In Focus: March 2013

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Add to your lens lineup with the Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG HSM. This model is the first to debut from the lens manufacturer’s new Global Vision concept, which stresses quality in design, manufacturing and inspection. The lenses fall into one of three groups—Contemporary, Art or Sports. Every lens is MTF-tested using Sigma’s new A1 system based on the high-resolution Merrill Generation Foveon sensor. The 35mm features one FLD and four SLD glass elements to control lateral and axial chromatic aberrations, as well as a Hyper Sonic Motor to assure accurate, quick and quiet autofocusing. The lens can focus down to 11.8 inches for a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:5.2. Estimated Street Price: $899. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858,,
MultiStitch delivers precise digital stitching for shooters using large-format cameras and DSLRs or medium-format digital backs. It mounts to your 4×5 along all four edges and on both sides. You can make vertical or horizontal images with full camera movements. With a medium-format digital back, you can use your widest lenses. MultiStitch comes with a mask that allows you to compose and focus on the ground glass. With a DSLR, you can use lenses from about 90mm, depending on your 4×5. Unlike sliding pano backs, MultiStitch doesn’t interfere with camera movements, shoots horizontal and vertical, and has no cranks to turn or loose parts to misplace. The MultiVent is also incorporated. Estimated Street Price: $950 (Canon/Nikon mount for DSLRs). Contact: MultiStitch,

Getting an expansive landscape shot won’t be a problem with the Pentax X-5, which offers a very wide angle of view with its 22.3-580mm equivalent zoom. With a backlit 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, the camera captures 1080p video at 30 fps using H.264 compression. The X-5’s electronic viewfinder, which has 260,000-dot resolution, delivers DSLR-like handling and a clear view of your subject while the 3-inch tilting LCD lets you compose and play back images. For image stabilization, Pentax uses its Triple Shake Reduction technology, which includes a mechanical sensor-shift mechanism, digital high ISO shake reduction and movie shake reduction. List Price: TBA. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155,

The Quick-and-Easy Everyday Photography Guides from the New York Institute of Photography make their debut with two titles. Top Travel Photo Tips from Ten Pro Photographers is written by NYIP Director Chuck Delaney. It includes input from top travel shooters who share secrets and advice on what they have learned throughout their careers. Top Ten Secrets for Perfect Baby & Child Portraits is written by portrait photographer Clay Blackmore who gives insight, background, tips and guidelines for his 10 favorite types of baby and child photographs, all based on various lighting situations. The books are available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Estimated Street Price: $16 (each). Contact: New York Institute of Photography, (800) 445-7279,

Producing sharper images starts with having a dependable tripod. You can move the central column of the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT tripod from 0 to 180º angles in variable vertical and horizontal positions using the Multi-Angle Central Column. This is useful when taking macro and wide-angle shots. The Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock System allows you to quickly reposition the center column in one movement. Other top features include advanced camera vibration and shock control, legs that adjust to 25º, 50º and 80º angles, and nonslip, spiked rubber feet for difficult terrain. The aluminum tripod weighs 4.4 pounds, supports 15.4 pounds, extends to 65 inches and folds to 24.7 inches. Estimated Street Price: $150. Contact: Vanguard, (800) 875-3322,

As a backup to your DSLR system, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 offers some impressive shooting features in a compact body. A large, 1/1.7-inch, 12.2-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor, fast image processor and 8 fps continuous-shooting capability are some of the key specs. The 7.1x zoom opens up to ƒ/2 and covers a 35mm equivalent focal-length range of 28-200mm. The 3-inch Vari-angle LCD has 921,000-dot resolution, and there’s a full-sized hot-shoe for adding a flash, GPS device, microphone and more. Also included are full manual controls, 1080p HD video functionality and advanced Lens-Shift Vibration Reduction technology. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US,

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Depending on how much gear you like taking into the field, the Kata D-Light DR Digital Rucksacks are made to fit your needs. The upper compartment holds photo gear or personal stuff. If you remove the padded bottom insert, you can convert it from a camera bag to a regular non-shooting daypack. With three sizes to choose from, the D-Light DR-467 offers the most room, holding a DSLR and mounted lens, three to four more lenses, a flash and laptops up to 17 inches. In the middle is the DR-466, which carries the same amount of gear except for a smaller 15.4-inch laptop. And the smallest, the DR-465, stores fewer lenses and no laptop. Estimated Street Price: $89 to $109. Contact: Kata, (201) 818-9500,

One of the standout features of the Olympus STYLUS SP-820UZ iHS, in addition to the huge zoom, is its iHS technology. Drawing on a high-sensitivity, 14-megapixel CMOS sensor and TruePic V image processor, originally developed for DSLRs, the SP-820UZ incorporates several high-end shooting features such as fast reaction times, solid low-light performance and zoom magnification that doesn’t sacrifice image quality. The impressive 40x zoom delivers a 22.4-896mm equivalent focal-length range, and a Super-Resolution Zoom mode doubles the focus distance to 80x zoom magnification. The camera records 1080p HD video, and incorporates Dual Image Stabilization and Multi-Motion Movie Image Stabilization technology to produce sharp images. There are other shooting modes and filters for enhancing your creativity. Estimated Street Price: $329. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448,

