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In Focus: September 2010
Round out your lens collection with the Sigma 85mm ƒ/1.4 EX DG HSM, a large-aperture medium-telephoto. Designed for use with full-frame DSLRs, the lens can be used with smaller APS-C-sized sensors and the focal length increases to about 127.5mm. A Special Low Dispersion glass element and a glass mold element correct aberrations, ensuring high-quality optical performance. The Hyper Sonic Motor provides quiet, high-speed autofocusing and full-time manual-focus capability. The 85mm features a minimum focusing distance of 33.5 inches and a maximum magnification of 1:8.6. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
Streamline how you view, evaluate, sort and select images for processing with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. A faster interface, improved noise reduction, lens-correction controls and support for tethered shooting are just some of the top-notch features included in this latest version. With 64-bit capability, the app is more robust for handling large image libraries, and the RAW processing engine contains noise-reduction and sharpening tools. If you shoot with an HD-capable DSLR, Lightroom now lets you import and manage video files. During import, previews and default selections have been added to give you quick access for sorting through and finding images. Estimated Street Price: $299 (new); $99 (upgrade). Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.
Shoot longer without having to worry about switching memory cards using the Lexar Professional 133x Secure Digital High Capacity memory cards. Larger capacities and faster write speeds make the cards ideal if you shoot higher-resolution photos and full-motion, high-definition video files. They’re offered in sizes of 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB with a write speed of 20 MB/s. The fast transfer rate also helps accelerate downloading images from the card to your computer. Estimated Street Price: $259 (32 GB); $149 (16 GB); $89 (8 GB). Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
Give your dramatic landscape images a vintage look using Alien Skin Software Exposure 3. Simulate the look of Technicolor’s brilliant colors and the brown skin tones of early Kodachrome. Vignette, dust and scratch features make vintage processes like Autochrome, Calotype and Daguerreotype look more authentic. Aside from adjusting the grain’s structure size, the software allows you to alter how much grain texture is visible in the highlights, midtones and shadows of the image. Other new features include more than 500 presets, support for Lightroom and 64-bit Photoshop CS5, and faster preview updates. Estimated Street Price: $249. Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-7546, www.alienskin.com.
For Leica users, the revised version of the Summilux-M 35mm ƒ/1.4 ASPH features a floating lens-element design for delivering images that are noticeably sharper and with improved contrast. The floating group changes its position relative to the front lens group during focusing. The lens is optimized for use with digital Leica M models and has a focusing range of 2.3 feet to infinity. A full-metal, rectangular, screw-mount lens hood helps keep the body compact and lightweight at just 11 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $4,995. Contact: Leica, (800) 222-0118, www.leica-camera.us.
Buck Knives PakLite Hunting Knives are sturdy, lightweight and affordable. Two models are available, the 140 Skinner and the 135 Caper. Both are made of 420HC stainless steel, ensuring durability and corrosion-resistance, and they come in a heavy-duty nylon sheath. The Skinner has a 2 7/8;-inch skinning blade that’s 0.15 inches thick. Overall, it measures 6 5/8; inches and weighs 2.5 ounces. The Caper has a 2½-inch blade, is 0.1 inches thick, measures 6¾ inches long and weighs 1.1 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $25 (each). Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825, www.buckknives.com.
Get a good night’s sleep when you’re out camping using the Brooks-Range Backcountry Sleeping Pad. The torso-shaped pad weighs less than two pounds thanks to an increase of air space in the structural foam used to manufacture it. Bottom grips and a textured top surface hold the mattress in place while you sleep. It measures 69x20x1 inches and rolls up into a very compact unit. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: Brooks-Range, (510) 797-7980, www.brooks-range.com.
Turn on the MINOX CFL 1 Compact Flashlight when the sun goes down. The light is bright, outputting 80 lumens on a single 1.5v AA battery. When you don’t need full power, push the switch at the end of the handle and you still have 18 lumens of illumination for six hours. The aluminum body is sealed and waterproof with a checkered surface for a secure grip. It measures 37/8 inches long and weighs 2.6 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $89. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080, www.minox.com.
The Marmot Paceline Jacket combines the waterproof, breathable qualities of a shell with the stretch and range of motion of a base layer. The garment is made from lightweight nylon material with two-way stretch. Angel Wing Movement gives full range of motion in the arms, so it doesn’t ride up when you’re hiking or climbing. If you’re getting too hot, vents with concealed zippers can be unzipped to help you cool down. Estimated Street Price: $150. Contact: Marmot, (888) 357-3262, www.marmot.com.
