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In Focus: June 2011
The Nikon D5100 has a 16.2-megapixel sensor and records 1080p HD video at 30 and 24 fps with full-time autofocus and manual-exposure control. Nikon is releasing its ME-1 microphone (sold separately) for taking full advantage of the camera’s video capabilities. Other key features include a 3-inch, 921,000-dot Vari-angle LCD that rotates 180º horizontally and vertically, a Night Vision mode offering low-light capability that allows the camera to shoot at ISO 102,400, and full manual controls. Estimated Street Price: $799 (body only); $899 (with 18-55mm lens); $179 (ME-1). Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
With four interfaces and 6 TB of storage, the dual-drive Western Digital My Book Studio II is more than capable of handling your large HD video and photo files. The drive features eSATA and FireWire 800 for maximizing performance, and FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 when you need more flexibility. For Mac users, the drive is now compatible with Time Machine. Powered by WD’s GreenPower Technology, it consumes about one-third less power than standard dual-drive external storage systems and runs quietly without a fan. Estimated Street Price: $549. Contact: Western Digital, (949) 672-7000, www.westerndigital.com.
Gain more perspective control with the new lineup of PC-TS lenses from Schneider Optics. Three models are available: the Super Angulon ƒ/2.8 50mm and Makro-Symmar ƒ/4.0 90mm PC-TS lenses for DSLRs, and the Apo-Digitar 5.6/120 HM Aspheric lens for the medium-format Mamiya/Phase One digital camera system. The lenses can shift laterally up to 12mm or tilt at an angle of up to 8º. These movements can be applied in 30º increments at any position within the 360º lens rotation and with a 90mm image circle for DSLRs and 120mm for medium-format cameras. The lenses retain the full range of movements without vignetting. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Schneider Optics, (818) 766-3715, www.schneideroptics.com.
To create more mood or drama in your landscape shots, try adding the Rogue Grid from ExpoImaging to your flash. The lighting device produces three different honeycomb grid angles of 45º and 25º, and can be stacked to create a 16º angle. The angle of the grid determines the size of the spot projected forward, with smaller-degree grids producing smaller spots and larger angles producing larger spots. A modular design makes changing the grid angles or adding lighting gels easy to do. Weighing just 3.5 ounces, the compact grid comes with a convenient nylon pouch for easy storage in your backpack and an adjustable tension strap for attaching it to your flash. Estimated Street Price: $49. Contact: ExpoImaging, (800) 446-5086, www.expoimaging.com.
You can carry the Tamrac Evolution 9 as a backpack or as a sling pack over your right or left shoulder. Gear is accessible through doors on each side of the pack when it’s worn over the shoulder. There’s also a front panel that provides entry to your camera when the pack is removed. The main compartment holds a DSLR with a grip and up to an 8¾-inch lens attached, as well as several more lenses, a flash and up to a 17.3-inch laptop, which is held in the rear laptop pocket. Also included are a clip for holding a tripod and a removable rain cover. Estimated Street Price: $259. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
Don’t let a little spring rain get in your way. Zip up the lightweight Marmot Storm Shield rain jacket, which features waterproof, breathable PreCip fabric that blocks out water while allowing evaporating sweat to pass through. Fully taped seams prevent rain from dripping down the fabric and through the joints. Mesh lining separates the shell fabric from your body to improve air circulation and breathability. A storm flap features a hook-and-loop closure system to keep rain from coming in through the main zipper. Estimated Street Price: $125. Contact: Marmot, (707) 544-4590, www.marmot.com.
With built-in GPS navigation, the Tech4O Discover watch will keep you from getting lost on your next hike. Robust signal strength allows the watch to track and display the distance covered and your average speed, as well as providing a smart lap function to auto-map a route. Altitude and other data are collected and can be viewed on the watch’s customizable LED display. The data is also recorded to an internal databank for tracking statistics over time. When you get home, use the included PC-compatible software that works with Google Earth to upload your route and get more information. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Tech4O, (800) 572-8822, www.tech4o.com.
Pitch the Mountain Hardwear Lightpath 2 tent on your next camping trip. Tight construction with waterproof polyurethane coatings and seam welding will help keep you dry if it starts raining. Seal out the weather after you come through the dry entry vestibule by zipping up the dual slider doors. The sturdy, lightweight aluminum pole system won’t weigh your bag down. The two-person, three-season tent weighs just less than four pounds and has a floor area of 30 square feet. Estimated Street Price: $175. Contact: Mountain Hardwear, (877) 927-5649, www.mountainhardwear.com.
