Editors’ Picks A Buyer’s Guide

A compilation of our favorite gear, gadgets and accessories
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editors picks 2005Technology—you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it. In the past year, a range of new products has crossed the threshold of the Outdoor Photographer editorial offices. Of that collection, we’ve chosen our favorites and assembled them into this guide. The list of gear ranges from camera bags to color management, software to memory cards, and although it wasn’t easy, we’ve done our best to narrow down the selection to some essential items that we think will help your photography.

Epson Stylus Photo R2400 Printer
Create impressive color and black-and-white prints with the Epson Stylus Photo R2400.
The unit utilizes the eight-color Epson UltraChrome K3 ink set, which has three different levels of black to create true black-and-white images with smooth tonal transitions and depth and detail in shadow areas. In addition to cyan, magenta and yellow, the ink set also incorporates light cyan and light magenta to achieve accurate and vibrant color. The R2400 can produce borderless prints up to 13 inches wide and has three separate printing paper paths that allow for roll, fine-art and board media. List Price: $849. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.

Nikon Coolpix P1 & Coolpix P2
Shoot and download instantly with the Nikon Coolpix P1 and P2 wire-free cameras.
Wireless technology makes it easier to scout locations by allowing you to instantly view pictures on your computer screen in more detail. The 8-megapixel P1 and the 5-megapixel P2 are both equipped with a 3.5x optical zoom and 16 scene shooting modes, 11 of which are advanced shooting modes. They use Nikon’s Electronic Vibration Reduction technology to produce sharper images. The P1 comes with 32 MB of internal memory. List Price: $549 (P1); $399 (P2). Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikondigitalusa.com.

Lowepro CompuRover AW Backpack
Pack your SLR, up to four extra lenses, flash units, a laptop and accessories in a photographer-specific backpack. The Lowepro CompuRover AW backpack has a shoulder harness reinforced with additional padding to alleviate stress when carrying a lot of gear for extended periods of time. A removable waist belt with thick padding provides lumbar support. Additional features include a tripod mount for increased stability and balance, a removable accessory pouch and an All Weather Cover to protect your gear from harsh weather conditions. List Price: $229. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.

iPod With iPod Camera Connector
Download your images straight from your camera onto your iPod with the iPod Camera Connector.
The connector links the two devices together so you can transfer and store your pictures in the field. A crisp, color LCD screen on the iPod allows you to view and edit your images. List Price: $349 (30 GB iPod); $449 (60 GB iPod); $29 (iPod Camera Connector). Contact: Apple, (800) MY-APPLE, www.apple.com.

Konica Minolta Activa D WP Sport Binoculars
Konica Minolta Activa D WP Sport binoculars put photographic possibilities in close range.
Nitrogen-filled bodies and O-ring optic seals prohibit moisture from clouding your view and make the binoculars waterproof in up to 3.3 feet of water. The binoculars promise to deliver high resolution and contrast. List Price: $408 (8x42D). Contact: Konica Minolta, (800) 285-6422, www.kmpi.konicaminolta.us.

Tamron SP AF 11-18mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Zoom
With its small and compact design, this lens is portable and easy to carry. Geared for small-sensor digital SLRs (it won’t work on full-frame 35mm sensors), the Tamron SP AF 11-18mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Zoom allows you to capture an ultra-wide shot due to its 35mm equivalency of 17-28mm. The optics incorporate low-dispersion glass and aspheric elements to limit lateral and chromatic aberration, and the internal focusing keeps the front of the lens from rotating so your filters will stay in place. List Price: $981. Contact: Tamron, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com.


PowerEx MH-C801D Eight-Cell1-Hour Charger
Charge up to eight AA or AAA batteries in any combination and at the same time with the PowerEx MH-C801D battery charger.
The device has a microprocessor that charges batteries to their capacity without overcharging them, and a battery conditioner restores cells to their optimal performance level. The MH-C801D gives you a choice of using a soft charge for extra preservation of battery life or a hard charge that quickly powers up batteries in only one hour. The unit also features an LCD screen that displays the charging status of each battery. List Price: $85. Contact: Maha Energy, (800) 376-9992, www.mahaenergy.com.

Manfrotto 055MF3 Mag Fiber Tripod
The Manfrotto 055MF3 Mag Fiber Tripod weighs 6.7 pounds and supports up to 15 pounds of camera equipment.
The tripod is 4.3 inches high at the lowest position and extends to over 51?2 feet high, while the carbon-fiber legs have three sections equipped with action leveler locks and four angle settings. It provides versatile shooting positions with its pan-and-tilt head and center column, which converts into a lateral arm. A padded carrying strap allows the tripod to be transported comfortably. List Price: $425. Contact: Bogen Imaging, (201) 818-9500, www.bogenimaging.us.

SanDisk Ultra II 8 GB CompactFlash Card
Capture hundreds of images on one card with the SanDisk Ultra II 8 GB CompactFlash card.
Its high capacity can hold more than 500 RAW files and 1,400 large JPEG files so you can keep shooting without frequent card changes. Additionally, the 8 GB memory device has a write speed of 9 MB per second and a read speed of 10 MB per second to allow you to save high-resolution images quickly. List Price: $999. Contact: SanDisk, (800) 977-5427, www.sandisk.com.

Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 100 Professional
Doubling the speed of Velvia 50, Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 100 can be used for different shooting situations while still maintaining the saturation and color of its predecessor.
The film has an RMS granularity of 8—lower than Velvia 50—greatly reducing grain in your images. Velvia 100 also has push/pull capabilities with minimal impact, ranging from a half-stop to a full stop. New color couplers keep the film from fading and maintain stable colors. List Price: $36 (36 exposures). Contact: Fujifilm, (800) 800-FUJI, www.fujifilm.com.

Tamrac Expedition 7Photo Backpack
Get ergonomic support with the Tamrac Expedition 7 Photo Backpack.
The pack has a highly adjustable shoulder and hip harness with extra padding to help you carry your load properly. Deep pockets allow you to stack your lenses horizontally, and the plastic accessory pockets have water-resistant zippers to protect your electrical gadgets from the elements. A center attachment secures your tripod in the middle of the bag, preventing it from swaying and throwing your gait off-balance, and airflow channels in the harness keep you cool and dry. List Price: $250. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.

Digital Film Tools 55mm
Digital Film Tools 55mm allows you to use Photoshop effects much easier and quicker.
The plug-in is catered to photographers and has more than 60 filters that simulate glass camera filters, specialized lenses, optical lab process, film grain, matte generation, exacting color correction, natural light and photographic effects. The filters allow you to fix distortion, correct light and even alter precise tonal ranges in your image by brightness value. List Price: $195. Contact: Digital Film Tools, (323) 874-2330, www.digitalfilmtools.com.

Epson P-2000
Want to store your images, but don’t feel like lugging a cumbersome laptop? The Epson P-2000 is a handy storage device with 40 GB of space for downloading files to and from CF and SD cards, reassuring the safety of your images. Weighing only one pound, the portable P-2000 fits in the palm of your hand and is perfect for travel. A large 3.8-inch LCD screen is sharp and vivid, making it easy to view your images in the field. List Price: $499. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.

Hewlett-Packard Photosmart 8250 Printer
The HP Photosmart 8250 printer can print full-quality 4×6-inch prints in 14 seconds, with options such as borderless and panoramic prints.
The printer displays your images on its 2.5-inch LCD screen and can accommodate CompactFlash Types I and II, Memory Stick, SD/MMC and xD. Equipped with wireless capabilities, the intuitive machine automatically brings details out of poor light. It has six ink cartridges and ships with HP Vivera ink. List Price: $199. Contact: Hewlett-Packard, (800) 752-0900, www.hp.com.

Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006
Microsoft’s Digital Image Suite 2005 is an easy-to-use software collection that allows you to organize, edit, enhance and share your images.
It’s easy to find pictures in your archives using the search engine, which locates by date, subject, size, keyword or rating. A feature called the Hover thumbnail enlarges pictures as you roll your mouse over them, eliminating the hassle of opening each image to see it bigger. Photo adjustment tools are grouped into toolsets that make them simple to locate. The software also includes Photo Story 3, an advanced slideshow software to showcase your images. List Price: $99. Contact: Microsoft, (800) 642-7676, www.microsoft.com.

Sigma APO Macro 150mmƒ/2.8 EX DG HSM
The Sigma APO Macro 150mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG HSM lets you get close to your subjects without disturbing them from their natural habitat.
This large-aperture telephoto macro lens is constructed of two special low-dispersion glass elements, assuring sharp quality and minimizing lens aberrations. A Super Multi Coating on the glass reduces flare and ghosting, while a Hyper Sonic Motor provides ultra-quiet, high-speed autofocusing. A manual focus override is included. The lens weighs approximately 32 ounces and has a 72mm filter size. List Price: $810. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigma-photo.com.



B+W Warm Tone Polarizer
The B+W Warm Tone Polarizer is a crossbreed of a polarizer and a skylight filter with the benefits of both—you can take photographs with bold colors, adding a warm tonality.
Enrich colors, bring details out from shadows and cut down on glare—all with one filter. The filter factor is ƒ/2.3 to ƒ/2.8. It’s available in circular and linear models. List Price: $200 (46mm); $392 (77mm). Contact: Schneider Optics, (631) 761-5000, www.schneideroptics.com.

Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS
The touch-screen Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS navigates beyond cemented city streets to the dirt surfaces of backcountry roads.
It alerts you of intersections and curves as well as automatically calculates destinations and provides turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions. The 3.5-inch color LCD offers 3-D or bird’s-eye-view mapping. A suction mount cradle attaches to the windshield, making it easy to transport between cars. List Price: $750. Contact: Garmin, (800) 800-1020, www.garmin.com.

MicroSync Digital
Trigger your flash from up to 100 feet away with the MicroSync Digital wireless system.
This little transmitter can be fired by itself or from the hot-shoe of most digital and film cameras. The MicroSync features four channels with automatic synchronization, advanced radio frequency technology and a transmitter that will operate for three years on one battery. List Price: $299.Contact: MicroSync, (800) 662-0717, www.microsyncdigital.com.

