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In Focus: March 2008

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Sony DSLR-A200


Sony expands its α (Alpha) digital SLR system with the DSLR-A200. The 10.2-megapixel camera features continuous shooting of 3 fps, an integrated anti-dust cleaning system and an eye-level penta-mirror optical viewfinder with 0.83x magnification. The Super SteadyShot image-stabilization system helps prevent blurring caused by camera shake. It comes with an 18-70mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 27-105mm. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Sony, (877) 865-SONY,

ALL-WEATHER BAG Keep your equipment secure and dry no matter what the weather Conditions are with the Lowepro Vertex 300 AW backpack. Water-resistant zippers and a seam-sealed cover keep the interior dry. An eight-point adjustable harness system is designed to match your body type for comfort. It’s deep enough for a pro D-SLR with attached 400mm lens. Depending on the configuration, the backpack holds one to two pro D-SLRs, a large 35mm or medium-format system, six to eight lenses, a tripod or monopod, a 17-inch laptop and accessories. Estimated Street Price: $249.Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, Lowepro Vertex 300 AW backpack

Go for a different look when shooting wide-angle landscapes using a couple of new fish-eye lenses from Sigma. The 10mm ƒ/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM and the 4.5mm ƒ/2.8 EX DC Circular Fisheye HSM have a minimum focusing distance of 5.3 inches and a maximum magnification of 1:3.3 (10mm) or 1:6 (4.5mm), making them ideal for close-up work. Focus manually or via the highly responsive autofocus driven by the Hyper Sonic Motor. Each lens has a Super Multi-Layer Coating minimizing flare and ghosting. Designed for smaller APS-C-sized sensors, the lenses will vignette around the edges of the frame if used with larger sensors or 35mm SLRs. Estimated Street Price: $650 (10mm); $900 (4.5mm). Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858,
new fish-eye lenses from Sigma

Use a pen to navigate programs and edit directly on-screen with the Wacom Cintiq 12WX. The beautifully designed 12.1-inch TFT LCD features 24-bit color depth, WXGA resolution (1280 x 800) and a wide 170-degree viewing angle. It’s compatible with more than 100 software programs. Five customizable ExpressKeys, located on each side of the LCD, can be set up for keyboard shortcuts and frequently used functions. Use the Cintiq 12WX as a standalone or with an existing display. The cordless, battery-free Grip Pen allows for precise moves, with 1,024 levels of pressure in the pen tip and the eraser. Estimated Street Price: $999. Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-9348,
Wacom Cintiq

Take your next hike wearing The North Face Cipher Windstopper jacket. The garment’s chest, tops of the arms and part of the back panel are armored with Gore-Tex® Windstopper fabric. The rest of the jacket is cut from a four-way stretch material that keeps it breathable and lightweight at just 18 ounces. Vents in the hood and mesh chest pockets help keep you comfortable regardless of the weather conditions. Estimated Street Price: $149. Contact: The North Face, (800) 447-2333,

North Face Cipher Windstopper jacket

The Hubba HP and Hubba Hubba HP tents from MSR are lighter than earlier models, yet offer more protection from the elements. Ideal for lightweight backpackers and long-distance hikers, the tents feature a new, lighter technical fabric and less mesh for more protection from sand, snow and wind. There’s also a gear loft and adjustable, reflective stake loops. The Hubba HP fits one person and the Hubba Hubba HP fits two. Lightweight, reinforced clips allow for fast, easy setup and maximum ventilation. List Price: $349 (Hubba HP); $449 (Hubba Hubba HP). Contact: MSR, (800) 531-9531,
Hubba Hubba HP tent

Waterproof your boots without changing how they look or feel using Ion-mask technology developed by Hi-Tec. The treatment works at the molecular level, binding invisibly to the surface of the shoe and allowing it to repel most liquids. Using patented plasma technology, the Ion-mask process coats three-dimensional objects with an invisible polymer mask that repels oil and water, without affecting the physical properties of the shoe. Boots retain their breathability, and they become lighter because they no longer retain water. List Price: TBA. Contact: Hi-Tec,
Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra

Give your body a break from hiking around in cold weather with the Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro mattress. Touted as the lightest two-inch mattress the company has ever produced, it uses the same foam design as the ProLite mattress series. The regular version is 20×72 inches, and the large version is 25×77 inches. Weight ranges from two to three pounds. List Price: $79 (regular); $99 (large). Contact: Therm-a-Rest, (800) 531-9531,
Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro mattress