ExpoImaging’s Rogue Flashbenders give you a variety of options when deciding the best way to illuminate a scene. The lineup consists of three models, and each can be molded into a given shape for directing or shielding light as desired. The Bounce Card/Flag can be used either as a reflector to bounce light onto a subject or as a flag to shield it away. The Small Reflector can be used as a reflector, flag or as a snoot to produce a narrow circle of light. The Large Reflector serves the same purpose as the small version but covers twice the reflective surface area. The units install quickly and work with all shoe-mount flash models. Estimated Street Price: $29 (Card/Flag); $34 (Small Reflector); $39 (Large Reflector); $104 (total set). Contact: ExpoImaging, www.expoimaging.com.
Give your neck a break from your DSLR using the Spider Holster Camera Carrying System, which places the weight of the camera at your hip instead of the upper body. The system includes the SpiderPro Camera Holster, a belt-mounted sturdy metal bracket that allows the camera to hang securely, the Holster Belt, which evenly distributes the weight of one or two cameras across your hips, and the Spider Plate, which screws onto the body of your camera via the tripod socket. The holster provides quick-draw access and allows even the largest DSLR to hang comfortably on either side of the body. Estimated Street Price: $109. Contact: Spider Camera Holster, www.spiderholster.com.
Petrol Bags Black Deca lineup features a built-in LED lighting system that makes it easier for you to see and organize cameras, lenses and other equipment. The lights are easy to install or remove using an internal zipper. The floor of many of the models is equipped with a new shock-resistant, molded AbsorbaPad. Attached by hook-and-loop material, the pad provides an extra level of protection from accidental damage caused by bumps and jolts that sometimes occur during transport. A pattern of ridges and raised dots on the pad’s surface delivers a firm grip for keeping gear safe. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Petrol Bags, (845) 268-0100, www.petrolbags.com.
The 30-inch HP ZR30w is the latest entry in HP’s Performance Display lineup and features 2560×1600 resolution in a 16:10 aspect ratio and 3000:1 contrast ratio. Capable of showing more than one billion displayable colors, the monitor covers 100% of sRGB and 99% of Adobe RGB color spaces with visibly deeper reds, blues and greens. Along with wide viewing angles, the HP ZR30w has a DisplayPort and DVI-D inputs and an integrated 4-port USB hub, and comes with a six-way adjustable stand that offers tilt, swivel and height adjustability. Estimated Street Price: $1,299. Contact: HP, (866) 625-0242, www.hp.com.
Take the Burton Focus Pack on your next hike. The bag is loaded with extras such as a warming pocket for keeping batteries working when the weather is cold, a tripod carry-and-pack compression system and a water-resistant iPod pocket. A removable padded case inside holds your camera and other equipment just the way you like. There’s also a sleeve for holding a laptop and a removable storage pocket for film, memory cards or batteries. A dual-foam ergonomic shoulder harness, as well as waist and sternum straps, help you carry your gear with ease. Estimated Street Price: $174. Contact: Burton, (800) 881-3138, www.burton.com.
Get a handle on your workflow from import to print with ACDSee Pro 3. Faster RAW image processing, new nondestructive editing features, expanded online functionality and more customization options are some of the noteworthy upgrades. Making better use of the background task engine when processing large RAW files, the app allows you to move to the next image or mode faster. ACDSee Online, which connects to a free 2 GB account for storing and sharing images online without leaving the app, now features a printing service, allowing you to make high-quality prints. The update is free. Estimated Street Price: $169 (new). Contact: ACD Systems, www.acdsee.com.
Adjust your camera’s positioning from landscape to portrait using the Arca-Swiss L-Bracket. The unit allows you to go from horizontal to vertical shooting without having to recompose. Removing the device’s vertical arm to connect the plate to the bottom of your camera is quick and easy. One vertical arm can be used with different cameras. Plus, if you’re working with the bracket on a tripod, the camera can be released in seconds when you’re ready to do handheld shooting. Estimated Street Price: $249. Contact: Arca-Swiss, (773) 248-2513, www.precisioncameraworks.com.
Ensure that the final print matches what you saw in-camera using Museo’s Fuse and FotoFuse inkjet papers. Both feature a pressure-sensitive adhesive for easy mounting. Fuse is a 170gsm paper with a velvety matte stock that’s ideal for capturing fine details and bold colors. FotoFuse features an adhesive-backed, resin-coated photo base with a gloss finish and delivers an almost liquid color and texture. Thanks to a universal ink-receptive coating, ink dries instantly when the paper is used with aqueous, thermal and piezo inkjet printer systems. Both are available in a sheet size of 13×19 inches. Estimated Street Price: $150 (FotoFuse); $99 (Fuse). Contact: Museo, (877) 306-8736, www.museofineart.com.
