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How An Auto-Leveling Tripod Makes Life Easier For PhotographersGetting your tripod level can be...
5 Reasons To Buy A High-Quality And Adjustable TripodShopping for a tripod can be confusing....
Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens ReviewNobody else makes a lens like the Sigma...
The Art of Luminosity, Part 1
Understanding light to improve your photography.
10 Unique National Parks
Though they may not be the most famous national parks, each of these has something special worth a visit.
How To Use HDR For Nature Photography
Can I stop carrying graduated neutral density filters?
A Year Photographing The National Parks
Ten highlights from an epic tour photographing all of the U.S. national parks.
Choosing A Tripod For Your Style Of Photography
Contrary to what you might have heard, you do not need a tripod that can’t be moved without a forklift. Here's what to consider when choosing a tripod and head.
Adam Jones on photographing the elements that give America’s first national park its out-of-this-world reputation.
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In Focus: October 2007
If you’re just getting into shooting with a D-SLR, the affordable Pentax K100D Super is packed with features and easy to use.
The camera has a 6.1-megapixel sensor, advanced systems for shake reduction and dust removal, a user-friendly Mode Dial with Auto Picture, various Scene Modes and a 2.5-inch LCD with zoom capability. A compact, lightweight body makes the camera easy to carry around on backpacking trips and other outdoor adventures. The camera is fully compatible with Pentax SDMS lenses and can be purchased with an 18-55mm lens. Estimated Street Price: $600 (with lens); $520 (body only).
For more advanced users, the weather-resistant Pentax K10D shoots 10.2-megapixel images and features dust-removal and shake-reduction systems. Estimated Street Price: $919. In our Short Report on the K10D in the September issue (page 92), the first item in the Standout Features box should have been “Shake reduction with all lenses,” not “Unique Foveon X3 image sensor.” The Foveon sensor is exclusive to the Sigma SD14 reviewed in the August issue (page 86). Our apologies to Pentax and Sigma for the error. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
COMPACT HD CAM
Combining convenience with top-notch quality, the handheld Canon HR10 records true 1080i resolution video directly to DVD. Using a high-definition 1/2.7-inch CMOS sensor with noise-reduction technology and an RGB Primary Color Filter, the 1.2-pound camcorder delivers crisp images full of vivid, accurate color in a 2.6×3.7×5.2-inch body. A 10x video zoom lens lets you take extreme telephoto shots, making the camcorder great for recording wildlife. The HR10 also takes high-quality, 3-megapixel stills and records on conventional three-inch (8cm) DVDs Additional features include a next-generation DIGIC DV II image processor, optical image stabilization and a 2.7-inch widescreen LCD. Estimated Street Price: $1,199. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
Get as low as 15 inches from the ground when shooting with the SLIK PRO 780 DX tripod. Adjustable leg-angle locks and a center column consisting of two threaded pieces that unscrew to convert the top piece into a short column make the tripod ideal for low-angle and macro photography in the field. Made from an aluminum-magnesium-titanium alloy, the lightweight tripod is sturdy enough to support a pro D-SLR with an attached 400mm ƒ/2.8 lens. The PRO 780 DX weighs about seven pounds, holds up to 15 and has a maximum height of 76 inches. An all-metal, three-way panhead is included. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.
Fix image flaws quickly using Version 4.5 of DxO Optics Pro. It features an automated cropping tool, speedier processing times and plug-in capability with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The auto crop tool lets you preview the cropped final image immediately and is ideal when used on a group of images already corrected for horizon alignment or perspective. A library of presets created by professional and expert photographers has also been added to increase your options and save time. Estimated Street Price: Free (existing users); $169 (standard); $299 (elite). Contact: DxO Labs, www.dxo.com.
When you’re camping below the stars, you’ll be able to name any one of them with the Celestron SkyScout. Using advanced GPS technology and an extensive built-in database, the handheld device can identify more than 6,000 stars, planets and constellations, providing scientific information on each object. Simply point SkyScout at any star in the sky and click the target button. It’s about the size of a camcorder and weighs less than 16 ounces. List Price: $429. Contact: Celestron, (310) 328-9560, www.celestron.com.
