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Lenses For Wildlife Photography
When it comes to selecting lenses for wildlife photography, the first thing most photographers look for is focal length—a long lens that can reach out and cover great distances, bringing animals in for close-ups—but other features are also incredibly useful.
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In Focus: November 2014
Pack For A Week Of Landscape Shooting
The Hasselblad H5D-50c medium-format DSLR camera has a 50-megapixel CMOS sensor with an improved ISO range of 100-6400. The capture speed of 1.5 fps at up to 12 minutes offers creative flexibility. An increased 14-stop dynamic range provides detail and tone in both shadows and highlights. List Price: $27,500. Contact: Hasselblad, www.hasselbladusa.com.
Designed specifically for a DSLR or smaller compact camera, the FH-350 fluid head by Really Right Stuff features a sinusoidal counterbalance system with infinite adjustability up to 10 pounds at 5 inches above the tilt axis for smooth 180° tilts. Tilt damping is managed in three strength levels or an off position. The lever release clamping system integrates with 1.5-inch dovetail rails for easy swapping between setups. It uses a 3⁄8″-16 threaded tripod mount. The handle utilizes a clutch-style locking system that’s less prone to wear and tear. List Price: $1,780. Contact: Really Right Stuff, www.reallyrightstuff.com.
The Lighthouse 250 Lantern by Goal Zero provides up to 48 hours of continuous light after charging via a Nomad solar panel, USB power input or hand crank. A dial gives control over 180° or 360° of light direction, as well as low, high or turbo light output. The Lighthouse 250 Lantern also has the ability to recharge your USB device, such as a phone, GPS or tablet. Weighing just over one pound, it’s an easy travel companion. List Price: $79. Contact: Goal Zero, www.goalzero.com.
The Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/4L IS USM wide-angle zoom is particularly useful for low-light situations, with an Optical Image Stabilizer with shake correction at up to four shutter speeds and an intelligent CPU, which can discern between panning and unwanted handheld movement. With a 9-blade circular aperture, it includes three GMo (Glass-Moulded) aspheric lens elements, correcting for aberrations, and two UD lens elements, reducing chromatic aberration edge to edge. Estimated Street Price: $1,199. Contact: Canon, www.usa.canon.com.
The fan-cooled Flashpoint PowerStation 800 converts stored lithium energy into sine-wave 120V AC power. Allowing three units to be plugged in at once, the PowerStation provides two switchable modes—one for high-peak strobe generators up to 3000ws and the other for constant low-flow devices like laptops. Three USB ports are also provided for charging small devices. At 7.5 pounds, the main PowerStation 800 can also be run from your car’s 12V outlet, or you can swap an interchangeable, 4.85-pound, 12,000 mAh Lithium Ion Phosphate battery module to extend your location shoot time. List Price: $899 (PowerStation 800); $1,100 (PowerStation 800 kit); $350 (additional battery). Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), www.adorama.com.
Designed specifically for use in harsh environments, the Ocean Traveler Series 1 Tripod kit GK1582OT by Gitzo utilizes aluminum parts with a corrosion-resistant finish. With a specialized Ocean G-Lock system, leg collars provide an air suction to expel water trapped inside the legs, while preventing sand, dust and mud from getting trapped inside. The center column can be removed or inverted, allowing you to set your camera at a 9.06-inch minimum height regardless of the terrain. The legs flip 180° for a compact, 17.13-inch travel size. List Price: $1,956. Contact: Gitzo, www.gitzo.us.
Pack For A Week Of Wildlife Shooting
With the full removal of the OLP filter to increase detail and reduce moiré, the Nikon D810 also features a 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 Image Processor, said to increase speed by 30%, boost battery efficiency and widen the ISO range to 64-12,800 (32-51,200 expanded). The camera can be set to shoot in either the standard 14-bit RAW file format or a slightly smaller-resolution, 12-bit format for a quicker workflow. A “Flat” Picture Control Profile is available to preserve detail in shadows and highlights. Video features include full 1080/60p HD resolution, zebra stripe mode, full manual shooting with full AF ability, built-in stereo mic, in-camera time-lapse and interval timer, and uncompressed digital HDMI recording to an external device while also recording to an SD or a CF card. List Price: $3,299 (body only). Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com.
The compact and lightweight Nikon ACULON A30 weighs 9.7 ounces and features a dual-hinge, fold-up design, rubber-coated grip and rubber eyecups. Available in either 8×25 or 10×25, the roof-prism binoculars have multicoated Eco-Glass lenses and provide a 9.8-foot close focus. List Price: $69-$79. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonsportoptics.com.