Soften the harsh light produced by an on-camera flash using the Gary Fong Puffer Pop-Up Flash Diffuser, which is now available for Sony and Konica Minolta shooters. Mounted directly to the camera’s hot shoe, the Puffer is adjustable for center positioning on all model types equipped with a pop-up flash, regardless of size. It also works with the camera’s internal systems so it doesn’t interfere with flash operation and all camera modes remain fully functional. When not in use, the Puffer stores flat for easy transport in a camera bag. Other supported models include Canon, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and more. Estimated Street Price: $19. Contact: Gary Fong, (800) 906-6447, www.garyfong.com.
Merge your stills and HD video clips into a multimedia slideshow using Boinx FotoMagico 3.5 software. It’s as easy as dragging photos and movies from your library into a storyboard. To change the order, you just drag the files into a new sequence. Adding a transition is as simple as clicking the Options icon and making a selection from the menu. Whether you keep images organized in a workflow app like Aperture or Lightroom, or in folders on your hard drive, the FotoMagico image browser automatically displays images from wherever they’re stored. Audio capabilities include multiple audio tracks, sound effects and narration. Estimated Street Price: $149. Contact: Boinx Software, www.boinx.com.
Bundle your cables and wires neatly together using BongoTies. The sturdy, reliable ties are made of heavy-gauge rubber attached to a wooden “Bongo” pin with a button-type closure design for easy fastening and removal. There’s also now an environmentally friendly bamboo version. Just wrap the tie around the wire as many times as necessary and insert the wood closure securely into place. BongoTies are reusable and nonconductive so they work with any number of cord types. Estimated Street Price: $6 (10-pack). Contact: BongoTies, (818) 706-1231, www.bongoties.com.
When you’re out photographing wildlife and other kinds of fast-moving action, slowing down the shutter speed often makes for creative shots. A neutral-density filter, like the Hoya PRO1 Digital ND16, is a great way to do that because it reduces the amount of light transmitted to your camera’s sensor, without otherwise altering the light. The PRO1 Digital ND16 is a dark neutral-density filter with a filter factor of 16, meaning there’s a 4-stop light loss. So in daylight, if the slowest shutter speed possible without a filter is 1/60 sec. at ƒ/22, adding the filter makes a 1⁄4 sec. shutter speed possible. It’s available in standard sizes of 52mm to 82mm. Estimated Street Price: $65 to $150. Contact: THK Photo, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
When you’re out using a compact camera, and support via a tripod isn’t necessary, steady your camera with the Flashpoint Clamp LTCA2F, which comes with an eight-inch flexible arm. The clamp supports about a pound. Another version of the clamp, LTCC, comes with a small ball-and-socket head. The unit is capable of clamping to a table or pole and also works on car windows. Estimated Street Price: $9. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Outdoor Photography Masterclass by Niall Benvie (Photographers’ Institute Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-8610-8679-2). The book is essentially a three-day seminar that covers subjects such as sharpness, calibration, workflow and more. You take those techniques and apply them in the field, with tips on the final presentation. Benvie uses examples of his own work for inspiration. Buy now.
Completing Your Outdoor Photography with Landscape Filters: On Location With Adam Barker by Adam Barker (Master Photo Workshop, 2010; www.masterphotodvd.com). This 3¼ hour DVD introduces you to the most helpful filters for landscape and nature photography, exploring in detail graduated neutral-density, polarizing, color-intensifying filters and more. The DVD features live view video, allowing the viewer to actually see through Barker’s viewfinder as he works. Buy now.
Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time (Icons of Culture) by Chris Dickie (Barron’s Educational Series, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-7641-6295-4). This engaging collection of biographies includes such notables as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Annie Liebovitz, Richard Avedon and Ansel Adams. In addition to the profiles, the book explores trends and developments in the field. Buy now.
Contemporary Landscape Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Spectacular Settings by Carl E. Heilman II with Greta Heilman Cornell (Amphoto Books, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-8174-3968-2). Get some advice on how to shoot in the field using this guide. Topics covered include equipment, lighting, HDR techniques and more. Buy now.
Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: a professional image editor’s guide to the creative use of Photoshop for the Macintosh and PC by Martin Evening (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-52200-5). Master the latest version of Photoshop using Martin’s expert advice. Concepts are flushed out with real examples, diagrams, illustrations and step-by-step explanations. For photographers of all levels. Buy now.