Friday, November 30, 2007

2008 Editors' Choice Awards

Our annual Editors' Choice Awards is consistently one of the most popular features in PCPhoto, but it's also one of the toughest for us as editors.
By The Editors Published in Accessories
2008 Editors' Choice Awards

Lensbaby 3G

Like many other photographers, I love to try new instruments when shooting. There are certain pieces of gear that have become my favorites and one of those is the Lensbaby 3G. This lens is one part tilt-shift and one part old-fashioned bellows. It blends these two technologies into one unique lens capable of making elegant, selective-focus effects, with one area of an image in sharp focus, while the rest of it can be rendered out of focus to varying degrees. And perhaps best of all, the Lensbaby 3G is affordable. List Price: $270. Contact: Lensbabies, (877) 536-7222, -AC

Color Mechanic Pro

Being able to selectively adjust particular colors in a photograph is a wonderful option to have. Maybe the blue in a sky is a little dull or a different shade would look better. Or perhaps you wish that scarf was red instead of green. Color Mechanic Pro v2.0, a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, makes these kinds of changes extremely simple. Photos are displayed with a before-and-after view and a color hexagon below. Just click on the color in the image you want to adjust. This activates a control point in the color hexagon. Then just drag the control point to the color you want, and voila ! Done. List Price: $60 (Mac or Windows); $30 (Upgrade, Mac or Windows). Contact: Digital Light & Color, (617) 489-8858, -HM

Colorado Fiber

I had a chance to try a selection of Moab by Legion's new papers this year, and two of my favorites are the Colorado Fiber Gloss and Satine fine-art papers. They make images look like they're printed on traditional air-dried silver-halide photo paper, which gives them a little extra zing. At 245 gsm, both papers have a nice weight and are reported to have excellent archival qualities. Available sizes range from 5x7- to 17x22-inch sheets and rolls. List Price: Varies by size. Contact: Moab by Legion Paper, (800) 727-3716, -HM

Bamboo Fun

Two things I enjoy doing besides photography are drawing and painting. The ability to quickly combine all three mediums into a single image on my computer, without having to deal with expensive photo oils, is a marvel. With Wacom's Bamboo Fun tablet, I can navigate programs and menus, edit photos, create paintings from them and draw on them—whatever I want. Plus, I can use the tablet to handwrite notes and e-mails or make notes on existing documents. If you don't already have Photoshop or Corel, it comes with Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter Essentials 3.0 and Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 GE for selectively applying lighting and photo enhancements with the pen. The small tablet has a working active area of 5.8x3.7 inches; the medium tablet has an active area of 8.5x5.3 inches. List Price: $100 (small); $200 (medium). Contact: Wacom, (360) 896-9833, -HM

Lexar Professional UDMA Dual-Slot Card Reader

Importing images, especially those with large files, takes way too long if you upload them off your camera. A card reader like the Lexar UDMA Dual Slot is great to have around, whether you're transferring files at home or on the road. It's fast, highly portable and reads four types of memory cards: UDMA CompactFlash (CF), standard CompactFlash (CF), Secure Digital High-Capacity (SDHC) and standard Secure Digital (SD) cards. List Price: $45. Contact: Lexar, (510) 413-1200, -HM
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