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In Focus: December 2015

Editors' Picks
Outdoor Photographer may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. Outdoor Photographer does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting Outdoor Photographer.

An unconventional twist on the traditional photographic print, Bay Photo’s Maple Wood Prints are made directly on half-inch wood board with a maple surface, in either natural maple or with a white ink underlay for bolder color reproduction. Both options allow the grain of the wood to add a subtle texture to the surface of your print, an ideal complement for landscape and nature photography. Maple Wood Prints are available in 37 sizes, from 5×5 inches to 4×8 feet, with a choice of border widths or full-bleed. List Price: From $22. Contact: Bay Photo,

Polarizing filters are essential gear for nature photography, reducing haze and cutting glare and reflections for more saturated colors. The polarizing foil used in the B+W HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer provides 99.5% light transmission, losing only 1 to 1.5 stops of light. Compare this to traditional polarizers, which lose as much as 3 stops of light. Available in diameters from 37mm to 122mm. List Price: From $128. Contact: B+W (Schneider Optics),

With a massive resolution of 50.6 megapixels, the full-frame Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R cameras have, in this respect, more in common with digital medium-format cameras than other DSLRs. To put it in perspective, the resulting file is nearly seven times larger than the resolution required for an Outdoor Photographer cover. This translates to latitude for huge prints or creative cropping after capture. The only difference between the two models is that the EOS 5DS R employs a low-pass filter design that effectively cancels the effect for enhanced sharpness. List Price: $3,899 (each/body only). Contact: Canon,

Ideal for telephoto wildlife photography when freedom of movement makes a tripod impractical, Cotton Carrier’s Steady Shot attaches to the Cotton Carrier Camera Vest, turning your body into a camera support. Attach your camera or telephoto lens directly to the Steady Shot, or use your own quick-release plate. You even can attach a ballhead, or use the Steady Shot for video work with a fluid head. The Steady Shot is available with the Cotton Carrier Camera Vest, or separately if you already own one. List Price: $319 (with Camera Vest); $219 (Steady Shot only). Contact: Cotton Carrier,

The latest model in Epson’s all-new SureColor photo printer lineup is the P400, a 13-inch wide-format printer featuring a new eight-color UltraChrome HG2 pigment inkset with red and orange inks, plus dedicated channels for Matte and Photo Black inks. The P400 can make borderless prints up to 13×19 inches, and with support for roll paper, panorama prints up to 10 feet long. It also can handle heavier fine-art papers up to 1.3mm thick. Built-in WiFi connectivity allows you to print wirelessly. List Price: $599. Contact: Epson,

While most photographers likely will opt for the highly regarded Fujifilm X-T1, the new X-T1 IR has the unique ability to capture the infrared spectrum for both stills and video. Apart from this feature, its specs are basically identical to the X-T1, with a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, a generously sized electronic viewfinder and a magnesium body that’s built to be weather-resistant when paired with Fujinon weather-resistant lenses like the new XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR. These cameras are fast, too, with continuous shooting up to 8 frames per second. List Price: $1,699 (X-T1 IR/body only); $1,299 (X-T1/body only). Contact: Fujifilm,

If you take laptops and drives into the field for on-location backup, G-Tech’s ev All-Terrain Case protects their G-DRIVE ev series drives from drops, dust and water. It can float and shield the drive from damage in up to one foot of water for up to 30 seconds, as well as protect it from drops up to 2 meters. The ATC is available with a G-Tech ev drive, or sold separately. List Price: $49 (ev All-Terrain Case only); $179 (with 1 TB drive). Contact: G-Technology,

Known for their sleek MacBook backpacks, Incase also makes some excellent camera bags, like the DSLR Pro Pack. It’s the largest of their camera bags, with a highly customizable interior that can accommodate two pro bodies and multiple lenses and accessories. The rear-loading pack allows quick access through the top to a camera with lens attached. An additional compartment on the front has padded pockets for a 15-inch laptop, tablet and smartphone, plus personal items. List Price: $149. Contact: Incase,

For photographers who venture out year-round, the Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW is a four-season, rear-loading pack with a customizable interior that can accommodate a pro DSLR with a lens attached, plus an additional pro DSLR body, 3 to 4 lenses and accessories. At the front of the pack is a large, expandable pocket with a waterproof barrier and drain holes for wet outdoor gear. The pack also includes a detachable all-weather cover for additional protection. Straps at the sides of the pack allow you to attach heavy items like your tripod or skis without obstructing access to your camera. List Price: $389. Contact: Lowepro,

