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In Focus: July 2011

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For the first time ever, Adobe is making its Photoshop Creative Suite software available by way of monthly subscriptions. The upgraded Photoshop Creative Suite 5.5 also features new tools that make producing content for smartphones and tablets easier. Adobe Color Lava, Adobe Eazel and Adobe Nav are three new iPad apps designed for creating custom color swatches, and painting and controlling Photoshop tools from the iPad, respectively. All three apps put the iPad’s touch-screen capabilities to good use by letting your fingertips mix colors and paint. The apps are available from the iTunes App Store. Estimated Street Price: $2 to $5. The new subscription plan for Photoshop is $49 per month, or $35 per month for a one-year subscription. The standard version is $699. Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687,

High-quality output and speed combine in Canon‘s 44-inch imagePROGRAF iPF8300S and 24-inch imagePROGRAF iPF6300S printers. New integrated print modes allow the printers to operate at faster speeds while using up to 50% less ink. The iPF8300S can output a B0-sized print (39.4×55.7 inches) in about 80 seconds while the iPF6300S can produce an A1-sized print (23.4×33.1 inches) in roughly 35 seconds. The 8-color printers use LUCIA EX pigment inks for achieving greater shadow details, deeper blacks and improved scratch resistance. The color gamut has expanded by about 20% beyond previous models. Estimated Street Price: $4,995 (iPF8300S); $2,995 (iPF6300S). Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON,

With the Eye-Fi Mobile X2 memory card, you can upload photos from anywhere by wirelessly connecting to your smartphone or tablet via Eye-Fi’s free mobile app. Ideally, the mobile device has 3G or 4G access for uploading from anywhere. The card is integrated with Eye-Fi’s new Direct Mode, which makes uploads possible even when far from a Wi-Fi hotspot. So if you’re hiking through remote areas in the wild, the card can establish a direct connection to your smartphone or tablet by creating its own Wi-Fi network anywhere. This gives you the flexibility to edit images with apps on your mobile device, back them up to your home computer or save them to a private Eye-Fi account. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: Eye-Fi, (877) 873-9334,

Domke has brought the classic style of its camera bags to video. The timeless-looking, yet functional Pro-V Jr series delivers an ideal carrying solution for an HD DSLR or video camera. The bags are made from water-repellant nylon with memory foam at the bottom that allows it to conform to the shape of your camera for extra protection. Additionally, small movable pieces of memory foam inside deliver even more protection around the camera’s more sensitive areas. Movable inserts allow you to configure your equipment the way you want, and there are plenty of compartments and pockets for storage. Three sizes are available. Estimated Street Price: $139 to $209. Contact: Tiffen, (631) 273-2500,

For Samsung NX shooters, there are five more lenses to choose from for enhancing your camera system. The lineup includes a versatile 18-200mm zoom, a 16mm ƒ/2.4 wide-angle, a 60mm macro, an 85mm ƒ/1.4 portrait lens and a 16-80mm standard zoom. The 18-200mm has Optical Image Stabilization for delivering crisp and clear images. The fast-aperture 16mm is ideal for landscape and low-light shooting. A Super Sonic Actuator helps the 60mm macro deliver fast and quiet autofocus; this lens also has full-time manual-focus capability. The 85mm includes the SSA function as well as manual focus, and the 16-80mm features O.I.S. and modes for capturing video without recording the sound of the camera’s autofocus system. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Samsung, (800) 726-7864,

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in focus 2009
The MINOX MD 88 W APO is a compact spotting scope with an angled eyepiece that delivers magnification of 20x to 60x. The optical system features apochromatically corrected glass and multicoated lens surfaces for delivering top-notch images that are rich in contrast and natural color rendition. APO technology produces color-fringe-free images with a resolution that brings out the smallest detail, even in twilight. The dual-focus system consists of a gross focus adjustment ring for focusing quickly on the object in view and a fine focus ring for making more precise adjustments. List Price: $1,599. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080,

Camp out in one of the new Eureka! Apex dome tents. The freestanding tents are constructed with 8.5mm shock-corded fiberglass poles and feature no-see-um mesh for maximum ventilation. The Apex 2 measures 7’6″ x 4’11”, weighs just less than 6 pounds, sleeps two people, and has two doors and two vestibules. The Apex 2XD measures 7’4″ x 4’11”, weighs 51⁄2 pounds, sleeps two people, and has two doors and two vestibules, each measuring 13 square feet. The Apex 3XD measures 7’6″ x 6’6″, weighs just over 8 pounds, sleeps three people, and has two doors and two vestibules, each measuring 14 square feet. Estimated Street Price: $109 to $179. Contact: Eureka!, (800) 572-8822,

