In Focus: October 2010

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STABLE LENS
The Sigma 17-50mm ƒ/2.8 EX DC OS HSM is a compact, fast-aperture standard zoom with optical stabilization. With two FLD glass elements, one hybrid aspherical lens element and two glass-mold elements, the lens corrects for all types of aberrations. FLD glass is comparable to fluorite, which is less dense, making for lighter lenses. Sigma’s Optical Stabilization feature allows you to use shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would be possible otherwise. Sony and Pentax shooters can choose to use the OS system in either the lens or the camera body, a feature unique to Sigma. Additional features include a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a magnification ratio of 1:5. The lens is designed for DSLRs with APS-C-sized sensors. Estimated Street Price: $669. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
LENS ADAPTER
The Novoflex EOS/NIK NT adapter gives you the option of mounting a Nikon lens on a Canon camera body. It works with all Nikon lenses, including the G series. A lever on the side of the adapter allows you to control the aperture on G-series lenses. Automatic exposure metering via stop-down metering is possible, as is aperture priority auto exposure. For those not using the G series, Novoflex offers its original Nikon-to-Canon adapter, the EOS/NIK. Additionally, Novoflex provides a full range of lens-to-body adapters for most 35mm and DSLR cameras, as well as for Leica M cameras. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
CARD READER

The Lexar Multi-Card 24-in-1 USB Reader features five slots for supporting 24 memory-card formats, including SDHC and other SD types, CompactFlash, Memory Stick and more. It allows concurrent downloads and card-to-card file transfer. The unit was developed with a unique pop-up design, allowing the card slots to be protected when not in use, and comes equipped with a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 cable. Estimated Street Price: $29. Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
LENS EFFECTS

Draw more attention to your landscape and wildlife shots by manipulating depth of field, creating motion blur and simulating other effects usually reserved for expensive tilt-shift or special-effects lenses using Alien Skin Software Bokeh 2. Based on experimenting with lenses like the Canon EF 85mm ƒ/1.2 II and the Nikon 105mm ƒ/2.8 Macro, the software is capable of replicating the blur and creamy highlights created by actual lenses. Every aspect of lens blurring can be customized, from highlight intensity and shape to motion blur and vignette. The preview function is now faster and more interactive, making experimentation easier. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-SKIN, www.alienskin.com.
SMOOTH SUPPORT
For HD-DSLR shooters, the Slik PRO 500HD tripod and SH-736HD fluid-effect panhead are designed specifically for your needs. Fine drag controls for tilting and panning are separate from the tilt-and-drag control locks. The SH-736HD also can be positioned vertically, adding to its versatility. With an all-metal construction, movements are smooth and fluid. Load capacity is 10 pounds, so it’s capable of holding a body such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lens. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: Slik (THK Photo Products), (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.

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in focus 2009
A CLOSER VIEW
Keep a better eye on the birds and other wildlife with the Pro-Optic 8x42 ED waterproof binoculars. They’re manufactured with ED glass, which makes them durable enough for outdoor use and helps eliminate chromatic aberration. Other top features include a sturdy magnesium body, a BAK-4 prism structure that produces clearer images and an ergonomically shaped open-hinge roof system for maximizing comfort, plus center focus is smooth and easy to adjust. They’re also available in 10x42. Estimated Street Price: $200. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
NIGHT VISION
Measuring slightly more than four inches long and weighing just 6.3 ounces, the Minox NV mini II helps you see in the dark. The night-vision device features 2x magnification and can amplify residual light, such as stars or horizon radiation not perceived by the human eye. The multicoated lens system provides brilliant, clear images. If the available light isn’t sufficient to provide a visible image, even when amplified, it has a connectible infrared illuminator. Estimated Street Price: $649. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080, www.minox.com.
REST UP
Get a good night’s sleep even when the temperature takes a dip in the Eureka Kaycee 0°F. The lightweight, cold-weather performance sleeping bag has a tough 210T polyester diamond ripstop shell and two-way zippers that feature self-repairing coils. Double-layer, offset quilt construction combines with Rteq premium insulation to ensure warmth when temps fall to around 0° F. The sleeping bag is light, highly compressible and ready to take anywhere. A compression stuff sack for storing and protecting the bag is included. Estimated Street Price: $144. Contact: Eureka, (800) 572-8822, www.eurekatent.com.
SHARP BLADES
A good knife is definitely a camping necessity. Buck Knives now offers some of its most popular models in a value pack to save you money. The Silver Creek Fillet Knife has a 6 3⁄8-inch blade and comes with a Parallex lock-blade knife and a versatile Fishing Clipper, which has a sharpening file that folds out. The Omni Hunter 12 PT, which has a four-inch fixed blade, can be combined with the PakLite Caper. And the 390 Omni Hunter, with a 3¼-inch fixed blade, is offered with the PakLite Guthook. Estimated Street Price: $40 (Silver Creek); $71 (Omni Hunter 12 PT); $57 (390 Omni Hunter). Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825, www.buckknives.com.

