In Focus: July 2009

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Take more dramatic landscape shots with Nikon’s compact AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 10-24mm ƒ/3.5-4.5G ED. The lens creates picture angles ranging from 109 to 61 degrees, giving the lens a 35mm- (or FX format)-equivalent focal-length range of 15-36mm. Silent Wave Motor technology enables quiet, fast and accurate autofocusing down to less than a foot. Advanced optics featuring two extra-low-dispersion glass and three aspherical lens elements minimize distortion. List Price: $899. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-UX,
For those photo trips that involve more than just a camera and lens, the Tamrac Ultra Pro Series shoulder bags offer a lot of room and great features. The foam-padded front pocket is designed to hold a laptop, while the Double Lens-Bridge Divider System inside cradles cameras with grips and lenses attached. The Ultra Pro 11 holds two SLRs with attached lenses, three to four additional lenses, accessories and a 13.3-inch laptop. The Ultra Pro 13 also holds two SLRs with attached lenses, four to five additional lenses, accessories and a 15.4-inch notebook. Estimated Street Price: $149 (Pro 11); $169 (Pro 13). Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717,

Steady your next shot using Sigma’s 18-50mm ƒ/2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM lens, which features a built-in anti-shake system and large aperture for taking high-quality images in low light. Top features include a minimum focusing distance of 11.8 inches, a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.1 and Super Multi-Layer Coating that reduces flare and ghosting. Inner focusing and zooming systems help achieve good image quality throughout the entire zoom range. The Hyper Sonic Motor delivers quiet high-speed autofocus. List Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858,

The Gitzo Ocean Traveler’s compact size and sturdy frame make it a reliable tripod if you spend a lot of time taking pictures in environments that are rich in salty water, sand, mud and high humidity. The amount of water and debris that could get inside the tubes and locking mechanisms is minimized, thanks to special inserts. The Traveler is ideal for use with lenses up to 200mm. It features all of Gitzo’s most advanced features, including 6X tubing, “Ground Level Set” allowing the user to get the tripod down to ground level, removable self-locking feet, rapid and reversible column and retractable hook. Estimated Street Price: $875. Contact: Gitzo (Bogen Imaging), (201) 818-9500,

Give your hard-drive capacity a boost with the LaCie Rugged XL, a super-sized version of the original Rugged that holds up to 1 TB. The drive looks and is built the same as the original with its durable aluminum casing, signature orange rubber sleeve, internal bumper to minimize shock and heat-dissipating features. The drive is easy to set up and comes with LaCie’s Backup Assistant software, which allows you to customize the formatting. The Rugged XL is compatible with both Mac and PC systems. List Price: $159. Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500,

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in focus 2009
Zip up the Woolrich Weatherchaser Vest on those cool summer nights. The lightweight, 100-percent polyester quick-dry microfiber shell is treated with Teflon Fabric Protection to resist stains and water while remaining breathable. It also delivers UPF 50+ sun protection and blocks 99 percent of the wind. The Dri-Release piqué lining wicks away body vapor when you’re active. List Price: $70. Contact: Woolrich, (800) 995-1299,
The Windmill Trekker Lighter from Essential Gear is windproof, water-resistant and built with a tough elastomer armor that can withstand the outdoors. It has a large, four-gram fuel tank good for more than 1,000 ignitions on a single fill of butane fuel. A fuel window makes it easy to tell at a glance when to refuel. The lighter can withstand 70 to 80 mph winds, refills quickly and weighs 2.5 ounces. List Price: $55. Contact: Essential Gear, (800) 582-3861,
Get a closer view of birds and other wildlife with the MINOX Snow Hunter BV binoculars. Designed to perform well in extreme conditions, the binoculars hold up in very cold (-22° F) or very hot (140° F) temperatures. Shockproof rubber armoring protects the optics in the toughest circumstances and provides a firm, comfortable grip with its nonslip surface, even if you’re wearing gloves. Innovative sealing technology on the inside protects them against dust and waterproofs them to a depth of nearly 10 feet. List Price: $319 (8×42); $329 (10×42).
Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080,
Bogs Outfitter MT Boots are comfortable, durable and waterproof. Designed with Moisture Transfer technology, the boots let out the sweaty air that can build up in the arch area, keeping your feet comfortable and dry. The entire upper part of this boot is also breathable. Other features include a thermo-molded EVA midsole, OrthoLite sock liner, neoprene pad and tumbled leather/rubber overlay. The outsoles have a nonslip, self-cleaning design, providing comfortable footing on any terrain. Estimated Street Price: $110. Contact: Bogs Boots, (800) 201-2070,

