May/June 2012

CS6 TEST

Get a preview of the latest version of Adobe Photoshop with the CS6 Public Beta. Among the changes you may notice first is a darker interface. Taking a page out of the Lightroom notebook, the dark interface is intended to minimize distractions, putting the focus solely on the image while you’re editing. But it can be adjusted to a lighter tone if desired. Dozens of enhancements are designed to save time, such as changing the blend modes and color labels of multiple layers at once. Hidden layers now show the correct opacity and blend mode values. Another major performance upgrade is Background Save, which allows you to save an image file and continue working on other images while the file is saved. Building on the popular Content-Aware technology that debuted in CS5, Adobe has developed Content-Aware Move and Extend tools. Move lets you draw a selection around an object and move it to a new place in your image; Extend lets you expand objects in your drawn selection by dragging them. Algorithms take care of deleting and aligning objects, as well as background fill. When using the Liquify brush in CS5, an image would tile as it was imported, there was a time lag when editing, and the brush couldn’t go beyond 1500 pixels. In CS6, a 100 MB image pops open quickly, there are shortcuts for resizing the brush directly on the canvas, and it goes beyond 1500 pixels. When you start making those fingerpaint-like edits, the cursor follows immediately for real-time editing. Other key features include skin tone aware selections and masking, improved auto corrections, a new Blur Gallery with Iris, Tilt-Shift and Field Blur effects, as well as paint and drawing improvements that include enhanced airbrush tips, brush rotation and paint presets. Re-engineered design tools, a Lighting Effects gallery, an improved Quick Select tool and an added Perspective Crop tool round out some of what’s new. List Price: $699 (new); $199 (upgrade). Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.

STRAP STYLE

Carry your camera using trendy designer straps from Mod. Constructed with durable webbing throughout, the straps have been tested to withstand a "pull-down" weight of 70 to 90 pounds. In the Premium Strap Collection, the straps are lined with high-quality, mink-like fabric and have genuine leather ends with quick release. All of the fabrics are hand-selected. Some of the styles include black zebra, kaleidoscope, skull and crossbones, and many more. Estimated Street Price: $47. Contact: OmegaBrandess, (410) 374-3250, www.omegabrandess.com.

TOP-NOTCH ZOOM

Capture sharp-looking images handheld with the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, even in low light, thanks to Vibration Compensation technology. With an optical design that consists of 12 groups with a total of 17 elements, the high-speed zoom features three high-grade Low Dispersion elements, three glass-molded aspherical lenses, one hybrid aspherical lens and two Extra Refractive Index glasses. The upgraded VC system uses a moving coil mechanism that consists of a lighter coil that reduces the load on the drive system. Since the unit is more compact, the lens’ overall weight and size have been reduced. It will be available for Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. List Price: TBA. Contact: Tamron USA, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron-usa.com.

TELE UPDATE

Boost the quality of your portrait and travel photography using Nikon‘s retooled version of the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm ƒ/1.8G lens. Compatible with FX-format (full-frame) and DX-format (APS-C-sized-frame) DSLRs, the fast, lightweight lens delivers an equivalent focal length of 127mm when attached to a DX-format camera body. The optical design consists of nine elements in nine groups, and the seven-blade diaphragm produces a circular bokeh for creating more natural-looking blurred backgrounds that put the focus on your subject. The Silent Wave Motor (SWM) delivers fast, quiet autofocus, an especially useful feature when recording video. List Price: $499. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.

POWER SHOOTER

Ditch the heavy DSLR without having to sacrifice image quality using the Canon PowerShot G1 X. The 14.3-megapixel CMOS sensor is 18.7x14mm, making it the largest that Canon has put in one of its PowerShot models. The compact camera includes features that are familiar to EOS DSLR shooters such as 14-bit, RAW+JPEG mode shooting and compatibility with the manufacturer’s Speedlite flashes. Other key specs include a fast ƒ/2.8 lens equivalent to 28-112mm in 35mm format, 1080p HD video recording in stereo sound and a 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD. List Price: $799. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.

BACKPACK WHEELS

Move through the airport quickly with your camera system tucked safely in the Tamrac Evolution Speed Roller backpack. When rolling is easier, the bag has smooth ball-bearing wheels and a telescoping handle that give you that option. For converting to a backpack, simply untuck the Tuck-A-Way harness. The bottom section holds a DSLR with a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lens attached, several extra lenses and a flash. The foam-padded top portion has adjustable, removable dividers for a second camera with up to a 6-inch lens attached and two small lenses. Another foam-padded compartment holds up to a 15.6-inch laptop. Estimated Street Price: $379. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.

TOUCH TABLET

Edit your images using the Wacom Intuos5, which is the latest generation of the popular pen tablet series. It features a multitouch surface that supports gestures for zooming, scrolling, panning and rotating images. Customizable gestures can be created in supported applications, like Photoshop, to make your workflow even more productive. For those who like working with a pen, the Grip Pen remains key. With 2,048 levels of pressure and up to 60º of pen tilt, you can work the way you would with a paintbrush, marker or traditional pen. List Price: $229 (small); $349 (medium); $469 (large). Contact: Wacom, (800) 922-6613, www.wacom.com.

PRIME MACRO

Focus on the details with the Sigma APO Macr
o 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens
. This is the successor to the 180mm F3.5 EX DG macro lens and includes upgrades such as a 1:1 magnification ratio, fast ƒ/2.8 aperture and Optical Stabilizer technology. The stabilization system allows you to shoot at shutter speeds about four stops slower than would be possible otherwise so you can capture sharp close-ups handheld. The lens has a focusing distance of 18.5 inches. List Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.

