September/October 2012

CAMERA CAGE

Make better movies using your DSLR by giving it some solid support from the Redrock Micro ultraCage DSLR. Securing the camera at three points, the handheld rig screws into the camera base, fastens to the top hot-shoe and locks the camera in place with an anti-rotation pin. The cage encloses the camera with 22 mounting points (standard 1?4-inch and 3?8-inch) and includes industry-standard 15mm bottom rails for accessories, such as a mattebox, follow-focus or lens support. The built-in 15mm top rail lets you keep a camera-top monitor or remote focus motor on your camera at all times. Redrock has tested the support system with several Canon and Nikon bodies, including the Canon EOS 7D, Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D800/D800E. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $595. Contact: Redrock Micro, (888) 214-3903, www.redrockmicro.com.

SILENT FOCUS

Take advantage of the motion-capture-friendly features offered in a pair of Canon lenses designed for the EOS Rebel T4i. New autofocus technology in the EF-S 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM (Stepping Motor Technology) and EF 40mm ƒ/2.8 makes focusing smooth and quiet. This is particularly helpful when used with the camera’s Movie Servo AF feature, which allows you to continuously track wildlife, sports action and other scenes with fast-moving subjects. The combination makes it possible for the camera to refocus during recording without picking up unwanted noise. List Price: $549 (18-135mm); $199 (40mm). Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.

SUPERZOOM

Cover every angle with the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens from Nikon. To go along with the versatile focal-length range, which is 27-450mm in 35mm format, the lens includes Vibration Reduction technology that helps you take sharper shots when shooting handheld across the entire zoom range. The compact lens weighs about 1.8 pounds and incorporates three Extra-low Dispersion and three aspherical glass elements for minimizing optical flaws. The lens is also a good choice for taking close-ups with a 1.48-foot minimum focusing distance at 300mm and a 1:3.2x maximum reproduction ratio. List Price: $999. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.

iPHONE PLATFORM

Do more with your iPhone camera using Galileo from Motrr. The device is a rotating platform that can pan and tilt 360° at speeds of up to 200° per second in any orientation, so you can capture panoramas or do time-lapse shots with your phone. Swipe your finger on the device’s screen and Galileo reacts by orienting your iPhone, iPad or other iOS device accordingly. Mount the Galileo on rails and you can create a mini-rig for your phone. You also can integrate the device’s functionality into existing apps or create new apps built around its movement abilities. Estimated Street Price: $129. Contact: Motrr, www.motrr.com.

HELPFUL TOOLS

Add some extras to your b-grip EVO belt holder to make your shooting experience even more comfortable and productive. The Universal Tripod Adapter fits nearly all tripod models and is compatible with all b-grip camera accessories. The HS+ Handstrap includes the b-grip Quick Release Plate to securely go from belt to shooting in no time. The unique "S" shape of the strap is designed to keep your fingers free for operating the camera. The Travel Kit lets you attach your camera directly to a backpack shoulder strap. List Price: $19 (Tripod Adapter); $24 (Handstrap); $19 (Travel Kit). Contact: OmegaBrandess, (410) 374-3250, www.omegabrandess.com.

PAPER PRESTIGE

Help your images to stand out in print as much as they do on screen using Ilford GALERIE Prestige Smooth Gloss 310gsm or Smooth Pearl 310gsm. Clear nanoporous coating, as well as other technological advancements, helps make these papers a solid choice for producing images with top-notch clarity, sharpness and color. A high-density heavyweight base and smooth finish combine to give your prints the genuine look and feel of a traditional photograph. Smooth Pearl eliminates glare and fingerprints, and both types are compatible with pigment- and dye-based inkjet printers. List Price: TBA. Contact: Ilford, www.ilford.com.

SLIDING SUPPORT

Move your camera with more control on your next film shoot with the Varavon Slidecam Lite. The lightweight slider, which is designed for DSLR video capture, is made from an aluminum alloy and steel. The roller bearing is manufactured out of steel, as opposed to the polymer plastic that other models use, so it’s strong enough to support heavier setups. The Lite 600 is 24 inches long and weighs 2.7 pounds, while the Lite 800 is 32 inches long and weighs 3.3 pounds. Both are 1.2 inches wide and can support up to 19.8 pounds. A brake/stop bar prevents the dolly sled from moving during transport. List Price: Starts at $329. Contact: Varavon (International Supplies), (800) 999-1984, www.varavonusa.com.

