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In Focus: March 2015

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Nikon has introduced the next DX-format DSLR to their lineup. The D5500 is the smallest and lightest camera (with a decrease from the D5300 body size by a small 2⁄10 inches, but a more impressive 2 ounces) while maintaining durability for the avid traveler. The 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor with optical low pass filter removed produces sharp, detailed images with rich color tone. The camera also includes an EXPEED 4 image processor and expanded ISO range spanning 100-25,600. The D5500 is the first Nikon camera to offer a 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD monitor with touch sensitivity for full setting control. The 39-point AF system utilizes 9 cross-type sensors to lock onto quickly moving subjects and shoots up to 5 fps. Video is captured in 1080/60 fps full HD with full-time AF and stereo sound, plus it offers 16 possible scene modes for capturing still images. Built-in WiFi connects the camera to your mobile smart device via the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app for remote shooting and instant sharing. The camera body is available in black and red. List Price: $899 (body only). Contact: Nikon,

CANON EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
Canon has redesigned their compact supertelephoto zoom lens. Fully compatible with all EOS cameras, the EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS II USM now utilizes a rotation zoom ring for exact adjustments and weight balance instead of the previous model’s push-pull zoom. With this is an improved zoom torque adjustment ring for personalizing zoom tension settings. With a redesigned set of optics, including one Fluorite and one Super UD lens element for increased sharpness and contrast, the lens now has three Image Stabilizer modes—standard, panning and during exposure only. The optical IS provides four shutter speed steps of correction, increased from the previous 1.5 steps. The magnesium housing is dust- and water-resistant, allowing for use in even harsh rain-forest environments. The lens includes the ET-83D lens hood, which features a side window that allows for filter adjustment while keeping the hood in place. List Price: $2,199. Contact: Canon,

Manfrotto has expanded their photographic tool offering with the new Filter Collection. The UV Filter, Circular Polarizer and Protection Filter are available in three collections—Essential, Advanced and Professional—with varying layers of protection. The blur-, haze- and blue cast-eliminating UV filters are water-repellent, with 8 layers of coating at the Essential level and 12 layers at the Advanced and Professional levels. The Circular Polarizer increases color contrast and saturation, and reduces reflection while maintaining sharpness and color balance. The Essential level utilizes 2 layers of coating while the Advanced and Professional levels utilize 12 layers. The Protective Filter is only available at the 12-layer Professional level, including antistatic layers for ease of cleaning and oil resistance. All filters are available in 52mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm sizes, and come with a reusable storage case. List Price: $24-$169. Contact: Manfrotto,

For adventure photographers who have strength and durability at the top of their equipment “must-have” lists, the Variant A4 Strap by Vulture Equipment Works has been designed specifically to handle extreme loads, available for use as a dual-point camera strap, single-point camera sling, and a tool for pulling and lifting lighting equipment and hard cases. With over 70 inches of strap, it easily reaches around heavy coats and parkas. It includes an adjustable military-grade quick-release for any haphazard situations, and includes a safety wire to prevent accidental quick-release activation. The carabiners are mountain-grade. List Price: $179. Contact: Vulture Equipment Works,

The Aries Blackbird X10 camera drone provides 6-axis gyrostabilization and GPS accuracy for its 16-megapixel still and 1080/30 fps full HD video onboard camera. The weather-protected body integrates a 2.4 GHz WiFi connection for advanced control via an Android/iOS mobile app. The mobile device can be secured directly to the controller, while the app allows you to dictate start/stop video recording, still shooting, lens field of view and more. The Aries Repeater (shipped with the Blackbird X10) increases the WiFi communication distance up to 1,000 feet, when needed. The ergonomic grip controls climb, descent, roll and pitch. If there’s a loss of control, the GPS-guided system hovers, maintaining height and position. If the transmitter signal is lost, the automatic Flight Control system pilots the quadcopter to a safe height and lands safely at its starting point. The easily accessible 5300 mAh lithium battery system provides 25 minutes of flight time on a single charge with audio and visual alerts when the battery is running low. Estimated Street Price: $799. Contact: Adorama,

FUJIFILM FX 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR
Fujifilm‘s new wide-angle to portrait-length lens is built to withstand harsh conditions. At a 24-84mm equivalent length for a 35mm camera, the XF 16-55mm ƒ/2.8 R LM WR is compatible with all X-mount mirrorless cameras. With 14 weather seals against moisture and dust, the lens can withstand temperatures as low as 14° F. Seventeen lens elements are distributed in 12 groups, with 3 extra low dispersion elements for controlling chromatic aberration and 3 aspherical elements to reduce distortion through zoom. A Nano-GI coating is used to minimize surface reflections and prevent lens flares and ghosting. Its Twin Linear Motor autofocus system is quick and near-silent, which is particularly useful for video work. Estimated Street Price: $1,999. Contact: Fujifilm,

Olympus has announced the first telephoto lens for the M.Zuiko Pro series, the ED 40-150mm ƒ/2.8 PRO. At just over six inches long, the lens is both portable and versatile, with an equivalent 35mm range of 80-300mm. Utilizing a Dual Linear Voice Coil Motor, the lens powers two high-grade lens elements, allowing quick and quiet focusing in a dust-, splash- and freeze-proof body. The lens also includes a dedicated function button, manual focus clutch and a 20-inch minimum focal distance. Estimated Street Price: $1,499. Contact: Olympus,

