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How An Auto-Leveling Tripod Makes Life Easier For PhotographersGetting your tripod level can be...
5 Reasons To Buy A High-Quality And Adjustable TripodShopping for a tripod can be confusing....
Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens ReviewNobody else makes a lens like the Sigma...
Revealing The Invisible
Infrared photography opens the door to a new way of seeing.
The Surfing Life
How a lifelong love and respect for the ocean inspires my photography.
The Art of Luminosity, Part 1
Understanding light to improve your photography.
Organizing Your Photos, Part 2: Using Keywords
In part two of a four-part series on organizing your photo library, we talk about the importance of using keywords to find photos instantly.
Adventure Sports Photography: Challenge Accepted
Tips and techniques for getting started in adventure sports photography.
Using A “Normal” Lens
Mastering composition with standard focal length lenses.
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In Focus: June 2009
With a compact body that weighs just 13.4 ounces, the entry-level Olympus E-450 packs in a lot of the same powerful features used in the company’s advanced D-SLRs. The 10-megapixel camera has a large 2.7-inch Live View LCD, On-Screen Autofocus, Shadow Adjustment technology and Perfect Shot Preview, which allows you to preview settings like white balance and exposure as well as Art Filters effects. The camera comes with the ED 14-42mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 and ED 40-150mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 Zuiko lenses. List Price: $699. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.olympusamerica.com.
Take sharp handheld wildlife and landscape shots with Sigma’s compact 50-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 DC OS HSM. The high-performance lens now incorporates the company’s Optical Stabilizer function, which reduces camera movement so that subjects are clear in the viewfinder as well as the image. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 43.3 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.5. An inner focusing system eliminates front lens rotation, allowing you to use circular polarizers. List Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
PEN AND TABLET
If you do a lot of work in Photoshop, Wacom pen tablets provide a more intuitive way of performing various editing tasks. The latest Intuos4 models have the same customizable keys featured in previous versions, but they now have illuminated displays that allow users to see what they’re currently set to. The slightest pen-to-tablet touch gets you started, with the pen featuring 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The design also is reversible so all of the shortcut and modifier keys are positioned well for right- and left-handers. List Price: $229 to $789. Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-6613, www.wacom.com.
Get creative with your photos without spending a whole lot of time on the computer. Tiffen’s Dfx Essential software features 37 specialized filters and effects with hundreds of built-in presets. You also can create and save your own custom setups for easily repeating favorite looks. Essentials is a selective version of Tiffen’s pro Dfx Creative Digital Effects software and comes with an easy-to-follow tutorial. The intuitive filter palette with thumbnail previews lets you evaluate effects before applying them to an image. List Price: $59. Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.
Zero in on birds and other wildlife using the MINOX HG 8×56 BR binoculars, which use optical glass from Schott, the high-end specialty glassmaker. Especially well suited for low-light situations, like at dawn or dusk, the binoculars use a newly developed optical system that provides high brightness and contrast, no matter what kind of light you’re under. The Quick-Close-Focus system lets you focus from close-up to infinity with just one turn of the focus wheel and instantly take exact distance readings from a scale on the wheel. List Price: $1,299. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080, www.minox.com.
The Bravo Rescue is the latest tactical knife to come from Buck Knives. Tough and reliable, the knife features a 3½-inch blade with enhanced tip strength, so it holds up in the most challenging circumstances. The blade is glass bead-blasted for corrosion resistance and has a thumb stud for easy opening. When open, the folding knife measures 8¾ inches; it weighs 7 ounces. List Price: $100. Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825, www.buckknives.com.
When you’re out hiking trails or camping in the dark, take along the Pelican 2365 LED Flex-Neck flashlight. The 2365 features a 15-inch flexible cable neck that can be bent to shine the light anywhere that’s needed. Powered by two AA batteries, the flashlight’s next-generation LED provides clean, brilliant light for nearly 15 hours with a peak output of 45 lumens. It weighs 9.3 ounces. List Price: $49. Contact: Pelican Products, www.pelican.com.
Take a seat in the Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair. At just 6 ounces, the chair sleeve transforms any regular-size Therm-a-Rest mattress into a camp chair. Constructed with ultralight silnylon and aluminum poles, it packs incredibly small so it won’t weigh you down. List Price: $39. Contact: Therm-a-Rest, (800) 531-9531, www.thermarest.com.