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PIXMA PRINTERS

One of the standout features of Canon’s new PIXMA printers is a Full High Definition (HD) Movie Print function. So if you’re out shooting video of wildlife with your 5D Mark II or a PowerShot model, you can print individual movie frames. The PIXMA MG5220 and PIXMA MP495 Wireless Photo All-in-One, PIXMA MG5120 and PIXMA MP280 Photo All-in-One, and PIXMA iP4820 inkjet printers feature a new design that improves overall usability. Canon also has enhanced its Easy-PhotoPrint EX software, allowing images to be searched for and used from Flickr. Estimated Street Price: $69 to $149. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
TIFFEN PHOTO FX iPAD APP
For many photographers, the Apple iPad has become a useful tool to take on photo trips. Similar to the version it provides for the iPhone, Tiffen’s Photo fx Ultra v2 allows you to do more with your images on the iPad, taking full advantage of the increased screen size and higher resolution. You can choose from nearly 80 filters to apply to your image and more than 900 presets to customize it. Or you can do all of your own customizing by adjusting the filter’s parameters via on-screen sliders. Multiple layers can be added to a photo, with each one having its own filter effect. Photo fx Ultra also has masking capability and can share filter setup data with Tiffen Dfx for Mac or PC. Estimated Street Price: $5 (free for current users). Contact: Tiffen, (631) 273-2500, www.tiffen.com.
INTERCHANGEABLE-LENS CAMCORDER
Change the way you capture video with the Sony NEX-VG10, an interchangeable-lens camcorder. It uses the same Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor found in Sony’s Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 digital cameras and is compatible with E-mount lenses, which are smaller, lighter and optimized for shooting video with silent operation and autofocus. You also can use A-mount lenses (those found on Sony’s DSLR cameras) with the optional LA-EA1 mount adapter. The NEX-VG10 captures full 1920x1080 high-definition video at up to 24 Mb/s. Other notable features include Auto HDR, Handheld Twilight and Anti Motion Blur functionality, as well as a continuous burst rate of up to 7 fps. The camcorder comes with an E-mount 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 zoom lens. Estimated Street Price: About $2,000. Contact: Sony, (877) 865-SONY, www.sonystyle.com.
ROOMY ROLLER
Pack up your gear in the M-Rock McKinley 671 roller backpack. The cart handle and wheels can be quickly removed and the interior can be customized to fit your needs exactly. The main compartment holds a pro-sized DSLR with up to a six-inch lens attached, plus several more lenses. Replacing the Accessory Bag with extra dividers (all included) expands the camera section, creating space for a second DSLR body and longer lenses. The rear section holds a laptop up to 15.5 inches. The bag is constructed with water-resistant zippers and 600D nylon. Estimated Street Price: $211. Contact: M-Rock, (800) 773-7067, www.m-rock.com.
TRIPOD KIT
The Benro A-150EXU Digital Tripod Kit is compact, lightweight and comes with plenty of useful features that will help you take sharper shots. It weighs 2.2 pounds, can support up to 4.4 pounds and travels well with a folded height of 20.4 inches. When extended, the A-150EXU measures 62.7 inches. Three-position leg angles allow you to adjust the height quickly and do low-angle work, especially when used in combination with the reversible center column, which splits to allow shooting at just 7.5 inches from the ground. Setup is fast, thanks to quick-lock leg levers and anti-rotation legs. The ballhead has a bubble level and oversized camera plate with a dual-lock quick-release system. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Benro, (914) 347-3300, www.benro.com.

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FOAM PAD
For those who sometimes like to shoot from a car window, the Puffin Pad is designed to support a camera and lens in exactly that scenario. It’s a lightweight alternative to a beanbag with a slot that fits over the car window and allows the camera to tilt up or down. Constructed of automotive foam, the Puffin Pad weighs just 3.4 ounces and measures 7x5x5 inches. When the window retracts into the door, it saddles most car doors. You can use it on other surfaces, as well, such as a fence post. Turn the pad over and it nestles smaller lenses and a camera body in your car or camera bag. Estimated Street Price: $29. Contact: Puffin Pad, (407) 207-8198, www.puffinpad.com.
LIGHT TOOL
Based on your location, the LightTrac app for Apple’s iPad gives you information on where to find the best light at any time of day and from anywhere. You can pull up a location, and the app shows you either a map or satellite view from Google Maps. Three lines on the map show you the angle of the sun at sunrise, sunset and the displayed time. In the latest version, there’s support for tracking the moon’s angle and elevation, too. This can be a useful way to scout locations before heading to a shoot because the sun’s azimuth and elevation changes throughout the year depending on where you’re located. Estimated Street Price: $6. Contact: Apple, itunes.apple.com.
POWER FLASH
Get plenty of power when shooting with your off-camera flash using the Quantum Turbo Blade. The battery is compact and attaches to the base of your DSLR, or you can mount it on a tripod or light stand with a flash attached. The high-capacity Blade delivers fast recycling at 1/10 of a second in TTL or 1.5 seconds for full-power shoe-mount flashes, and allows 400 to 2,000 shots per charge. The unit adds 1.4 inches of height and weighs less than 15 ounces. The fuel gauge lights indicate remaining battery capacity or charging status, and the battery is rechargeable up to hundreds of times. Estimated Street Price: $444. Contact: Quantum Instruments, (631) 656-7400, www.qtm.com.
HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE
Enhance tonal range or add subtle or hyperrealistic effects to your nature imagery using HDR Expose from Unified Color Technologies. This application replaces the company’s flagship program, HDR PhotoStudio. New features include an interactive HDR histogram, digital color readout, multiple ghost-reduction options, plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, and a more intuitive user interface. Color, brightness and contrast all can be adjusted while maintaining a 32-bit workflow without tone mapping. List Price: $149. Contact: Unified Color Technologies, (650) 952-8886, www.unifiedcolor.com.
DUST BUSTER
Eliminate dust from your camera sensor more effectively with the Arctic Butterfly 724 (Super Bright). The brush now has two bright LEDs that illuminate the sensor during cleaning. This reduces the possibility of fiber being dragged accidentally against the surrounding cavity, reducing the possibility of smear from contaminated fibers. A three-stage power switch allows you to use the brush with the light on or off. The engine, which is responsible for spinning the brush to both clear and prepare the bristles for cleaning, has been modified to better maintain a constant speed. Estimated Street Price: $110. Contact: VisibleDust, (877) 999-9404, www.visibledust.com.