Opening new possibilities for the avid wildlife photographer, the AF-S NIKKOR 400mm ƒ/2.8E FL ED VR lens is two pounds lighter than its predecessor, with additional dust- and moisture-resistant sealing and a rugged magnesium-alloy, die-cast lens barrel. The ƒ/2.8 prime lens offers Vibration Reduction technology for four stops of blur-free handheld shooting with a new Sports and Action mode. The Silent Wave Motor provides quick autofocus with manual override. High-quality fluorite lens elements complement two extra-low dispersion glass elements to reduce chromatic aberration, while a 9-blade diaphragm gives a pleasant soft bokeh. List Price: $11,999. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com.
Gura Gear has created the Sabi, a stabilizing sack for even the longest lens. The tethered double-pillow design makes it possible to adapt the Sabi to your shooting situation, creating a ground support for your tripod. Available in two sizes and colors, the Sabi is made of heavy-duty, PU-coated Cordura and YKK zipper components, and uses buckwheat hull filling. List Price: $39-$109. Contact: Gura Gear, www.guragear.com.
Weighing just 3.2 ounces, the Petzl TIKKA XP 2‘s high-output LED lets you see clearly as you set up and take down your camera in the dark, illuminating the trail out to a distance of 223 feet. There are five lighting modes—two white lighting levels, a strobe mode (for emergencies) and 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, www.petzl.com.
The Strike Finder TOUCH from Ubertronix offers a touch screen to program the device in five different sensory modes. Lightning Mode reacts to a flash event in under one millisecond to capture storm images. Laser Mode captures a photo when an animal trips the laser trigger. Sound Mode uses an external sensor to capture images during loud noises, while Motion Mode fires one or multiple exposures when an infrared sensor attachment is triggered. Time Lapse Mode can start a time-lapse sequence based on any of the above parameters. Estimated Street Price: $349. Contact: Ubertronix, Inc., www.ubertronix.com.
Pack For A Weekend Of Landscape And Wildlife Shooting
The Canon EOS 70D features a 20.2-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor, and its innovative dual-pixel CMOS AF system provides precise and smooth autofocus performance, enabling users to shoot video close to the quality of video shot with a camcorder. Quick action stills are captured with a 7 fps burst rate and a 19-point cross-type AF system. Low-light shooting is possible with the 100-12,800 ISO (25,600 extended). A built-in WiFi transmitter allows quick image sharing and wireless file transfer from the camera to your smartphone or tablet using the free Canon EOS Remote App, along with full control and triggering of the 70D by the device. The 70D also includes creative options such as HDR, Multiple Exposure and Handheld Night Scene modes. Estimated Street Price: $1,199. Contact: Canon, www.usa.canon.com.
The Tamron “All-In-One” 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD macro lens provides an 18.8x zoom ratio for DSLRs with an APS-C-sized sensor. Tamron has adopted a new design approach to make the lens particularly compact, using UXR glass, a 5-lens-group zoom design and precise mechanical engineering. The lens includes macro capabilities across the entire zoom range, with a 15.3-inch focus distance and 1:2.9 magnification ratio. The Piezo Drive (PZD) ensures quick and quiet AF capabilities, and the Vibration Compensation (VC) enables handheld shooting at long focal lengths. Estimated Street Price: $629. Contact: Tamron, www.tamron-usa.com.
With a multi-coating, the Pro-Optic Variable Density HD ND filter provides resistance against water, making it easy to clean. It’s available in 72mm to 77mm sizes, with thin mounts for the larger sizes to reduce vignettes. List Price: $39. Contact: Pro-Optic (Adorama), www.adorama.com.
The Tokina 10-17mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX NH Fisheye lens provides a full 180° field of view. The NH version of the lens has removed the built-in hood, allowing for a wider viewing area and compatibility with full-frame sensors in addition to APS-C sensors and additional versatility with underwater housing systems. The rear optical group uses only one Super-low dispersion glass element, reducing the size and weight while increasing focus speed. Estimated Street Price: $619. Contact: Kenko Tokina USA, www.kenkotokinausa.com.
