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In Focus: November 2009

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Make sure the rich colors and sharp details you capture outside look as striking in the final print using the Epson Stylus Pro 3880. The large-format printer makes up to 17×22-inch prints and is loaded with advanced technologies for producing premium image quality. The UltraChrome K3 eight-color ink set includes new Magenta and Light Magenta inks that deliver dramatic blues and violets for an expanded color gamut. The MicroPiezo AMC print head produces a maximum resolution of 2880×1440 dpi and variable-sized droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters for precise dot shape and placement. Estimated Street Price: $1,295. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON,
Sony has expanded its Alpha DSLR lineup with the A850, A550 and A500 cameras. The A850 is the manufacturer’s second full-frame camera and it comes under the $2,000 mark. The main differences between it and its predecessor, the A900, are a 3 fps rate instead of 5 fps and 98% viewfinder coverage instead of 100%. Also, the remote control for wireless operation of the shutter, menu access and other features is optional. The 14.2-megapixel A550 offers pro-level functions, phase-detection focusing and extended Live View capabilities. The new Auto HDR mode captures realistic images by taking two exposures—one exposed for highlights and the other exposed for shadows. The two are then merged together, and because the time between exposures is short, you can use this mode for handheld shots. The A500 delivers the same features, except continuous shooting is 5 fps, while in the A550 it’s 7 fps. It also features a 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor and a lower-resolution LCD. Estimated Street Price: $1,999 (A850); $949 (A550); $749 (A500). Contact: Sony, (877) 865-SONY,
Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF]is a high-speed wide-angle to moderate-telephoto lens designed for Nikon DX-format D-SLRs. In 35mm format, the focal-length range is equivalent to 26-78mm, making it a versatile lens to have in your camera bag. It delivers sharpness and contrast over its entire focal length and aperture range. With Tamron’s Vibration Compensation mechanism, the lens captures sharp handheld shots at slower shutter speeds. Tamron plans to introduce the lens in a Canon-mount version shortly. Estimated Street Price: TBA.Contact: Tamron USA, (631) 858-8400,
Capture sharp, life-sized close-ups of flowers, insects and other small things with the Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. This is the manufacturer’s first mid-telephoto lens to include image stabilization. In addition to the conventional angular velocity sensor (vibration gyro), the new Hybrid IS system uses an acceleration sensor. Based on the amount of camera shake detected by the two sensors, a newly developed algorithm calculates the amount of blur on the image plane, after which lens elements in the IS are positioned to compensate for the two types of shake. Estimated Street Price: $1,049. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON,
Steady your shot on any kind of terrain with Induro’s Carbon Fiber 8X CT-Series and Aluminum Alloy 8M AT-Series tripods. The new models feature higher load capacities, greater stability and a more rugged build for handling harsh environments. Ergonomic leg-lock grips and a textured rubber surface provide a better grip. The wider-stance, cross-braced magnesium spider provides increased strength and stability, and a threaded accessory-mount socket allows attachment of articulated arms, clamps and other mounting devices directly to the tripod. Estimated Street Price: TBA.Contact: Induro, (914) 347-3300,
The Nikon D3000 has the compact size and 10.2-megapixel CCD of the D60, but offers a number of upgraded features. These include a three-inch, 230,000-dot LCD monitor and a 100,000-cycle shutter. A new Guide Mode makes operation simple for D-SLR newcomers, while EXPEED processing improves image quality and speeds operation. A new 11-point AF system improves on those of the D60 and D40, and there’s a sensor-dust reduction system. Like the D40 and D60, the D3000 lacks a focusing motor, so it can use all AF Nikkor lenses, but provides autofocusing only with those that have an AF motor—the AF-S and AF-I lenses. Estimated Street Price: $599 (D3000 with 18-55mm). Contact: Nikon USA, (800) NIKON-US,

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in focus 2009
The Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus is a lightweight mattress that will help you stay warm as the weather turns cooler. Unique, diagonal-cut foam makes the mattress 20% warmer than previous ProLite 4 mattresses, but it’s just as light. A tapered design eliminates excess weight, allowing it to roll up small and fit comfortably in your pack. Bottom grips and a textured top surface keep the mattress in place when in use, letting you rest more comfortably. Estimated Street Price: $79 to $119. Contact: Therm-a-Rest, (800) 531-9531,
Ready for quick use whenever needed, the QuickFire blade from Buck Knives is its latest assisted-opening knife. Its high-tech design gives the durable thermoplastic handle a distinctive look and also a solid grip when in use. With ASAP Technology, the 23⁄4-inch drop-point blade has dual springs for easy, safe release. It allows convenient one-handed, ambidextrous deployment, and the mid-lock system provides durable locking strength, open or closed. Estimated Street Price: $50. Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825,
Slip on the Aquapac Wet & Dry backpack, which has a full-sized waterproof internal pocket that allows you to separate wet and dry things (or dirty and clean things), and keep them stowed safely in the same bag. Other features include external mesh pockets, TPU-coated fabrics with taped seams for keeping water out, a reinforced back-support system and breathable mesh shoulder straps, as well as sternum and waist straps for holding the pack securely in place when you’re on the trail. Estimated Street Price: $85. Contact: Aquapac, (866) 929-0639,
The Eureka! Tundraline tent is easy to set up and features double-wall construction that keeps warmth in or disperses heat out, depending on the conditions. Two pre-bent A-frame pole structures are held in place in external pole sleeves, providing top-notch strength and stability. Large, single-point vestibules offer protected entry for the tent’s two doors and allow room for storing extra gear. Vents in each vestibule help to maximize airflow. It measures 6.5x8x4.3 feet high and weighs 12 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: Eureka!, (800) 572-8822,

