In Focus: August 2010

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The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm ƒ/4G ED VR II serves as an excellent addition to your lens kit. With a professional-grade lens body made from die-cast magnesium for increased durability, the lens is sealed to resist moisture and dust. There’s a special meniscus glass to help protect the front element. Additional features include Extra-low Dispersion glass for reducing internal reflection and Vibration Reduction II, which gives up to four extra stops when shooting handheld. The lens focuses down to 6.6 feet throughout its zoom range. The addition of A/M (autofocus with manual override, AF priority) mode prevents accidental switching from autofocus to manual focus. Attach the lens to a DX-format (APS-C) camera body and it becomes a 300-600mm zoom. Estimated Street Price: $6,999. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US,

The Tamrac Evolution Messenger 4 converts from a camera bag to a briefcase, giving you a versatile way of carrying photo gear or work and personal items. Capable of holding a DSLR with three additional lenses (including a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8) and a flash, the foam-padded interior compartment can be removed, turning the bag into a briefcase. Behind the main section is another foam-padded compartment that holds most 15.6-inch laptops. The zippered top opens away from the body for quick access to your camera. There are plenty of pockets for storing cell phones, keys and other extras. Estimated Street Price: $134. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717,
The Lexar Professional 600x and 300x CompactFlash memory cards allow you to capture RAW stills and high-definition video clips without interruption. They feature guaranteed minimum sustained write speeds of 90 MB/s and 45 MB/s, respectively, when paired with a UDMA 6-enabled card reader. The 600x cards are available in capacities of 8 GB to 32 GB, while the 300x cards come in 4 GB to 32 GB sizes. Both include downloadable Image Rescue 4 software for recovering lost or deleted files. Also available is the portable Professional ExpressCard CF Reader, which is compatible with all UDMA and non-UDMA CF cards, and supports speeds of up to 133 MB/s. Estimated Street Price: $499 (32 GB 600x); $44 (reader). Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418,
Improve your wildlife shots using the Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM. The lens now features Optical Stabilization technology, which allows you to shoot handheld in low light. The OS function makes viewing stabilized images in the viewfinder possible on Sony and Pentax bodies, if desired. The lens is designed for full-frame DSLRs. With smaller APS-C-sized sensors, the focal length increases to 100-300mm on most cameras. Two FLD glass elements, which are comparable to fluorite glass and compensate for color aberration, help make the lens more compact. The Hyper-Sonic Motor delivers quiet, high-speed autofocus as well as full-time manual-focus capability. Estimated Street Price: $2,470. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858,
For Lensbaby users, the Control Freak is the third Creative Effects SLR camera lens to join the lineup with the Composer and Muse lenses. Optimized for macro photography with extensive focus control, the Control Freak can be compressed and bent until the desired focus is found. Pushing a button locks focus into place. Once locked, you can fine-tune it using the focus ring, as well as fine-tune the tilt by rotating the knobs on the end of the lens’ three metal rods. Focus as close as nine inches away from your subject. The Control Freak is compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap system, allowing you to capture a wide range of creative effects. Estimated Street Price: $350. Contact: Lensbaby, (877) 536-7222,

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in focus 2009
The Mountain Hardwear Raven 2 two-person backpacking tent is quick and easy to pitch. The vertical sidewalls allow for more interior room and it has a fully taped fly, taped perimeter seam, corners and welded guy-clip anchors. The tent is rain-tested to withstand 1,200 inches of rain in 24 hours. Two side doors for easy access and two dry entry vestibules keep the rain out and stow gear. Made of highly durable material, the tent provides nearly year-round warmth and protection. Estimated Street Price: $250. Contact: Mountain Hardwear, (800) 953-8375,
Get a better look at birds and other wildlife using MINOX BV II binoculars. The four new, updated models combine a sleek ergonomic design with high-performance features. Multicoated lens elements minimize reflection while providing high light transmission and neutral color rendition. Roof prisms with phase-corrected coating deliver images with sharp detail and high contrast, even in low-light conditions. The sturdy aluminum bodies, which come in compact or full-sized versions, are coated with a new black rubber material for a comfortable, sure grip. They’re also waterproof down to about 10 feet. Estimated Street Price: $149 to $299. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080,
The rugged Pelican 9410 LED Lantern features three illumination modes (high, low and flashing) with a water-resistant electronic switch that toggles between modes at the push of a button. The switch also features an integrated battery level indicator that illuminates when the lantern is on. Engineered with four next-generation LEDs, the 9410 shines 710 lumens at peak beam intensity. Tough polymer construction ensures that it can withstand harsh outdoor environments. Powered by Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable battery technology, it boasts nearly two hours of run time (nearly five hours in low mode). Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Pelican, (800) 473-5422,
Hike comfortably wearing the Hi-Tec V-Lite Diablo sandals. The upper is made of stretchy neoprene to keep you dry, while stretch cord lacing features a locking toggle for a secure fit. The heel strap is conveniently removable, while the toe features molded rubber for extra protection. Crafted using a soft combination of synthetic and neoprene, the sandals ensure a lightweight, breathable fit. The comfort lining offers plush cushioning, while a compression-molded EVA midsole eases shock on impact. Estimated Street Price: $75. Contact: Hi-Tec, (209) 545-1111,