When night falls, light up your campsite with the Coleman Exponent CR123 Lithium Pack-Away Lantern. The 100-lumen light weighs less than five ounces and illuminates for 12 hours on low power and five hours on high. Push-button control, a four-position switch (off/high/low/emergency) and battery operation make the lantern easy to use. List Price: TBD. Contact: Coleman, (800) 835-3278, www.coleman.com.
The Crazy Creek Attach-A-Table gives you a convenient place to download photos or clean up your gear while camping. The swiveling table easily attaches to most metal, wood or fiberglass framed chairs. It folds up, down, swings out and adjusts to a variety of heights, angles and positions. Estimated Street Price: $36. Contact: Crazy Creek, (800) 331-0304, www.crazycreek.com.
Take your next mountain hike with The North Face Antigravity jacket. The high-performance, waterproof jacket is made from HiVent DT (Dry Touch) fabric with reinforced shoulders, sides and arms, plus four-way stretch panels behind the shoulder blades. The lightweight garment also features water-resistant zips and venting pockets, and a fully adjustable, helmet-compatible roll-away hood with laminated brim. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: The North Face, (800) 447-2333, www.thenorthface.com.
Hit the trail with the Gregory Z 35. Built with a well-ventilated suspension system, the lightweight backpack features Roll Top-style main access, an auto-fit harness system with flexible attachment to match the user’s shoulder slope and angle, and high-quality nylon fabric reinforced with double-box ripstop. The harness and waist-belt systems utilize perforated closed-cell foam covered in moisture-wicking 3D mesh to keep you comfortable all day. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: Gregory Mountain Products, (800) 477-3420, www.gregorypacks.com.
The Hi-Tec Ridge backpacking boots will keep your feet comfy and protected when you’re hiking on rough terrain. The boots are constructed with a waterproof suede leather upper part with core-venting windows, highly breathable membrane, soft padded collar and molded thermoplastic ankle-support frame. Other features include a full-length abrasion-resistant toe and quarter guard, and a durable compression-molded midsole. List Price: $115. Contact: Hi-Tec, (800) 521-1698, www.hi-tec.com.
With 12-bit hardware calibration, 1920 x 1200 resolution and a 6 ms response time, the EIZO ColorEdge CG241W LCD monitor is ideal for displaying stills and playing back high-definition video. The 24.1-inch widescreen features a maximum brightness of 300 cd/m², an 850:1 contrast ratio, and horizontal and vertical viewing angles of 178 degrees. The LCD panel reproduces 96 percent of the Adobe RGB color space, displaying most colors of an image taken in that mode, and also covering CMYK color spaces used for printing. Estimated Street Price: $2,459. Contact: EIZO, (914) 347-3300, www.eizo.com.
To meet growing storage needs, the new Serial ATA 3.5-inch F1 Series external hard disk drive from Samsung delivers 1 TB of capacity. Optimized electronics and power-saving modes reduce how much energy the drive uses, dispersing heat. NoiseGuard and SilentSeek technologies lower the noise and vibration coming from the drive. Additional features include a 7200 rpm spin speed and a 32 MB cache, and it’s optimized for RAID applications. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Samsung, (800) SAMSUNG, www.samsung.com.
ONE-STOP POWER SOURCE
Charge all of your electronic devices with the Planon Universal Mobile Charger. Use the 3.8-ounce charger with your digital cameras, iPods, cell phones, MP3 players and more. A mini-USB port and four additional connectors help keep everything up and running. Estimated Street Price: $70. Contact: Planon System Solutions, www.planon.com.
Make lab-quality prints at home with the HP Photosmart D7460. The printer uses HP’s bright, six-color Vivera ink technology, helping your photos resist fading for generations. Edit, save, print and share functions are easy to use and access with a 3.5-inch touchscreen. A 4×6-inch color photo prints in as fast as 22 seconds. Other features include built-in wireless capability and Ethernet for printing and sharing photos from network-enabled notebooks and PCs, built-in memory card slots and an automatic red-eye removal button. Estimated Street Price: $179. Contact: Hewlett-Packard, (800) 752-0900, www.hp.com.