Bring your slides into the digital age with the Microtek ArtixScan M1. The flatbed film scanner is designed for 35mm, 6cm and 4×5-inch film formats, while also capable of scanning reflective art or prints as large as 8.5×14 inches. With 4800 dpi optical resolution, the scanner produces image files from 35mm scans that allow prints of up to 15×22 inches with 300 dpi resolution. Other features include 16-bit digital output and autofocus. List Price: $649. Contact: Microtek, (310) 687-5940,

Microtek ArtixScan M1

Convert old negatives and slides into digital files using ScanCafe, a Website that offers affordable photo, negative and slide scanning services, along with photo restoration. They scan 35mm negatives and slides at 3000 dpi and photos at 600 dpi. To get started, you send them the photos via UPS. They scan and post the images to their Website. You go through and make your selections, paying only for the images you want to keep. ScanCafe returns the originals and ships a DVD/CD of your images and originals. List Price: $0.19/negative (3000 dpi); $0.24/slide (3000 dpi); $0.27/photo (600 dpi). Contact: ScanCafe, (866) 745-0392,

Lyson Cave Paint R24 is a replacement inkset for Epson’s pro printers. Developed as a substitute for inksets like Epson UltraChrome K3, the ink uses advanced resin technology to deliver eye-popping colors and rich blacks that resist fading and bronzing. The R24 inkset includes photo-black and matte-black inks. It’s sold in individual cartridges and refillable cartridge kits. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Ink2Image, (800) 443-9508,
Lyson Cave Paint

Quickly restore old photos and touch up new work with seamless results using Alien Skin Image Doctor 2. Using the Smart Fill feature, unwanted objects are removed and replaced automatically with an intelligent sampling of the nearby background pattern. Or you can specify where you want the samples to be taken from. Using the JPEG Repair tool, you can spruce up poor-quality JPEGs by smoothing out blocky areas and ragged edges, either selectively or over an entire image. List Price: $199 (upgrade $99). Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-SKIN,
Alien Skin Image Doctor

Books and Such

The Earth As Art: Views from Heaven by Klaus D. Francke (Bucher, 2007; ISBN: 978-3-7658-1628-4). At first glance, Francke’s aerial photos look more like paintings. They depict the unique beauty of a primeval, almost uninhabited Earth and the traces left on it by humans. Literary quotations by Alexander Smoltczyk accompany the images.

Black & White Photography: A Practical Guide by Steve Mulligan (Photographers’ Institute Press, 2007; ISBN: 1-86108-428-5). Master the camera and darkroom techniques needed to create monochrome prints using this richly illustrated guide, which explores exposure, development, composition and printing.

Macro Photography Photo Workshop by Haje Jan Kamps (Wiley, 2007; ISBN: 978-0-470-11876-4). Learn special techniques for creating unique, artistic close-up images. The book explores the challenges of macro work, including depth of field, focus and exposure. Readers learn by doing, with the book offering plenty of examples and instructions.

The Artist’s Guide to GIMP Effects: Creative Techniques for Photographers, Artists, and Designers by Michael J. Hammel (No Starch Press, 2007; ISBN: 978-1-59327-121-3). Create impressive photo effects by learning the ins and outs of GIMP. With in-depth, step-by-step tutorials, you’ll learn the program’s core tools and more.

Visions of Elk Country: A Celebration of the Rockies in Word and Image by Lance Schelvan (The Lyons Press, 2007; ISBN: 978-1-59921-207-4). The photographer has spent 40 years capturing the Rockies, from British Columbia to Mexico. Color photographs of the terrain and wildlife explore thousands of miles of elk country.

Share your landscapes on a bigger scale using the Epson PowerLite 1715c projector. With 2700 lumens of brightness, XGA (1024 x 768) resolution and high-speed wireless connectivity, the projector works in almost any setting. Plus, it weighs less than four pounds, making it easy to transport. You can adjust the hue and saturation of an image along six different axes for total control over the look of your work. Slideshows can be projected directly from a camera, USB Memory Stick or external hard drive. Estimated Street Price: $1,599. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON,
Epson PowerLite 1715c projector

Turn your stills into a slick-looking slideshow and ready them for viewing on the web, an iPod, a Blackberry or an Xbox with ProShow Gold 3.2 or ProShow Producer 3.2. The software lets you easily export images in more than 40 formats, including DVD, CD and HD video, and play them back on a variety of viewing devices. Geared for enthusiasts, Gold 3.2 has a nice range of easy-to-use creative features, while Producer 3.2 is designed for pros wanting to make more sophisticated presentations. List Price: $69 (Gold); $249 (Producer). Contact: Photodex Corporation,
(800) 37-PHOTO,
Photodex ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer

