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Our guide to wide-angle lenses, the most popular and useful optics for landscape photography.
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In Focus: October 2009
Nikon has upgraded its popular AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G ED VR II lens with several features designed to boost image quality. The Vibration Reduction system now allows you to shoot handheld at up to four shutter speeds slower than would be possible, an improvement over the three allowed by its predecessor. Seven Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements help you take sharp images with accurate color by minimizing chromatic aberration. The Silent Wave Motor enables fast, quiet autofocusing to 4.6 feet. Estimated Street Price: $2,399. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-UX, www.nikonusa.com.
Set out on your next photo day hike with the Tamrac Velocity 9x sling pack. The bag holds a pro D-SLR with grip and 70-200mm zoom attached. It carries like a traditional backpack, but swings around to the front for faster access to gear without removing the pack. In the main compartment, the camera fits securely between two vertical, foam-padded dividers. There’s also room for a few additional lenses and a flash. A padded sling strap distributes the bag’s weight evenly. Estimated Street Price: $89. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
Take sharper shots with help from Slik’s PRO 340 BH tripod, which is composed of an aluminum-magnesium-titanium alloy that delivers a lightweight, yet sturdy frame. The compact tripod extends from 20 inches to nearly 58 inches and has four leg sections that collapse down to just over 20 inches for easy transport when traveling. The three-position, multi-angle leg locks make for easy setup on uneven terrain. Converting the center column to a short column allows you to shoot as low as 10 inches from the ground. The PRO 340 BH weighs just over three pounds, yet can support almost nine. List Price: $239. Contact: Slik (THK Photo), (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
When space doesn’t allow for a lot of extra lenses, take the Sigma 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM. In addition to steadying the image as conventional stabilizing lenses do when used with most D-SLRs, the Hybrid Optical Stabilizer compensates for shake and provides a stabilized image in the viewfinder of Pentax and Sony cameras, which stabilize in the body. This unique capability is available only with Sigma Hybrid Optical Stabilizer lenses. Estimated Street Price: $530. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
Simplify how you manage your image archive with ACDSee Pro 3. The latest version of the workflow app has a new streamlined interface with fewer icons and colors, keeping the focus on your photos. To make your workflow more efficient, the interface is built around three key areas—managing, viewing and processing images. You can categorize using a new check box feature in addition to dragging and dropping. Other notable features include an FTP uploader, flexible nondestructive processing presets and improved noise reduction. List Price: $169. Contact: ACD Systems, www.acdsee.com.
Be prepared when camping or backpacking with Buck Knives Impulse knife. It features quick, one-handed operation and a convenient belt clip for easy carrying, and a serrated version is available for more aggressive cutting needs. A safety lock prevents the 21⁄2-inch blade from accidentally opening. The pink version is dedicated to breast cancer research with a portion of the proceeds from every sale going to HugLoveSave, an organization that raises funds to support that cause. Estimated Street Price: $82. Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825, www.buckknives.com.
Sleep tight in the Eureka! Kaycee 0° sleeping bag. It’s insulated with Rteq fill, a highly compactible material made from four fibers for delivering warmth and durability. Other features include double-layer offset quilt construction, a fully adjustable contoured hood and a full-length draft tube for keeping the cold out. The bag also has an inside stash pocket for extras, an external pillow pocket and a roomy foot box. Estimated Street Price: $134. Contact: Eureka!, (800) 572-8822, www.eurekatent.com.
The eGear PICO Lite shines a powerful 10-lumen beam up to 30 feet from an ultracompact, rugged aluminum body that weighs just two-tenths of an ounce. It can provide 15 hours of light and is water-resistant. Just twist the bezel end to turn it on and off. The light also comes with a miniature carabineer clip and split ring, making it easy to attach to a key ring, zipper or backpack pocket for instant light. Estimated Street Price: $12. Contact: Essential Gear, (800) 582-3861, www.essentialgear.com.