Capture 360° panoramas with the Novoflex VR-SYSTEM SLANT coupled with your fisheye lens. Easily set the system nodal point, attach the system to a monopod, raise it above your head and take up to four shots to the north, south, east and west. Using editing software, composite the images for a full panorama. The system includes calibrated quick-release plates for accurate positioning of your nodal point and a pistol grip. The upper Q mount has a +/-15° tilt ability for composition choice. The upper mount is angled at 60° so when the camera is mounted to the diagonal, the image sensor will be vertical. Estimated Street Price: $429. Contact: Novoflex (HP Marketing Corp.), www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
The Heliopan High-Transmission Circular Polarizing Multi-Coated Filter uses a combination of high-quality Schott glass and a black brass ring mount to provide a well-sealed and well-constructed filter, and includes the Heliopan SH-PMC 8-layer, color-neutral multi-coating on each side (16 layers in total), ensuring durability and flare reduction, as well as dust and moisture resistance. This filter also comes in a Slim mount version, reducing the depth of the mount and possible vignettes. List Price: Varies with size. Contact: Heliopan (HP Marketing Corp.), www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
Hoya EVO Antistatic professional filters feature a new antistatic coating that “acts like a force field around the filter to repel dust.” Each filter features a 16-layer Super Multi-Coating that greatly reduces reflections, transmitting 99.8% of the light. The one-piece aluminum frame prevents vignettes when used on ultrawide-angle lenses. Available in sizes from 37mm through 82mm. Estimated Street Price: $45-$110 (UV and protective filters); $85-$180 (circular polarizer). Contact: Kenko Tokina USA, www.kenkotokinausa.com.
MindShift Gear‘s Filter Nest is a round, padded, zippered pouch for filter accessibility in the field, with a removable insert for compact packing. The Nest is belt-mountable and adaptable for tripod attachment using the grab handle with SR buckle. Color-coding easily organizes eight round filters up to 82mm, including two variable ND filters. The Nest includes a front pocket perfect for a lens cloth. List Price: $44. Contact: MindShift Gear, www.mindshiftgear.com.
Pack For A Weekend Of Travel Shooting
Nissin has expanded the i40 line to include a flash designed specifically for use with Four Thirds cameras. At less than 3½ inches high and less than eight ounces in weight, it’s travel-friendly. The easy-to-use, two-dial controls set function modes and power. The i40 includes two traditional optical slave modes for a TTL flash and studio strobe triggering, an HSS up to 1⁄8000 sec. shutter sync speed and flash output of GN40 at 105mm. The flash head rotates 180° horizontally and 90° vertically, and has an auto-adjust zoom head, built-in diffuser and included softbox. The i40 also provides a video light function with nine levels of power adjustment. List Price: $269. Contact: Minox, www.minox.com/usa.
The Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack is divided into two sections: the durable nylon upper section provides ample room for personal belongings, perfect for weekend travel, and the High Density Nylon Fabric bottom half gives you side access to a DSLR with lens attached, two additional lenses, flash and accessories. The Camera Protection System uses specifically structured 3D foam-encased dividers to reduce shock, provide protection and increase support in the center of the bag. A separate pocket holds a 13-inch laptop. The Travel Backpack also features an extendable side pocket for the Befree tripod or other compact tripod. List Price: $165. Contact: Manfrotto, www.manfrotto.us.
Weighing just 2.4 pounds, the carbon-fiber Befree Tripod by Manfrotto is light, rugged and designed for travel. The four-section legs offer Leg Selectors, providing two options for leg inclination so you can best match the tripod shape to your space. The tripod comes with an 8.8-pound-capacity aluminum ballhead. When the legs are folded, the ballhead nests inside for compact transport at 15.7 inches. List Price: $389. Contact: Manfrotto, www.manfrotto.us.
The 36.4-megapixel Sony a7R uses a 16-bit BIONZ processor for quick speed and noise reduction. The processor, coupled with the elimination of a low-pass filter, also produces exceptional detail. Flexible Spot AF allows three selectable sizes for improved focus targeting. Particularly attractive for DSLR shooters, the Alpha 7R has a 2.4-million-dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder, as well as a 3-inch, tiltable, high-resolution LCD screen, nine customizable buttons and 46 assignable functions. For video enthusiasts, the Alpha 7R captures 1080p60 HD and AVCHD progressive video, provides zebra bars for exposure tracking and HDMI for an external monitor or audio output, and is compatible with an XLR adapter kit. List Price: $2,300. Contact: Sony, www.sony.com.
The G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt from G-Technology is an HDD available in 3 TB or 4 TB capacities. With a quick 7200 rpm drive speed, it has a 165 MB/s transfer rate and both a Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interface. A three-year warranty is included. List Price: $299 (3 TB); $399 (4 TB). Contact: G-Technology, www.g-technology.com.
