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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2011 Editors' Choice Awards

Published in Buyer's Guide
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2011 Editors' Choice Awards

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Really Right Stuff Ground Pod

The TP-243 Ground Level Tripod from Really Right Stuff lets you make low-angle shots and close-ups, offering a minimum height of just 1.9 inches and a maximum height of 16.9 inches. The sturdy, rugged unit weighs just 2.6 pounds, yet can support up to 50 pounds. It’s made of abrasion-resistant stainless steel and hard anodized aluminum, with reversible bottom leg sections that have stainless-steel spike feet at one end and rubber tips at the other for maximum outdoor/indoor versatility. Estimated Street Price: $375. Contact: Really Right Stuff, (888) 777-5557, www.reallyrightstuff.com.

Nikon Coolpix P7000

With a compact size and plenty of power, the Nikon Coolpix P7000 is the perfect camera to take on a trip. The 1/1.7-inch sensor is bigger than that of its predecessor, and the focal length has expanded from 28-112mm to 28-200mm (35mm equivalent). The camera has a really cool Zoom Control feature that allows you to customize focal lengths that can be automatically zoomed to with one touch. A built-in ND filter reduces light by up to three stops when you’re shooting in bright conditions with shallower depth of field or a slow shutter. The P7000 also shoots 720p high-definition video at 24 or 30 fps. List Price: $499. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.

Alien Skin Bokeh 2

With Alien Skin’s Bokeh 2 software plug-in, not only can you control the depth of field in an image after you have taken the picture, but you can do even more than you’d be able to just by adjusting aperture in the field. Bokeh 2 allows you to manipulate focus selectively to an image, unlike most lenses that only allow you to change focus in a uniform plane parallel to the camera’s sensor. Some of the possible effects include tilt-shift, motion blur, vignette and creative aperture effects like stars, sparkles or hearts. Bokeh works nondestructively so you can remove effects altogether at a later time, and this edition adds native support of 64-bit Photoshop CS5 on both Mac and Windows operating systems for a speed and performance boost over the previous version. List Price: $199. Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-SKIN, www.alienskin.com.

Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX Converters

Kenko’s PRO 300 DGX teleconverters come in 1.4x and 2.0x versions, each designed to perform well with prime and telephoto zoom lenses with no vignetting. Multicoated optical glass from Hoya, the world’s largest supplier of optical glass, assures top optical quality while Gate Array IC maintains signal integrity between the camera body and lens. DGX circuitry provides improved EXIF metadata recording, reading the equivalent aperture and focal length of the lens-and-converter combo. Estimated Street Price: $200 (1.4x); $240 (2.0x). Contact: THK Photo, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.

Nissin Di866 Mark II

With a small flash positioned below the main flash, the Nissin Di866 Mark II Professional flash for Sony provides fill-in light while bouncing the main flash. The Sony model joins already available models for Canon and Nikon. With a guide number of 60 (198 feet at 105mm), the flash’s Auto Zoom covers a 24-105mm focal range. The head tilts up to 90º, and rotates 90º to the right and 180º to the left. The user-friendly interface has a color display with icons representing each of the operation modes—auto, TTL, manual and more. With supporting Sony ADI/P-TTL, the camera automatically controls the flash, but the flash exposure value can be compensated. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Nissin, www.nissindigital.com.

Billingham f/Stop Bag

In the world of camera bags, functionality is often valued over style. Billingham’s f/Stop series of camera satchels offers a classically sophisticated aesthetic that comfortably fits a DSLR with a lens attached. There are two models in the line, the f/Stop 2.8 and the wider f/Stop 1.4, and the bags are available in khaki FibreNyte with chocolate leather and brass fittings or black FibreNyte with black leather and nickel fittings. The bags have enough space for a flash and an extra lens, perfect for packing the essentials. There’s also a Front Dump Pocket and a rear zippered pocket for storing smaller items like memory cards, manuals and batteries. Optional AVEA Pockets attach to the external leather straps of the bags for carrying even more items. Estimated Street Price: $239 (f/Stop 2.8); $260 (f/Stop 1.4). Contact: Billingham (RTS Inc.), (631) 242-6801, www.rtsphoto.com.