Hit the trailhead wearing the Columbia Firelane Mid Omni-Tech hiking shoes. Thanks to a mid-cut and Omni Tech waterproof breathable protection, the comfy hikers are ideal for day hikes and light multiday trips. The dual-density Contour Comfort footbed and molded EVA midsole cushion your foot, while an internal shank provides torsional support when you’re trekking across rough terrain. The OmniGrip rubber outsole provides solid traction in any weather. Estimated Street Price: $95. Contact: Columbia, (800) 622-6953, www.columbia.com.
Taking a backup camera on a trip gives you a little insurance in case your primary shooter malfunctions. Given space constraints, a compact can be the most ideal way to go. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V, which comes with a 27mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonar T lens, packs plenty of high-end features. In 35mm format, the lens is equivalent to 27-810mm, allowing you to zoom in on far-off wildlife, and it has a manual control ring for adjusting focus or zoom. Optical SteadyShot stabilization keeps images steady at those long focal lengths. The controls on the 16.2-megapixel shooter are laid out much like an SLR. In Intelligent Sweep Panorama HR (High Resolution) mode, you can capture panoramic shots of up to 42.9 megapixels. Estimated Street Price: $450. Contact: Sony, (877) 865-7669, www.sonystyle.com.
Novoflex ballheads are known for their high precision, stability and compact construction. The latest model, the Ball NQ, is no different. The easy-to-move ball allows for 360º rotation, it can be locked in any position using a lever lock, and an integrated level helps to align the camera in just the right position. The head can support up to 15 pounds and is equipped with a quick-release Q-Mount, which accepts Arca-compatible plates. It weighs one pound and measures 3.1x2x3 inches. Estimated Street Price: $357. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketing.com.
Give your outdoor lighting setup a boost with the TritonFlash from Photoflex. Delivering up to 750 full-power flashes on a single charge, the strobe has a battery pack that weighs 22 ounces and can power two TritonFlash heads simultaneously without cutting the power output in half. Each head still produces 300 w-s of power. The strobe comes in a kit with an extra-small OctoDome Soft Box with connector, a second lithium battery, a FlashFire wireless kit for cable-free strobe firing and an international battery charger. Estimated Street Price: $1,499. Contact: Photoflex, (800) 486-2674, www.photoflex.com.
Sometimes nature doesn’t cooperate with shooting plans. If you find yourself trying to capture landscapes on a day when the natural light isn’t working, put the Heliopan High Transmission SH-PMC circular polarizer on your lens to help make colors pop. The filter maintains the same effect as the standard model, but loses less light with a filter factor of 2.0 instead of 2.5. This translates to a 1-stop light loss. The SH-PMC coating allows 99.8% of light to pass through to the image plane with the top layer repelling dust and moisture. Available in screw-in sizes of 46mm to 82mm in standard and slim brass mounts, the polarizer works without vignetting even when used with extreme wide-angles. Estimated Street Price: $135 (77mm). Contact: Heliopan, (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketing.com.
With the DSLR-sized FOVEON X3 sensor, the compact Sigma DP2x records images with all three primary colors (red, green and blue or RGB) at every pixel site. A new algorithm that produces images with rich tones and high definition powers the TRUE II image-processing engine. The fast 24.2mm ƒ/2.8 lens is equivalent to 41mm in 35mm format and has the Super Multi Layer Coating that Sigma uses on its lenses to reduce flare and ghosting. You can record stills in JPEG or RAW format, and a Movie Mode records in QVGA (320×240) format. Estimated Street Price: $800. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
If you want to make your nature photography look more dynamic, be sure you’re getting the most out of your lighting accessories. The Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible kit is a worthy option if portability and power are of equal importance. There are two versions, basic and pro, and both kits are built around the Lightsphere Collapsible diffuser, which attaches to your flash without a strap or band. In addition to the diffuser, the basic kit includes the White Dome, AmberDome and ChromeDome accessories. The domes fit over the diffuser for warming up light or increasing output. The basic kit also comes with gels for adding color. The pro version adds the chrome-plated PowerSnoot with a grid for creating more dramatic lighting effects. Estimated Street Price: $119 (basic); $169 (pro). Contact: Gary Fong, Inc., (800) 906-6447, www.garyfonginc.com.
The Lensbaby 35mm optic is the creative lens maker’s first and only model to have an internal 12-blade adjustable aperture that goes from ƒ/2.5 to ƒ/22. Rotating the aperture dial creates a sweet spot of sharp focus that you can move around by tilting your Lensbaby lens. Since the aperture opening controls the size of the sweet spot, you can see it change through the lens and take shots you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. The size of the sweet spot ranges from 15% at ƒ/2.5 to 40% at ƒ/22 of the total image area on APS-C-sensor cameras. The optic focuses down to 7.5 inches from the front of the lens when used with the Composer and as close as three inches with the Muse. Estimated Street Price: $180. Contact: Lensbaby, (877) 536-7222, www.lensbaby.com.
