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In Focus: September 2009
Get to your photo gear quickly using the Tamrac Aero Speed Pack, which features a convenient side-door entry for grabbing your camera when wearing the bag over your shoulder. Just swing it around to the front of your body or go through the front panel when wearing the bag like a traditional backpack. Two models are available—Aero Speed Pack 75 and 85. The 75 holds a D-SLR with up to a 7 1⁄2-inch lens attached, one to two extra lenses and a flash, while the 85 fits a D-SLR with an 81⁄2-inch lens attached, a couple of extra zooms and up to a 17-inch laptop. Estimated Street Price: $89 (75); $119 (85). Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
The Tamron SP AF60mm F2 Di-II LD (IF) 1:1 Macro is a fast medium-telephoto lens designed for APS-C-sized D-SLRs. In 35mm format, the lens covers a 93mm angle of view. Other features include an internal focus system, which is helpful in close-focusing situations because the overall length of the lens doesn’t change. There’s also a full-time manual-control mechanism so you can manually adjust the focus without hitting the AF/MF switchover button, even when you’re in autofocus mode. It’s available for Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. Estimated Street Price: $569. Contact: Tamron, (800) 827-8880, www.tamron.com.
Capture D-SLR-quality images with the compact Sigma DP2. The camera’s key feature is its 20.7×13.8mm 14-megapixel Foveon X3 image sensor, which is taken directly from the SD14 D-SLR (and DP1) and incorporates the unique Foveon design of laying blue, green and red sensors together as a stack. This allows the sensor to gather more light. Other features include the True II image processor, which is the same unit used in the SD15 D-SLR, and a 24.2mm (41mm-equivalent) ƒ/2.8 lens. Estimated Street Price: $649. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
onOne Software is giving iPhone and iPod Touch users a new way to fire their Canon and Nikon cameras through its D-SLR Camera Remote app. The program lets you trigger the camera remotely by connecting it to a WiFi-enabled computer. This allows you to control settings, fire the shutter, review images and get a live viewfinder preview, all from a distance. Shooting remotely is especially nice when you want to do high- or low-angle photography. Lite and Professional versions are available. List Price: $2 (Lite); $20 (Pro). Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.
The Cullmann Magnesit 532C tripod is strong and lightweight, and features vibration-cushioned carbon legs for optimal stability. With a newly developed leg-clamping design, the legs lock quickly and securely. You can position the camera as low as 12 inches for ground-level exposures. Height ranges from 25 to 72 inches, and it weighs 4.6 pounds. Magnesit tripods are equipped with adjustable steel spikes, a separable center strut and foam casing on the upper legs that protects against bumps and damage. Estimated Street Price: $375. Contact: R.T.S., Inc., (631) 242-6801, www.rtsphoto.com.
Become your own tour guide the next time you hike through Zion National Park, Utah, using ZionQuest, an app for your iPhone or iPod Touch. This is the first in a series of trip-planning applications the company is rolling out for various parks and tourist destinations. It includes a custom, interactive map of the park showing tour locations and popular hiking trails, dozens of videos describing the trails and hundreds of photos organized by location. Estimated Street Price: $5. Contact: GeoQuest Tech, geoquesttech.com.
Zip up Go Lite’s Adrenaline 0º sleeping bag, which features 800-fill goose down for premium comfort. Waterproof, windproof and breathable hood and foot compartments protect you from condensation and help your body hold onto its heat on a chilly night. A trimmer mummy shape offers a closer fit for improved warmth, and the half-length top zip regulates temperature more efficiently. List Price: $400. Contact: GoLite, (888) 5-GOLITE, www.golite.com.
Be prepared on your next camping trip with the Pelican 3390 Knife/Lite Combo, which features the PM6 3320 Flashlight and a KB-1250 folding knife. Constructed of an engineering-grade polymer touted as nearly indestructible, the flashlight weighs just 3.4 ounces and uses a Xenon bulb with a run time of up to an hour. The knife has a 4.5-inch stainless-steel blade that’s 40 percent serrated for easily cutting webbing or rope and for overall outdoor use. List Price: $49. Contact: Pelican, (800) 473-5422, www.pelican.com.