Hoya’s EVO (Evolution) filter series consists of UV (ultraviolet), CIR-PL (circular polarizer) and Protector units well-suited to landscape and nature photography. Besides being made of precision Hoya optical glass, the filters feature an improved Super Multicoating overlaid with a clear water- and stain-resistant coating that’s easy to clean. Very low-profile aluminum frames provide rigidity to keep the glass perfectly parallel to the image plane and minimize vignetting with ultrawide-angle lenses. EVO filters are available in sizes from 49mm to 82mm. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141,

The “Remove Before Flight” tag on Vulture camera straps provides a clue: Inspired by military special-ops rigs and aviation cargo equipment, these are rugged devices, designed and manufactured for heavy-duty use in the field. Designed and built in the U.S. by a team that’s experienced in developing mission-specific gear, the straps also carry a serious “cool” factor. The highly adjustable Alpha 4 Strap is made of highest-grade, 1.75-inch mil-spec nylon webbing and features a top-of-the-line military quick-release. Its “kid brother,” the Alpha 2, drops the quick-release to save weight. The Alpha 2T Tensioner Strap serves as a “reverse monopod”: Connect it to the camera and your foot at the other end to steady the camera in the field without a bulky tripod or monopod. Estimated Street Price: $179.99 (A4); $149.99 (A2); $129.99 (A2T). Contact: Vulture Equipment Works,

Learning about animal behavior through the eyes of a child is enlightening to children and adults alike. Carson Clark, son of OP contributing editor Jim Clark, might be only 12 years old, but he shows the photography skills of an experienced elder. In the second book in The Adventures of Buddy The Beaver Series, the main character learns about migration and hibernation from his many friends who live near the pond. The story and photography are by Carson and Jim Clark. Contact: Carson Clark Photography,

The new Sirui G-10X and G-20X ballheads were introduced at the 2013 [email protected] trade show. These models carry on Sirui’s attention to detail with features like separate locking knobs for panning and locking the head down to your tripod, a secondary safety lock on the quick-release platform, a bubble level on top of the Arca-compatible quick-release platform and a second bubble level on the locking knob of the platform. There’s a degree scale on the base of the ballhead that allows you to make precise adjustments when necessary. A particularly convenient feature is the slot on the Sirui quick-release plate that allows you to attach your camera strap without removing the quick-release plate. Maximum capacity is up to 44 pounds. The G-10X and G-20X ballheads come with a six-year warranty. Contact: Argraph,

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Neckstraps can be inconvenient when you’re moving quickly through brushy terrain. The Capture Camera Clip System does away with neck straps and swinging, snagging cameras. It consists of an aluminum clip that fits on any belt or strap, and a quick-release plate that screws into the camera’s tripod socket. Once the camera is locked into the clip, a quick-release button releases it. The Capture Camera Clip is made of weatherproof aluminum and comes with a lifetime guarantee. It works with any camera that has a standard 1⁄4-20 tripod socket. You can mount the camera in the clip in four directions, for easy lens changes, and can use a hand strap with it, if desired. The ARCAplate and MICROplate fit most Arca-type tripod heads, while the DUALplate fits both Arca and Manfrotto RC2 heads. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: Peak Design,

One of the joys of outdoor photography is putting big prints of your landscapes, wildlife and close-up work on your walls, or even for sale. Epson has introduced three new canvases in the popular Signature Worthy paper collection that produce excellent large-format prints. Exhibition Canvas Natural delivers gallery-quality prints with industry-leading Dmax and color gamut without employing optical brightening agents (OBAs). The paper is available in a Gloss, Satin and Matte finish and features a new OBA-free coating that maintains a bright white point for saturated colors, rich blacks and solid shadow detail. Constructed on a flexible base of blended cotton and polyester, the 19ml thick Exhibition Canvas Natural media are both durable and offer improved flexibility, allowing them to be coated and stretched for easy finishing and framing. All three types are available in roll widths of 13, 17, 24, 44 and 60 inches, as well as 17×22-inch cut sheets. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Epson,

A headlamp is one of the most useful items you can have in your bag. The new Petzl TIKKA XP 2 takes up little space—it weighs just 3.1 ounces—and you can keep both hands free while using it. Its high-output LED puts out a bright, clear light to let you see clearly as you set up and take down your camera in the dark, and it will illuminate the trail out to a distance of 223 feet. There are five lighting modes, including two white lighting levels, a strobe mode (for emergencies, not photography), two red light modes, and you can choose between wide or focused beams with a wide-angle lens attached. Estimated Street Price: $55. Contact: Petzl,

Many top nature photographers use a flash to provide catchlights in wildlife subjects’ eyes, for fill light and to illuminate close-up subjects like flowers and insects. The Phottix Odin TTL Trigger provides wireless radio control of TTL flash with full TTL functioning, along with remote control of power and flash zoom settings. The Odin consists of an on-camera transmitter and control unit, plus receiver units for Canon, Nikon or Sony hot-shoe flash units. You can mix TTL and manual flash units, use high-speed sync (up to 1/8000) and second-curtain functions, and adjust manual power remotely. The four-channel, 2.4 GHz transmitter and receiver units can operate at ranges greater than 328 feet, and use AA batteries. Kits are available containing one transmitter and two receivers. Estimated Street Price: $349 (transmitter and receiver). Contact: OmegaBrandess, (410) 374-3250,