Seagate 5 GB Pocket Hard Drive
Store and transfer your digital files in the Seagate 5 GB Pocket Hard Drive.
This handy, go-anywhere tool fits in the palm of your hand as well as in your pocket. A built-in USB cable is retractable so you can neatly pack the drive without tangling cables, and the round shell has shock absorbers for extra protection of your data. Estimated Street Price: $140. Contact: Seagate, (877) 271-3285, www.seagate.com.

Giottos MH 3000 Ballhead
The Giottos MH 3000 ballhead, the largest in the Giottos line, supports up to 33 pounds.
The calibrated tension and lock knobs, plus adjustable friction, give the user optimum control over camera movement. The base has a 3.1-inch diameter and is 5.4 inches high, and the top plate comes with screws for 1?4- and 3?8-inch camera threads. The ballhead features a calibrated panning head and a drawstring pouch for storage. List Price: $170. Contact: HP Marketing Corp.,(800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.

Sunpak TR-2000 Battery Pack
The Sunpak TR-2000 works well with high- and low-voltage flash units of any brand, providing continuous, unlimited energy in the great outdoors.
Its technology ensures you can consume every last drop of energy, and its power status indicator informs you how much juice is left. Perfect for photographers on the go, it measures 5x6x2.5 inches and weighs only 24 ounces. List Price: $499. Contact: Sunpak (ToCAD America), (973) 428-9800, www.sunpak.com.

ColorVision Spyder2PRO Studio
The Spyder2PRO Studio from Color-Vision precisely calibrates your CRT, LCD or notebook monitor.
Using the colorimeter’s advanced sensor, you can create concise ICC profiles. A software wizard provides simple instructions and automatically finds the most effective method for white-balancing your monitor settings. The wizard also detects white and black light values to make calibration results more precise. Additional light detectors have been added to the hardware, making the “puck” much more sensitive. List Price: $299. Contact: ColorVision, (800) 554-8688, www.colorvision.com.

Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer
If you have to shoot at high noon and want to saturate the colors in your images, or if you just want to add a touch of blue or gold in your scene, try the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer.
As you rotate the rings, you can see subtle shifts in yellow and blue hues through the lens and stop on a setting with which you’re pleased. This unique filter can help enhance your images and save you digital darkroom time. List Price: $180 to $210 (depending on size). Contact: Singh-Ray, (800) 486-5501, www.singh-ray.com.

Tokina AT-X 124 AF PRO DX 12-24mm ƒ/4
The Tokina AT-X 124 AF PRO DX 12-24mm ƒ/4 is designed specifically for digital SLRs with an APS-C-sized sensor (the lens won’t work on a full 35mm-sized image sensor).
With a 35mm equivalency of 18-36mm, this wide-angle lens allows you to capture expansive scenes and incorporates two aspherical elements to limit aberration. A polycarbonate outer lens makes it lightweight and easy to carry, and a non-rotating 77mm filter thread keeps filters in place when focusing. List Price: $899. Contact: Tokina (THK Photo Products), (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.

Moab Paper Entrada Fine Art Bright 300
Entrada Fine Art Bright 300 from Moab Paper provides a bright base for quality prints with beautiful contrast.
Naturally acid- and lignin-free, the dual-sided 100% cotton rag is intended for the preservation of photographs. The paper works well with archival pigment inks and high-quality dyes. It boasts an instant drying time and water-resistance to avoid smudging. List Price: From $13. Contact: Moab Paper, (435) 259-3161, www.moabpaper.com.

X-Rite Pulse ColorElite System
Color synchronization is vital to your photography. The X-Rite Pulse Color-Elite System accurately calibrates the colors in your monitor, scanner, digital camera and printer. A space-conscious, hand-scanning device makes it easy to align the sensor to target colors without using a computer. Capable of both input and output profiling, the software is available for either RGB or CMYK. The hardware can be activated with one touch and provides immediate feedback. List Price: $1,095. Contact: X-Rite (MAC Group), (914) 347-3300, www.xritephoto.com.

Lexar Image Rescue 2.0
Save your images! Lexar Image Rescue 2.0 software goes to the root of your card’s data structure to retrieve deleted or lost files.
The program is designed to find image files from all formats, including JPEG, TIFF and RAW, from any card, regardless of the manufacturer. Image Rescue even can recover documents like Word and Excel files. List Price: Free (when you purchase a Lexar Media Professional CompactFlash card); $29 (alone). Contact: Lexar Media, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.

Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0
This software plug-in helps you achieve a variety of photo filter effects that are traditionally performed during capture. With nik Color Efex Pro 2.0, you easily can enhance your images with 75 filter effects, ranging from infrared black-and-white to cross-processing to neutral density and polarization. The plug-in’s interface is quick and easy to use and offers you a way to control the intensity of the filter effects via sliders. List Price: $299 (Complete Edition). Contact: Nik Multimedia, (888) 284-4085, www.nikmultimedia.com.