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The Alien Skin Photo Bundle is a collection of plug-ins designed to expand creative options in the digital darkroom. Compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, programs include Blow Up 2, Bokeh, Exposure 2, Image Doctor 2 and Snap Art 2. The set represents $500 worth of savings off individual prices. Blow Up enlarges photos while retaining clarity. Bokeh simulates focus effects of real lenses. Exposure simulates a wide range of film stocks with more than 300 presets for films, special effects and darkroom techniques. Image Doctor provides a complete set of photo-restoration tools. Snap Art turns a photo into a work of art with a click. Estimated Street Price: $595. Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-SKIN,
For film shooters, Kodak’s Ektar Professional 100 film offers high saturation, ultra-vivid color, excellent sharpness, extraordinary enlargement capability, good latitude (-1 to +2 stops) and lots of dye. It’s optimized for scanning and features the latest technology from Kodak’s motion-picture group. The C-41 can be processed by many labs and is available in 35mm. Estimated Street Price: $17 (120 Pro Pack). Contact: :Eastman Kodak, (800) 242-2424,
The affordable Pro-Optic 8mm ƒ/3.5 Fish-eye CS lens is designed for D-SLRs with APS-sized sensors. With a close-focusing distance of 12 inches, a 180º angle of view and deep depth of field, you can capture truly unique and dramatic close-ups from a fresh perspective. Lens construction consists of 10 elements in seven groups. It also features a built-in lens hood and is available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts. Estimated Street Price: $289. Contact: Pro-Optic (Adorama), (800) 223-2500,
If your digital camera has Live View, but not a tilting LCD monitor, the Flipbac is a clever device that combines an angle finder and LCD protector. It’s easy to attach to a D-SLR or compact camera. In the closed position, it protects the LCD screen from damage. The unit tilts down or sideways and contains a mirror that allows you to see the LCD monitor image for comfortable odd-angle shooting in horizontal or vertical format. Estimated Street Price: $19. Contact: OmegaSatter, (410) 374-3250,
Pack a pro D-SLR plus two to three large-aperture lenses into the Tamrac Ultra Pro 7 (Model 5607). Designed with a slim profile, the bag has enough room for wide-angle, standard and telephoto zooms, plus a flash. For enhancedsecurity, the Total Coverage Top can be zipped closed and buckled up. As with all Tamrac bags, the main compartment is padded with foam, as are the dividers. Front and back pockets hold accessories. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717,

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The modular Outback beltpacks from Lowepro consist of a camera compartment and two lens/accessory compartments that are attached by SlipLock loops and secured with compression straps for easy custom configuration. The main compartment has a fast-access lid with pockets for memory cards. There are three models. The largest fits a pro D-SLR with grip and attached 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, plus three to four extra lenses, a flash and accessories. It comes with Lowepro’s patented All Weather (AW) Cover. Estimated Street Price: TBA.Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE,
Shoulder your load in the Tenba Shootout Medium Sling Bag, which you can quickly swing around to the front of your body for faster access to the camera. It carries one or two SLRs, three to four lenses, a flash and accessories. The bag is made out of weather-resistant nylon, uses weatherproof YKK zippers and has a full-access back panel for opening up and customizing the main inside compartment. You can convert it to a long-lens bag capable of holding a pro body with an attached 300mm ƒ/2.8 lens. The smaller version holds one pro SLR, plus lenses and accessories. Estimated Street Price: $99 (Medium); $89 (Small). Contact: Tenba, (914) 347-3300,
On your next day hike or bike ride, carry a camera and an extra lens in the Clik Elite Compact Sport. With a side-entry design, the bag swings around, giving you access to the camera compartment without having to remove the pack. The top compartment has a hydration sleeve and tube port that fits a reservoir up to 45 ounces. Other features include a full, padded, 9x6x5-inch camera bay with a weather-resistant zipper, mesh side pockets and a media organizer for memory cards, cables and other extras. Estimated Street Price: $150. Contact: Clik Elite, (888) 532-2545,
The PocketWizard MiniTT1 Transmitter locks onto the camera’s hot-shoe supporting an on-camera flash with its own hot-shoe while working with remote PocketWizard units. The 2.3-ounce radio works with one or more FlexTT5 transceivers connected to Canon E-TTL II flashes or any PocketWizard receiver for triggering flash or remote cameras. It operates seamlessly with your camera system so it automatically corrects for changes in flash compensation, shutter speed, aperture or ISO. Estimated Street Price: $199 (MiniTT1); $219 (with FlexTT5). Contact: PocketWizard, (914) 347-3300,