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The Litepanels MicroPro Hybrid combines continuous light output with flash functionality. In Continuous Mode, the Hybrid provides soft, wraparound lighting especially useful for shooting video on an HD-capable DSLR. The Flash setting produces a 400-percent brighter burst for illuminating stills. The unit generates 1.5 hours of continuous output using six AA batteries or 5 to 6 hours using Energizer e2 Lithium cells. An integrated dimmer at the top of the housing delivers instant dimming from 100 percent to zero with minimal color shift. A filter holder allows you to use any of the three included color/diffusion gels. It measures 5.5×3.7×1.5 inches and weighs 10.5 ounces. List Price: $525. Contact: Litepanels, (818) 752-7009,
Stay under the radar when carrying your gear using the Think Tank Photo Retrospective series of bags. Consisting of three shoulder bags and two lens bags, each model is made from soft, supple fabrics that conform to the body. The three Camera Shoulder bags accommodate a pro-sized DSLR with up to a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lens attached. Front pockets hold additional camera bodies without lenses, and an organizer pocket is built into the main compartment for accessories. The two Lens Changer Shoulder bags hold two or three lenses carried in separate compartments for quick access while changing. All models feature seam-sealed rain covers for protection against the elements. Estimated Street Price: $149 to $179 (Camera); $99 to $119 (Lens). Contact: Think Tank Photo, (866) 558-4465,
Pan the landscape smoothly with your camera using the Induro PHQ 5-way panhead. Providing dual tilt, base and top plate rotation, the head offers full, repeatable indexing on five axes for maximum control and flexibility. Features include 360-degree rotational control on the base and head tilt axis, fully graduated scales allowing you to see and set the position of your tilts, pans and shifts, and five bubble levels. Collapsing control handles make packing and transport easy. Available in two sizes, each PHQ panhead includes a matching Arca-Swiss-compatible quick-release plate. Estimated Street Price: $315 (PHQ1); $395 (PHQ3). Contact: Induro, (914) 347-3300,

The Quick-Shot Sling from Domke is a lightweight camera bag that evenly distributes the weight of your gear for maximum comfort. A padded interior and adjustable dividers keep equipment safe, and the sling strap makes moving the bag from back to front quick with one easy-access motion. A dual-zippered top provides instant access to the camera, while a front zipper opens the entire face of the bag for access to other belongings. An additional zippered front pocket is convenient for cell phones, keys and other extras. There are two models, sized to fit most popular cameras and made of high-quality cotton canvas or RuggedWear waxed canvas. Estimated Street Price: $104 to $129. Contact: Domke (Tiffen), (800) 645-2522,
Tokina is starting to make lens mounts for Sony shooters again. The first since 2005, the AT-X 116 PRO DX is an ultrawide-angle 11-16mm lens with a fast ƒ/2.8 aperture for capturing high-quality images in low-light conditions. The one-touch Focus Clutch Mechanism allows you to switch between autofocus and manual focus by simply snapping the focus ring forward for AF and back toward the camera for manual. This lens is available for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras with APS-C-sized sensors. For Nikon shooters, there’s no need to change the AF/MF switch on the camera body. On Canon bodies, the focus ring adjusts the mode so there’s no second AF/MF switch. Estimated Street Price: $649. Contact: THK Photo, (800) 421-1141,