With an altimeter, a barometer, a compass, a storm alarm and sunrise/sunset times, the Suunto Core is truly an explorer’s watch. Accurate to 29,500 feet, the altimeter displays current elevation as well as elevation gained and lost, and records data for later analysis. An auto mode switches between the altimeter and barometer, depending on the activity, and shows the most relevant information, depending on the situation. The Core is now available in more colors, including Glacier Gray, Lava Red and Sahara Yellow. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: Suunto, (800) 543-9124,
Rated to 15° F and weighing less than two pounds, the Marmot Plasma 15 contains high-quality 900+ Fill Power goose down, which provides excellent insulation and uses less ounces. The fabric used to make the bag is lightweight, water-repellent and breathable, yet dense enough to resist rips and punctures. Marmot’s Flow Gate Construction allows body heat to flow evenly while keeping the down in position around your body. Estimated Street Price: $469. Contact: Marmot, (888) 357-3262,

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The Tenba Vector collection features a bag for every need, with small camera pouches for point-and-shoots, top-loading bags for an SLR and a single lens, as well as shoulder bags and daypacks for fitting larger camera systems. The lightweight bags are constructed of water-resistant fabric, and some of the models include an all-weather cover wrap. Known for paying attention to detail, Tenba has custom-dyed every zipper, clip, D-ring, rain cover, lens cloth and piece of fabric to match the colors the bags are available in; those include Krypton Green, Oxygen Blue, Cadmium Red and Carbon Black. Estimated Street Price: $12 to $79. Contact: Tenba, (914) 347-3300,

Get more light out of your flash at longer distances, especially when photographing far-off wildlife, with the XT Flash Extender series from Harbor Digital Design. The unit mounts securely to the flash with a custom adapter so no straps or Velcro® are necessary. Quick, secure mounting allows for easy and accurate focusing on your subject. It produces up to two or more stops of additional light at 100 feet. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Harbor Digital Design, (253) 851-6117,

Light rays trickling through a canopy of trees, shafts of light streaming through clouds or light beams shining through on a foggy night make for dramatic pictures. If conditions on the ground prevent you from capturing a scene like this in-camera, you can create it digitally with Rays from Digital Film Tools. The plug-in allows you to set ray length and brightness, control direction, customize color and tailor the threshold to specify where the rays will be visible. Estimated Street Price: $50. Contact: Digital Film Tools,

A set of Cross Camera Color DNG Profiles from PSKiss allows Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom users to apply a color profile developed for one camera to RAW files produced by a different one. Each color profile is a result of the camera manufacturer’s interpretation of how that color should appear. With Cross Camera Color DNG Profiles, you can use a Nikon D300 with a Leica M8 DNG profile to produce the color look of the M8. Or you can use a Nikon D40X and produce the look of a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. You just open up a Camera Raw file with Photoshop CS4, CS5, Elements or Lightroom and choose the colors you want for an image. Estimated Street Price: $9 (per camera). Contact: PSKiss,

The Graslon Flash Diffuser uses a different approach than other standard models to produce softer shadows. Instead of only using some kind of translucent material in front of the flash to scatter light and soften shadows, Graslon makes use of an innovative reflective mirror system that enlarges the light from the flash before it exits the diffuser. By the time the light gets to the diffuser lens, it’s evenly distributed from the furthest corners, across the middle and along the side. This process eliminates hot spots on the diffuser and delivers even softer shadows. The diffusers come in two sizes. Estimated Street Price: $69 to $99. Contact: Graslon, (877) 967-7766,

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Audio is a crucial component of making high-quality videos. Since the sound capabilities of video DSLRs are somewhat limited, consider the PIX 220 from Sound Devices. It connects to cameras with HDMI and records directly to QuickTime using Apple’s ProRes or, optionally, Avid’s DNxHD codec. Since the recorder uses ProRes and DNxHD, files recorded in the field can be used directly in post, making workflow simple and fast. A 5-inch, 800×480-pixel LCD display gives immediate confirmation of recording, playback, audio metering and Setup Menu selections. Estimated Street Price: $1,595. Contact: Sound Devices, (800) 505-0625,

