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In Focus: July 2010

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Adobe Photoshop CS5 is loaded with new features for improving images. One of the standout tools is Content-Aware Fill, which removes any detail or object, examines the surroundings and seamlessly fills in the space left behind. This allows for a sky with parts missing at the top or bottom to be filled in. Refine Edge makes challenging selections possible by precisely detecting and masking tricky edges, such as foliage, while eliminating background color contamination. HDR capabilities are better with advanced tone-mapping control over gamma, exposure and detail, as well as color control over vibrancy and saturation. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687,

Steady your camera using the compact Giottos MH 5000 and MH 5001 three-way pan/tilt heads. Both feature oversized, foam-covered handles, 360º panning, solid metal construction and support for up to 13 pounds. The MH 5001 has a built-in quick-release camera platform and two bubble levels and weighs 1.8 pounds. The MH 5000 has a single bubble level and a standard camera platform and weighs 1.7 pounds. The camera-mounting screw on the MH 5000 is lever-activated for a tight grip and also to make it easier to loosen the camera screw when desired. Estimated Street Price: $66 (MH 5000); $73 (MH 5001). Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,

The unique Sigma 8-16mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DC HSM is designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C-sized image sensors. The lens is equivalent to 12-24mm in 35mm format and incorporates Sigma’s new FLD glass, which is comparable to fluorite glass and compensates for color aberration. Fluorite is less dense, too, making for lighter lenses. An inner focusing system produces high-definition images throughout the entire zoom range, and the Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting. The HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor) assures quiet, high-speed autofocus alongside full-time manual-focus capability. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858,

Carry the Tamrac Evolution 6 or 8 as a backpack or sling pack on either shoulder. With the Triple Access System, you can get to equipment through the central front door or using two side doors. For quick access when wearing it as a backpack, slip off the shoulder strap, swing the pack around to the front and open the side door to access your DSLR. To get to additional equipment, swing the pack around to the opposite shoulder and open the side door on the other side of the pack. To convert the backpack to a sling, simply cross-connect a single shoulder strap. The other shoulder strap tucks away. The internal dividers are foam padded and adjustable. Estimated Street Price: $149 (Evolution 6); $199 (Evolution 8). Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717,

Using newly developed High-Rate Transparency film, the Hoya HRT Circular Polarizer passes more visible light through the filter while still filtering the same amount of polarized light. Transmitting as much as 25% more light through the polarizing film, the filter gives you about 1⁄3-stop more light than a standard circular polarizer, according to the manufacturer. The glass also has UV-absorbing properties. In addition to darkening skies, a polarizer reduces reflections caused by glass, water and other nonmetallic surfaces. Size availability is 49mm to 82mm. Estimated Street Price: $70 to $250. Contact: THK Photo, (800) 421-1141,

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in focus 2009

The V-shaped Eureka! Suite V tent provides a good-sized vestibule for stashing stuff, and the oversized door, with a center height of 6’9”, makes it easy for taller campers to relax. A unique pole structure provides maximum headroom at the front of the tent. Other features include two large D-style doors with mesh roof and four windows for airflow. A fly can be configured in multiple ways, including use as an awning. A removable curtain divider creates two separate rooms for privacy. Estimated Street Price: $219 to $299. Contact: Eureka!, (800) 572-8822,

When the sun goes down, keep sight of the trail using the Mammut Lucido TR1 headlamp. The high-quality Total Reflex Optics lens focuses light efficiently and evenly across your field of vision, enhancing peripheral vision. Four LEDs are arranged with dispersion angles designed to match your peripheral vision, reducing dark spots. High and low settings offer 65 and 39 feet of illumination, respectively, with up to 60 hours of battery life on low. The lamp weighs just 2.5 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $34. Contact: Mammut Sports Group, (802) 985-5056,
Stay prepared for any situation with the Switch Modular Pocket Knife. With attachments ranging from pliers or a screwdriver to an LED flashlight or USB Memory Stick, this is far more than just a traditional pocket knife. Additional attachments include tweezers, nail file, Phillips-head screwdriver, eyeglass flathead screwdriver, wood saw, serrated blade, corkscrew, combination can opener/wire stripper, pen and magnifying glass. Swapping out the inner axles according to how many tools are desired modifies the tool’s width. Estimated Street Price: $68 (presale); $79 (regular). Contact: Quirky, (866) 545-4623,
Protect yourself from pesky insects using Bite Blaster, an FDA-compliant anesthetic spray from Coastal Solutions, Inc. An effective treatment for stings and bites from mosquitoes, flies, ants, bees and other pests, Bite Blaster also works for treating pain and itching caused by exposure to poison ivy, oak and sumac. The solution contains the maximum over-the-counter dosage of the pharmaceutical, Lidocaine, which has long been used for abrasions, minor burns and small cuts. It’s available as a “pen sprayer” for fitting easily in a pocket or pouch. Estimated Street Price: $5. Contact: Coastal Solutions, (912) 353-3368,

