Home Buyer's Guide 2011 Editors’ Choice Awards
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2011 Editors' Choice Awards

Our editors pick some of the best products and technologies for the new year

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Wacom Cintiq 21UX

Editing your images on a pen tablet offers a more intuitive approach. With its natural, interactive interface, the Wacom Cintiq 21UX has 21.3 inches of screen space for displaying software tool bars and large views of your images. The Grip Pen delivers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity for enhanced accuracy. The pen also has a pressure-sensitive eraser and two side switches that can be customized for commands such as double-click and right-click. Touch Strips and 16 programmable ExpressKeys give you instant control over zooming, modifier keys and shortcuts without having to reach for the keyboard. List Price: $1,999. Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-6613, www.wacom.com.

Canon PowerShot G12

Adding 720p HD video to the already solid capabilities of its predecessor, the 10-megapixel Canon PowerShot G12 is a pint-sized “point-and-shoot” in name only. With a host of features usually found in pro DSLRs, the camera has an affixed 28-140mm 5x zoom with Hybrid IS image stabilization for taking blur-free shots from wide-angle to telephoto, and even close-ups. Scenes can be composed on the articulating 2.8-inch tilting and swiveling LCD screen. The High Dynamic Range scene mode will combine multiple shots into one picture for optimum exposures. Video can be played back directly to HDTVs in high definition via the HDMI output. The G12 also is compatible with Canon’s professional Speedlite flash series. List Price: $499. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.

Kata Pro-Light Beetle-282 Backpack

Kata’s Pro-Light Beetle-282 is a lightweight, low-profile photo backpack that’s well suited for traveling, storing and working with your gear. The main compartment will hold two or three DSLRs, four to six lenses up to 300mm, a flash and more, and you can customize it using the included Aeriform Dividers. There’s also a pocket for a 17-inch laptop computer. Good ergonomics, rugged construction and two external tripod straps are additional assets. A reversible elements cover keeps rain out, and has a silver side that deflects heat and can serve as a photo reflector. Estimated Street Price: $315. Contact: Kata, (201) 818-9500, www.kata-bags.us.

Pentax DA 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR Zoom

That name is a real mouthful, but each item is significant. Extra-low dispersion (ED) and aspherical (AL) elements minimize aberrations and keep size down. Internal focusing (IF) means the lens doesn’t change physical length during focusing for better balance and the front element doesn’t rotate, handy when using orientation-sensitive lens attachments like polarizers. The direct-current (DC) AF motor produces smooth autofocusing, while weather-resistant (WR) construction means you can shoot in rain and mist (with weather-resistant Pentax DSLRs). Estimated Street Price: $529. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.

onOne Software Plug-In Suite 5

With six highly useful plug-ins, onOne Software Plug-In Suite 5 helps solve a variety of the most common photographic problems. Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition allows you to res up images to large sizes with excellent quality. PhotoTools 2.5 Professional Edition provides a host of photo effects. PhotoFrame 4.5 Professional Edition makes it easy to produce edge and framing effects. FocalPoint 2 gives you control over depth-of-field and selective-focus effects after capture. Mask Pro 4 makes it easy to change backgrounds, and PhotoTune 3 provides lots of color-correction and black-and-white conversion flexibility. List Price: $499. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.

Lensbaby Tilt Transformer

Lensbaby’s Tilt Transformer lets you attach any Nikon-mount lens to a Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX camera, and rotate and tilt it to position the resulting “slice of focus” as desired. Or you can add the Lensbaby Composer Focus Front, which provides a round focus “sweet spot,” and allows you to position it as desired by tilting and rotating the unit. You also can attach one of the many other Lensbaby effects devices via the Lensbaby Optic Swap System. Estimated Street Price: $250. Contact: Lensbaby, (877) 536-7222, www.lensbaby.com.

Novoflex Micro Four Thirds Adapters

Using Novoflex Micro Four Thirds adapters expands your photographic opportunities because they allow you to mount older film and digital lenses onto these kinds of cameras, which are especially useful when traveling because of their small size. So you can travel with your big DSLR outfit and a Micro Four Thirds camera as a backup, and you only have to bring one set of lenses. List Price: Varies. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.

Nik Software HDR Efex Pro

Nik Software continues its line of highly regarded software plug-ins with HDR Efex Pro for Adobe Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom and Apple Aperture. The program is leaps and bounds ahead of many commonly used high-dynamic-range applications, with a simple interface that makes the whole process easy and fun. Alignment of multiple exposures is automatic, and there are adjustable presets that provide results as subtle or as cartoonish as desired. Nik Software’s U Point technology allows you to make changes to small or large areas of an image without complex layers or masking. HDR Efex Pro will even simulate high dynamic range on a single exposure. List Price: $159. Contact: Nik Software, (888) 284-4085, www.niksoftware.com.

Litepanels MicroPro Hybrid

If you shoot with an HD-capable DSLR, the flexibility offered by the Litepanels MicroPro Hybrid makes it a must-have accessory. Combining continuous-light output with flash functionality when used in continuous mode, the light provides soft, wraparound lighting for video, while the Flash setting produces a 400% brighter burst for illuminating stills. The unit generates 1.5 hours of continuous output using six AA batteries or five to six hours using Energizer e2 Lithium cells. An integrated dimmer at the top of the housing delivers instant dimming from 100% to zero with minimal color shift. List Price: $525. Contact: Litepanels, (818) 752-7009, www.litepanels.com.


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