The Marmot Crib 2P is a roomy two-person tent that packs light without skimping on high-end features. Light, sturdy poles keep the tent upright even in the worst of storms, and a double vestibule keeps gear separate for optimal organization. The poles used are up to 15-percent lighter than aluminum poles, yet comparable in strength. The tent is fully sealed at the seams to prevent leaking. List Price: $359. Contact: Marmot, (888) 357-3262, www.marmot.com.
Ensure that your display is calibrated properly using X-Rite’s updated ColorMunki 1.1, which allows more precise lighting control when matching color between displays. The upgrade allows you to set ambient light levels before calibration and optimize display luminance based on either ambient light or user-specified luminance values. The all-in-one spectrophotometer lets you quickly calibrate monitor, projector and printer profiles. List Price: $499. Contact: X-Rite Photo, (914) 347-3300, www.xritephoto.com.
Keep shooting when you’re splashing around at the beach or on a kayaking trip with the Pentax Optio WS80. The camera is less than an inch thick, has a 2.7-inch LCD, is waterproof down to five feet and captures 720p HD video clips at 30 fps. The Movie Shake Reduction mode helps you record clear video, and Underwater Movie mode optimizes color settings when shooting while submerged. The 10-megapixel WS80 also features a zoom lens that’s equivalent to 35-175mm in 35mm format. List Price: $249. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
Aimed at D-SLR users, the JVC Xiview LT-42WX70 is a slim, widescreen HD LCD that covers all of the sRGB color space and 96 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. This makes it possible to accurately reproduce the vibrant colors captured in images taken with D-SLRs. Other key specs include a 50,000:1 contrast ratio, a 178-degree viewing angle and 52 on-screen image-quality adjustment tools for correcting color, tint, gamma and more. Estimated Street Price: $2,399. Contact: JVC, (800) 526-5308, www.jvc.com.
Give yourself plenty of room when working with images using NEC Display’s 24-inch MultiSync LCD2490WUXi2 or LCD2490W2-BK-SV. Features include 1900×1200 native resolution, X-Light Pro technology for maintaining consistent light output and ColorComp, which compensates for slight variations in luminance and color uniformity by providing even color across the screen area. The LCD2490W2-BK-SV model also comes with NEC’s SpectraViewII Color Calibration Solution. Estimated Street Price: $1,099 (LCD2490WUXi2); $1,299 (LCD2490W2-BK-SV). Contact: NEC Display Solutions, (866) NEC-MORE, www.necdisplay.com.
The Monostat RS16SK ART monopod extends from 16.9 inches to 56.3 inches, weighs 1.4 pounds and can support 30 pounds. Anti-Rotation Tubing allows you to easily open and close the monopod in any position. Like the rest of the Monostat RS lineup, this model has a single-stem design for quick setup, and the Swivel Toe Stabilizer enables steady shots at angles of up to 60 degrees. Estimated Street Price: $184. Contact: Monostat of Switzerland (Accurate Sales, Inc.), (718) 302-7063, www.monostat.us.
If you shoot with an HD video D-SLR, get a bigger view than what the LCD can provide with Marshall Electronics OLED camera-top and field monitors. They’re thin, portable and deliver accurate colors with a wide range of contrast and brightness. The 6.5-inch V-LCD651ST-HDMI is designed specifically for outdoor use with an anti-reflective screen for optimal image viewing under bright light without a hood. It features 1024×768 resolution and weighs just 1.3 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $1,999 (with small battery adapter); $2,099 (V-mount and Anton/Bauer battery adapter). Contact: Marshall Electronics, (310) 333-0606, www.marshallelectronics.net.
Customize the look of your images for free with onOne Software’s PhotoTools 2 Lite. The pared-down version of the plug-in, which contains hundreds of effects and corrections, features 15 of the app’s most popular tools. These include reproducing classic effects such as Bleach Bypass and Cross Process, simulating film stock like Kodachrome and Fujichrome Velvia, and making adjustments. Go to the website for a free download. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.