When traveling or camping and taking along a D-SLR just isn’t practical, the Canon PowerShot G11 packs SLR-like functionality into a point-and-shoot-sized body. Features include a 10-megapixel sensor, 28mm wide-angle zoom equivalent to 28-140mm in 35mm format and an all-new, 2.8-inch vari-angle PureColor System LCD for easier image viewing from nearly every angle. Shooting modes include RAW+JPEG for total editing control. The G11 is compatible with EOS accessories. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON,

The Sekonic L-758DR DigitalMaster is a combination 1° spot meter and incident-light meter that reads ambient light and/or flash to 1⁄10-stop accuracy. With this meter and an optional Sekonic Exposure Profile Target, you can profile the specific sensitivity characteristics of your camera’s imaging sensor to compensate for its true native ISO, dynamic range and clipping points. An included Sekonic RT-32 Radio Transmitter Module will wirelessly trigger PocketWizard-enabled flash systems within a 100-foot range for remote photography setups. Data Transfer software is included. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Sekonic, (914) 347-3300,

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Datacolor’s Spyder3Studio SR calibration system offers a complete color-management solution. The SpyderCube RAW calibration device (which eliminates the need for 18% gray cards), the Spyder3Elite monitor calibration tool and the Spyder3Print SR strip-reading spectrocolorimeter (which creates ICC printer profiles) combine to provide perfect calibration throughout the imaging process. So prints look like what you saw when you shot the image. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: Datacolor, (800) 554-8688,
The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport is an all-new hardware and software color-calibration solution for RAW workflow (and it works with JPEGs, too). Consisting of camera-calibration software and three photographic targets in a single durable passport-sized protective case, ColorChecker Passport makes it easy to capture accurate color, enhancing portraits and landscapes while maintaining color control from capture through edit. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: X-Rite Photo, (914) 347-3300,
Convenience and flexibility meet in the Giottos MTL9240B-5011SB tripod/head system. Each of the four-section, flip-lock legs can be set to three different angles, and neoprene rubber grips ensure a comfortable, secure hold for easy transport. The three-way 5011SB pan/tilt head has a built-in, safety-lock, quick-release system. A retractable hook at the bottom of the center column adds weight if necessary. It extends from 11.3 to 60.5 inches, holds 6.6 pounds and weighs three pounds. Estimated Street Price: $141. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,
Pan your heavy telephoto smoothly with help from the Custom Brackets CB Gimbal. A true roller-bearing design allows for easy panning and tilting. The device has separate drag adjustment and lock for both horizontal and vertical movement of lenses using soft rubber-coated knobs. It also can be used as a panoramic head with 360º markings for use with wide-angle lenses. A built-in bubble level makes panning more accurate when you’re tracking wildlife and other moving objects. Estimated Street Price: $579. Contact: Custom Brackets, (800) 530-2289,

Photographing the West by David R. Stoecklein (Stoecklein Publishing, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-933192-64-2). This stunning collection of more than 200 photographs celebrating the American West offers a look at why Stoecklein is so passionate about keeping alive the spirit of this region. Among the images are short anecdotes about his travels, along with behind-the-scenes tips and information on some of his favorite photos.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion by Ben Long (O’Reilly Media, 2009; ISBN: 978-0596803636). Learn how to take pro-quality shots with your Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i or EOS 500D. The guide offers a series of practical, easy-to-follow lessons on composition, capturing action, when to use different lenses and more.

National Audubon Society Guide to Photographing America’s National Parks: Digital Edition
by Tim Fitzharris (Firefly Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-55407-455-6). Discover useful tips on traveling through national parks, working in remote locations and choosing the right digital equipment for shooting nature. Detailed maps are also included.

Printing with Adobe Photoshop CS4 by Tim Daly (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-81138-3). This comprehensive guide covers image capture and management, file processing, proofing and color management, plus printer hardware and software. Daly emphasizes the entire workflow so that images are optimized for highest print quality.

Digital Infrared Photography by Cyrill Harnischmacher (Rocky Nook, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-933952-35-2). If you’re looking to explore new territory with your photography, this book delivers basic theoretical background, some information on cameras, filters and equipment, and plenty of guidance on how to do infrared photography.