CHANGING FOCUS

Experiment with the tilt-shift look without paying the high price that comes with these lenses using the Lensbaby Pro Effects Kit. The effects created by Lensbaby selective-focus lenses are popular, and the kit puts the flagship Composer Pro, the Sweet 35 Optic (35mm ƒ/2.5) and the Edge 80 Optic (80mm ƒ/2.8) in one package. The Sweet 35 delivers a sharp sweet spot of focus surrounded by blur while the Edge 80 produces a slice of sharp focus through the image surrounded by soft blur. Both optics feature a 12-blade adjustable aperture. Finally, there are two macro converters—an 8mm and a 16mm—that can be stacked together to create a 24mm converter. Estimated Street Price: $750. Contact: Lensbaby, (877) 536-7222, www.lensbaby.com.

IN THE BAG

Pick a camera bag that
combines style and discretion for your next adventure. The Tamrac Aria camera bags are made from a rich, smooth fabric that feels like silk, but they’re durable and look like messenger bags, so you can avoid calling unwanted attention to yourself. The bags hold a DSLR with a lens attached, a second lens and a third lens or flash. There’s a foam-padded compartment for holding an iPad, as well as a zippered, pleated front pocket for accessories and other items. Two slim side pockets hold a phone or an iPod, and the silver interior lining makes it easy to find items. List Price: $99. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.

RETOUCH PORTRAITS

Make dramatic improvements to your people pictures using ArcSoft Portrait+. The program is based on facial imaging technology that focuses on key points around the eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth. The program automatically defines more than 24 facial points for making quick adjustments such as smoothening skin, enhancing eyes, whitening teeth and more. There are 20 preset template styles, and batch processing is possible for making adjustments to a lot of images at once. The software’s face detection technology can recognize up to 20 faces in each image. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: ArcSoft, (510) 440-9901, www.arcsoft.com.

STURDY LEGS

Find some stability when you’re shooting on uneven terrain with the Sachtler Ace Tripod system. Manufactured from a composite material, the compact and lightweight tripod is designed for video DSLR and small HDV camcorder shooters. Supporting up to 8.8 pounds, it has a five-step counterbalance for quick camera balancing and positioning, and a drag system with three horizontal and three vertical steps. This allows for precise panning and tilting, as well as choosing a drag setting suitable for any situation. Estimated Street Price: $535. Contact: Sachtler, (845) 268-0100, www.sachtler.com.

PRIME OPTION

Avoid the expensive price tags that prime lenses sometimes come with by giving the Pro-Optic 85mm ƒ/1.4 ASPH some consideration. Having a fast, compact moderate telephoto lens on hand is a good idea, especially if you do a lot of portraiture. This lens offers a nice bokeh for producing smooth, out-of-focus backgrounds while keeping your subject sharp. It’s manual focus only and has a nine-element optical formula that incorporates a fresh aspheric design and produces less chromatic aberration. Smaller and lighter than its predecessor, the lens is available in Canon and Nikon mounts. Estimated Street Price: $279. Contact: Pro-Optic (Adorama), (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

PORTABLE STORAGE

Back up your memory cards and preview images while you’re still out shooting using the NextoDI ND2730 hard drive. All major memory formats are supported, including CF, SDXC and SDHC. Operation is simple. Just insert your card and press the button, and your image files are copied to the drive. That same button, which is located on the 1.44-inch TFT LCD, controls all other functions, including deleting, browsing and previewing images. The ND2730 can back up a CF card at 70 MB/s, which is three times faster than previous models, and SD format cards at up to 25 MB/s. It’s compatible with USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 interfaces, and available in 500 GB and 750 GB capacities. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $450. Contact: NextoDI (International Supplies), (800) 999-1984, www.nextodiusa.com.

CLEAN UP

Get rid of the smudges, dust and grime that can build up on lenses, LCD screens and other glass exteriors using the redesigned LensPen. The available models consist of the Original, DigiKlear, MiniPro, MicroPro and FilterKlear. The cleaning tools come with a fresh look, but function the same as previous models. Using the grease-cutting properties found in carbon compounds is how LensPen removes fingerprints from optical surfaces. Before the carbon goes to work, a retractable natural brush removes loose dust from the lens surface. The cap screws on to ensure the carbon is replenished in the cleaning pad. Estimated Street Price: $14 (Original). Contact: LensPen, www.lenspen.com.

