2010 Editors’ Choice Awards
Our editors pick some of the best products and technologies for the new year
We’ve been fans of Western Digital’s My Book Studio external hard drives for a long time because they offer reliable performance, a sleek design and innovative features like the new smart display labeling system. You can personalize the drive and archive image collections with digital labels that stay visible even when the drive is unplugged so you always know what’s in it. With automatic continuous backup, a second copy is made whenever you add or change a file. Included WD SmartWare visually tracks the progress of your backup and retrieves lost files. Estimated Street Price: $189 (1 TB); $299 (2 TB). Contact: Western Digital, (949) 672-7000, www.westerndigital.com.
When space doesn’t allow for a lot of extra lenses, take the Sigma 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM. In addition to steadying the image as conventional stabilizing lenses do when used with most D-SLRs, the Hybrid Optical Stabilizer compensates for shake and provides a stabilized image in the viewfinder of Pentax and Sony cameras, which stabilize in the body. This is available only with Sigma Hybrid Optical Stabilizer lenses. The 18-250mm has a minimum focusing distance of 17.7 inches at all focal lengths and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.4, which is nice for close-up photography. Estimated Street Price: $530. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
Keep all of your devices powered up when traveling using the Ansmann Digicharger Vario. The charger works with more than 100 battery types, including AA/AAA, NiMH or NiCd batteries, as well as lithium-ion and lithium-polymer battery packs. Simply plug it into a power socket or car cigarette lighter. The Vario charges quickly and has an overcharge protection mechanism that protects batteries from damage. It’s compatible with most cameras, camcorders, MP3 players, PDAs, flashlights and other electronic devices. Estimated Street Price: $58. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.
With so many ways of viewing and outputting images, color accuracy is more important than ever. The Spyder3Express from Datacolor ensures that the colors, tones and hues of your images are accurately represented on your computer monitor by calibrating your display. With an initial calibration time of only five minutes, and a recalibration time of only two-and-a-half minutes, the Software Wizard works interactively with the Spyder3Express Colorimeter for stepping through color adjustments quickly, easily and automatically. You also can do before-and-after previews for comparing the results. Estimated Street Price: $89. Contact: Datacolor, (800) 554-8688, www.datacolor.com.
A ballhead lets you quickly and easily position the camera as desired, then lock it in place with the twist of a single knob or lever. Really Right Stuff’s BH-40 is a precision head that can comfortably handle medium-telephoto lenses such as a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 zoom or 300mm ƒ/4 prime. Dual drop notches let you tilt the camera 90 degrees or downward without repositioning the head. You can ad-just the tension to suit your preferences. The base is marked in degrees for precise panoramic sequences (use the accessory panning clamp for panoramas). Estimated Street Price: $295 (head only); $375 (with LR lever-release clamp). Contact: Really Right Stuff, (888) 777-5557, www.reallyrightstuff.com.
Combining its LB Warming Polarizer and Vari-ND variable neutral-density filter, Singh-Ray’s Vari-N-Duo filter is very handy and especially effective for blurred-motion effects. You can adjust the density from 22⁄3 to 8 stops by rotating the front Min/Max ring, and control the polarization by rotating the rear ring. The warming effect provides pleasing color in shady locations. It’s available only in 77mm. Estimated Street Price: $390 (Standard); $440 (Thin). Contact: Singh-Ray, (800) 486-5501, www.singh-ray.com.
When you need to add some fill light, the Litepanels Micro offers a nice solution because you can easily adjust its output strength using a simple dimmer dial. Using heat-free LED technology, the compact camera light outputs 5600° K cool, white daylight while drawing minimal power. It provides 11⁄2 hours of light on four AA batteries and up to eight hours on Energizer’s e2 AA batteries. The light mounts to your camera’s flash shoe, measures 3.3x3.3x1.5 inches and weighs less than four ounces. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: Litepanels, (818) 752-7009, www.litepanels.com.
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