HD video. Image downloads are also much faster when a UDMA- or SDHC-compatible card reader is used. Estimated Street Price: $249 (300x 32 GB); $169 (233x 32 GB); $89 (133x 8GB). Contact: Lexar Media, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
For macro shooters capturing tiny insects and close-ups of flowers, the even, flat light of a ring flash can be invaluable. The Orbis Ring Flash converts your DSLR’s dedicated flash unit into a ring light. Simply connect your flash to the camera via an off-camera cord or other off-camera firing means, slip the unit into the ring flash and you’re ready to go. The Orbis Arm makes the setup even more versatile by holding everything solidly in place as a single unit. The compact, lightweight bracket is four-way adjustable to work with a wide range of gear combos. Estimated Street Price: $199 (ring flash); $59 (arm). Contact: OmegaSatter, (410) 374-3250, www.omegasatter.com.
Fine-tune the color of your landscape and wildlife shots using onOne Software’s Photo Tune 3. The program features a new patent-pending, advanced dynamic-range-enhancement algorithm that remaps the tones in your image to match what you saw in-camera. New to the interface are tone, color and sharpening controls that allow you to make adjustments intuitively. Simply drag the image up or down, left or right, or at an angle, and the app applies the change immediately. Black-and-white conversions take just seconds to do. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.
Make certain that the rich colors you capture outside don’t get lost in the final print using Epson’s Signature Worthy paper collection, which now includes new Hot Press and Cold Press Papers along with Exhibition Fiber Paper. Optimized for use with Epson Stylus Pro printers and inks, including the latest UltraChrome HDR ink technology, the papers produce rich blacks, smooth tonal transitions and an expanded color gamut. The Hot Press papers offer a smooth surface while the Cold Press papers deliver a textured one. The Exhibition Fiber Paper closely replicates an F surface, air-dried silver-halide print. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.
The high-performance Flashpoint II Model 320M A/C – D/C Monolight is compact, lightweight and has a portable battery pack, which is convenient for outdoor use. You don’t have to hook it up to a central power pack. The light can be fired with the Sync Cord attached to the camera’s PC terminal, with a PC adapter on the hot-shoe or with the built-in slave unit. It has variable flash power settings with quick recycle time and a flash-ready indicator. There are several kits available, including a version that includes a light stand and an umbrella. Estimated Street Price: $199 (320M and portable power pack). Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Expanding on its ZE series of lenses for Canon EOS SLRs, the fast-aperture Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/50 ZE (50mm ƒ/2) and Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZE (100mm ƒ/2) capture sharp, detail-rich images even in low light. Both feature a 1:2 image ratio at close range, thanks to the Carl Zeiss “floating elements” design, which employs a special lens alignment that enables high optical performance across the entire focusing range, from 9.4 inches to infinity. The lenses also are available for F-bayonet (ZF.2) and K-bayonet cameras (ZK), and are optimized for analog and full-format DSLRs. Estimated Street Price: $1,283 (2/50 ZE); $1,843 (2/100 ZE). Contact: Carl Zeiss, (800) 543-1033, www.zeiss.com/photo.
Building on a 120-year tradition of producing professional camera systems, Linhof’s Techno is a compact, high-tech digital field camera designed for the outdoors. Among the camera’s features are 40mm of self-aligning, geared vertical shift with exact parallel control; zero click-stops that can be engaged when needed; spirit levels on the lens standard and rear standard for precise vertical orientation; and a special wide-angle bellows for easy adjustments. The Techno also provides the necessary adjustment facilities for extreme short- to long-focal-length lenses. All currently available digital backs can be adapted. Estimated Street Price: Varies depending on configuration. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
Show off your photography in a book fit for a store bookshelf with AsukaBook. The classy bookmaker now offers six different book lines, as well as a new size and faster turnaround times. The Book Bound EXD line lets you custom design a slide-in box for the book with images, text and more. Inside the box is the printed hard cover and matching printed book jacket with customizable inside flaps. The new landscape/horizontal format size measures 8×5.5 inches and is available for all of the lines. Turnaround time has been shortened from four weeks to three. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: AsukaBook, (866) 330-1530, www.asukabook.com.
U.S. Highway 89: The Scenic Route to Seven Western National Parks by Ann Torrence (Sagebrush Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-970-31305-8). This visual guide explores seven of America’s favorite national parks, hometown events and quirky roadside attractions linked by U.S. 89, which runs from Arizona to Montana and through Yellowstone National Park.
The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing by Harold Davis and Phyllis Davis (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-81259-5). Topics include working with RAW files, understanding the Photoshop darkroom workflow, multi-processing, extending dynamic range, using layers and masking for composites and more.
Neon Mesa: Wonders of the Southwest by Rob Atkins (Bunker Hill Publishing, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-59373-068-0). Capturing the landscape of the American Southwest, Atkins travels to The Four Corners, a unique region where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet. The book includes images of rusting road signs, flickering neon light and derelict motels set against some of America’s most beautiful natural scenery.
Creative DSLR Photography: The Ultimate Creative Workflow Guide by Chris Coe and Chris Weston (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-52101-5). Take your creative, design and composition skills to the next level with help from this informative guide. Learn how to interpret a scene, define a subject and develop a personal style.
Practical HDR: A Complete Guide to Creating High Dynamic Range Images With Your Digital SLR by David Nightingale (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-81249-6). Using step-by-step examples, this book will help you become an expert on the theory and practice of shooting and processing HDR images.