In Focus: April 2012

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PRIME TELE
Ideal for travel portraiture, sports action, video and any other situation when sharpness and speed are required, the new, updated version of the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm ƒ/1.8G lens from Nikon is compatible with FX-format (full-frame) and DX-format (APS-C-sized-frame) DSLRs. A new internal optical design consists of nine elements in nine groups, and the seven-blade diaphragm produces a circular bokeh for creating more natural-looking blurred backgrounds that put the focus on your subject. The fast, lightweight lens delivers an equivalent focal length of 127mm when attached to a DX-format DSLR camera body. The Silent Wave Motor (SWM) delivers fast, quiet autofocus operation, which is especially helpful when recording video. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
HDR TOOL
When experimenting with high dynamic range, there's a fine line between creating an image that has more oomph and one that looks like a cartoon. HDR Expose 2 from Unified Color Technologies helps you keep it real with more than 26 new or improved features. They include tone mapping and halo elimination algorithms, 32-bit contrast tone curve adjustment, and neutral dodge and blur tools. The program is based on the company's Beyond RGB technology, which keeps an image's brightness or contrast intact when colors are adjusted and vice versa. Estimated Street Price: $149. Contact: Unified Color Technologies, (855) 632-6567, www.unifiedcolor.com.

VERSATILE BAG
Hike with your photo gear securely in place using the Tamrac Evolution Speed Roller backpack. When you're traveling by air and would rather roll through the airport, the bag has smooth ball-bearing wheels and a telescoping handle. You simply untuck the Tuck-A-Way harness to wear it as a backpack again. The bottom part holds a DSLR with a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 attached, several extra lenses and a flash. The foam-padded top section has adjustable, removable dividers for a second camera with up to a 6-inch lens attached and two small lenses. When a second system isn't needed, you can use that space to hold personal items. Another foam-padded compartment holds up to a 15.6-inch laptop. Estimated Street Price: $379. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
E-MOUNT WIDE TO TELEZOOM
Sony mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera shooters have a new lens option. With focal lengths that extend from wide-angle to telephoto, the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC lens has you covered no matter what you're planning to shoot. In 35mm format, the lens' equivalent focal length range is 27-300mm. It weighs 16.2 ounces, incorporates the lens maker's Vibration Compensation technology for sharp handheld shooting and has an autofocus drive with a stepping motor, which is ideal for the contrast-detect AF system used in the Sony mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera series. Operation is also quieter for shooting video. Another helpful feature is the Direct Manual Focus (DMF) function, which allows you to adjust manually after autofocusing. Estimated Street Price: $739. Contact: Tamron USA, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron-usa.com.

RUGGED SHOOTER
The Panasonic Lumix TS4 is one tough camera. It's waterproof down to 40 feet, shockproof from drops of up to 6.6 feet, dustproof and can operate in temperatures as low as 14º F. A GPS system, compass, altimeter and barometer are all included. There's a manual shooting mode so you can control aperture and shutter speed, as well as a Time Lapse Shot mode. With this feature, you set the start time, interval and the number of photos to shoot, and the camera automatically starts snapping away. When it's done, the TS4 condenses the shots and plays them back as a time-lapse sequence, cool for watching a flower bloom or clouds move across the sky. The camera has a 12-megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch LCD and 28-128mm (35mm equivalent) Leica lens. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Panasonic, (800) 211-PANA, www.panasonic.com.


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in focus 2009
SUPER VISION
The MINOX Sport Optics lineup of Nautic binoculars has expanded to include models that are less tricked out and more cost effective than the top-of-the-line BN 7x50 DCM. The BN 7x50 DC Nautic delivers most of the same features, including a built-in digital compass, which allows information to appear in the center of the visual field without losing sight of the essentials. But it doesn't have the multifunctional capability of the DCM, which has a barometer display and history recording, altitude display, temperature, stopwatch and time. The BN 7x50 C Nautic has the same basic binocular qualities with an analog compass. There's also a version without the compass. Estimated Street Price: $249 to $699. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080, www.minox.com.

LIGHT UP
The Eureka! Warrior 230 Lantern serves you in two ways—as a traditional lamp or a flashlight via the remote control that comes with it. By using LED lighting, Eureka!'s portable lanterns and flashlights deliver high-output lighting with long run times. The Warrior 230 features directional white and red LED lights, and can be hung with the use of a carabiner hook. It measures 3.4x3.4x7.3 inches and runs on three D batteries. On the high setting, battery life is 50 hours, and on low it's 200 hours. Estimated Street Price: $59. Contact: Eureka!, (800) 572-8822, www.eurekatent.com.

