NEW COMPACT FOVEON CAM
Last year, Sigma upgraded its DP1 and DP2 APS-C compact cameras with the unique 46-megapixel (three stacked 15.3-megapixel layers) Foveon X3 sensor from their flagship SD1 Merrill DSLR, creating the well-received DP1 and DP2 Merrill (with built-in 19mm ƒ/2.8 wide-angle and 30mm ƒ/2.8 normal lens, respectively, each lens designed specifically for the camera and sensor). Now comes the DP3 Merrill, with the same sensor, but a 50mm ƒ/2.8 short telephoto (equivalent to a 75mm lens on a full-frame camera). The cameras are named in honor of the man who originally developed the Foveon X3 sensor. Recording all three primary colors at every pixel site, the Foveon sensor produces higher resolution than conventional Bayer-array sensors or equivalent horizontal-by-vertical pixel count, and combined with the sensor-specific lenses in the DP Merrill cameras, the result is outstanding image quality in tiny cameras. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
AFFORDABLE RING LIGHT
The Flashpoint Ring Light Kit is built around a 400 w/s ring light that produces shadowless, yet concentrated illumination ideal for close-up and portrait photography. Featuring a 100mm diameter center opening to fit almost any lens of any format, the ring light has a guide number of 110/35 (ft/m), a flash duration of 1/400 to 1/1100 and a recycling time of 1 to 4.5 seconds. You can adjust the power from full to 1/16. Color temperature is 5000K +/-100K. The ring light can be fired manually, via sync or as a slave. Power is AC or via an optional Flashpoint Battery Pack. The kit includes the AC power supply, sync cords, camera-mounting hardware and carrying case. Estimated Street Price: $395; $350 (optional Flashpoint Battery Pack). Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
READY FOR ANYTHING
LumiQuest, producer of efficient flash lighting modifiers for a quarter-century, has put together a number of especially useful items in the Ready for Anything Kit. It includes the original ProMax System (80-20, Diffusion Screen, and White, Silver and Gold Inserts), plus the FXtra compact gel holder for colorizing or color-balancing the light, and the UltraStrap to securely hold them on your flash unit. Estimated Street Price: $85. Contact: LumiQuest, (800) 332-4644, www.lumiquest.com.
OLYMPUS GOES LONG
Olympus’ new M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm ƒ/4.8-6.7 II supertelephoto zoom for Micro Four Thirds System cameras frames like a 150-600mm on a full-frame camera due to the MFT sensor’s smaller dimensions, yet it measures just 2.7×4.6 inches and weighs only 14.9 ounces. Based on the original M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm zoom, the updated lens features a new ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Refraction Optical) coating for better performance in backlighting, and was redesigned to match the popular OM-D E-M5 flagship Olympus MFT camera. It can focus down to 35.1 inches at 75mm and 58.5 inches at all other focal lengths, contains 18 elements in 13 groups (including one SED, 2 ED and 3 HHR) and takes 55mm filters. Estimated Street Price: $549. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.getolympus.com.
Cameras with high pixel counts, fast shooting rates or full HD 1080 video require fast, high-capacity memory cards for maximum performance. Lexar‘s new 256 GB Professional 600x SDXC UHS-I card is a Class 10 unit that has a read transfer rate of 90 MB/s. Even faster is the new 1100x XQD card (currently, only the Nikon D4 uses XQD cards, but more are on the way), which comes in 32 GB and 64 GB capacities, with a read transfer rate of 168 MB/s. There’s also a new XQD USB 3.0 reader that can keep up with the cards. All of these cards are ideal for RAW sequence shooting and long 1080p full HD video clips. Estimated Street Price: $299 (32 GB 1100x XQD); $579 (64 GB 1100x XQD); $999 (256 GB 600x SDXC); $44 (XQD USB 3.0 reader). Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
Style-conscious photographers will want to check out the new camera straps and bags from Capturing Couture. They’re really different. The company offers more than 50 adjustable camera straps from 1 to 2 inches wide, combining fashionable designs (many featuring a Native American look) with durable materials, velvet lining and functional hardware. The camera bag line features tapestry patterns and intricate prints, a variety of pockets and fully lined interiors with cushioned padding to keep gear safe. There are also velvet-lined wristlet straps for compact cameras with quick-release capability. Estimated Street Price: From $25 (straps); from $179 (bags); $25 (wristlets). Contact: Capturing Couture, (949) 858-8598, www.capturingcouture.com.
