2006 Editors' Choice Awards
30 of our favorite new products & technologies for 2006
It's tough being an editor for a magazine like PCPhoto. Not that we don't love getting our hands on the latest gear, but trying to cover all of the excellent products that are introduced each year within our limited number of issues makes for some difficult decisions. That's one of the reasons we feature our annual Editors' Choice Awards in each December issue. It's our chance to highlight unique products that we feel can help make your experience with digital photography more enjoyable and successful.
Download, print, surf the web and more—the digital world is better when you cut the cord
I despise wires, but I love the devices they connect. On or around my desk, there are no less than a dozen peripherals, tools and gadgets, each of which requires at least one wire, and some, two or more.
Cool Gear: Fresh Frame-Up
Picture frames will never be the same as new technology changes the possibilities of display
How can you display your favorite digital images and movie clips in any room of your house without being connected to a PC? By using a digital picture frame. These mini-monitors have been around for a while, but recent improvements in features—combined with more attractive pricing—are causing people to take a closer look.
Toolbox: Camera Supports
Ensure sharpness by using a variety of camera platforms
Photographers are always concerned with sharpness. They'll often search for reviews and lens comparisons to make sure that their optics produce the sharpest image possible. Yet even the best-engineered lens in the world will deliver soft photographs when the camera isn't as steady as it needs to be. Whether you're shooting landscapes or portraits, a sharp result is sometimes only possible when the lens and the camera are seated on a stable platform, be it a tripod, monopod or beanbag.
Cool Gear: Bluetooth
This hot wireless standard is changing the way we interact with technology at work, at play and in the car
In the last issue of PCPhoto, we featured WiFi wireless technology and introduced you to some new cameras that can connect to wireless networks. That universe has since expanded, as Canon recently introduced the PowerShot SD430, a 5-megapixel compact camera with WiFi built in. We suspect this is just the beginning, and expect that WiFi will be a buzzword in digital photography for 2006.
Cool Gear: Palm-Sized HD Video
Sanyo’s Xacti VPC-HD1 is a glimpse into the future of Hi-Def video capture for consumers
With high-definition television finding its way into more and more living rooms, it's natural that consumer-level video cameras are beginning to follow suit. Consumer HD camcorders, though still somewhat rare at this point, aren't exactly new, but they tend to be pricey.
Short Report: Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM
The new L-Series zoom delivers under demanding lighting conditions
The appeal of the Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM is two-fold for me. The lens offers the zoom range that I frequently use for most of my photography. The equivalent of a 38-168mm lens on my Canon EOS 20D, it provides me with the flexibility to shoot virtually any subject, from portraits to street scenes. Additionally, its Image Stabilizer feature helps ensure that I get sharp results despite hands that aren't as steady as they used to be.
Short Report: Tamron AF18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II
Get true wide-to-tele performance with this extreme-range zoom designed for digital
Users of 35mm SLRs have long enjoyed extreme-range zoom lenses of 28-200mm and, more recently, 28-300mm. These lenses can be used on digital SLRs, too, but since most D-SLRs have image sensors that are considerably smaller than a full 35mm film frame, these zooms provide a much narrower field of view when used on D-SLRs—equivalent to 42-300mm and 42-450mm on a 35mm SLR.
What to know about camera batteries for maximum performance
During the first few generations of digital cameras, you couldn't help but pay a lot of attention to batteries. Early-model cameras were notoriously power-hungry, burning through a full charge in minutes, not hours. It was left to the battery manufacturers to develop longer-lasting, faster-charging power sources that could keep shooting for a reasonable period of time.
Wide-Angle Lenses For Digital
Yes, you can do wide-angle photography with a D-SLR!
Wide-angle photography opens up vast new vistas to the photographer, but "going wide" presents a special challenge to the digital-SLR user. That's because the image sensors used in most D-SLRs are considerably smaller than a 35mm film frame and thus "see" a smaller portion of the image produced by any lens than that seen by a 35mm SLR. As a result, a given focal length produces a narrower angle of view when used on a D-SLR than when used on a 35mm camera.