ZIP IT
Stay warm when the weather turns cold and wet in the Brooks-Range Black Mountain jacket. Windproof, breathable fabric protects you from the elements. The shell's features include a fleece liner and zippered side pockets, chest pockets, hem drawcords and an attached adjustable hood that accommodates helmets. Estimated Street Price: $179. Contact: Brooks-Range, (510) 797-7980, www.brooks-range.com.

WEEKEND PACK
The High Peak Alpinismo 55 is a lightweight backpack that's most ideal for weekend camping trips. It weighs less than four pounds, has an adjustable harness system for customizing the fit to your torso length, and a vented back panel transfers weight to the hip belt, relieving pressure on your back. The contoured fit hugs and conforms to your body for maximum comfort, and deep exterior side pockets hold water bottles. Estimated Street Price: $130. Contact: High Peak, (425) 251-5106, www.highpeakusa.com.


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FIELD PACK
Shooters who spend most of their time outside and on foot have different backpacking needs than other photographers. Designed specifically for birders and outdoor photographers, the Vanguard Kinray series of bags have enough room inside for a DSLR and spotting scope or a DSLR and an attached telephoto lens. The bag's exterior fabric can stand up to wet conditions, and there's a rain cover that provides even more protection. The shoulder straps and chest harness are adjustable for providing a comfortable fit. Depending on what's convenient, you can convert the bag from a daypack into a backpack by removing the cushioning and some dividers. Estimated Street Price: $149 to $249. Contact: Vanguard, (800) 875-3322, www.vanguardworld.com.

ON THE SPOT
Convert your lens into a spotting scope with the Kenko Lens2Scope adapter. Like a traditional spotting scope, the lightweight body features a high-quality roof prism, optics and an eyepiece. Attach your lens and it becomes a spotting scope for viewing. Images are magnified by a factor of 10x so a 100mm lens would have the same magnification as a 10X spotting scope. The lens mount and housing for the optics are made from metal and the external barrels are polycarbonate. There are two versions: One has a straight eyepiece while the other's is angled up. They're both available in Canon EOS, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts. List Price: $279. Contact: Kenko (THK Photo Products), (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.

TRAVEL COMPANION
Head off on your next big shooting adventure with your equipment safely stowed in the Gura Gear Kiboko 22L+. Most DSLR bodies can fit inside, and there's enough room to carry up to a 500mm ƒ/4 lens. Lightweight and durable, the bag has a sturdy harness system with memory-foam shoulder straps, a vented back panel that's also padded, a removable waistbelt and shoulder straps that tuck away when they're not needed. It fits up to a 15-inch laptop with some 17-inch models, such as the MacBook Pro, able to work as well. All Kiboko backpacks have a convenient solution for carrying tripods. Estimated Street Price: $379. Contact: Gura Gear, (801) 823-2809, www.guragear.com.

X CARDS
If you gravitate toward shooting fast-paced scenes with a lot of action, like wildlife or sports, investing in a memory card such as the 128 GB SanDisk Extreme SDXC UHS-I is worth considering. With read and write speeds of 45 MB/s, the card can capture high-resolution images in full burst mode and quickly transfer those files to a computer. It also records up to 10 hours of full HD video. With the fast transfer speed, the card is capable of offloading an hour-long full HD video in five minutes or a batch of 500 high-resolution stills in as little as a minute, according to SanDisk. A built-in write-protect switch helps prevent accidental data loss. Estimated Street Price: $199 (64 GB); $399 (128 GB). Contact: SanDisk, (866) SANDISK, www.sandisk.com.

UP CLOSE
With spring approaching, nature's tiniest details may become more of the focus when you're out shooting. Capture those early signs of life on the landscape with the Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM. The lens is the successor to the 180mm F3.5 EX DG macro lens and includes upgrades such as a 1:1 magnification ratio, fast ƒ/2.8 aperture and Optical Stabilizer technology. With the stabilizing system, you can shoot at shutter speeds about four stops slower than you'd be able to otherwise for capturing sharp, close-ups handheld. The lens has a focusing distance of 18.5 inches. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.

COVER UP
If you're a wildlife photographer, you know that your subject has sharp eyes and can spot a lens moving from far away. A camouflage lens cover from LensCoat breaks up the shape and hides lens movements while providing protection for the lens. The covers are made from closed-cell neoprene, safeguarding the lens from bumps and nicks. With a thermal barrier, the cover also protects your hands from hot and cold lenses depending on the temperature. It slides on like a sleeve, is waterproof and includes a clear, flexible UV-PVC window for accessing controls. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: LensCoat, www.lenscoat.com.