Rated with ultrafast transfer speeds, Transcend’s Extreme Plus 600X CompactFlash cards are particularly well suited for D-SLR shooters who like to capture big image files in bursts. The cards have read speeds of up to 92 MBps and write speeds of up to 87 MBps. With capacities of up to 16 GB, the UDMA-enabled cards also are great for recording video. Built-in technology detects and corrects any errors that occur during data transfer. List Price: $142 (8 GB); $244 (16 GB). Contact: Transcend, (714) 921-2000, www.transcendusa.com.
Use Hoodman’s HoodEYE for improved viewfinder viewing. The unit basically replaces your D-SLR’s rubber eyecup and improves clarity by preventing stray light from entering. There are five models that fit all Canon and Nikon D-SLRs. A self-locking mount system keeps the HoodEYE securely in place. Estimated Street Price: $29. Contact: Hoodman USA, (800) 818-3946, hoodmanusa.com.
Hiking around with a monopod can be easier than with a full-sized tripod. The Zeikos ZE-MP72 extends out to 72 inches and collapses to 21.2 inches for easy transport. Features include a fully padded handgrip, a four-section aluminum leg with Rapid-Action Locks for quick setup and a rubber leg tip with a spike for easy use on any surface. The ZE-MP72 attaches to most photo backpacks and can double as a walking stick. Estimated Street Price: $23. Contact: Zeikos Inc., (888) 934-5675, www.zeikos.com.
Create just the kind of light you need in the field using the Flashpoint Q Series Attachments Kit. The bundle includes a variety of light-modifying accessories, such as a beauty dish mini reflector, a snoot, a diffuser dome, white and gold deflectors, honeycombs, three colored filters and an extra diffuser. They attach easily and securely to any standard shoe-mounted flash using a band and Velcro® strap. Estimated Street Price: $169. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Make green prints of your images using Eco-Matte from Inkpress Paper. The 200gsm paper is made according to guidelines prohibiting use of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process. With a high ink limit, the paper produces prints with vivid colors and expanded color gamut on a smooth surface with instant drying properties. ICC profiles with extended gray maps are available for free on the Inkpress website. It’s available in a variety of cut-sheet sizes from 8-1⁄2×11 inches and rolls up to 60 inches. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Inkpress Paper, www.inkpresspaper.com.
Pan your HD video-capable D-SLR smoothly using the VariZoom FlowPod, a unique stabilization device that can be used like a monopod, but allows you to move the camera and still shoot steady images. There are three modes—Monopod, Stabilizer and Low. You can record smooth video sequences in Stabilizer mode and quickly switch to Monopod mode for capturing stills. Low mode lets you adjust the camera to any desired height off the ground. Estimated Street Price: $499 (FlowPod with balancing plate). Contact: VariZoom, (512) 219-7722, www.varizoom.com.
Creative Photoshop CS4: Digital Illustration and Art Techniques by Derek Lea (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-52134-3). If you’re familiar with Photoshop and looking for a new way to use it, this guide helps you explore the more artistic parts of the program. Topics include learning how to create graffiti, antique effects and stencil art.
Buddhist Himalayas by Olivier and Danielle Föllmi and Matthieu Ricard (Abrams, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-8109-8405-9). In 185 photographs, the vividness of Tibet’s landscape and people are captured. Essays on basic Buddhist concepts, schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan astrology, medicine and village life accompany the images.
The Digital Photography Companion by Derrick Story (O’Reilly, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-596-51766-3). Get advice on choosing the right camera, mastering digital controls and sharing your photos. Plenty of examples are given, along with in-depth summaries on camera features, tips for printing and an overview of various apps.
Walking the Cape and Islands: A Comprehensive Guide to the Walking and Hiking Trails of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket by David Weintraub (Menasha Ridge Press, 2006; ISBN: 978-0897-32603-2). This comprehensive guide covers the entire length of the Cape, from Bourne to Provincetown, with profiles on more than 80 of the best walks and hikes.