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In Focus: May 2008
The latest trio of Nikon lenses comes with unique and innovative features that expand the kinds of outdoor shots you’re able to capture. The wide-angle PC-E Nikkor 24mm ƒ/3.5D ED has a special tilt/shift mechanism offering up to ±11.5mm shift and ±8.5-degree tilt for manipulating perspective, distortion and focus. The AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR is a compact wide-angle zoom suitable for a range of applications. With Vibration Reduction, you’re free to do more handheld shooting at slower shutter speeds. The AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm ƒ/2.8G ED macro lens captures extreme close-ups with up to 1:1 reproduction ratios. At its closest, the lens focuses at a distance of about 0.6 feet. Estimated Street Price: $1,929 (24mm); $649 (16-85mm); $549 (60mm). Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
Take sharp images of fast-moving wildlife with the Canon EF 200mm ƒ/2L IS USM and the EF 800mm ƒ/5.6L IS USM lenses. Using the company’s Optical Image Stabilizer system, you gain a shutter-speed equivalent up to four stops faster, enabling you to take longer exposures without worrying about blur. Great for low light and capturing the action from afar, these high-end lenses use fluorite and Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) elements for correcting chromatic aberration. Estimated Street Price: $5,999 (200mm); $11,999 (800mm). Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
The Tamron SP AF70-200mm ƒ/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro lens is an ideal choice for macro and standard telephoto work. The versatile focal range, optical sharpness, fixed maximum aperture and affordable price tag make the lens attractive. Although designed for full-frame D-SLRs and 35mm film cameras, the lens can be used on D-SLRs with APS-C-sized sensors. On smaller-format cameras, the 35mm-equivalent focal length ranges from 109 to 310mm. It’s available with Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Tamron, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com.
Get close to those blooming tulip bulbs with the compact smc Pentax DA 35mm ƒ/2.8 Macro Limited lens. Features include 1:1 magnification in a normal focal length and the Quick-shift Focus System for instantly switching from auto to manual focus. The 35mm focal length is equivalent to 52.5mm. The Pentax SP coating protects the glass. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
Take clear, handheld shots in low light using the compact Sigma 18-125mm ƒ/3.8-5.6 DC OS HSM lens with Optical Stabilizer technology. Using two sensors, the system detects camera movement and moves an optical-image-stabilizing lens group to compensate for the shake. You can use shutter speeds up to four stops slower. The lens is designed for APS-C-sized sensors, features a 35mm-equivalent focal-length range of 27-187mm and is available with Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
Stay warm in unpredictable spring weather with the Marmot Super Hero Jacket. The water-repellent, wind-resistant softshell comes with a tuck-away hood and is made out of Gore Windstopper material. Constructed of soft, stretchy fabrics, Windstopper prevents overheating and perspiration build-up by allowing moisture to escape for improved breathability. The unique membrane stops wind from penetrating the fabric. List Price: $275. Contact: Marmot, (888) 357-3262, www.marmot.com.
If you’re an avid hiker or backpacker, lace up the Titanium Daska Pass Omni-Tech hiking boots from Columbia. The lightweight upper is breathable and waterproof, and the contoured footbed provides excellent comfort. The sock liner interacts with the natural contours of the foot to provide enhanced support. Columbia’s Titanium lineup features advanced fabrics and technologies designed for all-weather performance and protection. List Price: TBA. Contact: Columbia, (800) 547-8066, www.columbia.com.
Billed as its lightest two-person tent ever, the Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 weighs less than 3½ pounds. The all-mesh canopy reduces the overall weight and provides excellent ventilation. The tall entryway and tapered foot design maximize your living comfort. The company’s patented Evolution Tension Arch reinforces the tent’s structure if the weather should turn nasty. Estimated Street Price: $395. Contact: Mountain Hardwear, (800) 953-8375, www.mountainhardwear.com.
Sleep well in the Kelty Light Year Down 20°. The lightweight, three-season sleeping bag has a hip-length zipper and zippered foot vent. It’s an ideal choice for minimalists who don’t want to carry any more weight than is necessary. The 650-fill-power down bag features a sculpted hood and a light compression sack. Down material features the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulation available. List Price: $180. Contact: Kelty, (800) 423-2320, www.kelty.com.
Roam the outdoors wearing your D-SLR comfortably around your neck with the shock-absorbing Skooba Superbungee Camera/Binocular strap from Tenba. The length adjusts from 21 to 45 inches, and the width is 1.5 inches. The underside of the strap consists of a flexible grid of individual, air-filled cells that absorb shock and enhance comfort. The cells are covered in a slip-resistant laminate to help keep your camera in place. Estimated Street Price: $16. Contact: Tenba, (914) 347-3300, www.tenba.com.
Get some extra height the next time you’re out shooting the birds with the Cullmann Universal XXL 3150 tripod. With an extended height of seven feet, this is the company’s tallest tripod. You adjust the height of the camera by simply sliding the center column up and down. The self-clamping screw prevents unexpected drops. The center column is locked with a quick-tensioning lever, and the tripod comes with a removable Cullmann 3030 head. List Price: $189. Contact: RTS Photo, (631) 242-6801, www.rtsphoto.com.