A new line of neutral-density filters by Heliopan is designed to better meet the needs of digital photographers. The filters come in one-stop increments of densities from 1.2 to 3.0, giving you more control. Available in standard 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 strengths as well, the filters are offered in all sizes up to a 105mm screw-in, along with Rollei Bayonet I, II, III and IV, and Hasselblad Bay 60. Hasselblad Bay 50 can be used with standard densities of 0.3 to 0.9. The multicoated versions feature a top coat on the front that repels dust and moisture to help keep the filter clean. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
High-storage capacity meets portability in new hard drives that make it easy to take your valuable files wherever you roam. The Mercury On-The-Go 200 GB portable hard drive from Other World Computing features a 7200 rpm spin speed for processing files quickly, is compatible with nearly all digital cameras, camcorders and computers, and fits in your palm. It’s designed with USB 2.0, FireWire 800/400 and eSATA interfaces and comes with software to make backing up files easy. The Trekstor DataStation pocket t.ub portable storage drive has a capacity of 250 GB and has a one-touch backup feature for easy transport and daily backup of large files. It’s just 5.2x3x0.7 inches and weighs nine ounces. Estimated Street Price: $360 (Mercury); $250 (Trekstor). Contact: Other World Computing, (800) 275-4576, www.otherworldcomputing.com; Trekstor, (888) 8-TrekStor, www.trekstor.us.
MINI MEMORY CARD
Get all of the power of a Secure Digital High-Capacity card in mini format with Transcend’s 4 GB miniSDHC card. With the supplied adapter, the card can be used as a standard SDHC card, meeting the high-volume capacities of today’s digital cameras. With a write speed of 4 MBps, the card offers an optimal method of managing large, high-resolution files. SDHC cards only work in devices that are compatible with this format. Estimated Street Price: $55. Contact: Transcend, (714) 921-2000, www.transcendusa.com.
Backcountry Bear Basics: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters (Mountaineers Outdoor Basics) by Dave Smith (The Mountaineers Books, 2006; ISBN: 1-59485-028-3). Learn key information about bear behavior and biology to help you avoid unexpected run-ins with black bears and grizzlies.
Digital Camcorder: A User’s Guide by Peter Wells (The Crowood Press, 2006; ISBN: 1-86126-811-4). In addition to providing general expert instruction on how to produce pro-looking video, Wells covers techniques that can be applied to specific projects such as weddings and vacations. Other topics include equipment and accessories, types of shots, sound recording and lighting, and creative and special effects.
Photoshop CS3 Essential Skills by Mark Galer and Philip Andrews (Focal Press, 2007; ISBN: 978-0-240-52064-3). Master the latest version of Adobe Photoshop with this guide, focusing on all of the key skills you need to produce top-notch images. Retouching photographs, creating makeovers, adding special effects, developing an efficient workflow
and more are covered.
Hands-On Digital Photography: A Step-by-Step Course in Camera Controls, Software Techniques, and Successful Imaging by George Schaub (Amphoto Books, 2007; ISBN: 978-0-8174-3491-5). Schaub takes a practical, project-based approach to explaining standard camera functions and how to use them to take great shots. Examples illustrated with before-and-after comparisons are given along with practical exercises.
Block Island: Rhode Island’s Jewel by Martha Ball and Malcolm Greenaway (Commonwealth Editions, 2007; ISBN: 978-1-933212-41-8). This large-format book showcases a collection of 80 photographs taken on the island starting in the 1970s.
Timpanogos by Willie Holdman (www.willieholdman.com, 2007; ISBN: 0-9743347-0-7). More than 220 beautiful, color photographs showing Utah’s Mount Timpanogos fill the pages of this 11×13-inch coffee-table book. Holdman’s images show the mountain range during all times of the year.
The onOne Software Plug-In Suite 3 features full versions of four powerful, image-enhancing tools that are now compatible with Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Intel-based Macs. Using this comprehensive bundle, which consists of Intellihance Pro 4.2, Mask Pro 4.1, PhotoFrame Pro 3.1 and Genuine Fractals 5, you can make multiple image adjustments at a time, mask difficult subjects like hair and glass, add unique border and edge effects, and increase image size by 1,000 percent with no loss of detail or sharpness. Estimated Street Price: $399; $299 (Genuine Fractals users). Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.
