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Thursday, October 31, 2013

2014 Editors' Choice Awards

DPMag Published in Buyer's Guide
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2014 Editors' Choice Awards
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KENKO HD VARIO ND
Long exposures create an effect that I like from time to time. Most people are familiar with the cotton-candy effect you can make with moving water and a long exposure, but that's just one use. The challenge comes when you're shooting in bright conditions that don't allow you to get a slow shutter speed. The Kenko HD Vario ND filter gives me fine control over a huge range from about 1.5 to 8.5 stops of neutral density. It's available in 77mm and 82mm. Estimated Street Price: $260 (77mm); $350 (82mm). Contact: Kenko Tokina USA, www.kenkotokinausa.com. —CR
CANON EOS 70D
Like a lot of photographers, I've been riding the wave of DSLR filmmaking. When I saw the new Canon EOS 70D, I wanted one immediately. The camera has Canon's new Dual Pixel CMOS AF System, which provides a combination of contrast-detect and phase-detect AF for fast, accurate autofocus in still and motion shooting and in low light. For motion capture, in particular, the touch screen lets me choose an AF area and smoothly rack focus when I'm shooting video. This is an impressive and useful feature because it gives me a sophisticated move that usually requires a dedicated focus puller. Estimated Street Price: $1,199. Contact: Canon, www.usa.canon.com. —CR
SKB PRO DSLR CASE
Durable, waterproof hard cases like the SKB iSeries 1914 Pro DSLR case not only are great for shielding your gear from the turbulence of traveling, but also for keeping it organized and protected at home. With customizable spaces for up to two DSLRs, four lenses and accessories like memories cards, chargers and batteries, you can have your whole system neatly packed and ready for any photo adventure. When you're on the move, there's a slide-out handle and wheels for easy portage, plus TSA lockable trigger release latches. Estimated Street Price: $279. Contact: SKB Cases, www.skbcases.com. —WP
SIGMA USB DOCK
The Sigma USB dock gives me the ability to customize select Sigma lenses with my computer. This is one of the most useful and cool tools of the year for me because it lets me personalize my lens for the way I'm going to shoot, and I control the settings through an easy-to-navigate computer interface. The USB dock is currently compatible with five of Sigma's lenses and more are expected. The USB dock enables firmware updates, AF speed and the focus range to limit the lens' hunting range. The dock is compatible with Mac OS X 10.7 or later and Windows 7 or later. Estimated Street Price: $59. Contact: Sigma Photo, www.sigmaphoto.com. —CR
STEADYCAM SOLO STABILIZER & MONOPOD
Steadicam's Solo Stabilizer & Monopod is doubly useful as an image-stabilization device for DSLRs and smaller camcorders weighing up to 10 pounds. In Stabilizer mode, it gives video the smooth panning and tracking shots that you see in movies, with the sophisticated counterbalance system that has made Steadicam a household name in the filmmaking industry. The device transforms quickly into a monopod system, which is useful in video for quick support and fast tracking or swiveling shots. A compatible vest system with sled and arm is available for long handheld takes. List Price: $499 (Solo Stabilizer & Monopod); $995 (Steadicam Solo Arm Vest Kit). Contact: Steadicam (Tiffen Company), www.tiffen.com. —DW
AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6G ED?VR
This long-awaited successor to Nikon's original AF 80-400mm VR zoom finally arrived in 2013, and was worth the wait. The AF-S Silent Wave motor provides much quicker autofocusing (the original lens didn't have an AF motor, using the AF motor in the camera body instead, and thus autofocusing only with bodies that had an AF motor), and the new optical design (with four ED elements and one Super ED element versus three ED elements in the earlier lens) delivers better image quality. The newer Vibration Reduction (VR) system is better, rated at 4 stops compared to 2 stops for the original lens. Maximum magnification is 0.2X at the minimum focusing distance of 5.7 feet. The lens covers FX (full-frame) format, but also works well with DX (APS-C). Estimated Street Price: $2,699. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com. —MS
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1
With a dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof magnesium-alloy body, the 16.3-megapixel Olympus OM-D E-M1 provides high-quality images for the active photographer. It utilizes a Dual Fast AF system, making it fully compatible with both the ZUIKO and M.ZUIKO digital lens lines. The TruePic VII image processor enables fast shooting at up to 10 fps. A high-resolution electronic viewfinder provides a large coverage area, with adaptive brightness adjusting to conditions. Built-in WiFi connects with your smart device using the Olympus Image Share 2.0 smartphone app for remote viewfinder control and triggering. Estimated Street Price: $1,399. Contact: Olympus, www.getolympus.com. —AMT


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