2008 Editors’ Picks

Our annual look at gear from the past year that the OP editors found particularly useful

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Welcome to our annual Editors’ Picks for 2008—the year of the D-SLR. Suddenly, there are more cameras from more manufacturers at lower prices, and all with more and better features than ever. In addition to D-SLRs, there were new lenses, tripods and accessories to ignite the creativity of all sorts of nature shooters. This list is by no means a compendium of all the new gear from the past year, and with so many amazing new tools, we have to say that narrowing our selection wasn’t easy, but in the end we couldn’t make everything a pick.
SONY DSLR-A900
Sony’s new top-of-the-line pro model, the A900 offers a 24.6-megapixel, full-frame Sony Exmor CMOS sensor—for under $3,000! Two Bionz processing engines provide speedy handling of the huge image files and full-res shooting at up to 5 fps, plus advanced noise reduction further improves image quality. The A900 is also the first full-frame D-SLR to incorporate a sensor-shift, anti-shake system that works with all lenses. The rugged body is sealed against moisture and dust, and includes a 100,000-cycle shutter. The 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD monitor includes an Intelligent Preview function. Estimated Street Price: $2,999. Contact: Sony, (877) 865-SONY, www.sonystyle.com.

NIKON D3
Nikon’s best D-SLR ever features superb image quality, with its full-frame CMOS sensor and 12.1-million, big 8.5-micron pixels, ISOs to 25,600, full-resolution shooting at 9 fps, a 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor with two Live-View modes, two CompactFlash card slots (11 fps in cropped DX format), excellent AF and metering systems and lots more. The super-rugged D3 accepts the full line of AF-Nikkor lenses—attach a DX (APS-C sensor) lens to the full-frame camera, and the D3 automatically switches to cropped DX mode, and you can shoot at 11 fps. Estimated Street Price: $4,999. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
in focus

TOKINA AF11-16MM
This AF11-16mm ƒ/2.8 superfast, super-wide pro zoom for APS-C-sensor D-SLRs features great performance and is ideal for low-light shooting. Tokina’s One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism lets you switch between auto and manual focusing merely by snapping the focusing ring forward (for AF) or back (for manual focusing)—no need to fumble for an AF/MF switch or reset the camera. It’s available in mounts for Canon and Nikon APS-C-sensor D-SLRs. Estimated Street Price: $570. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
in focus

TAMRAC EXPEDITION 6X
A photo backpack is mandatory equipment for a nature shooter. The Expedition 6x is a five-pound, medium-sized pack that provides foam-padded protection for one or two 35mm or digital SLRs, lenses, a flash unit and accessories. There’s even a foam-padded front pocket for a laptop computer. A state-of-the-art harness system and Air Flow Channels make for comfortable use, plus the 6x is carry-on compatible when you’re traveling by air. Estimated Street Price: $185. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
in focus

OLYMPUS E-3
The long-awaited successor to the Olympus E-1 pro Four Thirds System D-SLR (there was no E-2 model), the E-3 has proven well worth the wait, offering pro performance and features at a surprisingly low price. Among our favorite features are the tilting/swiveling Live-View LCD monitor that makes odd-angle shooting a snap, an effective Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-cleaning system, Supersonic Wave Drive in-body sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all Four Thirds System lenses, super-quick autofocusing with SWD lenses and rugged construction. Estimated Street Price: $1,570. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.olympusamerica.com.
in focus

CASIO EXILIM PRO EX-F1
This year Casio launched a new and innovative camera capable of capturing a mind-numbing frame rate of 60 to 1,200 frames per second in full HD in its EXILIM Pro EX-F1. The camera isn’t an SLR, but it has the form factor of one, and can capture 6-megapixel stills with its CMOS sensor. The lens is a 12x zoom with a 35mm equivalent range of 36-432mm, and the camera records at either full 1920x1280 HD or 1280x720. Estimated Street Price: $999. Contact: Casio, (800) 435-7732, www.casio.com.
in focus

TAMRON AF18-270MM
With a 15X zoom ratio, the new Tamron AF18-270mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro zoom for APS-C-sensor D-SLRs offers focal lengths equivalent to 28-419mm on a 35mm camera, yet measures just 3.8x3.1 inches and weighs less than 20 ounces. It focuses down to 19.3 inches at all focal lengths, while internal focusing keeps balance good and the front element from rotating during focusing. The lens incorporates Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation) technology to counter handheld camera shake. It comes in mounts for Canon and Nikon APS-C-format D-SLRs. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Tamron USA, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com.
in focus