AFFORDABLE, HIGH-RES SCANNER
Give new life to old photos captured on 35mm film and slides using the Microtek ScanMaker s450. The scanner features 4800 x 9600 dpi resolution, 48-bit color and eight Smart Touch buttons that automate frequently performed tasks. The built-in 35mm adapter allows easy, convenient scanning of positive and negative 35mm slides and filmstrips. The 8.5×11.7-inch scan bed has a Zero Boundary design that extends the scan area without distorting the image. The one-step ColoRescue function lets you quickly restore faded photographs, slides and filmstrips. List Price: $99. Contact: Microtek, (310) 687-5940, www.microtekusa.com.
SHARE YOUR PHOTOS
Download photos and video clips from your last trip before you’ve stepped off the plane using Phanfare, an online video- and photo-sharing service. Using its desktop application, you can edit images and write captions when you’re offline. When you go online, the program automatically synchronizes the pictures with your customized Phanfare website, updating your changes. In the desktop feature, just drag and drop your photos into a virtual album, which is automatically recreated on the web. List Price: $7 (month); $55 (year); $300 (lifetime member). Contact: Phanfare, (800) 699-9354 www.phanfare.com.
Share, store and back up files across your network using the compact MediaSmart Server from Hewlett-Packard. With every PC set up on the network, users can browse shared folders, add and share photos, and back up immediately on their computer. You control each user’s access by setting access privileges to the shared folders. Approved users can remotely access files and applications on their home computer from any PC with an Internet connection. Storage capacity expands up to 6 TB, and automatic backup keeps files safe. Estimated Street Price: TBD. Contact: Hewlett-Packard, (800) 752-0900, www.hp.com.
Show crisp-looking images on the big screen using the Epson PowerLite S5 multimedia projector. With 2,000 lumens, SVGA resolution and 3LCD technology, your photos, slideshows and high-definition video will look bright, colorful and sharp. For quick presentation pauses, an A/V Mute Slide option turns off the sound and images. Instant On and Instant Off functions power the machine up and down within five seconds. Estimated Street Price: $649. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.
Try out the latest version of ACDSee Pro by downloading the beta version for free. The versatile workflow solution lets you efficiently view, edit, organize and publish your photo collection. Faster viewing, more nondestructive RAW editing features, a better batch-processing tool and improved browser are some of the updates included in version 2.0. The full program is expected to be released this fall. Estimated Street Price: $129 (beta testers and users of the previous version receive a 30-percent discount). Contact: ACDSee Systems, (866) 244-2237, www.acdsystems.com or www.acdseepro.com.
SOFT LIGHT BOX
Shoot up close without fear of overexposure using the Quantum Mini Folding Softbox QF69. With a surface area about one square foot, the softbox covers close to a 180-degree light spread, letting you use flash with any wide-angle lens. When attached to the Quantum Qflash, you can mount the unit to a camera bracket or fasten it to an umbrella bracket for placement on a light stand. When you’re done, the QF69 folds up neatly into its convenient carrying case. Estimated Street Price: $76. Contact: Quantum Instruments, (631) 656-7400, www.qtm.com.
Bring out the full detail and texture of landscape shots with Pixel Vistas’ Photo Lift. The Photoshop plug-in amplifies contrast without affecting overall tonality or creating artifacts by separating the image into small- and large-scale components. A preview of the filter’s effect can be previewed at various zoom levels, and a navigation window helps you look closely at various parts of the image. Estimated Street Price: $35. Contact: Pixel Vistas, www.pixelvistas.com.
Look at your video clips and high-resolution stills through the new eMotion Digital Picture Frame by Media Street. With a 15-inch (4:3 aspect ratio) digital TFT LCD panel and 1024 x 768 resolution, your images will look sharp. The frame supports most motion and still-image file formats, including MPEG 1/2/4, AVI, MP3, WMA, JPEG and BMP. The memory-card slot accepts SD/SDHC, MMC, CF, MS and xD cards. The frame comes with a remote control, USB cable, desktop stand and a bracket for mounting on the wall. List Price: $349.95. Contact: MediaStreet Inc., (888) 633-4295, www.mediastreet.com.