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Position your DSLR just the way you want quickly and easily using the lightweight Giottos MH5011 three-way pan/tilt fluid-effect head. Features include a built-in, safety-lock quick-release system with a 1/4-inch camera screw on the quick-release camera plate, four bubble levels and large-diameter rubber control handles. The MH5011 weighs 0.82 pounds, yet is capable of supporting up to 8.8 pounds. Height is 4.2 inches and the base is equipped with a 3⁄8-inch threaded mounting hole for easily connecting with most tripods. Estimated Street Price: $59. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,
With messenger, zoom, shoulder, sling and backpack styles to choose from, the Vanguard UP-Rise series of camera bags offers a lot of versatility. Capable of growing in size to accommodate changing lens and gear needs, the bags expand with one easy zipper motion and shrink back down when the extra room is no longer necessary. The messenger bags feature interchangeable use as a camera or work bag. They hold a laptop and have customizable interiors with thick padding. The slings allow quick access with their Quick Zip back and side access points. Estimated Street Price: $49 to $149. Contact: Vanguard, (800) 875-3322,
Sometimes using an HD-capable DSLR to record video of your outdoor adventures isn’t practical. The Sanyo Xacti VPC-SH1 is a full HD camcorder that weighs 7.2 ounces and measures just 1.7 inches thick. On that slim body is a 35mm wide-angle lens with a video zoom function that enlarges the sensor area and makes focal lengths of 35-1050mm possible. In addition to the standard recording buttons, separate buttons for photo and video are located on the upper front part of the body for easily and comfortably capturing low-angle images. Other key specs include full 1920×1080 resolution, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video format, built-in stereo microphones and Digital Image Stabilizer technology. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Sanyo,
View your images in sharp detail on the NEC 27-inch MultiSync PA271W display. The high-definition monitor features a 10-bit p-IPS panel, 2560×1440 pixel resolution and internal 14-bit programmable 3-D lookup tables. When using the 10-bit DisplayPort input, the monitor can display 1.07 billion colors out of a palette of 4.3 trillion and provides the widest viewing angles possible with minimal off-angle color shift using XtraView+ technology. The new MultiProfiler application provides easy-to-use control over several features, including Picture Mode preset
configuration, which utilizes the SpectraViewII Engine to allow multiple color modes to be quickly configured. Estimated Street Price: $1,399. Contact: NEC Display Solutions, (866) NEC-MORE,
Designed for use in the field, the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 hard drive delivers transfer rates of up to 110 MB/s, combining efficiency and durability. With a scratch-resistant aluminum shell, internal anti-shock absorbers and a shock-resistant rubber bumper, the drive can handle harsh outdoor environments. It’s also drop resistant up to 7.2 feet. If you don’t have a USB 3.0 connection, you can add one with a USB 3.0 PCIe card or USB 3.0 PCIe Express card. It’s backward-compatible with USB 2.0, meaning it will work with any computer or notebook that has a USB connection. The 2.5-inch drive comes with software for easy formatting and backup, plus 10 GB of online storage for a year. Estimated Street Price: $149 (500 GB). Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500,

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View your images with a more critical eye using the Marshall Electronics V-LCD50-HDMI portable camera-top monitor. The 5-inch LED-backlit screen offers useful viewing angles if you’re looking for a portable monitoring solution. High-end features include False Color and Peaking filters, Image Flip, Freeze Frame, HDMI Auto Color Space and Ratio detect. The monitor also includes a wide variety of formats and markers, four user-configurable front panel function buttons, RGB Check Field/Field Detect, and RGB gain and bias control. This monitor can operate off of four AA batteries or the included power supply. The bottom ¼”-20 mount allows the lightweight unit to attach to most DSLRs. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: Marshall Electronics, (800) 800-6608,
The Cotton Carrier Camera System allows you to keep one or two DSLRs attached to your body at all times while hiking outdoors. With the additions of the Lens Stabilization Strap and the Camera Tether, the camera is held in place more securely. The Lens Stabilization Strap wraps across your camera’s lens, ensuring that it stays snug while eliminating swinging. The Camera Tether (one for each camera) clips from the Camera Vest to your camera, providing protection against an accidental drop when it’s removed. Estimated Street Price: $169. Contact: Cotton Carrier,
Convert slides, negatives and pictures to digital using the Flashpoint 3-in-1 Photo Scanner. Features include a built-in, 2.4-inch color LCD screen for viewing and editing images, and a memory card reader for SD cards. The 5-megapixel, standalone scanner is very easy to use. You simply place your slides or negatives into the two trays and press a button, which scans the image instantly onto your memory card. Setup is minimal as the unit is designed for use immediately after plugging it into an AC outlet. Estimated Street Price: $139. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500,


The Shorebreak Art of Clark Little by Clark Little (Clark Little Photography, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-615-31199-9). The book features a collection of Little’s popular photos, as well as new images capturing the spirit and beauty of Oahu’s North Shore. Forewords by Jack Johnson and Kelly Slater introduce readers to the more than 100 photographs.

Rivers of California: Nature’s Lifelines in the Golden State by Tim Palmer (Heyday Books, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-59714-129-1). This hardcover contains more than 170 photographs showing the streams that flow through the state during all four seasons. Palmer discusses the threats facing many of these ecosystems, visiting rivers during times of drought as well as in flood conditions.

Digital Landscape Photography: In The Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters by Michael Frye (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-81243-4). The book shows you how to apply Adams’ working process to today. Sections on light, composition, mood and the darkroom all show what can be achieved using and understanding Adams’ thinking. Frye provides his own photographs as examples.

Understanding Close-Up Photography: Creative Close Encounters With or Without a Macro Lens by Bryan Peterson (Amphoto Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-8174-2719-1). Learn how to photograph a variety of subjects from animals and plants to objects found in the kitchen or even a junkyard. In addition to information on equipment, exposure, light and composition, the book explores elements of technique that go beyond the norm.

Rick Sammon’s Social Media Marketing for Photographers by Rick Sammon, ( This app is basically a short course on the business side of photography. It consists of a set of five movies, narrated and illustrated with original pictures by Digital Photo columnist Rick Sammon. The app was codeveloped by Juan Pons, the cofounder of the Digital Photo Experience.