In Focus: March 2011

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COMPACT 15X ZOOM

Use the Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD for wide-open landscapes and faraway wildlife. The lens is compact, weighing just 15.9 ounces and measuring 3.8 inches in length and 2.9 inches in diameter. With new PZD (Piezo Drive) autofocus technology, the ultrasonic motor delivers fast, quiet focusing. Other features include Vibration Compensation image stabilization, a minimum focusing distance of 19.3 inches throughout the zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.8. Available for Canon and Nikon mounts, with a Sony mount to follow. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Tamron, (800) 827-8880, www.tamron-usa.com.

ESSENTIAL TOOLS
Enlarge images, add layers and choose from different effects with Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 from onOne Software. Seven programs are packed into this editing suite, giving you the ability to tackle a range of specific problems. Perfect Layers 1 allows you to create and edit multilayered Photoshop files in Lightroom and Aperture. PhotoTools 2.6 Pro adds a dozen new effects, bringing the effects library to nearly 300. In PhotoFrame 4.6 Pro, there are more than 1,000 frames, textures and album layouts. MaskPro 4.1 delivers a color-based method for quickly extracting a subject and removing an unwanted background. FocalPoint 2 allows you to add realistic depth of field and selective focus. PhotoTune 3 offers color correction, and Perfect Resize 7 enlarges images. List Price: $499. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.

CONTROL LIGHT

Upgrade your flash power with the Nikon Speedlight SB-700. The unit has a wide 24-120mm zoom range and can automatically detect whether you’re using an FX (full-frame) or a DX (APS-C) camera for optimizing zoom settings based on the camera body. Like the SB-900, there’s a screen-and-control-dial interface. Improvements include dedicated switches for changing modes and for illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even). There’s also a motorized zoom, AF-assist illuminator and a Commander Mode for other off-camera flashes. List Price: $329. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
SHARPEN UP
PhotoKit SHARPENER 2.0 is a Photoshop Automate plug-in based on three sets of sharpening effects designed to work together. You start with Capture Sharpening for improving image details as you begin to process. Creative Sharpening addresses specific problem areas, and Output Sharpening optimizes the image for each output. New features include a dialog window with a preview button that shows you the selected sharpening effect. Effects with multiple layers and layer groups can be reduced to a single layer to keep file size down. Effects are nondestructive layer-based edits that don’t alter original data. List Price: $99. Contact: PixelGenius, www.pixelgenius.com.


LARGE-FORMAT LENS

The Rodenstock HR Digaron-W 32mm ƒ/4 is designed for cameras with sensors of up to 36x56mm and 40x54mm, as well as larger stitch formats of up to 49x71mm. With a 40x54mm sensor, it has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 20.6mm (16.5mm when used for stitching to a format of 49x71mm). For shift-and-tilt movements, its large back focal length of 22.3mm leaves free space between the rear mount and the sensor, without touching the sensor or the rear standard. The lens has a resolution of 80 lp/mm and image circle diameters of 90mm. Estimated Street Price: $6,999. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.

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in focus 2009
MOUNTAIN SHELL
Stay warm while camping in the Hi-Tec Mystic Mountain Shell. The fully seam-sealed construction uses Dri-Tec waterproof and breathable technology to lock out moisture. Underarm zippers enable additional ventilation to keep you comfortable, and the hood detaches so the shell can be worn on days when wet weather isn’t expected. Other features include two front zipper pockets that seal nicely and store items quickly needed, side pockets and an internal pocket. List Price: $158. Contact: Hi-Tec, (800) 521-1698, www.hi-tec.com.

ON THE WATER
Hobie has two new tandem kayaks, the Mirage Oasis and the Odyssey. The Mirage Oasis features Hobie’s MirageDrive pedal system, which consists of two self-centering padded pedals that are connected to underwater flippers and are locked or unlocked from the kayak with the Click and Go system. You can propel yourself faster using the pedals rather than a traditional paddle. The Odyssey is a traditional paddleboat that’s designed to accommodate two, but is easily adaptable for one using the molded-in center-seat position. Estimated Street Price: $2,699 (Mirage Oasis); $1,199 (Odyssey-Deluxe Package). Contact: Hobie, (888) Hobie21, www.hobie.com.