SPOTLESS OPTICS

Correct optical flaws in your images with DxO Optics Pro 7.5, which now features 64-bit functionality and can deliver faster previewing and processing. The program also handles much larger files, even those up to 200 megapixels. If you’re unfamiliar with the program, it’s built around what DxO calls Optics Modules based on a series of tests that analyze different camera and lens combinations. The software automatically detects the camera body and lens, then asks to download and use those optical characteristics to automatically correct distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations, lens softness and more. There are more than 7,000 modules. This update adds nearly 200 more, of which 60 are for the Nikon D800. List Price: $149 (Standard); $299 (Elite). Contact: DxO Labs, www.dxo.com.

PORTRAIT LIGHT

Use the LumiQuest Location/Portrait Kit to play with light and give your people pictures a boost. The Softbox III, Snoot XTR, FXtra and two UltraStraps are all included. The Softbox III is about 20 times the size of a portable flash head so the light it produces is soft and favorable for capturing good-looking portraits. The Snoot XTR is used for hair or accent light. The FXtra is a nine-piece colored gel kit that includes theatrical gels and those for balancing your flash for tungsten and fluorescent light. The nonadhesive straps allow you to securely attach all of these accessories to your flash. The kit weighs less than a pound. Estimated Street Price: $75. Contact: LumiQuest, (800) 332-4644, www.lumiquest.com.

OVER THE SHOULDER

Hit the street wearing the Lowepro Urban Photo Sling to haul your photo gear around in. The bag is made for those of you who are often on the move, with the design allowing you to shift it from your front to the side to the back so that you’re wearing the bag however it feels the most comfortable. You can load and unload from the top for easy access or
with the front panel fully open for maximum organization. It’s available in two sizes and has a padded, separate compartment for an iPad or other tablet. List Price: $84 and $99. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.

MOBILE EDITOR

Have another creative photo-editing tool for your mobile devices at your disposal with Tiffen Photo fx and Photo fx Ultra. Both apps allow you to reproduce the look of many Tiffen glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain, color correction, natural light and effects, as well as use a paint system (fx Ultra only) with a variety of brushes. When you’re done, you can share the finished product in several ways as the apps allow you to post photos to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter and more. You can save your favorite Photo fx effects as presets and import them into Tiffen Dfx 3. Also, Photo fx Ultra supports the high-resolution Retina display of the latest iPad. Estimated Street Price: $3 (fx); $5 (fx Ultra). Contact: Tiffen, (631) 273-2500, www.tiffen.com.


Hard Copy

Practical HDR: A Complete Guide to Creating High Dynamic Range Images with Your Digital SLR by David Nightingale (Focal Press, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-240-82122-1). The book gives you step-by-step examples, as well as practical advice on shooting and processing high-dynamic-range images.

When Photography Really Works by Val Williams (Barron’s Educational Series, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-7641-4789-0). Covering a time span of more than 100 years, the book shows readers how to recognize the defining qualities of important photographs in genres that include portraiture, landscapes, photojournalism and more. Work by Ansel Adams, Man Ray, Margaret Bourke-White, Garry Winogrand, Henri Cartier-Bresson and others is included.

Concert and Live Music Photography: Pro Tips from the Pit by J. Dennis Thomas (Focal Press, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-240-82064-4). This in-depth guide to shooting live music performances provides information on equipment, camera settings, composition and postprocessing, showing you how to get the best out of each performance shot. More than 160 photos are included.

Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age by Robert Hirsch with Greg Erf (Focal Press, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-240-81827-6). Learn the fundamental concepts of image-making using this thought-provoking book. It features several classroom-tested assignments and exercises, and also encourages you to analyze, discuss and write about your work and the images of others.

Photography: Capture to Presentation by Jack Klasey (Goodheart-Willcox, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-60525-576-7). Essential tools and techniques of photography are covered in this primer. After learning the fundamentals, the book goes into different kinds of photography, including action and event, outdoor, travel, portrait and studio shooting.

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