SHOULDER LOAD

Keep your camera from sliding or needing constant readjustment using the XX-Pad from UPstrap. Designed to prevent the camera strap from slipping down your shoulder, the XX-Pad allows you to carry a range of cameras that vary in weight. UPstrap offers nylon or kevlar webbing, and a heavy-duty quick-release system is available for the large- and medium-sized pads. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $33. Contact: UPstrap, (850) 878-1088, www.upstrap-pro.com.

MOBILE SHOWCASE

Share your photos using the Tamron MyPhotoExhibits app for the iPad and iPhone. It allows on-the-go viewing and sharing of 3D photo exhibits you create on the MyPhotoExhibits website. If you’re new to the interactive site, setup is easy. After creating login info, you simply upload images and create your own exhibit space. You can choose from a variety of wall and floor textures and colors for your gallery, as well as photo frames, furniture and lighting options. An unlimited number of exhibits can be created that feature different themes. In addition to the app, you can share with friends by sending an invitation from the site or using Facebook or other social media. Estimated Street Price: Free. Contact: Tamron, www.myphotoexhibits.com.

OLD-SCHOOL APPEAL

Give your images a vintage look with Digital Film Tools Film Stocks. With 288 analog film presets that consist of color, black-and-white, motion picture and historical photographic processes, film-type options include Agfa, Fuji, Ilford, Kodak, Polaroid and Rollei. You can create your own presets from scratch, as well as the skewed color looks of cross-processing, the Lo-Fi photographic styles of Lomo and Holga toy cameras, and the aged look of faded films. Other features include masking tools, vignettes, 8/16-bit image processing and multi-processor acceleration. List Price: $95. Contact: Digital Film Tools, (818) 761-6577, www.digitalfilmtools.com.

STORAGE HUB

Make your backup system faster and more efficient with the LaCie eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series. The portable hard drive has two Thunderbolt ports and two eSATA ports. You can use the first port to connect up to two eSATA drives to the Hub and the second to hook up other devices or hubs if your needs require multiple eSATA drives. Up to 12 drives (6x Dock, 2x eSATA links per Hub) can be connected via a single connection to a Mac with full eSATA 3 Gb/s speeds. If you have an older Mac, you now can upgrade to a newer one that uses Thunderbolt technology without having to buy new drives. List Price: TBA. Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500, www.lacie.com.

TOUGH POINT-AND-SHOOT

Take the Panasonic Lumix TS4 into any environment without having to worry about whether it will hold up under challenging conditions. The camera is waterproof down to 40 feet, shockproof from drops of up to 6.6 feet, dustproof and works in temperatures as low as 14º F. As far as camera features go, the TS4 has a manual shooting mode for controlling aperture and shutter speed, as well as a cool Time Lapse Shot mode. Using this feature, you set the start time, interval and the number of photos to shoot, and the camera automatically starts shooting. Images are then condensed and played back as a time-lapse sequence. List Price: $399. Contact: Panasonic, (800) 211-PANA, www.panasonic.com.

STRIKE IT

Capture lightning, a fireworks display or any other kind of event that requires high-speed flash capability with the Ubertronix Strike Finder. It works by detecting those very first sparks and triggering the camera shutter in time to photograph the whole event. Other models are available, and even the most basic one lets you capture lightning and fireworks. Advanced sensor technology and trigger capabilities, such as Sound, Laser, Motion and Lightning, allow you to take more creative shots of hard-to-photograph subject matter, like water droplets and popping balloons. There’s also a flash port for an external flash, giving you even more flexibility. Estimated Street Price: $109 to $349. Contact: Ubertronix, (210) 363-5738, www.ubertronix.com.

LED FIX

Use the Flashpoint 312 LED to improve your video shooting, especially when you’re working in a mixed-light environment and need to fine-tune it to match or contrast with whatever kind of light you’re working with. The light mounts to the camera hot-shoe, has daylight and tungsten LEDs, and uses two dials to control color temperature. Working time is five hours and it’s battery-operated so you can attach it to a light stand for off-camera use. Small and lightweight, the 312 won’t take up too much space in your backpack. Estimated Street Price: $139. Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

HARD COPY

Photography and The Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photography by Freeman Patterson (Firefly Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-55407-980-3). The book has been updated and expanded to include technical guidelines adapted for both digital and film photography with techniques and innovative exercises for taking creative pictures.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 10: Unleash The Hidden Performance of Elements by Mark Galer and Dr. Abhijit Chattaraj (Focal Press, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-240-52379-8). Featured projects teach you how to work with multilayered 16-bit/channel files, as well
as convert to black-and-white using Adobe Camera Raw, create high-key images, work with image borders and textures, and create tilt-shift and cross-process effects. Three movie tutorials featuring specific techniques from the book are available for free online.

The DSLR Filmmaker’s Handbook: Real-World Production Techniques by Barry Andersson and Janie L. Geyen (Sybex, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-470-87660-2). Packed with professional techniques, this in-depth training guide teaches you the key tools and techniques for using your DSLR to shoot high-quality video.

Light & Shoot: 50 Fashion Photos by Chris Gatcum (Focal Press, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-240-81722-4). With a focus on lighting, the book takes 50 fashion photographs and tells budding fashion photographers how each one was created. Topics including equipment, how to integrate make-up and lighting, and how to shoot for catalogs, editorial and advertising are covered.

The Wedding Photography Field Guide: Capturing the Perfect Day with Your Digital SLR Camera by Michelle Turner (Focal Press, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-240-81787-3). Get comprehensive and easy-to-follow advice on how to shoot such a special day. All the situations you’re likely to find are covered here, along with advice on the best equipment, posing, managing people and techniques.

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