With D-SLRs continuing to set new standards for continuous, high-resolution image capture, you must have a memory card that can keep up. Featuring a maximum capacity of 16 GB, the Kingston Elite Pro CompactFlash cards have a write speed of 20 MBps and a read speed of 25 MBps. They’re available in sizes of 2, 4, 8 and 16 GB so you can choose the ideal card for your shooting needs and budget. Estimated Street Price: $62 to $308. Contact: Kingston Technology, (800) 337-8410,
Kingston CF Elite Pro CompactFlash

Find files in your growing image library faster by adding metadata with METAmachine. The browser software lets you edit or add keywords, licenses and other metadata to your photos, either individually or in batches. It reads and writes XMP-formatted metadata in TIFF, JPEG, PSD and DNG images. You can write a complete set of metadata into an image or use it solely for copyright and contact information or licensing terms. It’s only available for the Macintosh OS X operating system. Estimated Street Price: $67. Contact: HindSight Ltd., (888) 791-3770,
Maha Power Ex Imedion batteries

Get low with the Slik Sprint Pro Black tripod. For low-angle and macro work, the adjustable legs and built-in short center column lower the camera to just 6.8 inches off the ground. The tripod weighs about two pounds, with a maximum load capacity of 4.4 pounds. Height ranges from 52.6 to 64.3 inches, and it folds to a compact 18.9 inches for easy transport. Speed-release leg locks, a gearless center column with lock and tension control for quick height adjustments, and three-position adjustable-angle leg locks make setup simple. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141,
Slik SprintPro Tripod

Shoot with a memory card that can keep up with your D-SLR. The ATP 300X ProMax II CompactFlash Cards Series is designed to perform well with the latest generation of cameras. With a 300x speed rating, the cards transfer images at up to 45 MBps. The cards come in capacities of 2 GB, 4 GB and 8 GB. List Price: TBA. Contact: ATP Electronics Inc., (408) 732-5000,
ATP 300X ProMax II CompactFlash

Fine-tune color, cut out objects and replace backgrounds, add a frame and resize images with Essentials 2 for Adobe Photoshop Elements. The four programs—PhotoTune, Mask Pro, PhotoFrame and Genuine Fractals—have all been designed for use with Elements. The upgraded Make It Better tool now lets you optimize color, contrast and brightness more effectively by comparing side-by-side adjustments. Essentials 2 supports Photoshop Elements 4, 5 and 6 for Windows, and 3 and 4 for Mac. List Price: $59. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468,
onOne Software Essentials
Convert your landscapes into paintings with Corel Painter Essentials 4. Using new technology based on making intelligent brushstrokes that follow the form of the original photo, you can create unique-looking images quickly. With an easy-to-use, three-step system, simply upload your photo, choose a preset painting style and let the program work its magic. For those who want more control, choose the style of painting, brushes and color using the program’s palettes. List Price: $79. Contact: Corel, (877) OK-COREL,
Corel Painter Essentials 4
Turning your photos into gallery wraps is simple using Canvas On Demand—upload or mail them your photo, and they take care of the rest. From cropping and color-correcting to cleaning up minor dust and scratches, they make sure your photo looks good on canvas, even adding hand brushstrokes to give it the look and feel of a traditional painting. The finished image ships in four to five business days from the time they receive the photo. List Price: Varies by size and frame style. Contact: Canvas On Demand, (800) 801-6312,
Canvas On Demand

Get help taking sharp pictures with the Giottos Carbon Fiber MM III Monopod. Available in sizes ranging from 60 to 71.6 inches, the monopod features anti-twist leg sections with rubber twist leg locks, keeping the camera and your shot locked. A neoprene leg grip provides better stability, and a large rubber leveling foot prevents the monopod from slipping on unstable surfaces. Estimated Street Price: From $116. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373,
Giottos Carbon Fiber monopod

When you’re in the field, download your images quickly to the JOBO GIGA ONE Ultra storage device. With a download speed of 5.47 MBps, you can clear images off your memory card fast and keep shooting. One GB of data takes about three minutes. The unit comes in capacities of 40, 80, 120 and 200 GB, and has slots for all popular memory card formats. Estimated Street Price: $149 (40 GB); $199 (80 GB); $229 (120 GB); $329 (200 GB). Contact: JOBO AG, (734) 453-0300,
Jobo Giga One Ultra storage device