WARM UP
Fight the cold with the Zippo® Hand Warmer. It has a platinum-catalyzed, glass-fiber burner that lights quickly and produces heat without a flame so it’s safe, pollution-free and odorless. The rugged metal warmer has a high-polish finish with a sleek, thin design for fitting easily into jacket or pants pockets. Plus, it’s reusable with Zippo® lighter fluid and includes a convenient filler cup and warming bag. The hand warmer stays warm for up to 12 hours. List Price: $19. Contact: Zippo, (814) 368-2700, www.zippo.com.
SLEEP WELL
Get a good night’s sleep under the stars in the High Peak Mt. Rainier sleeping bag. It’s waterproof with taped seams, and it’s breathable, allowing your body moisture to exit the sleeping bag. The shell is made with ripstop nylon taffeta to keep you warm and comfortable. The bag is insulated with Thermolite Quallo for maximum warmth. Two Mt. Rainier bags can be zipped together to accommodate two. Estimated Street Price: $117 (Mt. Rainier 20°); $125 (Mt. Rainier 0°); $145 (Mt. Rainier -20°). Contact: High Peak, www.highpeakusa.org.

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FASTER CAPTURE
For shooters who prefer to work in RAW, Phase One’s Capture One Pro 6 delivers helpful new features to speed up and improve your workflow. Using layers, you can now make nondestructive local adjustments to color, exposure, contrast, brightness and saturation without affecting the whole image. Sliders make black-and-white conversion a straightforward process that lets you adjust color channels and create split-toning effects when you convert to grayscale. Whether you’re editing RAW or JPEG files, 64-bit cross-platform support gets the job done fast. An Express version of the software is available with fewer, but still powerful, features. The program also supports an app for iPad and iPhone users called Capture Pilot (Pro version only), which allows you to wirelessly view, zoom in on and pan images from your camera. List Price: $399 (Pro); $129 (Express). Contact: Phase One, www.phaseone.com.

CARDS OF STEEL
For nature shooters, memory cards need to be fast, durable and offer plenty of capacity. Hoodman’s latest RAW SDHC cards, steel-plated to withstand the rigors of rough shooting environments, come with all those qualities. Miniature chip-on-board technology allows extra room for a reinforced internal housing structure that protects sensitive flash components. The cards have a Class 10 speed rating and come in capacities of 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Hoodman USA, (800) 818-3946, www.hoodmanusa.com.
CREATIVE PAK

For Lensbaby fans, Kubota Image Tools has a set of image-enhancement tools designed for the creative lens manufacturer’s optics. The Lensbaby Pak includes 15 Photoshop Actions for adding drama without lessening the impact of the optics’ effects. The artistic tools complement various soft-focus effects produced by the Single Glass, Soft Focus, Pinhole Zone Plate, Fisheye optics and more. Also included is the Kubota Dashboard 3, which acts as a floating palette within Photoshop that speeds up image editing. List Price: $39. Contact: Kubota, www.kubotaimagetools.com.
MEDIUM FORMAT
The Rm2d is a smaller, lighter addition to the Arca-Swiss R-line of precision medium-format cameras. The positioning and design of the handgrips allow you to go quickly from portrait to landscape format. With an AIP (All In Plane) vertical shift in the focal plane, no mounts are necessary for stitching. Composing shots is easy with its zoom viewfinder system, which can be used with various focal lengths. It also displays the various shifts. The Rm2d is compatible with Arca-Swiss R-mount lenses, ranging from 23mm to 250mm, and with all leading digital and film backs. Estimated Street Price: $4,326. Contact: Arca-Swiss, (773) 248-2513, www.precisioncameraworks.com.
DOUBLE DUTY
Sometimes you don’t need to hit the trail with a ton of gear in tow. On those occasions, the Tamrac Evolution Messenger 2 is an ideal option. The slim-profile camera bag holds a DSLR with lens attached, a flash, and one or two additional lenses (including some 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 models). The foam-padded compartment, which features adjustable foam-padded dividers, can be removed, turning the bag into a briefcase for additional use. Simply slip the compartment back in to convert it back to a camera bag. A laptop compartment holds an iPad, most 10-inch netbooks or 11.6-inch laptops. Estimated Street Price: $119. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.

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MOBILE CARRYING CASE
Protect your camera and laptop in the CaseCruzer PSC100 Carrying Case. Its hard shell and custom lid contain an interior universal sleeve for securing 13- to 17-inch laptops. The interior base of the case is fitted with a padded divider system with Velcro® subdividers for easily rearranging the 11 compartments as needed. The case’s exterior is injection-molded with ultra-high-strength polypropylene copolymer resin that can withstand the rigors of travel. Molded-in hinges offer additional protection against high-impact jolts. Estimated Street Price: $225. Contact: CaseCruzer, (800) 440-9925, www.casecruzer.com.
SINGLE-SHOT HDR
For photographers who love applying the look of HDR to outdoor scenes, DxO Optics Pro v6.5 allows you to do this with a single shot. The latest version of the image-editing app features Single Shot HDR technology, which reveals the full dynamic range of contrasted scenes without bracketing. Choose from three automatic settings—light, realistic and artistic—or use manual controls to achieve the look you want. An improved RAW-conversion engine reduces low-frequency color and luminance noise. The program can be used alone or as an external editor in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. List Price: $299 (Elite); $119 (upgrade). Contact: DxO Labs, www.dxo.com.