Stay warm in the Grand Peak Vest from Woolrich. The vest is made from TechnoWool X, a light, natural fabric that provides wind protection and excellent core insulation for outdoor activities. Other features include brushed polyester mesh lining, a two-way front zipper and pockets for storage. It comes in light olive, merlot and tidal. List Price: $100. Contact: Woolrich, (800) 995-1299, www.woolrich.com.
Go wide with the compact Tokina AT-X 16.5-135 DX. The 16.5-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 AF lens gives an angle of view equivalent to 25-200mm. The lens is designed for D-SLRs with APS-C-sized sensors and has a minimum focusing distance of 19.7 inches. Three aspherical elements, an all-glass precision-molded element and two compound elements produce high contrast. Additionally, two super-low-dispersion glass elements correct chromatic aberration. Canon and Nikon mounts are available. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
Adobe Lightroom 2 users can instantly convert a color photograph to black-and-white with Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro, which is now available for versions 2.3 and higher. Once installed, the app is accessible by clicking the Photo menu and rolling over Edit In. Edits are nondestructive, as each one is applied automatically to a newly generated TIFF file and not the original. The program features 18 emulated film types and a grain engine that replicates the traditional silver-halide process for top-notch black-and-white imagery. The update is available as a free download to current Silver Efex Pro users. List Price: $199 (new users). Contact: Nik Software, (619) 725-3150, www.niksoftware.com.
The Lexar 32 GB Platinum II SDHC card is the first to feature new 34nm technology developed by Micron that boosts capacity and storage in physically smaller cards. The memory card stores up to 12 hours of high-definition video, while delivering minimum sustained write and read speeds of 9 MBps and 12 MBps, respectively. The increased capacity also allows you to take better advantage of the camera’s burst-mode setting. List Price: $139. Contact: Lexar Media, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
Give your landscapes a distinct look and feel in the final print using Museo’s Textured Rag. The paper is reminiscent of old-world, cold-press watercolor paper and has been enhanced with an ink-receptive layer that helps make images pop. The paper is 100-percent cotton, acid-free and optimized for use with pigment-based inks. It’s compatible with dye-based, as well. Sheet sizes range from 8½x11 to 35×47 inches, and 50-foot rolls come in widths from 17 to 50 inches. Estimated Street Price: $40 (25 sheets of 8½x11). Contact: Museo, (877) 306-8736, www.museofineart.com.
For Canon EOS 5D Mark II shooters, a new BeachTek DXA-5D adapter makes it possible to capture professional-level sound with control and monitoring ability. The DXA-5D offers an easy way of connecting microphones and other audio gear using dual transformer-balanced XLR inputs with phantom power and built-in level meters. The built-in headphone jack allows you to monitor the audio. For the most optimal recording quality, you can dial in the proper signal levels using the adapter controls. List Price: $379. Contact: BeachTek, (416) 690-9457, www.beachtek.com.
Eye-Fi makes SD cards that have WiFi radios built in. Images are stored just as they would be on any other SD card, but once the camera is done writing, it wirelessly transmits the images to your computer’s hard drive. Eye-Fi Explore allows you to use more than 10,000 WiFi hot spots across the U.S. to connect for uploading to your computer or the web. If you’re into geotagging, the card automatically adds location information to photos. List Price: Varies. Contact: Eye-Fi, (877) 873-9334, www.eye.fi.
Warm, cool or neutralize light when you’re shooting outside using Creative Light’s spring-loaded reflectors. They come in gold/silver, silver/white, sunfire/white and translucent, and are easy to transport. Creative Light also offers a full lineup of other lighting accessories, including softboxes, soft grids, umbrellas and light stands. How-to videos on their website demonstrate how the tools work, with photographers sharing techniques and giving advice. List Price: $15 to $143. Contact: Creative Light, (914) 347-3300, www.CreativeLight.com.
Add a different dimension to your scenics with Auto FX Software’s Photo/Graphic Edges 7.0 Platinum Edition. The app features 32 new edge, border and frame effects. They include film and natural-media frames, darkroom edges and storyboards that contain layouts for photo books, canvas and other prints. A new collection of textures allows you to give your composition a natural-looking backdrop. You also can choose from hundreds of preset effects. This version contains nearly three times as many effects as the previous edition. List Price: $249. Contact: Auto FX Software, (205) 980-0056, www.autofx.com.