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Capture big images fast using Hoodman’s RAW UDMA 300x CompactFlash memory cards. The cards come in capacities ranging from 2 GB to 16 GB and have a transfer rate of 45 MBps. Hoodman now uses SSD (Solid State Drive) flash inside the cards for increased reliability and stability. The cards also are enabled with UDMA, increasing card-to-computer transfer rates considerably when paired with a compatible reader. List Price: $49 (2 GB); $89 (4 GB); $179 (8 GB); $299 (16 GB). Contact: Hoodman USA, (800) 818-3946,
Shoot with the versatile smc Pentax DA* 60-250mm ƒ/4 ED (IF) SDM lens, a nice option for those hard-to-get shots of fast-moving wildlife. The zoom covers a 35mm-equivalent focal-length range of 92-383mm. With a maximum constant ƒ/4 aperture across the entire zoom range, the 60-250mm delivers fast shutter speeds, solid depth-of-field control and extended capabilities for shooting in low light while in the field. Estimated Street Price: $1,499. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155,
The Olympus FL-BK04 Flash Bracket and FL-BKM03 Twin Flash Bracket are designed to work seamlessly with the E-30 and E-3’s dual-axis LCD monitors for easy free-angle Live View shooting. The FL-BK04 allows for easy mounting of an external flash on either the left or right side of the camera for vertical flash shooting. With the FL-BKM03, you can freely adjust the arm angle and flash position to make flash shooting possible using any Zuiko Digital lens, including ultra-wide-angle lenses. List Price: $199 (each). Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448,
Olympus-FL Olympus

The airport-friendly Pro Roller x-Series from Lowepro comes with a lot of hidden features designed to make traveling with your gear easier and safer. The Lock & Go System has a three-digit combination lock and a retractable cable for keeping your equipment secure. You also can downsize at the last minute by putting essential gear in the unique Reserve Pack that fits inside the roller and has smaller carry-on dimensions. Also nifty is the bag’s retractable TelePod Handle that serves as a makeshift tripod mount or lighting platform with a built-in threaded camera mount. List Price: TBA. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE,
Support your high-definition camcorder using one of Vinten’s lightweight Vision AS pan-and-tilt heads. The company’s Perfect Balance technology allows you to move the camera in any direction without having to constantly readjust. The side-load camera-plate feature lets you mount and dismount the camera in seconds, reducing setup time and improving operational flexibility. The restyled pan-and-tilt brake knobs have a more robust and user-friendly design for withstanding everyday use. There are four models, and load capacity ranges from 4.4 to 32 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $1,181 to $4,234. Contact: Vinten, (888) 2-VINTEN,
Support your camera with the innovative QuadroPod from Novoflex. The versatile four-leg tripod system features a modularly designed tripod collar that can be equipped with different leg variations. Aluminum or carbon legs with three or four sections are available with height ranging from 2.8 to 70.9 inches. It’s available in three versions—with a center column, without it and a variable model with three or four legs. Having a fourth leg increases stability, which is ideal when using long, heavy telephoto lenses. Load capacity is a robust 110 pounds. List Price: TBA. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,
The Leica M8.2 Safari camera set features the latest M-series digital rangefinder camera in an olive-green finish, a silver anodized Leica Elmarit-M 28mm ƒ/2.8 ASPH lens with a classically designed metal lens shade and a silver E89 UV/IR filter. It also includes a premium-quality brown calfskin strap and a matching camera bag. Specs are the same as for the standard model: a 10.3-megapixel CCD, 2.5-inch LCD with scratch-resistant cover, and a rugged and compact body (5.5×3.2×1.5 inches, 19.2 ounces). Estimated Street Price: $9,000. Contact: Leica, (800) 222-0118,

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The second generation of the Windows Home Server features expanded support for Macs with backup to the server now possible through the Leopard operating system’s Time Machine utility. Powered by HP MediaSmart Servers ex485/ex487, the unit allows you to back up and access digital content frommultiple computers. Designed for a home network, you can easily access your photos and video clips from anywhere through a secure website. Estimated Street Price: $600 (750 GB); $750 (1.5 TB). Contact: Microsoft, (800) 642-7676,; HP, (800) 752-0900,
Get creative with your nature photography without spending a lot of time behind a computer using Alien Skin Software’s Snap Art 2. Choose from more than 700 presets and 10 natural media, including oil paint, watercolor and pencil sketch. The app simulates the look of individual brushstrokes on a canvas texture, giving the final composition more authenticity. You can customize the brush size, paint thickness and other qualities to create your signature look. List Price: $199. Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-SKIN,
Block side glare and reflection from your laptop screen using Think Tank Photo’s Pixel Sunscreen 2.0. The small, round and very portable spring-loaded screen pops open instantly for quick access. The overhead cover can be pulled over the sunscreen for extra protection in extreme sunlight. There are side and back openings for routing through cords and cables. The screen works for 12- to 17-inch laptops. List Price: $69. Contact: Think Tank Photo, (866) 55-THINK,