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SAFETY MATTERS
GearGuard is a new collection of security devices from Gary Fong, Inc. The Camera Body Lock attaches to the camera’s tripod mount and a security cable is threaded through its twin-plate design, allowing you to attach the camera to any object with the lock in place. The screw that attaches the lock to the camera has a threaded port so the camera remains fully compatible with a tripod, ballhead or quick-release plate. The Bag Lock is a two-piece clip that slides together over a bag buckle and is fitted with a combination lock to prevent theft. Estimated Street Price: $9 (each); $9 (security cable and combination lock). Contact: Gary Fong, Inc., (800) 906-6447, www.garyfong.com.
GET WET
Keep shooting in wet weather with the Rainsleeve-Flash. The plastic cover fits over a shoe-mounted flash and has an eyepiece opening that adapts to most viewfinders for composing shots through the lens, not the plastic. All camera and lens controls are easy to see and operate. You can use the cover when shooting handheld or on a tripod. It fits any lens up to seven inches in diameter and up to 14 inches long. Rainsleeve-Flash comes in two’s in each package. Estimated Street Price: $9. Contact: OP/TECH USA, (800) 251-7815, www.optechusa.com.
ART PAPER
Make fine prints of your travel and landscape images using the Innova Photo Art Collection. The paper’s silky, smooth surface structure maintains the natural characteristics of an art paper with a matte coating to provide solid color accuracy and archival quality. The paper is natural grade, acid-free and coated precisely for working with inkjet printers. It’s available in cut sheets and rolls for wide-format and desktop printing. Textures range from smooth to matte in bright white and warm color bases. Estimated Street Price: Varies by size and type. Contact: Innova, www.innovaart.com.
KEEP FOCUS
The Intuit Focus HF-IF1 Follow Focus system helps you produce sharper images, whether capturing video or shooting stills. The system acts as a focus-pulling assistant with a unique belt system that interacts with a precise thumb wheel for keeping your hands and images steady. It can be used with DSLRs and lenses ranging from 14mm to 600mm, including Zeiss lenses with included belts. Tension can be fine-tuned to best match the focus ring of your lens, and there are four rubber belt sizes supplied to accommodate various lens types. This is also a good solution for those who do a lot of macro work, allowing you to get really close up without camera shake. List Price: $3,900. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.

BOOKS ’N SUCH

The Magic of Digital Landscape Photography by Rob Sheppard (Lark Books, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-60059-516-5). Find out everything you need to know about taking unforgettable landscape photographs from this guide. Sheppard, OP’s Editor At Large, covers topics ranging from cameras and lenses to tools and techniques. The specifics of working with skies, water, light and other elements are also covered.

PhotoshopCAFE presents Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Digital Photographers by Colin Smith (www.photoshopcafe.com). This video shows you how to import, organize, develop and output images using the latest version of Lightroom. The most complex tasks are broken down into quick, easy-to-understand techniques.

Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America’s Wild Places (Little, Brown, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-316-07846-7). This comprehensive collection of Ansel Adams’ photographs of America’s national parks and wilderness areas includes many rarely seen and some never before published. The legendary photographer explored more than 40 national parks during his lifetime.

Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest by Amy Gulick (Braided River, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-59485-0912). Gulick spent two years paddling and trekking among the bears, misty islands and salmon streams to photograph the Tongass, a 17-million-acre temperate rain forest fringing the coastal panhandle of Alaska.

Beyond Photoshop: Advanced Techniques Integrating Photoshop with Illustrator, Poser, Painter, Cinema 4D, and ZBrush by Derek Lea (Focal Press; 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-81190-1). Lea demonstrates his methods for using Photoshop with other popular programs. The tutorials are easy to grasp even when dealing with advanced techniques.

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