If a laptop, an iPod, an external hard drive and other gadgets are essential when you trek outdoors, the Lowepro CompuDay Photo bags are designed to carry all of those items and more. An adjustable padded camera compartment holds a compact DSLR with an attached lens and up to a 15.6-inch laptop, plus a cell phone, an iPod or MP3 player, a portable hard drive and other extras. The DSLR chamber can be adjusted for a snug fit with the cinch strap. When the camera is removed, the chamber collapses to create more room. A side pocket gives you quick access to your DSLR for on-the-go, grab-and-shoot situations. The CompuDay Photo 250 is a traditional backpack, and the 150 is a messenger bag. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.
The Kodak Professional Portra 160 has a significantly finer grain structure for a 160-speed color-negative film. Advanced Cubic Emulsions help to achieve the finer grain for improved scanning and enlargement as well as sharpness. The film, which will be available in 35mm, 120/220, 4×5 and 8×10 formats, does away with the NC (Natural Color) and VC (Vivid Color) demarcations of previous Portra films. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Kodak, (800) 235-6325, www.kodak.com/go/professional.
The Induro Adventure AKP Series Tripod Kits are designed for ease and convenience, both of which are needed when shooting outside. Non-rotating aluminum alloy legs with a quick flip-lock system make setup simple, and a three-way panhead delivers precise camera positioning, as well as a snap-in quick-release plate for fast operation. Three models are available, the compact four-leg section AKP0 and the heavy-duty, three-leg section AKP1 and AKP2. An oversized, center-column locking collar provides a better grip and reduces vibration. A closed cell-foam grip delivers comfortable handling in cold or wet weather. Estimated Street Price: $164 to $219. Contact: Induro, (914) 347-3300, www.indurogear.com.
When you need to travel lighter, the Olympus SZ-30MR can capture 1080p HD video and 16-megapixel stills at the same time. The camera has a big 24x optical zoom lens that’s the equivalent of 25-600mm in 35mm format. The dual TruePic III+ image processor is what allows you to record in more than one mode and in multiple combinations. For example, you can record movies from a wide angle and up close, or in full HD and at a lower resolution, or unfiltered and filtered using one of the SZ-30MR’s eight Magic Filters. The backlit CMOS sensor lets you shoot in low light, and you can capture full-resolution images at 9 fps. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.getolympus.com.
The DIGIPOWER TC-55 digital camera travel charger works for all Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Kodak, Casio, Panasonic and Samsung models. IntelliCharge technology allows you to simply insert your camera battery into the slot and the TC-55 begins charging. It also works as a USB AC wall charger for cell phones and other mobile devices. It features 90-240 volts AC for worldwide use and comes with an adapter for use in Europe, as well as a flip-up plug. Estimated Street Price: $49. Contact: Mizco International, (800) 266-4026, www.mizco.com.
For macro shooters, the Flashpoint O-Shape Twin Flash Bracket (FABO) consists of two C-shaped tracks that form an O for attaching two flash units as desired. The bracket is an ideal solution for producing light from multiple angles. The flash units can be placed vertically or horizontally depending on what the situation calls for. The length of the bottom bar is extendable for matching different lenses of varying lengths. Estimated Street Price: $26. Contact: Flashpoint, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Unexpected: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography by Jane Sievert and Jennifer Ridgeway (Patagonia Inc., 2010; ISBN: 978-0-97906-599-6). Half of the Patagonia catalog is devoted to displaying extraordinary photographs of wild places and active pursuits for which the company makes its clothes. This hardcover includes more than 100 of the most compelling photos Patagonia has published since 1980.
Digital Photographer’s Complete Guide to HD Video by Rob Sheppard and Michael Guncheon (Lark Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-60059-699-5). From gear and shooting techniques to editing and outputting video files, this up-to-date guide fills you in on the basics of capturing video. Sheppard and Guncheon are longtime digital experts and contributors to HDVideoPro magazine.
Deadly Instinct by Melissa Farris (National Geographic, 2011; 978-1-42620-725-5). Showcasing extraordinary photography of predators and their prey, the book gives a breathtaking look at matters of life and death in the animal kingdom. In addition to the images, there are candid interviews with the renowned wildlife photographers who took them along with current information on the field of wildlife science.
The Art and Business of Photography by Susan Carr (Allworth Press, 2011; ISBN: 978-158115759-8). A professional photographer and former ASMP president, Carr delves into the realities of the photography industry. Topics include how to balance being an artist and a businessperson, the basics of copyright, pricing skills, how to find future opportunities, and the importance of craft and creativity.
The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity by Stephanie C. Roberts (Pixiq, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-60059-923-1). This handy manual shows you how to make the most of your iPhone’s camera capabilities. Learn the basics of shooting, sharing and backing up your images, as well as what apps to load for the most creative results.