Made from aerospace material, carbon fiber and stainless-steel hardware, CASE-X camera cases are lightweight, extremely durable and weather-resistant. The interior is padded with up to three-quarters of an inch of fleece-lined foam, providing shock-absorbing protection for the camera. All edges are finished with rubber weather stripping for weather-resistance and additional protection against impact. The X-PAC is designed for mid- to advanced-level D-SLRs and a single lens, while the PRO-PAC fits full-frame D-SLRs with a large zoom or two smaller lenses. List Price: $499 (X-PAC); $899 (PRO-PAC). Contact: CASE-X, (786) 402-7789, www.case-x.com.
Western Digital’s My Book external hard drives have expanded to storage capacities of 2 TB. The update includes the Studio, Mac, Home and Essential edition models. All of the hard drives allow you to store and back up files in a central location, feature compact streamlined designs and have capacity gauges showing how much space is available (except My Book Essential). The eco-friendly drives also save power by going into standby mode after 10 minutes of inactivity, and turn on and off with the computer. List Price: $329 to $379. Contact: Western Digital, (877) 934-6972, www.westerndigital.com.
Capture big images fast with the Lexar Professional UDMA 300x 16 GB CompactFlash memory card. With UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access) capability, card-to-computer transfer rates are considerably faster when paired with a compatible reader. Speed-rated at 300x, which represents minimum sustained read/write speeds of 45 MBps, the high-capacity card comes with Lexar’s Rescue 3 software for recovering lost or corrupt files. The software also can reformat the card, delete images and report on the card’s overall condition. List Price: $299. Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
Crumpler’s 8 Million Dollar Home shoulder bag has the same footprint as the model just below it, but has more depth so that you can vertically store a pro D-SLR with an attached 70-200mm zoom. There’s also more space down the sides for fitting bulkier zooms, primes or flash. The “super stealth” Velcro® silencer ensures that you won’t make a lot of noise when opening the bag. A configurable divider transforms the 8 Million into a photo/laptop bag that can hold a 13-inch laptop. List Price: $170. Contact: Crumpler Bags, (718) 384-3020, www.crumplerbags.com.
Make fine prints of your nature photographs using Hahnemühle’s eco-friendly Sugar Cane 300 gsm paper, which is 75-percent bagasse fiber, a by-product of sugar cane processing, and 25-percent recycled cotton. The textured natural white fine-art paper is OBA-free and very resistant to aging. It features a premium inkjet coating that ensures prints with rich contrast and detail, making it ideal for printing warm-tone color and monochrome photos, as well as fine-art reproductions. List Price: $34 (20 sheets of 8½x11). Contact: Hahnemühle, (815) 502-5880, www.hahnemuhle.com.
A redesigned and more powerful RAW converter, batch processing and improved editing tools are some of the features included in the latest update of Digital Light Color’s Picture Window Pro. When using the program, typical image enhancements are made through “transformations.” Every time a transformation is applied, the app creates a new copy of the image so you can compare it with the original file. In Version 5.0, there are new transformations for increasing vibrancy and sharpness, as well as remapping color. List Price: $89. Contact: Digital Light Color, (617) 489-8858, www.dl-c.com.
If you have a sizeable collection of black-and-white negatives that you’re hoping to preserve, ScanCafe now offers a scanning service tailored especially for that need. Because silver-halide film often is more brittle and tends to scratch easily, ScanCafe has developed a process by which negatives are enlarged to a minimum of 1920×1080 pixels and visible defects are removed by hand. The result is 3,000 dpi images with increased tonal depth, dynamic range and sharpness. List Price: $0.69 per negative. Contact: ScanCafe, (866) 745-0392, www.scancafe.com.
Carry your D-SLR comfortably with the HoldSLR collapsible camera carrier. Using a simple hook, the carrier attaches to almost any kind of strap or belt, such as the chest strap of a backpack or a pants belt. No special strap systems are necessary. The carrier also has an expandable weather-resistant lens boot to accommodate different-sized lenses, from wide-angles to long telephoto zooms. It has been tested to withstand up to 20 pounds of weight. List Price: $59. Contact: HoldSLR, Inc., www.holdslr.com.