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MEMORY BOOST
Maximize your time and productivity when out in the field by using a fast, high-capacity memory card. The Lexar Professional CompactFlash lineup now includes a 1000x model that delivers minimum read speeds of 150 MB/s, accelerating your workflow while on location and when moving still and video files from the card to a computer for processing and editing. The cards come in capacities of 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB, and they support the VG-20 specification, which means the card has been tested to capture video at up to 20 MB/s with no dropped frames. Estimated Street Price: $169 to $899. Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.

ON PAPER
Sharing images these days often means emailing or posting them online, but for those occasions where only a print will do, pay attention to the paper you choose. The metallic film-based Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth High Gloss inkjet media delivers top-notch definition and extended tonal range. An instant dry-coated layer helps produce high-quality images whether they're printed with dye- or pigment-based inks. Establishing itself back in the conventional darkroom film and paper days, Ilford now offers media for the digital age under its Galerie Professional lineup, which includes Gold, Classic and Graphic in addition to Smooth. The paper is available in sizes of 8½x11 inches, A4, A3+ and 24-inch rolls. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Ilford, www.ilford.com.


QUICK-ACCESS PACK
For wildlife photography or unexpected photo opportunities that require you to grab the camera quickly, the Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack features a side-entry compartment for speedy access. Three sizes are available, and each one has a cushioned lower section with adjustable compartments and holds a pro-sized or an HD video DSLR. The upper compartment is designed specifically for audio gear. It includes a headphone strap and a removable Custom Audio Utility Pouch for cables, cords and other extras. A Hideaway Tripod Mount on the side secures a tripod or a DSLR video rig. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $119. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.

COMPACT POWER
Sometimes a bulky DSLR just isn't practical for taking on a hike or a trip where bag space is limited. Although it's not quite as tiny as a pocket camera, the Canon PowerShot G1 X is a much lighter addition to your camera bag than a DSLR and it delivers top-notch performance. The 18.7x14mm, 14.3-megapixel CMOS sensor is the largest that Canon has put in a PowerShot model. Other features include a fast ƒ/2.8 lens equivalent to 28-112mm in 35mm format, 1080p HD video recording in stereo sound and a 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD. You can record in 14-bit, RAW+JPEG mode, and the G1 X is compatible with Canon's Speedlite flashes. Estimated Street Price: $799. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.

BIG DISPLAY
Hang prints that are fit for exhibiting at an art gallery with the Epson/Fujifilm Stylus Pro 7890 inkjet printer. It allows you to turn those landscapes into posters as large as 24x36 inches and banners that are up to 2x8 feet long. Epson UltraChrome inks produce long-lasting, high-quality prints, with a wide color gamut and rich, deep blacks. You can print on a wide range of media, including canvas, fine-art paper and board stock up to 1.5mm thick. When connected with Fujifilm's MS software, the printer corrects color, optimizes contrast and tone, and enhances image sharpness and texture. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Fujifilm, (877) 845-1608, www.fujifilm.com.


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LENS FIX
Faster batch processing, a simplified interface and support for more cameras are the key features of DxO Optics Pro 7. The software corrects lens distortion and other optical problems in images based on technology that allows it to analyze specific camera and lens combinations. Features include the Lens Softness tool, which gradually corrects each image pixel to achieve a uniformly sharp look, and Unsharp Mask, which has a new slider that applies sharpness from the center of an image to the edges. Three tabs guide the entire workflow, with a corrections preview in the first tab allowing you to get started quickly. List Price: $169 (Standard); $299 (Elite). Contact: DxO Labs, www.dxo.com.

SPEEDY DRIVE
As your image library grows so do your external storage needs. The LaCie eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series is a portable hard drive that has two Thunderbolt ports and two eSATA ports. Use the first port to connect up to two eSATA drives to the Hub and the second one to hook up other devices or hubs if you use multiple eSATA drives. Up to 12 drives (6x Dock, 2x eSATA links per Hub) can be connected via a single connection to a Mac with full eSATA 3 Gb/s speeds. If you have an older Mac, you can now upgrade to a newer one that uses Thunderbolt technology without having to buy new drives. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500, www.lacie.com.