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The next generation of Lowepro’s popular SlingShot AW series is designed with the Hideaway Tripod Mount system for attaching a compact tripod or monopod to the side of the bag. There’s more room in the upper compartment for personal stuff, and the divider system in the main compartment has been updated. The quick-rotating design for swinging the bag around and grabbing the camera fast is enhanced with easy-glide zippers that enable smooth, swift access to all of the compartments. Three sizes are available. The smallest holds a midsized DSLR with attached zoom, one to two lenses or flash units, accessories, a compact tripod and personal items. The largest holds a pro DSLR with up to a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 attached, four to six lenses or flash, a tripod and more. Estimated Street Price: $89 to $129. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE,
Whether trekking through a rain forest, whitewater rafting or hanging out at the beach, keep your camera protected in the ewa-marine U-BF100 waterproof weather housing. Made of flexible, double-laminated PVC, the fit is designed so you can use a Nikon D3, Canon EOS-1D model or other pro-level DSLRs with full functionality. The built-in finger control allows you to depress the camera’s shutter release. A full-sized glove is built into it for zooming the lens, as well as manually controlling functions that require more than touchpad operation. The housing makes shooting possible in depths down to 33 feet. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: RTS Inc., (631) 242-6801,

Log onto your Western Digital My Book World Edition Drive and view your entire image library using the WD Photos photo viewer, an iPhone/iPod touch app. The app is compatible with WD’s ShareSpace Network Drive, too, running directly on either drive and automatically resizing photos ahead of time for faster viewing on an iPhone or iPod touch without having to wait for them to load. The original files stay safe and in full resolution on the drive. Features include access to all photos copied into the Shared Pictures folder of either drive and smart filtering for viewing photos by album or searching by date or file name. Estimated Street Price: Free. Contact: Western Digital, (877) 934-6972,


Pan the camera smoothly using the Joby Ballhead X. The portable, yet sturdy ballhead supports 11.1 pounds, weighs nine ounces and is 3.3 inches tall. With full 360º panning and 90º tilt capability, the ballhead lets you position the camera at almost any angle, a feature that’s especially handy for landscape shots. Separate knobs allow for independent panning and tilting. While it’s optimized for Joby’s Gorillapod Focus tripod, the unit accommodates both 3⁄8- and 1/4-inch threads, making it compatible with any tripod. It comes with a quick-release plate that stays attached to the camera for fast setup. Estimated Street Price: $69. Contact: Joby, (888) 569-5629,


Kubota Image Tools DASHBOARD 3 Pro is a one-stop solution for working with Actions in Photoshop. It’s a floating palette that works from within Photoshop as a mini-search engine for Actions. It can find and run any Action instantly, keyword search Actions, add descriptions, mark favorites and use Actions from Kubota or run those from your own collection. Each time you open Photoshop, the Actions list refreshes. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: Kubota Image Tools, (877) 330-4330,

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Keep your CompactFlash or SecureDigital memory cards together with the Media Keeper from OP/TECH USA. The felt-lined leather pouch is designed to attach to any camera strap or belt and opens like a wallet to reveal two pockets for holding either CF or SD cards in jewel cases. The hook fastener secures contents and offers quick, easy access. If you use OP/TECH USA camera straps, the Media Keeper can be threaded through the quick disconnect feature as an added safeguard. Estimated Street Price: $9. Contact: OP/TECH USA, (800) 251-7815,

The 12.1-megapixel Leica V-Lux 20 can serve as a powerful backup to your DSLR or as a solid alternative when hiking around with a big camera isn’t practical. The DC-Vario-Elmar 4.1-49.2mm ƒ/3.3-4.9 ASPH zoom lens offers a 25-300mm focal-length range in 35mm format, making it ideal for getting open landscapes, close-up macro shots or distant wildlife. Image stabilization, 720p HD video functionality, GPS tagging, a three-inch LCD and ergonomically positioned controls for easy handling are among the key features. Manual control of the shutter speed and aperture also is possible. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Leica, (800) 222-0118,