Linhof is marking its 120th anniversary with a new, limited edition of its famous Master Technika large-format camera. The Master Technika 3000 is covered in Ferrari red leather. The hand strap is finished with a wide red stripe over black leather. The Folding Focusing Hood will sport a special version of the Linhof crest with “120 Years” written below. The revolving frame on the back of the camera is engraved with “1887-2007 120 Years.” Only 120 of these cameras will be produced. List Price: $8,516. Contact: HP Marketing, (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
Adventures in Tornado Alley: The Storm Chasers by Mike Hollingshead and Eric Nguyen (Thames & Hudson, 2008; ISBN: 978-0500287378). The book follows the authors on 17 chases through Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and other states. Portfolios show the storms as they unfold. Special features on weather forecasting and research accompany 340 color illustrations.
Utah: The Light Fantastic by Tom Till (Fable Valley Publishers, Inc., 2007; ISBN: 978-0971255548.) Till pays tribute to the state’s beauty in this large-format coffee-table book. The landscape photographer captures Utah’s newest attractions, like Range Creek Canyon, Thanksgiving Point and Glen Canyon.
Digital Macro Photography by Ross Hoddinott (Photographers’ Institute Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-1861085306). Learn how to take nice close-ups of insects, flowers and other still-lifes with this useful guide offering basic and advanced techniques. More than 200 full-color photos and 750 illustrations accompany helpful explanations and advice.
Understanding RAW Photography by Andy Rouse (Photographers’ Institute Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-1861085153). The leading wildlife photographer covers how to make software choices, work in the field, edit and correct photos, and print. A range of images and screen captures illustrate basic and advanced techniques.
Back up your SLR with a compact camera that delivers wide-angle to telephoto zoom range. The high-end Olympus SP-570 Ultra Zoom features a 35mm-equivalent focal-length range of 26-520mm. Other nice features include dual image stabilization with sensor-shift and digital stabilization compensating for camera shake and moving subjects, a 2.7-inch LCD with anti-glare coating and Shadow Adjustment Technology. The camera comes with full manual control, 13.5 fps continuous shooting at 3-megapixel resolution and the high-performance TruePic III Image Processor. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.olympusamerica.com.
Control the light, color and tonality of your nature photographs more precisely and easily with Viveza, the latest plug-in from Nik Software for Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Powered by the ease and control of U-Point technology for direct on-image editing, adjustments are made in a matter of minutes with top-notch results. Using Color Control Points placed directly on colors or objects in an image, you can quickly correct brightness, contrast, saturation and more. Estimated Street Price: $250. Contact: Nik Software, (888) 284-4085, www.niksoftware.com.
Great for traveling and hiking, the compact Giottos RT 8000 Series tripods weigh 1.2 pounds and measure less than 12 inches long when folded. They have a unique three-way head so you can easily pan and tilt with one handle. For quick setup, all you have to do is extend the legs, then twist the top section to lock them in place. Estimated Street Price: $38. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
Get to your gear from the rear of the Lowepro Flipside 200 backpack, which features a unique back-compartment entry point for safer, easier access while shooting. With the waist strap securely fastened, simply slip off the shoulder straps, swivel the bag around to your front and unzip. The Flipside 200 holds a D-SLR with an 80-200mm (or smaller) lens attached, plus one to three additional lenses, a tripod and accessories. Estimated Street Price: $60. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.
Store your images on the Fantom Drives G-Force Quad Interface GF1000Q from MicroNet. The 1 TB external hard drive features four connectivity options: USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and 800, and eSATA with a maximum transfer speed of 300 MBps. The compact, fan-free, heat-dissipating aluminum design allows for portability and near silent operation. Also included is NTI Shadow software for continuous, real-time backup. Estimated Street Price: $369. Contact: MicroNet, (800) 980-3463, www.micronet.com.
Venture out on your next photo trip carrying the Tamrac Adventure 10 photo/laptop backpack. Two large, foam-padded main compartments with adjustable dividers have room for a pro D-SLR with most 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lenses attached, additional lenses, a flash and accessories. A separate rear compartment holds laptops up to 17 inches. Mesh pockets are included on the sides for a water bottle, snacks or small accessories. List Price: $229. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
Keep your flash up to speed with your camera using the Metz Mecablitz 48 AF-1, a wireless flash with USB interface. Simply hook it up to your PC and download the latest firmware updates. Compatible with most TTL digital remote systems, the 48 AF-1 also operates as a TTL slave unit controlled by the camera’s built-in commander mode, a manufacturer’s flash or from a Metz 58 AF-1. It’s currently available for most camera manufacturers. Estimated Street Price: $200 to $220 (depending on model). Contact: Bogen Imaging, (201) 818-9500, www.bogenimaging.us.
Know exactly where you took a shot anywhere in the world with Blue2CAN from Red Hen Systems. The Bluetooth-enabled GPS unit plugs into the 10-pin connector on the front of the camera and connects automatically to a nearby signal. You can fire away while the unit embeds geo-spatial information in your metadata. The Blue2CAN is only available for Nikon D-SLRs, including the latest D3 and D300, and older models like the D2Hs and D2Xs. Note that you need to buy a Bluetooth GPS receiver. Estimated Street Price: $279. Contact: Red Hen Systems, (800) 237-4182, www.redhensystems.com.