In Focus: September 2011

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Take an exceptionally wide angle of view when shooting with the Canon EF 8-15mm ƒ/4L Fisheye USM lens. It delivers a 180º diagonal angle of view for all EOS SLRs, with formats ranging from full-frame to APS-C. Features include UD glass for limiting chromatic aberration, a Subwavelength coating for reduced ghosting and a newly developed Fluorine coating that minimizes soiling, smears and fingerprints. The lens has full-time manual focus for instantly switching from AF to manual operation. Estimated Street Price: $1,399. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON,
Starting with its interface, Snapseed, an iPad photo-editing app from Nik Software, offers photographers a particularly hands-on way of working with images while out in the field. Loading images is as easy as tapping the Open Image button. Snapseed uses the standard iPad photo album interface, so images are accessible from the Photos library. Options such as Automatic, Selective Adjust, Tune Image, Straighten & Rotate, and Crop appear on the left side of the screen, and tapping one of them allows you to enter the editing mode. Additional options include Black & White, Vintage Films, Drama and Grunge. Nik Software’s Control Point technology is also incorporated, allowing you to make selective adjustments by touching or swiping the screen. Estimated Street Price: $5. Contact: Nik Software, (888) 284-4085,
Capture faraway wildlife with a lens that puts length and speed to good use. The Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM incorporates the lens maker’s Optical Stabilization system, allowing you to take crisp handheld shots and use shutter speeds about 4 stops slower than would be possible otherwise. Two new “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) glass elements, as well as a single SLD glass element, improve general image quality by reducing chromatic aberrations. The lens’ splashproof design features O-ring-sealing connections that prevent dust and water from getting inside the camera body. List Price: $4,700. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858,

Whether you’re shooting stills or video, you know how important stabilization is to getting top-notch image quality. For making smooth video clips, Redrock Micro delivers its Universal Bundles for DSLRs. These flexible kits can be configured into multiple rig setups. Each one is built around a popular Redrock lineup—nano, handheld, shouldermount and studio—plus two “master” bundles that build multiple rigs across these lineups. The Complete Universal Bundle allows you to build every rig that Redrock has for HD DSLRs. The rigs also can be adapted for use with the latest video cameras. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $1,276 (varies based on configuration). Contact: Redrock Micro, (888) 214-3903,

When you’re shooting on uneven terrain, use the Novoflex MBAL leveling head to align your DSLR quickly. The small, yet sturdy device moves a smooth 15° in any direction and locks securely with minimal finger pressure. It weighs just 9.5 ounces, supports cameras up to 22 pounds and measures 2.75×2.4×1.75 inches. MBAL mounts to any tripod or head with a 1⁄4- or 3⁄8-inch mounting thread and is supplied with a 1⁄4-inch camera-mounting screw. A twist of the fixing screw enables you to make adjustments with just one hand. Estimated Street Price: $257. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,

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in focus 2009

See in the dark with the MINOX NVD mini night vision device. It’s 51⁄2 inches long and weighs just 7.8 ounces, yet it provides sharp-looking images with 2x magnification. With 16 infrared LEDs, the light works in complete darkness at a range of nearly 200 feet. With an infrared-sensitive CMOS sensor, the device picks up infrared radiation and reproduces the image on the monitor in the viewfinder. Since it’s not sensitive to bright light sources, it can be used in daylight as well. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080,


A water- and wind-resistant pullover offers just the kind of protection needed on a tough hike. The Marmot Vapor Trail features M2 Softshell fabric that resists wind and light drizzle, and stretches and breathes when you hit your stride. Breathable side and back panels let your body breathe on the trail. A zippered sleeve pocket features an iPod-friendly headphone port. Estimated Street Price: $90. Contact: Marmot, (707) 544-4590,
Sleep under the stars in one of the new PahaQue Bear Creek backpacking tents. The lightweight one- and two-person tents are easy to set up, have a full mesh body and include a rainfly vestibule with 6.5 square feet of additional protected space for gear and other stuff. The roomy two-person Bear Creek 200 has nearly 36 square feet of usable interior space and a trail weight of just 3.1 pounds. The one-person Bear Creek Solo has an 86×32-inch floor and weighs 2 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $299 (200); $225 (Solo). Contact: PahaQue, (858) 748-3762,