Also worthy of consideration is the popular MKE 400 compact shotgun microphone from Sennheiser. It reduces side noise and includes customizable sensitivity for long or short distances. A single AAA battery provides up to 300 hours of operation, and a foam windshield and shock-mount are included. The microphone also has a rugged all-metal housing. Estimated Street Price: $339. Contact: Sennheiser, (860) 434-9190,
In wet weather, keep your gear and gadgets dry in Aquapac Stormproof protective cases. The lineup includes 14 waterproof packs and pouches that hold everything from phones and MP3 players to cameras and laptops. While they’re not designed for submersing in water, they do have a “fire hose proof” International Protection Rating that means they can withstand water projected from a powerful jet. The bags are made of TPU-coated nylon and have welded seams. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Aquapac, (866) 929-0639,
For more comfort and improved shot panning or tracking, use the Novoflex MMR BLUEBIRD, which includes integrated chest and neck support for even weight distribution during long shoots. Twin handgrips use a MagicBall joint with adjustable friction for precise camera alignment. Simultaneous horizontal and vertical swiveling camera movements, similar to a ballhead on a tripod, are possible. The rack system also accepts monitors and microphones with the optional mounts, as well as focusing units. List Price: $1,399. Contact: Novoflex (HP Marketing Corp.), (800) 735-4373,

Another option is the Camtrol, which has a cage-free design that’s ideal when using a camera with a swiveling LCD display. You can use it with an HD DSLR or a small camcorder up to seven pounds via an ambidextrous “true-feel grip” for steady and level floating shots. Three locking ball joints and a vertical stabilizer bar allow the Camtrol to shoot from ground level, overhead or around objects. The device folds down to 10 inches in length for storage and transport. The unit comes in a variety of kits and configurations. Camtrol works with all POV cameras and Apple’s iPhone 4. It also works with the Canon EOS 5D and 7D with monitors attached to the Camtrol receiver post and can be attached to a monopod or tripod with a quick-release plate. List Price: Begins at $399. Contact: Camtrol, (888) 722-6876,
With a redesigned interface, AsukaBook Maker 2 is now faster and simpler to use for creating book layouts to display images. With similar functions grouped together and in categories, such as layout templates, masks and keylines, it’s easier to get the look you want. With many preset layout templates available for free, simply drag the template you want onto a spread and drag images into the layout areas. Images are automatically resized and arranged to fit the template. If you don’t want to use one of the included layouts, you can create your own. Once the images are arranged as desired, you can drag masks or Sloppy Borders onto the image for framing. There are a bunch of tools for editing and designing. Estimated Street Price: Free (app); Varies (books). Contact: AsukaBook, (866) 330-1530,

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For adventures involving water, take along the SeaLife Mini II Dive & Sport Camera. Waterproof down to 130 feet, the camera body is covered in rubber armoring for a sure grip and is shockproof for drops of up to 6 feet. The 9-megapixel shooter has an intuitive interface with no complicated menus and large controls that are spread out. Additional features include a 2.4-inch color LCD, video capability and a SPY mode in which the camera does all the work, taking continuous pictures at set time intervals. You can add an optional wide-angle/close-up lens for more versatility. List Price: $259. Contact: SeaLife, (856) 866-9191,
The Flashpoint 7-inch Adjustable Double Arm (FPAA7) is a double-jointed articulating arm for mounting a monitor on a camera. This is an ideal support solution when you’re recording video on an HD DSLR and using a larger external monitor because the camera LCD screen is too small. Both the top and bottom of the arm have ballheads, and it mounts on the camera shoe with single-knob control. Estimated Street Price: $53. Contact: Flashpoint, (800) 223-2500,


Chasing The Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light by Ibarionex Perello (New Riders Press, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-321-75250-5). Lighting can be the most effective tool for creating dramatic imagery. Perello shares his techniques for controlling focus, exposure, white balance and sharpness to capture photographs with more power. The book bridges the gap between the technical and creative aspects of photography.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 20 by Lark Books (Lark Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-60059-990-3). This collection of photos showcases work taken by some of the world’s top wildlife photographers. From emotive portraits of endangered species to moving shots of Earth’s wildest landscapes, this outstanding collection covers a wide range of natural subjects and styles.

The Photographer’s Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-81517-6). Illustrated with more than 400 images taken on real assignments, Freeman delivers useful insight on how to avoid cliché photography. He breaks down the images with schematic illustrations demonstrating how and why they work.

How to Do Everything: Digital Photography by Jason R. Rich (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-07-175471-2). This basic guide offers advice on how to take better pictures using a variety of techniques for photo composition, lighting and creativity. Get tips on photo editing, printing and archiving, as well as avoiding common mistakes that result in poor images.

The Lost Fleet of Bikini Atoll: A Photographic Journey Through the Lagoon by Joseph C. Dovala ( Bikini Atoll is one of the 29 atolls and five islands that compose the Marshall Islands. The atolls are scattered over 357,000 square miles north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. They help define a geographic area referred to as Micronesia. The Bikini Atoll was the location of 23 atmospheric atomic bomb tests from 1946 to 1958.