Featuring a 16-megapixel, back-illuminated 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, the new Pentax WG-3 and WG-3 GPS compact cameras are waterproof to depths of 45 feet, shockproof to drops from 6.6 feet, cold-proof down to 14°F and can withstand 220 pounds per square foot of crushing pressure. The 25-100mm (35mm camera equivalent) zoom focuses down to 1cm in Digital Micro Mode, and 6 LED lights surrounding the lens provide shadowless illumination. There’s a built-in flash unit, a built-in sensor-shift image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD monitor and a textured grip with colored accents. The GPS model can record latitude, longitude, elevation or depth underwater and heading along with the image. Both cameras measure 4.9×2.5×1.3 inches; weight is 7.4 ounces (7.7 ounces for the GPS model). Estimated Street Price: $299 (WG-3); $349 (WG-3 GPS). Contact: Pentax Ricoh Imaging, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
Inspired by military special-ops rigs and aviation cargo gear, rugged Vulture camera straps are designed and manufactured in the U.S. for heavy-duty use in the field, and also carry a serious "cool" factor. Highly adjustable, the Alpha 4 Strap is made of highest-grade, 1.75-inch mil-spec nylon webbin
g and features a top-of-the-line military quick-release. The Alpha 2 drops the quick-release to save weight. There’s also the Alpha 2T Tensioner Strap, which serves as a "reverse monopod": Connect it to the camera and your foot at the other end to steady the camera in the field without a bulky tripod or monopod. Estimated Street Price: From $129. Contact: Vulture Equipment Works, (630) 804-9600, www.vultureequipmentworks.com.
Pixel Vertax Battery Grips are available for a number of Canon and Nikon DSLRs, including the new D600 and EOS 6D models. Made from the same materials as the cameras, the grips provide good dust and moisture sealing, and incorporate a vertical-format shutter release, control dial and other buttons. You can use AA or camera batteries in the grips. Rubberized surfaces provide slip-free handling. Estimated Street Price: From $79. Contact: Argraph, (201) 939-7722, www.argraph.com.
NEW FOR NEX
Users of Sony‘s NEX mirrorless cameras will want to check out two new E-mount lenses for NEX still cameras and camcorders. The E 20mm ƒ/2.8 "pancake" lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 30mm on a full-frame camera, ideal for a wide range of shooting, such as street photography, interiors and landscapes. Originally designed as a kit lens for the NEX-VG30 camcorder, the E PZ18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 OSS superzoom, featuring quiet power zooming and autofocusing, and optical SteadyShot stabilization, is now available for all NEX cameras. Estimated Street Price: $350 (20mm); $1,200 (18-200mm). Contact: Sony, (877) 865-7669, www.sony.com.
STEALTHY, STYLISH BAGS
Think Tank Photo‘s new SubUrban Disguise shoulder bags don’t look like traditional camera bags, so they don’t "let the world know what you’re carrying." Featuring fabric exterior with water-repellant coating and interior removable closed-cell foam dividers, the bags come in four sizes: SubUrban Disguise 5 (for a small DSLR or mirrorless system); 10 (for a standard DSLR with two to three small zoom or prime lenses); 20 (for a standard DSLR with three to four small zoom or prime lenses); and 30 (for a DSLR with two to four standard zoom or prime lenses, plus a pocket for an iPad). Estimated Street Price: From $49. Contact: Think Tank Photo, (866) 55-THINK, www.thinktankphoto.com.
GO-ANYWHERE VIDEO CAM
Now in their third generation, GoPro‘s amazing (and surprisingly affordable) HERO wearable video action cameras are in their third generation. The HERO3 White Edition has the same specs as the original HD HERO (1080p HD video and 5 MP stills in 3 fps bursts), but is 30% smaller, 25% lighter and has built-in WiFi. The HERO3 Silver Edition has the same specs as the HERO2 (1080p HD video, plus 11 MP stills in 10 fps bursts), but also is 30% smaller, 25% lighter and has built-in WiFi. The flagship HERO3 Black Edition is the most advanced of the lot, able to capture 12 MP stills in 30 fps bursts. Like the other HERO3s, the 2.6-ounce Black Edition can be mounted on person or object in a number of ways, can record sound, comes with an underwater housing good to 197 feet and has a built-in lens with user-selectable settings of ultrawide-angle, medium and narrow fields of view. Estimated Street Price: $199 (White Edition); $299 (Silver Edition); $399 (Black Edition). Contact: GoPro, (888) 600-4659, www.gopro.com.
Featuring one XLD and four LD elements to minimize chromatic aberrations, the new Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD telephoto zoom is compact at 3.4×7.4 inches and 51.9 ounces, but full of good features. Tamron’s VC Vibration Compensation provides steadier handheld shooting, while the USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) AF motor delivers smooth and quiet auto-focusing, with continuous access to manual focusing. Minimum focusing distance is 51.2 inches for a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:8. Filter size is 77mm. Estimated Street Price: $1,499. Contact: Tamron USA, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron-usa.com.