If you’re looking for a synthetic-filled bag that weighs less than 3 pounds, check out the High Peak Cirque 20° Sleeping Bag. The bag uses Invista Thermolite Extreme insulation, making it ideal for spring and fall camping. The shell is made of mini-ripstop Cire nylon that’s water-repellent and windproof. Dimensions are 32.5x80x20.5 inches. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: High Peak, (425) 251-5106,

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With Perfect Layers from onOne Software, you can quickly combine multiple images into a layered Photoshop-compatible file from within Lightroom or Aperture. The program lets you take a single image, duplicate it, add layers and then change how the layers interact with one another. You can change skies, composite multiple images together and retouch scenes. Built-in layer masks and masking tools blend multiple layers together. The MaskingBrush and MaskingBug allow you to show or hide selected areas of a layer. onOne worked closely with Scott Kelby, the editor-in-chief of Photoshop User magazine, to develop the program. Estimated Street Price: $69. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468,

For Mac users, Verbatim has a portable storage solution offering just the performance and capacity you need for backing up large image files. The Store ‘n’ Go for Mac USB 3.0/FW 800 Portable Hard Drive is compatible with all MacBook models and comes with FireWire 800 and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interfaces. The USB connection is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 as well. It’s available in capacities of 500 GB and 1 TB, and it’s formatted to work with Time Machine, the built-in backup and recovery application specific to Mac computers. Estimated Street Price: $109 (500 GB); TBA (1 TB). Contact: Verbatim,

Designed for photographers who like to get adventurous, the Tenba Discovery collection of lightweight bags offers an ideal way to walk, hike or climb with your gear. The Photo/Hydration Daypack weighs just 2.4 pounds and has a hydration-ready rear compartment that fits a reservoir up to 72 ounces. The rear pocket fits a slim tablet or laptop up to 11 inches. A pop-out, padded camera insert fits any size DSLR with four to six lenses and accessories, and the insert can be removed to convert the bag for other uses. There’s also a Shoulder Bag that provides quick access to a large camera system. It weighs less than two pounds and holds one to two DSLRs and five to seven lenses, plus flash and accessories. Estimated Street Price: $129 (Daypack); $119 (Shoulder). Contact: Tenba, (914) 347-3300,

Keep your fine optics clean when you’re out shooting the dusty landscape with the LensPen OutdoorPro Kit, which includes the Original LensPen and MiniPro II. Both tools function the same way by sliding out the brush end first and using it to remove loose dust and dirt from the lens or eyepiece. For stubborn fingerprints, take the cap off the other end and use the flexible tip, which contains a carbon compound used in printer’s ink, to get rid of them. The kit also includes a soft microfiber cleaning cloth, called MicroKlear, for cleaning non-lens surfaces, and a natural fiber cloth, called FogKlear, for strong anti-fog protection. Estimated Street Price: $34. Contact: LensPen, (877) 608-0868,

The emergence of HD DSLRs has given photographers a wealth of fresh angles to explore whether shooting stills or video. The Varavon Pro Finder assists you in capturing those new viewpoints as a waist-level viewfinder equipped with a 3x zoom for magnifying shots. It attaches to the camera, and with the use of two built-in angled mirrors, the unit allows you to look down into the viewfinder to see the shot. When you don’t need it for low-angle capture, it can serve as a regular viewfinder or convert into a hood. The Pro Finder connects to your camera via a baseplate and flushes right up against the camera’s LCD screen. It works with the Canon EOS 5D, 5D Mark II and 7D and Nikon D7000. Estimated Street Price: $363. Contact: Varavon, (800) 999-1984,