Created specifically with outdoor photographers in mind, the LensPen OutdoorPro Kit holds everything you need to safely keep your optics clean of dust, smudges and fingerprints. The kit contains the original LensPen for your lenses, plus the MiniPro for your optical viewfinder and action camera lens. It also includes the MicroKlear microfiber cloth for cleaning non-optical surfaces of your camera and lenses, and a FogKlear cloth for anti-fog protection, which provides more than 200 applications before needing to be replaced. The kit comes in a carrying case that can be attached to a belt or camera strap. List Price: $34. Contact: LensPen,

The new Manfrotto 290 Dual is a three-section aluminum design with a 90º center column mechanism that lets you extend the column either vertically or horizontally, making it possible to explore a variety of compositions without moving the tripod itself. Coupled with the tripod’s four leg angle positions, this feature allows you to position your camera at ground level. The overall height range is from 2.17 inches to just over 5.75 feet, with a load capacity of 8.82 pounds. List Price: $239 (with 804 Mark II 3-way head). Contact: Manfrotto,

Astrophotography has become so popular with landscape photographers that Nikon introduced a full-frame DSLR dedicated to the practice, the D810A, which incorporates an IR cut filter and a 36.3-megapixel sensor optimized for astrophotography, enabling the camera to capture the red tones of the H-alpha (656nm) wavelength of emission nebulae. It also offers long exposures up to 15 minutes, plus built-in interval and time-lapse modes with the ability to capture an unlimited number of JPEG images at shutter speeds slower than four seconds for star-trail photography and time-lapse videos. List Price: $3,799 (body only). Contact: Nikon,

Fine-art photo papers take your best images and elevate them to gallery-quality prints that you’ll be proud to display. Moab by Legion offers a variety of archival papers, like their new Juniper Baryta Rag 305, a double-weight inkjet paper made from 100% cotton with a subtle gloss surface. It’s available in cut-sheet sizes from 5×7 to 17×22 inches, plus A2 and A4, and also 50-foot rolls in 17-, 24- and 44-inch widths. List Price: From $18.98. Contact: Moab by Legion Paper,

Weatherproof camera construction and sealing is a feature usually found in the most expensive professional DSLRs that sell for much more than the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Pair this 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera with one of Olympus’ M.ZUIKO Digital weather-sealed lenses for extra protection shooting in inclement weather. The camera also includes Olympus 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization for up to 5 stops of shake reduction for both stills and 1080 HD video. Firmware Version 2.0, due to be released in late 2015, but not yet available at the time of this writing, promises to enable 4K time-lapse video capture, too. List Price: $1,099 (body only). Contact: Olympus,

A convenient alternative to a neck strap for your lightweight mirrorless camera, the Mirrorless Wrist Strap from OP/TECH USA attaches to your camera’s strap cleat and secures to your wrist with an adjustable “security slide.” Made from neoprene for comfort, the Mirrorless Wrist Strap features a quick disconnect mechanism, allowing you to detach from the camera without removing the strap from your wrist. List Price: $9.95. Contact: OP/TECH USA,

Unlike traditional quick-release plates that give you only one mounting surface on the bottom of the camera, L-plates provide an additional mounting surface on the side of the camera, allowing you to quickly switch from horizontal to vertical orientation without recomposing your shot. This also keeps the weight of your camera directly over the apex of the tripod for optimum stability. Really Right Stuff L-plate designs are specific per camera model for a custom fit, and machined from high-grade aluminum. We also like that they’re made in the USA. List Price: Varies, depending on camera and L-plate type. Contact: Really Right Stuff,

One of our favorite features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 is the articulating eye-level EVF that tilts up to 90º, similar to the one in the GX7, but larger. The 20.3-megapixel camera incorporates an innovative Dual I.S. image-stabilization system, which leverages both body I.S. and lens I.S. working together simultaneously, especially useful for handheld telephoto work. In addition to stills, the DMC-GX8 also can capture 4K video, from which you can extract 8-megapixel still images captured at 30 fps. Panasonic has also improved autofocus performance in low-light situations and added Starlight AF for sharp images of the night sky. List Price: $1,199 (body only). Contact: Panasonic,

