Monday, November 24, 2008
2009 Editor's Picks
The PCPhoto editors pick some of the best products and technologies for the new year
Tripods continue to get sturdier and support more weight while weighing less themselves. Gitzo’s GT3541L 6X carbon-fiber tripod legs use layered carbon-fiber construction for improved tubing that’s stronger than its predecessor. Load capacity is nearly 40 pounds, there’s an ultra-low leg spread for ground-level shooting, and the Anti-Rotation Leg system and G-Lock design mechanism make setup fast. The GT3541LS is available without a column as part of the Gitzo Systematic series, which lets you add a center column of your choice. Estimated Street Price: $825 (GT3541L); $699 (GT3541LS). Contact: Gitzo (Bogen Imaging), (201) 818-9500, www.bogenimaging.us.
X-Rite ColorMunki Photo
Color calibration is essential—it ensures the adjustments you make to your images are correct. X-Rite’s ColorMunki makes the process as quick as it gets, with an all-in-one spectrophotometer that profiles monitors, projectors and printers. Use the easy mode with presets, or if you’re looking for more control, an advanced mode lets you set white point, ambient light and more. Using new printer-profiling technology, ColorMunki optimizes specific colors, black-and-white and flesh tones based on your images. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: X-Rite, (914) 347-3300, www.xrite.com.
While we often prefer to shoot handheld using stabilized lenses, sometimes that isn’t steady enough—especially with a really long lens or when doing close-up work. The Monostat-RS monopod is a good solution. It’s easy to carry, provides more stability than handholding (it can be used with the lens stabilizer on for added stability) and features a Swivel Toe Stabilizer that lets you shoot at up to a 60-degree angle from horizontal, something conventional monopods don’t allow. The toe also provides a good grip on slippery surfaces. Available in aluminum or carbon fiber, units support up to 30 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $175. Contact: Monostat of Switzerland (Accurate Sales, Inc.), (718) 302-7063, www.monostat.us.
Wacom Cintiq 12WX
For the most precise image editing, you can’t beat the control and accuracy of Wacom pen tablets. Their pressure-sensitive technology is fully supported by Photoshop and other apps; in Photoshop, the amount of pressure you apply when retouching affects the intensity of the adjustment you’re making. The Cintiq 12WX takes the tablet one step further by integrating a 12.1-inch display with WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution, 24-bit color depth and 170-degree viewing. Estimated Street Price: $999. Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-6613, www.wacom.com.
One of the problems with flash is previsualizing the effect. It also can be tricky to get the intensity just right. Litepanels Micro for D-SLRs is a terrific solution when fill light is needed, allowing you to adjust its continuous output strength with a simple dial. Forty-eight cool-running LED lights provide generous, flattering light, perfect for close-ups and portraits. And because the light source is continuous, you don’t need to worry about red-eye. You also can add gels (some are included or make your own) to adjust the color of light output. It runs on AA batteries and mounts to your camera’s hot-shoe. Estimated Street Price: $299. Contact: Litepanels, (818) 752-7009, www.litepanels.com.
onOne Software FocalPoint 1.0
If you’re into the soft, defocused look that a tilt-shift lens creates, but can’t afford the heavy price tag that comes with those lenses, check out onOne Software’s FocalPoint 1.0. With a special on-screen control called the FocusBug, you can tilt the sweet-spot aperture in 3-D, mimicking the effect of a view camera or tilt-shift lens. What’s cool about this app is that the FocusBug acts as a “virtual” lens, allowing you to alter the focus and depth of field in post. You also can add a vignette by lightening or darkening the edges of the image. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468, www.ononesoftware.com.
Moab by Legion Paper Moenkopi Unryu 55
The name might not be conventional on this side of the Pacific Ocean, but the paper gives your prints an added dimension no matter where you live in the world. Moab long has been known for producing some of the most innovative and interesting papers for photographers. Moenkopi Unryu 55 (Unryu is a Japanese word that translates as “cloud dragon paper”) continues that tradition. When the paper is being made, long, coarse fibers are added to a layer of mulberry. The paper is suitable for use in most printers, but it was specifically designed for archival inkjet models. Moenkopi Unryu 55 maintains the look and feel of fine Japanese Washi papers. Estimated Street Price: $19 to $269 (varies depending on size and quantity). Contact: Moab by Legion Paper, (877) 259-3161, www.moabpaper.com.
Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Suite
Effects that used to take hours to achieve in a darkroom are now possible in just a few mouse clicks with Tiffen’s Dfx Digital Filter Suite. Included are hundreds of filters and special effects for replicating Rosco and GamColor gels, white-and-black conversions, film looks, classic darkroom techniques like bleach bypass and more. The interactive EZ Mask tool simplifies separating different components of an image for further editing. You can choose from the Complete edition or a pared-down Select version. Estimated Street Price: $199 (Complete); $99 (Select). Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.
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