Give a big boost to the quality of your images using the new mid-range Canon EOS 40D digital SLR, the long-awaited successor to the enormously popular 30D model. The 40D features a host of remarkable upgrades, starting with a 10.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor compared to the 30D's 8.2-megapixel sensor. The 3-inch LCD is larger than the 30D's and has a Live-View mode. Other highlights include a faster 6.5 fps shooting rate, sensor dust-removal system, higher-quality optical viewfinder and a DIGIC III image processor for faster operation and more efficient energy consumption. Also upping the image quality is a 14-bit conversion process for expanded color depth, smoother gradations and very accurate color. Estimated Street Price: $1,299. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
Fast, 12-Megapixel D-SLR
Take your photography skills to the next level with the Nikon D300, a D-SLR that's packed with exciting features. Using Nikon's new EXPEED image-processing system, the 12.3-megapixel camera is fast, with a 45-millisecond shutter release lag, 0.13-second start-up time and 6 fps continuous shooting speed. A versatile Picture Control System lets you fine-tune and adjust tone, sharpening, brightness and saturation. The 1,005-pixel RGB metering sensor recognizes color and light patterns to help the camera determine the subject and type of scene being photographed. This information helps optimize the accuracy of autofocus, auto exposure and auto white-balance detection. Other features include a 51-point autofocus system, 3-inch LCD with two Live-View modes and a dust-reduction system. Estimated Street Price: $1,800. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
Combine power and simplicity when working with your photographs using Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, the latest upgrade of the popular image-editing software. A cleaner, streamlined interface and new Tabs provide easier access to the program's editing tools. A new Photomerge Group Shot feature lets you create the perfect composition by merging the best facial expressions and body language from a series of shots. You now can make selective adjustments to portions of an image with the Brush tool and then use sliders to adjust levels. Other features include the ability to create photo books, advanced black-and-white conversion and enhanced support for RAW files. Estimated Street Price: $99.
Edit polished, high-quality home movies in no time with Adobe Premiere Elements 4. Using the same organizer found in Photoshop Elements, you can quickly tag, sort, view and organize your video clips and photos. Simply drag-and-drop thumbnails into the enhanced Sceneline, where you can trim clips, split them and add transitions, effects and text. Audio Mixer lets you put in background music and sound effects. Professional menu templates are included, so you can create interactive disc menus before burning your movie onto a DVD. Estimated Street Price: $99 (both programs can be bundled for $149). Contact: Adobe Systems Inc., (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.