Capture better video on your DSLR with the Hoodman Cinema Kit Pro. Especially useful for reducing outdoor glare and for those who wear glasses, the kit now includes a smart hot-shoe mount called the HoodCrane for the HoodLoupe 3.0. The HoodCrane swings up and pivots out for shared LCD viewing or still shooting. Also in the kit is the HoodMAG, a new magnifying video eyecup for the HoodLoupe. Estimated Street Price: $209. Contact: Hoodman, (800) 818-3946,

Weighing in at just three pounds, the Tenba Ultralight backpack can handle a full DSLR system with one or two cameras, three to four lenses, a flash and accessories. The pack is constructed of a dobby nylon and diamond ripstop nylon combination that makes it durable, water-resistant and lightweight. Every opening has gasket-sealed YKK zippers for weather protection. For extra security, the SwitchBack camera insert can be reversed to be accessible only from the back of the pack and the zipper can be locked on both sides. Estimated Street Price: $134. Contact: Tenba, (914) 347-3300,
Support your camera on the sturdy, aluminum Espod Plus tripod from Vanguard. The ergonomic leg-angle release button makes it easy to set up and take down. Four models are available with load capacities of 4.4 pounds and 6.6 pounds, and weigh between just under a pound and 2.87 pounds. Maximum extended height for all is 57.3 inches, with folded height ranging from 20.5 inches to 22.7 inches. The Espod Plus is flexible, too, with a detachable low-angle adapter that allows you to reverse the center column and get the camera low for macro shooting. Other features include a three-way pan head, 25º, 50º and 80º leg angles, and quick-flip leg locks. Estimated Street Price: $79 to $109. Contact: Vanguard, (800) 875-3322,

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Keep your growing image collection organized from the start using ACDSee Photo Manager 12, which allows you to specify categories, add keywords and create backups while uploading from your camera or card reader. Browsing is possible right away with access to folders and files in real time without having to import to a separate library. The refined interface makes navigating between organizing, view, editing and sharing photos easier. A new online mode provides access to a free 2 GB account for transferring, storing and sharing images. You can choose to keep images private, share them with select contacts or make them public. Estimated Street Price: $69. Contact: ACD Systems,

Create just the kind of light you need with the 16×16-inch Flashpoint Soft Box for shoe-mount flashes. This is an ideal solution for diffusing the harsh directional light created by a flash into softer light. You can use it on your camera or a light stand. It weighs 2.7 pounds and folds flat for easy storage. Estimated Street Price: $39. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500,

The Domke Photo Courier is ideal when you’re traveling because it’s a camera bag that doesn’t call attention to itself. With the look of a traditional bike messenger bag, the Photo Courier comes in three sizes. The medium and large versions have a sleeve in front of the bag, under the front flap, for sliding in a laptop. Full-length Velcro® panels ensure that the bag stays closed. The panels have cover flaps, too, for silencing the Velcro® when you’re photographing wildlife. Inserts and adjustable dividers hold your camera, lenses and accessories in place. The bag is available in high-quality cotton black canvas or brown Rugged Wear waxed canvas. Estimated Street Price: $139 to $254. Contact: Domke (Tiffen), (800) 645-2522,


The Adventures of Buddy the Beaver: Buddy Explores the Pond by Carson Clark and Jim Clark (March, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-982116258). Offering a child’s perspective of the natural world through the lens of a young photographer, this story follows Buddy the beaver around his pond using vibrant photography and text.

The Landscape Photographer’s Guide To Magic Light by Tim Cooper (PhotoshopCAFE, This DVD begins with a study of the aspects of light that concern photography, including angles, quality and color. Cooper demonstrates how light affects images at different times of day and under various atmospheric conditions.

Light Fading: Reflections on the Imperiled Everglades by Joel M. Curzon (Peter E. Randall, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-931807-28-9). This full-color volume contains 320 pages of evocative and moving photography that brings the Everglades to life and shows what might be lost if the area isn’t protected. The images are accompanied by descriptions of the Everglades’ history, ecology and current condition.

The Photographer’s Guide to the Colorado Rockies: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them by Don Mammoser (Countryman, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-88150-733-1). This easy-to-use guide offers advice on capturing postcard-perfect shots of all the best the Colorado Rockies has to offer, including tips for both digital and film equipment.

Digital Nature and Landscape Photography by Mark Lucock (Photographers’ Institute Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-86108-514-6). From using a digital camera in the field to image-editing techniques in the digital darkroom, the book covers the best methods for working with tripods and flashes outside, the implications of using different exposure meters in certain lighting conditions and other tips.