When all your next photo trip calls for is a camera and lens, carry them in M-Rock’s Yellowstone camera bag. It holds a D-SLR body with a 4.5-inch lens attached. Two padded, dual-adjustable shoulder straps allow you to wear it as a messenger bag, backpack or waist pouch. The scratch-resistant interior is made of dense closed-cell foam and plastic panels for protecting gear without adding too much bulk. A small tripod can be attached using the rubber straps below. List Price: $55. Contact: M-Rock, (800) 773-7067, www.m-rock.com.
Store your images while out in the field and free up space on your memory card using the JOBO GIGA Vu SONIC and GIGA one SONIC portable storage devices. The GIGA Vu can download up to 1 GB in 30 seconds, features TRUE RAW decoding of most RAW formats, has a 3.2-inch color LCD and comes in capacities up to 250 GB. The GIGA one can transfer up to 1 GB in less than a minute, has a 1.8-inch LCD and comes in capacities up to 200 GB. List Price: $430 (250 GB GIGA Vu); $329 (200 GB GIGA one). Contact: JOBO AG, (734) 677-6989, www.jobo-usa.com.
This Article Features Photo Zoom
Convert slides and negatives into 5-megapixel digital images using the Pana-Vue Pana-Scan 35mm Slide & Film Scanner. The device is compatible with Windows XP and Vista operating systems, connects to your computer via USB 2.0 and comes with the ArcSoft Software Suite for editing, cropping and enhancing photos. It also features a slide holder, negative holder and cleaning brush. List Price: $119. Contact: Argraph Corp., (800) 526-6290, www.argraph.com.
Create a slideshow of the images you took on that last trip to Yosemite with the latest version of ProShow Gold from Photodex. Version 4.0 changes the way slideshows were previously built with the addition of premade Slide Styles that allow you to simply drop in your images. Choose from more than 50 styles or create your own for a more customized look. Slideshows can be uploaded to YouTube and played back in HD. There also are built-in editing tools for adjusting brightness or contrast, removing red-eye and more. List Price: $79. Contact: Photodex, (800) 377-4686, www.photodex.com.
Reproduce the look of a print that was made in a conventional darkroom using Innova’s FibaPrint Ultra Smooth Gloss 285gsm. With a glossy, smooth and ultrawhite surface, the paper is modeled on the fiber-based material used in traditional photo paper. Part of what gives this paper such a unique look is a special microporous gloss coating designed specifically for photographic reproduction. The paper features a large color gamut and high D-max rating. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Innova, www.innovaart.com.
Maximize your lighting setup with the Flashpoint Cool Light 1 and Cool Light 4 from Adorama. Cool Light 1 consists of an 11-inch reflector with one 30-watt fluorescent bulb; Cool Light 4 features a 16-inch reflector with four 24-watt fluorescent bulbs. On the latter model, there are two switches, with each controlling two lights so you can use two or four lights, depending on what you need. List Price: $34 (Cool Light 1); $99(Cool Light 4). Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Odysseys and Photographs: Four National Geographic Field Men by Leah Bendavid-Val, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Mark Collins Jenkins and Viola Kiesinger Wentzel (National Geographic Focal Point, 2008; ISBN: 978-14262011721). This remarkable book follows the careers of legendary National Geographic photographers Maynard Owen Williams, Volkmar Wentzel, Luis Marden and Tom Abercrombie.
Prelude Lake by Bryan Rich White and Jonn Serrie (Nitescapes 3-D Publishing, LLC, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-9820149-0-5). The coffee-table hardcover includes 75 photographs taken around the boreal lake located on the Ingram Trail in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. The volume also contains 75 corresponding images taken in 3-D classic stereoscope format and size.
Understanding Composition: The Complete Photographer’s Guide by Steve Mulligan (Photographers’ Institute Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-86108-534-4). Learn how such key ideas as viewpoint, framing, symmetry, light and the rule of thirds all play a part in creating great photographs. The book is illustrated with beautiful images.
Lightspeed Workflow: Kubota RAW Workflow for Lightroom 2 by Kubota Image Tools (www.kubotaimagetools.com). This interactive DVD tutorial features Kevin Kubota’s comprehensive, easy-to-follow teaching technique, which streamlines the process of working with RAW files in Lightroom. Also included are more than 90 Lightroom Presets for speeding up workflow.