PHOTO VIEWER
Use your iPad to show off your landscape photography with Mediapad Pro. With a fully customizable interface, the app can display photos and video and play audio clips. You can switch out files, adjust color, modify the font and change background images. Additional features include hyperlinked digital files for live demonstrations, a Guest Registry with PDF/XLSX export and slideshow options with transitions and timing for delivering a seamless presentation. Estimated Street Price: $14. Contact: MEDL Mobile, www.medlmobile.com; Apple, www.apple.com/itunes.

LIGHTEN UP
The Quick Spot from Harbor Digital Design lets you create direct, focused and dramatic lighting with your flash unit. Like a snoot, the Quick Spot has a honeycomb grid that produces a circular, tight beam of light for highlighting subjects or areas of interest. It’s available in 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch grids with Lee Gel Filter Packs so you can easily create concentrated special effects. The Quick Spot slides onto your flash using a custom-fit adapter so there’s no need for Velcro® or straps. Estimated Street Price: $44. Contact: Harbor Digital Design, (253) 851-6117, www.harbordigitaldesign.com.
SOFT BOX
Professionally constructed with a design that allows for easy assembly, the Flashpoint PZ Soft Box (FPSBPZ) series makes for a nice addition to your lighting setup. A teardown zipper relieves pressure on the inner rods, making the softboxes easy to set up and take down. They’re available in sizes from 12x36 to 40x60 inches. All units come with a removable inner baffle, recessed front and carrying bag. A speed ring (sold separately) is needed to attach the softbox to your light unit. Estimated Street Price: $59 to $149. Contact: Flashpoint, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

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LENS LOCK
Secure your Canon or Nikon lens with the Lens Lock, Gary Fong’s latest GearGuard anti-camera-theft device. It mounts to your lens in place of the rear lens cap and twists into place by releasing “teeth” that anchor the security cap to the bayonet on the lens for a tight fit. Made of industrial-strength plastic, the Lens Lock can be paired with the GearGuard Security Cable and Combination Lock for attaching to a secure anchor point for safe storage or to other gear in your bag for extra protection. List Price: $29. Contact: Gary Fong, (800) 906-6447, www.garyfong.com.
CONGRATULATIONS, NYIP
The New York Institute of Photography is celebrating 100 years of delivering top-notch photography instruction. Offering multimedia distance education courses for photographers of all levels, the school provides every student with a dedicated instructor to work with throughout the course. Additionally, students have a professional student advisor who helps explain the materials in each lesson, provides advice about finding and working with clients, and gives their opinion on equipment and technology. Every course includes printed lessons, supplemented with audio commentary and video displays. Contact: New York Institute of Photography, (800) 445-7279, www.nyip.com.

IN PRINT
The Mitsubishi CP-D70DW and CP-D707DW printers output a resolution of 300 dpi, use a new image-processing algorithm to enhance natural image sharpness and have a built-in energy-saving idle mode that reduces power consumption to less than a watt. Each printer has a simple filing-unit extension and a space-saving front loader, making them easy to use and efficient. List Price: $1,995 (CP-D70DW); $2,950 (CP-D707DW). Contact: Mitsubishi, (888) 307-0388, www.mitsubishi-imaging.com.

BOOKS ’N SUCH

Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom by Michael Frye (Craft & Vision, www.craftandvision.com). This e-book is written specifically for landscape photographers who want to clarify their own unique vision. Frye walks you through the development of five different images, discussing the how and why of each one. The book is equal parts inspiration and instruction.

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Donald and Lillian Stokes (Little, Brown and Company, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-316-01050-4). The guide features 853 North American bird species and more than 3,400 color photos covering all significant plumages, including male, female, summer, winter, immature, morphs, important subspecies and birds in flight.

The Great LIFE Photographers by the Editors of LIFE (Little, Brown, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-316-09793-2). This comprehensive anthology features the best work of every staff photographer who worked for the famed publication. More than 100 portfolios are included along with short biographies that offer a look at the people behind the lens.

The Eloquence of Trees by Craig Varjabedian (PhotoBook Press,
www.photobookpress.com; 2010). This limited handbound edition contains 28 photographs by Varjabedian, an award-winning fine-art photographer. The collection spans more than 33 years of his work and includes many images that have never been published. Proceeds will benefit Heifer International (www.heifer.org), an organization devoted to ending world hunger. To purchase a copy, send an email to [email protected] or call (505) 983-2934.

Photo Op: 52 Inspirational Projects for the Adventurous Image-Maker by Kevin Meredith (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-81400-1). With 52 inspirational ideas, this book is packed with practical guidance on how to take creative, dynamic and quirky images. Contributors include some of the most popular photographers from the Flickr community, covering projects for all types of equipment.

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