This Article Features Photo Zoom

LEXAR 16 GB CF CARD
Lexar’s Professional 300x UDMA CompactFlash cards can move data from card to computer (via a UDMA-compliant card reader) at 45 MBps—handy with the size of the image files shot by today’s digital cameras, especially pro D-SLRs. The cards also speed up image-writing in-camera with the new UDMA-compliant models, plus they come with a limited lifetime warranty. The 16 GB card is currently the highest-capacity card in the line. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
in focus

ADOBE LIGHTROOM 2
When Adobe first released Photoshop Lightroom, many photographers used it to organize photos and do basic image corrections such as exposure and tweaking the Hue, Saturation and Luminance channels. Now with Lightroom 2, you can edit images locally for exposure and color and make many other adjustments, like dodging and burning with more control without affecting the entire image. Lightroom 2 also makes it easier to index photos and create Collections. Integration with CS3 is better, and it’s nondestructive, so edits are only made when an image is exported. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.
in focus

LOWEPRO FLIPSIDE 300
What makes the Lowepro Flipside 300 stand out is that the main compartment is only accessible from the back, so your gear is totally secure when the backpack is strapped on. Securely fasten the waist strap, and you don’t even have to take the bag off to get to your gear. Just slide off the shoulder straps, swivel the bag around to your front and unzip. There’s room for a pro D-SLR with a 300mm ƒ/2.8 lens attached, plus one to three additional lenses, a flash, tripod and memory cards. Estimated Street Price: $75. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.
in focus

MOAB JAPANESE MULBERRY PAPER
Moenkopi is a Native American name for a mudstone layer of rock common in the Moab area of Utah, and Unryu is a Japanese term that translates as “cloud dragon paper.” Moab Moenkopi Unryu 55 is a fine Japanese Washi paper made by adding long, coarse fibers to a wet layer of Kozo (mulberry) on the mould. The result is a beautiful and environmentally friendly paper designed for use with dye and pigment inks in archival inkjet printers. Estimated Street Price: $17-$255. Contact: Moab by Legion, (877) 259-3161, www.moabpaper.com.
in focus

CANON EOS-1DS MARK III
This D-SLR can do it all. Its 21.1-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor provides for highly detailed landscapes and close-ups and easy wide-angle capability, while the 5 fps shooting rate and AF system make photographing wildlife action a snap. As Canon’s top-of-the-line pro camera, the EOS-1Ds Mark III features an extremely rugged build, with first-class weather- and dustproofing and a 300,000-cycle shutter. An excellent metering system, 3-inch LCD monitor with Live-View capability, sensor-dust remover, 1,800-shot rechargeable lithium-ion battery and pro lenses from 14mm to 800mm add to the versatility. Estimated Street Price: $7,850. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
in focus

PENTAX K20D
With a 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 2.7-inch LCD display with Live View and an 11-point AF system, the Pentax K20D packs some very professional features into a very affordable body. The system is compatible with the entire Pentax lineup of highly esteemed lenses. The K20D includes in-body Shake Reduction Technology that works on a horizontal, vertical and rotational axis for minimizing image blur, even with analog lenses. Other features include in-camera Expanded Dynamic Range, customizable user dials and functions, and Dust Reduction and Dust Alert features, plus the unique Hyper Program, Sensitivity-Priority AE (Sv), and Shutter and Aperture-Priority AE (TAv) shooting modes. Estimated Street Price: $1,100. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
in focus

MANFROTTO 190CXPRO4 CARBON-FIBER TRIPOD
When the sun goes down over the horizon and there’s a great panorama in front of you, don’t rely on image stabilization or stiff handholding to use a slower shutter speed. Nothing replaces a good tripod for nature photographers when it comes to getting a steady shot. The Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 is a 100-percent carbon-fiber tripod that’s great for this kind of low-light photography. It can handle a pro-sized D-SLR and a heavy telephoto lens. The unique Q90° quick center-column system lets you switch in a matter of seconds between vertical and horizontal shooting, which is handy when you have your eye on a moving subject. Estimated Street Price: $325. Contact: Bogen Imaging, (201) 818-9500, www.bogenimaging.us.
in focus

SIGMA DP1
Along with their small size, the popular compact digital cameras are known for their tiny image sensors. The Sigma DP1 may be compact, but it contains the same APS-C-format Foveon X3 image sensor found in the company’s SD14 D-SLR. The resulting big pixels (and the Foveon sensor’s unique ability to record red, green and blue data at every pixel site) make for excellent images. Image quality is also aided by a new TRUE processing engine and an SLR-quality 16.6mm lens (equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm camera) designed specifically for the DP1. Operation is simple, whether you choose automated or full manual control. Estimated Street Price: $799. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
in focus