Hoodman Cinema Kit Pro

One problem with shooting videos with a DSLR is that you can’t use the eye-level finder because it blacks out in live-view mode. It’s also awkward holding a heavy DSLR out at arm’s length for prolonged periods so you can use the LCD monitor on the back of the camera (which can be hard to see in bright light). Hoodman’s Cinema Kit Pro solves the problems. It consists of the HoodLoupe 3.0, HoodMAG 3.0 and HoodCrane. The HoodLoupe fits over the LCD monitor, eliminating glare. The HoodMAG 3.0 is a 3x magnifying eyecup for the HoodLoupe that permits easy eye-level viewing of the LCD monitor. The HoodCrane slips into the camera’s hot-shoe and holds the device in place. Setup is simple; then you can hold the DSLR up to your eye as you shoot. Estimated Street Price: $209. Contact: Hoodman USA, (800) 818-3946, www.hoodmanusa.com.

Joby Gorillapod Magnetic Tripod

Joby’s Gorillapod is a cool concept that’s well executed. It’s a lightweight tripod with flexible legs made of more than two dozen joints that can bend and rotate 360°. The Gorillapod Magnetic adds magnetic feet to the unit, so it can attach to any magnetic surface. A quick-release clip lets you quickly and easily attach and remove your compact digital camera or mini video camera weighing up to 11.5 ounces. The unit lets you mount your camera almost anywhere and is easy to carry. It measures just 5.9x1.2x1.2 inches and weighs a mere 1.6 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $24. Contact: Joby, (888) 569-5629, www.joby.com.

Cotton Carrier Carry-Lite

Give your neck a break while keeping one or two cameras at the ready using the Cotton Carrier Carry-Lite. Available for pro and midsized DSLRs, the Carry-Lite uses a cotton waist-belt system with a shoulder strap to carry a camera at your side while keeping it readily accessible. The camera insert uses anodized aluminum and stainless steel for secure mounting of the camera, and optional Side Holsters are available for attaching an extra body. List Price: Starts at $119. Contact: Cotton Carrier, (877) 852-9423, www.cottoncarrier.com.

GOALØ Sherpa Series

With digital cameras, computers and other essential equipment, staying powered for the long haul is essential, especially when there might not be an outlet nearby. GOALØ’s Sherpa line of portable power sources provides solutions for a variety of devices, including cameras, laptops, cell phones, GPS units and more. The Sherpa series includes the Sherpa 50 or 120 batteries with extended recharge times, as well as Nomad Solar Panels for recharging the batteries themselves. They’re built to be durable and lightweight, with operating temperatures between 32º F and 104º F. They’re available separately or in kits. List Price: Starts at $249 (Sherpa 50). Contact: GOALØ, (888) 794-6250, www.goal0.com.

Clik Elite ChestPack

For fast access to your DSLR, the ChestPack series from Clik Elite is an ideal carrying solution. The bags fit snugly against your body through a four-point harness that doesn’t restrict freedom of movement. This is a nice feature for active photographers who ski or hike. A molded back panel vents heat and moisture. The accessory pocket on top keeps small accessories like batteries and memory cards organized and available. The ChestPack also will dock into any Clik Elite backpack via the ChestPort system. List Price: Starts at $90. Clik Elite, (888) 532-CLIK, www.clikelite.com.

Flashpoint Full Finger Shooting Gloves

Keep your hands warm and comfortable in cold temperatures wearing the Flashpoint Full Finger Shooting Gloves (FPSGS). The thumb and index finger open to allow easy access for zooming the lens and operating the camera controls. Other features include a slip-resistant palm pad with abrasion overlay and an adjustable strap that allows you to wear the glove around your wrist to keep from losing it. List Price: $19. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

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