Back up while out in the field using the Transcend StoreJet 18M. The 1.8-inch hard drive is designed with a rugged and durable silicone outer shell that absorbs vibration and prevents damage if you accidentally drop or bump it. It also features a shock-protection system with internal suspension technology. The OneTouch auto-backup button instantly backs up and synchronizes data with a notebook or desktop PC. The drive comes with 120 GB of storage capacity. Estimated Street Price: $104. Contact: Transcend, www.transcendusa.com.
Shoot big images fast using the 32 GB SanDisk Extreme SDHC memory card. With read and write speeds of up to 30 MBps, the memory card allows you to do more continuous-burst shooting without worrying about storage or speed limits. The fast transfer rate also makes downloading images quicker. If you shoot with one of the new video D-SLRs, the card is fast enough to handle high-definition video recording. It’s capable of storing 160 minutes of full HD 1920×1080 video at a 24 MBps data-transfer rate. List Price: TBA. Contact: SanDisk, (866) SANDISK, www.sandisk.com.
Automate repetitive tasks like backing up and uploading files to FTP servers with StuffIt Deluxe 2009. To save time, Windows users can create multiple unique Droplet tools for doing these tasks and access them quickly without launching the app. The Context Menu gives instant access to the most recent and frequently used actions. In the Mac version, there’s support for the Leopard operating system and Time Machine. StuffIt Deluxe automatically transfers and backs up archives for MobileMe users with the DropStuff and StuffIt Scheduler. List Price: $79 (Mac); $49 (Windows). Contact: Smith Micro Software, (800) 964-7674, www.smithmicro.com.
Extend your shooting time with Zeikos battery power grips, which are available for popular Canon and Nikon cameras. All units come with AA adapters so you can use either AA or the camera’s batteries. The ZE-NBG60 works with the Nikon D40, D40X and D60; the ZE-NBG90 with the D80 and D90; and the ZE-NBG300 with the D300 and D700. The ZE-CBG50 works with the Canon EOS 40D and 50D, the ZE-CBGXSI with the Rebel XSi and XS, and the ZE-CBG5DII with the EOS 5D Mark II. Estimated Street Price: Varies by model. Contact: Zeikos Inc., (888) 934-5675,www.zeikos.com.
Every year, the North American Nature Photography Association awards scholarships to 10 high-school students, ages 14 to 18. Winners get to attend the group’s annual summit where they learn about nature photography, meet professional photographers and writers, and take part in classroom and field instruction. This year, the application deadline is October 19. The 2010 NANPA Summit takes place in Reno, Nev., February 13-20. Application information is available online. Contact: NANPA, (303) 422-8527, www.nanpa.org.
The Ideesign Q-top quick release delivers a fast, secure way of attaching your camera to a tripod. Pressing the spring-loaded push-button is all that it takes to attach and release. It features a stable, solid base, lightweight camera plates and an integrated spirit level. After a manufacturing hiatus of a few years, the Q-top is now being produced again. In the U.S., Adorama is the sole distributor. Estimated Street Price: $149. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson (Amphoto Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-8174-3225-6). Master creative techniques like making “rain” and capturing “ghosts” along with getting practical advice on gear, equipment and postprocessing software.
The Painted Desert: Land of Wind and Stone by Scott Thybony and David Edwards (University of Arizona Press, 2006; ISBN: 0-8165-2480-7). Take an intimate look at a place that, for many people, remains inhospitable and inaccessible. The book offers insights about the geology, paleontology, anthropology and human history of the region.
The Photographer’s Survival Guide: How to Build and Grow a Successful Business by Suzanne Sease and Amanda Sosa Stone (Amphoto Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-8174-7677-9). This practical guide is packed with tips on how to keep your images fresh, marketing yourself to clients and general advice on how to navigate the industry.
First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story by Noriko and Don Carroll (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2006; ISBN: 978-0-7407-5707-5). Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or not, this tale offers a fascinating look at the birth and development of two young hummingbirds. The book is a mix of hummingbird field guide and personal narrative.