This Article Features Photo Zoom

NIK SILVER EFEX PRO
Converting a color digital image to black-and-white is easy. Converting it into a good black-and-white image is somewhat harder. Nik Silver Efex Pro makes it easy to exercise complete control over black-and-white conversions, thanks to powerful capabilities and Nik Software’s unique U Point technology. You can apply the effect you want where you want it, with no need for complex selections, masks or layers, and no rough edges or artifacts. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Nik software, (619) 725-3150, www.niksoftware.com.
in focus

WESTERN DIGITAL MY BOOK MIRROR EDITION
The newest addition to Western Digital’s My Book series of external hard drives, the My Book Mirror Edition provides ample space for backing up precious images and files—even enough to repeat a backup of them in the same drive. The best part is that this happens automatically with RAID-based mirroring that works continuously to update files even while you’re working on them. The My Book hard drives are sleek-looking, and their book-like aesthetics fit neatly into any office. Estimated Street Price: $289 (1 TB); $549 (2 TB). Contact: Western Digital, (877) 934-6972, www.westerndigital.com.
in focus

MONOSTAT-RS MONOPOD
Sometimes photographers prefer not to cart around a tripod, so they have to shoot handheld with stabilized lenses, but that’s not steady enough for close-ups and really long-lens work. The Monostat-RS monopod is easy to carry, provides a lot more stability than handholding (it can be used with the lens stabilizer on for added stability) and features a cool Swivel Toe Stabilizer that lets you shoot at up to a 60-degree angle from horizontal—something conventional monopods don’t allow. The toe also provides a good grip on slippery surfaces. Units are available in aluminum and carbon fiber, and can support up to 30 pounds. A favorite is the RS16K aluminum model with ART (Anti Rotation Tubing), which is especially quick and easy to set up. Estimated Street Price: $175. Contact: Monostat Of Switzerland (Accurate Sales, Inc.), (718) 302-7063, www.monostat.us.
in focus

KINGSTON 32 GB SD CARD
Batteries running out and memory cards filling up are equally annoying when you plan to spend the day or a trip taking pictures. Fortunately, the trend with memory cards is that capacity just keeps going up. Kingston’s latest Elite Pro SDHC card holds up to 32 GB, and there’s a built-in write-protect switch that prevents accidental data loss. Estimated Street Price: $308. Contact: Kingston, (877) KINGSTON, www.kingston.com.
in focus

ANSMANN DIGICHARGER VARIO
Keeping your camera, PDA and other devices powered up while you’re out on the road is much easier with the Ansmann Digicharger Vario in tow. The charger works with more than 100 battery types, including AA/AAA, NiMH or NiCd batteries, and lithium-ion and lithium-polymer battery packs, all without an adapter plate. Simply plug it into a power socket or car cigarette lighter. The Vario charges quickly and has an overcharge protection mechanism that protects batteries from damage. Estimated Street Price: $58. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
in focus

TIFFEN DFX DIGITAL FILTER SUITE
Achieving various film effects in the past meant using several filters, specific films types and old darkroom techniques. Now you can do it digitally with the Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Suite, which offers 1,000 different effects. These include unique gels, beautiful black-and-white conversions, infrared and the old darkroom bleach bypass technique. The software has an easy batch-processing tool that lets you run filter effects on a large group of photos and an EZ Mask tool that lets you quickly separate different components of an image for further editing. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.
in focus

X-RITE COLORMUNKI
Making sure that your system is calibrated properly may not sound exciting, but it’s necessary if you want vibrant, knockout color from screen to print. X-Rite’s ColorMunki makes it easy with an all-in-one spectrophotometer that measures monitor, projector and printer profiles. There are easy and advanced modes. Using new printer-profiling technology, ColorMunki can optimize specific colors, black-and-white and flesh tones based on your images. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: X-Rite, (914) 347-3300, www.xrite.com.
in focus

FLASHPOINT 42-INCH 5-IN-1 COLLAPSIBLE DISC REFLECTOR
Getting a little fill light into the foreground will add dimension to your photographs. The Flashpoint 42-inch 5-in-1 Collapsible Disc Reflector harnesses the light and gives you a variety of options as you sculpt the fill. You can go for warm or soft fill, and there’s a black cover for shielding light from part of the scene. The reflector kit contains translucent, white, black, silver and soft gold, and it’s easy to break down and carry in the field. Estimated Street Price: $44. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
in focus

Leave a Reply

Main Menu