Travel photographers will want to take note of the new rugged drive solutions offered by G-Technology. The G-DRIVE ev RaW with Rugged Bumper is a USB 3.0 bus-powered drive. Not only is it 35% lighter than the original G-DRIVE ev, the 1 TB capacity drive can survive a 1.5-meter drop. G-Technology has also developed an all-terrain case (ATC). Removable and compatible with the Evolution Series G-DRIVE ev or G-DRIVE ev SSD, it can be purchased with the G-DRIVE ev RaW drive, as well. When tethered to the removable drive, the ATC case protects the drive from drops of up to 2 meters and has a watertight compartment, which ensures the drive floats when dropped in water. The case additionally protects from pressure, shock, water and dust. List Price: $229 (G-DRIVE ev ATC with Thunderbolt 1 TB); $179 (G-DRIVE ev ATC with USB 3.0 1 TB); $129 (ATC with Thunderbolt); $79 (ATC with USB 3.0). Contact: G-Technology,

Sony has stepped into the ring with GoPro, announcing its own POV 4K action cam. The compact FDR-X1000V shoots 4K for playback on a 4K TV through HDMI, full HD video at 120p and standard HD at 240p to capture slow-motion shots. The Zeiss Tessar lens has an ultrawide 170° field of view. The camera also features a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor. Updated SteadyShot technology with electronic image stabilization provides vibration-free footage for quick action and aerial shots. The FDR-X1000V has added wind noise reduction to decrease interference with the stereo microphone. Manual controls include white balance, auto-exposure shifting, loop recording and burst still image shooting. The camera is also compatible with the Ustream platform. An RM-LVR2 LCD Live View Remote is waterproof down to 10 feet for frame check, record start/stop, playback and file deletion. A Highlight Movie Maker feature automatically edits together a short MP4 highlight reel for quick sharing. The official Sony Action Cam app will be released in Spring 2015. List Price: $500 (with waterproof case); $600 (with waterproof case and RM-LVR2). Contact: Sony,

The New York Institute of Photography has launched several new online photography learning courses. The Travel Photography Course covers topics such as what gear is needed for different types of trips, technique for landscape, nature, wildlife, portrait and architecture photography, as well as business skills and portfolio creation. The course is built for photographers of all levels via the NYIP online learning platform, where you can learn at your own pace. Each student is paired with a professional mentor for individual skill development. List Price: $999 (discounts applied when paid in full at time of enrollment). Contact: NYIP, (800) 583-1736,

The Zenelli Plus Gimbal Head is both lightweight and secure. The carbon-fiber body is hollow to absorb click vibration and offers 360° panoramic and horizontal axis rotation. The Save Lens Lever protects lens balance and prevents the lens from falling against the tripod while changing cameras or adding a teleconverter. The Quick Release Lever offers quick and safe slide adjustment. The gimbal also utilizes tilt lock, a pan pull-out lever and leveling bubble. Now available at B&H. List Price: $1,125. Contact: Shoot The Light/Charles Glatzer,

The Mule GoPro mount tagline—”One is good. Mule is better.”—alludes to the Mule’s finesse in mounting two GoPro cameras using one slim tool. Compatible with GoPro third-party mounts and GoPro pivot arms, two cameras can be positioned at different angles in multiple directions, providing integrated footage for fluid editing and continuous storytelling. The Mule can be set up on scuba equipment, surfboards, race cars, zip lines or even used handheld. List Price: $19. Contact: Mule Mfg.,

The slim profile and 600D polyester exterior of the Havana 36 shoulder bag by Vanguard helps you navigate your gear through city streets while also protecting it on sandy beaches. The removable interior holds one DSLR with lens attached, one to two additional lenses and one strobe. An integrated interior storage pocket for a 9-inch tablet or an 11-inch ultrabook is also provided, along with interior space for additional accessories including a water bottle, an umbrella, charging cables, a notebook and personal items. The Havana 36 also includes dual memory card pockets and front and back zippered pockets. List Price: $69. Contact: Vanguard,

While compatible with tablets and smartphones, photographers most likely will be interested in Lexar‘s Professional 1000x microSD UHS-II for its use with quadcopters. Available in 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB capacities, the microSD cards capture, play and transfer 1080p full HD video, as well as 3D and 4K footage. The card is fully backward-compatible with UHS-I cameras and non-UHS-I devices, so any user still can take advantage of the 150 MB per second read transfer speed of the UHS-II technology when paired with the included USB 3.0 reader. A lifetime copy of Image Rescue software is included for recovery of lost or deleted files. List Price: $59 (32 GB); $109 (64 GB); $189 (128 GB). Contact: Lexar,

Seagate chose the name Seven for its ultraportable 500 GB hard drive because of its incredibly slender 7mm thickness. But don’t let slim make you think unprotected. The 100% stainless-steel enclosure safeguards data from drops and shock. The drive is bus-powered and connected through a single micro USB 3.0. List Price: $99. Contact: Seagate,

Davis & Sanford has added the new Traverse TR654C-36 Tripod and Ballhead to the line. The tripod has a unique Reverse Folding feature, which folds down to 18.5 inches while having a maximum height of 65 inches. Made of carbon fiber, the four-section tripod and ballhead weigh only 3.25 pounds. Foam grip cushioned insulated legs can be adjusted to three independent leg angles and variable lengths with quick-twist leg locks. Rubber feet can be transformed to spikes for stable outdoor shooting. The center post has a hook for hanging equipment or weights. It can also be separated and used for ground shooting. Padded tripod bag included. Estimated Street Price: $169. Contact: Tiffen,

Keep all varieties of cards safe with the House of Cards by MindShift Gear. The card organizer holds 6 CF cards, 3 SD cards and provides a built-in business card holder. Orange elastic bands ensure cards stay securely in place while giving silent access when needed. Clear windows let you easily differentiate cards from one another. The Tahoe Blue organizer color makes it stand out in a filled pack, while the removable tether clip can attach the House of Cards to the outside of a bag, your belt or clothing for quick card access. The exterior is water-resistant. List Price: $19. Contact: MindShift Gear,