Pack For A Day Of Landscape And Wildlife Shooting
The Pentax K-3 has a 23.35-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and PRIME III processor, providing ISO sensitivity up to 51,200 and 8.3 fps up to 22 RAW frames. The 27-point SAFOX11 autofocus system uses 25 cross-type points. An internal anti-aliasing filter can be turned on or off for controlling moiré. The 92 seals offer protection against cold, dust and wet weather. The K-3 also offers a 3.2-inch, 1037K-dot LCD monitor, optical pentaprism viewfinder and dual SD card slots. List Price: $1,096. Contact: Pentax, www.us.ricoh-imaging.com.
For a basic day of shooting, the clean-looking Elemental bag by Clik Elite provides plenty of space for a basic day’s equipment while remaining small, light and unobtrusive. Padded compartments provide room for a DSLR with lens attached, an extra lens or flash and personal documents or accessories. A tablet sleeve, key clip and mesh inner pockets keep additional accessories safe. A zippered pocket on the padded shoulder strap can be used to hold a cell phone or a small compact camera. The aluminum handle makes it easy to “grab-and-go” while the magnetic closure on the outer flap keeps everything safe inside. List Price: $111. Contact: Clik Elite, clikelite.com.
The BlackRapid Cross Shot Strap is simple and sturdy and makes toting your camera effortless. The 10.5-inch-long and 1.5-inch-wide molded nonslip TPR rubber pad keeps the strap comfortably in place. Worn across your torso on either shoulder, it’s usable for both right- and left-dominant shooters. The BlackRapid patented FastenR, ConnectR and Lock Star hardware with Lock Star Swivel Hook Cover keep your camera safely connected to the strap. List Price: $44. Contact: BlackRapid, www.blackrapid.com.
The Sigma 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 DC OS Macro is an all-purpose lens best for when you’re packing light. In addition to the wide zoom range, the lens provides macro capability with a 1:2.9 ratio. The barrel is made from Thermally Stable Composite material, allowing for use in extreme temperature variations and contributing to the light 16.6-ounce weight. Special Low Dispersion glass and aspherical lens glass combine with Sigma’s OS System to compensate for camera shake and to correct for color aberration. List Price: $349. Contact: Sigma, www.sigmaphoto.com.
The aircraft-grade, aluminum-alloy Sirui 3T-35 Series Table-Top Tripod Kit by Argraph folds down to an ultraportable 9.5 inches and comes with an attached belt hook. The 2-section center column extends to 13.5 inches. When using the Tripod Kit as a mobile support, fold the legs down for added reach or up toward the center column for use of the grip feature under the tripod legs. The kit comes with a ballhead with an Arca-compatible quick-release plate. Estimated Street Price: $85. Contact: Argraph, www.argraph.com.
Pack For A Day Of Travel Shooting
The Sigma dp2 Quattro uses a sleek, minimalist body with weight distribution for a comfortable-in-hand feel, with a 30mm ƒ/2.8 standard fixed-focal-length lens. The redesigned Foveon APS-C 30-megapixel Quattro sensor provides 30% higher resolution than its predecessor, utilizing the quick TRUE II image processor. List Price: $999. Contact: Sigma, www.sigmaphoto.com.
Made from 420D diamond ripstop nylon with water-repellant coating, the SD Pixel Pocket Rocket by Think Tank Photo has nine clear pockets to hold SD memory cards. Easily fold up and tether the cardholder to your bag or clothing with the quick-clip lanyard. List Price: $16. Contact: Think Tank Photo, www.thinktankphoto.com.
The SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-I has a U1 rating for full 1080p HD shooting. With a quick write speed of 90 MB/s and storage capacities ranging from 8 GB to 64 GB, this card also includes built-in Error Correction Code to enhance endurance and reliability. Estimated Street Price: $21-$98. Contact: SanDisk, www.sandisk.com.
Hoodman offers the RAW Steel Ultra High Speed UHS-I SDHC/SDXC card using “chip-on-board” technology. With a Class 10/U1 rating, it captures full 1080p HD video with write speeds at 60 MB/s. Waterproof and functional at temperatures from -13° F to 185° F, it also comes with a Lifetime Warranty. Cards are available in storage sizes ranging from 8 GB to 64 GB. Estimated Street Price: $29-$159. Contact: Hoodman, hoodmanusa.com.
The Lexar Professional 600x SDXC/SDHC UHS-I is rated Class 10/U1 for full 1080p HD recording. With 45 MB/s write speeds, it’s available in 16 GB to 256 GB storage capacities, and comes with a free Image Rescue Software download to help recover files in case of corruption. List Price: $49-$629. Contact: Lexar, www.lexar.com.