Tilt-shift lenses provide a number of creative advantages for landscape work, including an enhanced ability to control depth of field to capture edge-to-edge sharpness from foreground to background and to correct perspective issues like keystoning. The main drawback of tilt-shift lenses is their high cost. Samyang’s Tilt-Shift 24mm F3.5 lets you explore the advantages of tilt-shift optics for less than half the price of other options. It’s designed for full-frame cameras, but is also compatible with APS-C-sensor cameras, and available in mounts for all popular systems. Estimated Street Price: $799. Contact: Samyang,

Extra protection for your precision optics is always a good idea. Slinger neoprene lens pouches are an inexpensive way to shield your lenses from dust, moisture, bumps and abrasion. Available in multiple sizes for small primes to extra-large telephotos, they feature a secure drawstring enclosure and a clip for attaching the pouch to your camera bag’s D-ring. List Price: From $9.95. Contact: Slinger (Adorama),

Sony’s full-frame a7 redefined expectations for mirrorless cameras, and the series continues to push the boundaries of the segment with the new a7R II. Its 42.4-megapixel, back-illuminated sensor with no low-pass filter currently sits atop’s sensor ratings, with an overall score of 98, besting top-tier mirrorless and professional DSLRs alike. The a7R II includes Sony’s 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization for up to 4.5 stops of compensation, and can capture 4K video with stereo sound via the built-in mic or with an optional external mic. The camera also offers a Silent Shooting mode that uses an electronic shutter for noiseless image capture and no sharpness-compromising vibration. List Price: $3,199 (body only). Contact: Sony,

TAMRON 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
Designed for use with APS-C-sensor cameras, the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC provides an incredibly versatile 35mm-equivalent range of 27-300mm, making it an ideal lens for travel, allowing you to keep gear to a minimum. Available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts, the 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC incorporates Tamron’s Vibration Compensation image stabilization for sharp handheld shots even at the tele end of the zoom range. It’s very compact and lightweight at just 3.7 inches long and 14.1 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $249. Contact: Tamron,

SIGMA 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A
With a constant fast ƒ/2 aperture throughout its wide-angle zoom range, the Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A is designed to provide full-frame cameras with a lens that performs like a fast prime, but with the versatility of a zoom. Ideal for working travel and landscape compositions, the lens is compatible with Sigma’s USB Dock, which allows you to update lens firmware and customize its performance characteristics. Available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts. List Price: $999. Contact: Sigma,

Available in three sizes, the largest of which will accommodate a pro DSLR with lenses and accessories, Tamrac’s Corona is a highly adaptable pack, and can be worn as a backpack or a sling. The side and front panels give you multiple ways to access your gear, especially helpful if you choose to configure your Corona as a sling. A large top compartment has room for a jacket and personal accessories, and the rear compartment features a padded pocket to protect a 15-inch laptop. The Corona also includes a form-fitted, seam-sealed rain cover. List Price: From $169. Contact: Tamrac,


TOKINA 24-70mm F/2.8 PRO FX
A premium wide to mild tele lens for full-frame Canon and Nikon cameras, the Tokina 24-70mm F/2.8 PRO FX is constructed with multiple Super-Low Dispersion elements designed to provide optical resolution to match the capability of ultra-high-res sensors. Tokina’s One-touch Focus Clutch Mechanism lets you switch from auto to manual focus quickly and intuitively—simply pull the focus ring back toward the lens mount to engage manual focus. List Price: $999. Contact: Kenko Tokina USA,

The Alta Pro 263AGH tripod features Vanguard’s Multi-Angle Central Column, which allows the column to move from zero to 180º angles horizontally or vertically, making this a very versatile tripod and an excellent choice for macro work. The 263AGH kit includes the GH-100 grip-style ballhead that allows 360º panning, 122º side-to-side tilt and 8º back-to-front tilt with the convenience of single-handed operation and the ability to adjust ballhead tension. List Price: $249. Contact: Vanguard,

Expanding the range of pro-quality lens options for Sony’s a7-series cameras, the new Zeiss Batis 2/25 provides a prime wide-angle focal length and fast ƒ/2 maximum aperture, plus a minimum focusing distance of just 7.9 inches. Compatible with all E-mount Sony cameras, the lens features weatherproof metal construction to resist dust and moisture. It also offers a unique OLED that displays focus distance and depth-of-field data that’s easily readable even in low-light conditions. List Price: $1,299. Contact: Zeiss,