BIG RANGE, SMALL BODY
Sometimes it's nice to stay as light on your feet as possible while traveling and that may mean leaving the DSLR at home. With the compact Leica V-Lux 3 in tow, you can still take great-looking pictures. The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 4.5-108mm ƒ/2.8-5.2 ASPH lens packs an extensive focal length range that's equivalent to 25-600mm in 35mm format. Some of the other high-end features include a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor, full 1920x1080 HD video recording in AVCHD format at 60 frames per second and a 3-inch LCD with 460,000-pixel resolution. You can twist and turn the LCD in almost any direction to shoot from more creative angles. List Price: $950. Contact: Leica, (800) 222-0118, www.leica-camera.com.

VIDEO HEAD
Pan and tilt your HD video DSLR smoothly by supporting it on the Manfrotto 502 professional video head. Variable fluid mechanisms give you full control over how smooth those movements are and a pan fluid drag system offers more ergonomic operation. The MVH502A has a 75mm ball base; the MVH502AH has a flat base with 3⁄8-inch thread. Both models use Manfrotto's bridge architecture and support up to 8.8 pounds counterbalance and 13.2 pounds total payload. The 8.8-pound maximum counterbalance system provides you with more support for better control no matter how the camera's weight is distributed. Estimated Street Price: $225 (MVH502A); $200 (MVH502AH). Contact: Manfrotto, (201) 818-9500, www.manfrotto.us.

CARRY-ON HARD CASE
Keep your gear safe and nearby using the Pelican 1510 Carry On Case. Made from high-impact structural polymers, the case is watertight, dustproof and "nearly indestructible." At 19.7x11x7.6 inches, it meets the FAA's maximum carry-on size. Features include a retractable extension handle, strong polyurethane wheels with stainless-steel bearings and easy-to-open Double Throw latches. The rubber over-molded top and side handles make the case comfortable to carry. Inside, Pick N Pluck foam cushions your camera, lenses and accessories. Estimated Street Price: $255. Contact: Pelican, (800) 473-5422, www.pelican.com.

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HIP SUPPORT
The strain of carrying around a DSLR all of the time can take a toll on your neck. The b-grip EVO belt holder offers some relief. The base attaches to a waist belt and a quick-release plate connects to the camera's tripod socket so your DSLR stays put, without swinging. When you need it, simply discharge the camera using the quick-release mechanism and you're set. There are extra loops for more stability, and you can use an additional belt to secure the bottom of the base to your leg so the camera stays secured to your body. Estimated Street Price: $59. Contact: OmegaBrandess, (410) 374-3250, www.omegabrandess.com.

LED LIGHT
If you're shooting more video with a DSLR, you know that a flash won't take care of your lighting needs. For motion, LED lights are excellent tools for adding light to a subject. The Flashpoint 312 LED mounts to the camera hot-shoe, has daylight and tungsten LEDs, and uses two dials to control the color temperature. Working time is five hours, and it's battery-operated so you can attach it to a light stand for off-camera use. The 312 is small and light so it won't take up too much space in your backpack. Estimated Street Price: $139. Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.


BOOKS ’N SUCH

Spectacular Alaska by Charles Wohlforth (Universe, 2012; ISBN: 978-0789324290). A celebration of Alaska's diverse landscape, people and wildlife, the book consists of 200 photographs. Bald eagles, walruses, moose, whales, wolves and the Alaskan brown bear are all on display, as well as the state's cities, villages and regions, plus Mount McKinley, which is the highest point in North America at 20,320 feet.

Leave No Trace: The Vanishing North American Wilderness by Jim Wark and Roderick F. Nash (Universe, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-7893-2077-3). Photographer Jim Wark captures aerial images of landscapes from Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, the Caribbean and everywhere in between. The book has more than 300 photographs, many of which give the look and feel of an abstract painting. Historian Roderick Nash contributes essays.

The Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature and Wildlife by Sean Arbabi (Amphoto Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-0817400101). This authoritative guide balances inspiration with in-depth technical instruction. Arbabi takes photographers through every stage of shooting landscapes, close-ups and wildlife portraits, with more than 200 images.

Tibet: Culture On The Edge by Phil Borges (Rizzoli, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-8478-3691-8). Combining stunning photos with firsthand accounts, the book explores the indigenous lifestyles and natural surroundings of the Tibetan people. Threatened by industrial development, climate change and political struggles, Tibet remains one of the world's most intriguing places.

Temples of Cambodia: The Heart of Angkor by Barry Brukoff and Helen Ibbitson Jessup
(Vendome Press, 2011; ISBN: 978-0865652620). Experience these architectural wonders in the pages of this large-format hardcover. Originally built as modest brick structures in the 7th and 8th centuries, the temples gradually became more monumental as technology progressed.

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