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A pair of portable drives from Lexar makes it easy to take your digital content with you. The Echo MX ranges in capacities from 8 GB to 128 GB, and delivers read and write transfer speeds of 30 MB/s and 17 MB/s, respectively, based on capacity. There’s also a capacity meter that allows you to see available backup space anytime. The Echo ZX comes in capacities of 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB, with read and write transfer speeds of 28 MB/s and 15 MB/s, respectively, again based on capacity. It’s designed to stay hooked up to a laptop for ongoing backup. Both drives are compatible with Mac and Windows operating systems. Estimated Street Price: $29 to $399 (MX); $29 to $99 (ZX). Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418,
Use the NovaFlip Flash Bracket to rotate your flash from a horizontal to a vertical position. The bracket’s thin vertical arm supports the flash arm, keeping the flash always over the lens to produce more natural light. The arm is placed against the camera grip, so holding the grip means you’re also holding the flash bracket. To prevent a flash cord from dangling between the camera and flash, the cord can be threaded through two L-slots in the lip on the flash arm. The NovaFlip weighs 9.4 ounces. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,

If you’ve ditched the laptop in favor of an iPad when working in the field, you now can make sure the colors you’re viewing are correct using the SpdyerGallery app from Datacolor. Just download the app, use the Spyder3 colorimeter to measure output, and a custom color profile is created for your iPad. The app has a built-in gallery viewer for displaying fully color-corrected images. Other features include pixel-level zooming capabilities and personal photo watermarking. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $89 (Spyder3); Free (app). Contact: Datacolor, (609) 924-2189,


Protect your WD My Passport storage drive from water, mud and dust with the WD Nomad Rugged case. With a hard polycarbonate shell and shock-absorbing elastomer cushioning inside, the case seals out unwanted elements with a heavy-duty latch and silicon liner. The design includes an opening for the drive’s USB connector, so you can use the drive without having to remove it from the case. If you’re unfamiliar with the My Passport drives, they allow photographers to back up stills and video files while in the field. The case is compatible with most of the drives in the My Passport lineup. Estimated Street Price: $29. Contact: Western Digital, (949) 672-7000,


Give yourself plenty of room for viewing video clips taken on your HD DSLR using the Flashpoint Big-View LCD 8-inch monitor (FPSCAW). Features include a resolution of 800×600 RGB pixels and 100 feet of remote capability. The external display has an HDMI or AV port and displays in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Estimated Street Price: $598. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500,


The sleek, compact Leica V-Lux 30 is a 15.1-megapixel (14.1-megapixel effective) camera with a focal length range equivalent of 24-384mm in 35mm format. Top features include a 3-inch LCD touch-screen display, integrated GPS functionality and video recording in 1080i AVCHD. For capturing fast action, the camera delivers 10 fps consecutive burst shooting at full resolution or 60 fps at a reduced resolution. The V-Lux 30 comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Premiere Elements 9. Estimated Street Price: $749. Contact: Leica, (800) 222-0118,


Exploring North American Landscapes by Marc Muench (Rocky Nook, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-933952-53-6). Delivering inspiration and practical how-to advice, the book is useful for photographers of all levels. Illustrated with Muench’s beautiful images, it includes stories about the places he photographs as well as stories of his father, David Muench, and grandfather, Josef Muench, both of whom are legendary landscape photographers.

Creative Nature Photography: Essential Tips and Techniques by Bill Coster (Greystone Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-55365-847-4). Packed with useful tips, the book is organized into chapters on habitats, each of which contains images of specific aspects of the environment, starting with landscapes and moving on to plants and animals. Each photo is accompanied by detailed technical data, as well as information on locations.

Photography and the Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photograph by Freeman Patterson (Firefly Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-55407-980-3).
The book has been updated and expanded to include technical guidelines adapted for both digital and film photographers. The techniques and exercises help photographers develop an awareness of subject matter and a direction for composing the picture.

Focus On Photoshop Elements: Focus on the Fundamentals by David Asch (Focal Press; 2011; ISBN: 978-0-240-81445-2). Using a combination of easy-to-follow advice and step-by-step instructions, this handy guide will explain the ins and outs of using Photoshop Elements. Advice on setting up, storing and sharing your image library, and the basics of RAW image processing and color correction are covered.

How To Cheat In Photoshop CS5: The Art of Creating Realistic Photomontages by Steve Caplin (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-52204-3). Learn how to artistically manipulate images using this handy reference book, which also includes a DVD containing imagery used in the examples and more than 21⁄2 hours of video tutorials.