Turn your digital darkroom into a full art studio with Corel Painter 11. The latest version of the program features upgraded digital painting, photo painting and drawing tools. RealBristle technology introduced in the last version to enhance paintbrushes now applies to dry media. So when using markers, pens and pencils, you can shade, create fine or thick strokes and control shading by changing the angle of your stylus on the tablet. Also new is a resizable mixer palette for mixing custom colors. List Price: $399 (full); $199 (upgrade). Contact: Corel, (800) 772-6735,

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Take steadier stills and videos when using one of the latest video D-SLRs with Zacuto’s Gunstock Shooters. There are four D-SLR models—the Sharp Shooter, Marksmen, Sniper and Precision Shooter. They work with all camera models, are very lightweight and adjust to anyone’s eye or shoulder height. Basic features of all Shooters include the Zgrip Z-Mount, shoulder pad, Z-Finder Optical Viewfinder, strap and mounting risers. All kits are light and easy to handle, which is critical for smooth movement and less user fatigue. Estimated Street Price: $1,432 to $5,239. Contact: Zacuto USA, (888) 294-3456,
Vanguard USA’s Kenline i-Pro 56 is a midsized, heavy-duty photo backpack with a fully customizable interior. Each of the soft-cloth-lined dividers can be easily detached and reattached to fit lenses, camera bodies, battery packs and other accessories. It holds a couple of SLR bodies, four to five lenses, and has a laptop slot for up to 15-inch screens. Other features include anti-shock feet, water-resistant fabric and side straps for holding a tripod, as well as built-in wheels and an extending handle for easily rolling through an airport. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Vanguard USA,
Increase the speed and efficiency of your workflow with SanDisk ImageMate memory card readers. Besides traditional drag-and-drop, there’s a transfer button for automatically launching an app or a website that you specify, like Photoshop or Flickr. From there, you can transfer or edit photos. The All-In-One ImageMate reader reaches speeds of up to 34 MBps when using SanDisk’s Extreme IV 45 MBps CompactFlash card. The Multi-Card reader is capable of up to 30 MBps (read) and 27 MBps (write) when using an Extreme III 30 MBps SDHC card. List Price: $29 (All-In-One); $19 (Multi-Card). Contact: SanDisk, (408) 801-1000,
Take sharp pictures or video clips while out riding your bicycle with help from the Flashpoint Bicycle Bracket. The support is made from a high-grade alloy and is available in two sizes for 25.4mm and 31.8mm handlebars. You need a ballhead to attach it to your camera. List Price: $37. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500,


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Meditations in Monochrome, Digital Edition by William Neill (Sadhna Press, 2009; The OP columnist selects 52 of his photographs, ranging from classic western landscapes to intimate nature scenes, for this stunning black-and-white digital portfolio. The book is available for download and is delivered as a PDF file.

Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World, Updated Edition by Gary Braasch (University of California Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-520-26025-2). The award-winning photojournalist has added nearly 100 factual revisions and text additions, updating the book to the election of President Barack Obama. Braasch uses his breathtaking photographs to give a fresh and insightful take on climate change.

Perfect Exposure: The Professional Guide to Capturing Perfect Digital Photographs by Michael Freeman (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-81171-0). Unlock the secrets of taking properly exposed photographs using this in-depth guide. Freeman uses clear examples from real photo assignments and accompanies them with explanations.

Colorado Scenic Byways: Taking the Other Road
by Jim Steinberg and Susan J. Tweit (Portfolio Publications, Inc., 2008; ISBN: 978-188349869-6). This two-volume set explores Colorado’s 25 official Scenic and Historic Byways,which first became recognized nationally in the 1980s. The pictorial comes with an atlas and a road guide.

3-Dimensional Contrast: Principles of Lighting for the Digital Age by Tim Mantoani and Bill Holshevnikoff (Software Cinema; 2008; ISBN: 853-8-240-01483). This hour-long DVD explores the fundamentals of lighting and lighting control for digital photography and videography. It’s available at