Buyer's Guide 2009: Best Of Compact Cameras
Top-of-the-line pocket cameras make pro features more portable
The best photos are those you actually take. Chances are, you don't carry your D-SLR with you every time you leave the house, but you never know when a good photograph will present itself. That's when a compact camera that you can slip into your pocket really pays off.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Cameras
Camera Buying Basics: Things to keep in mind when shopping for a new D-SLR
So you're ready for a new D-SLR. There are more choices today than at any time in photography's history. That's the good news. It's also the bad news. How do you choose a camera to fit your needs and budget? When you buy a D-SLR, you're buying a camera system beyond the camera body itself. Lenses, flash and other accessories often are limited to use with one system or another. With lenses in particular, you can use lenses designed for your camera system only.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Color Management
Get perfect output when you calibrate
Without a solid color-management system in place, what you see on screen isn't necessarily what you'll get in the final print. Dry? Technical? Yes, but worth paying attention to if you're looking for vibrant, knockout color every time you print. Whether calibrating your monitor or a whole system of devices that includes your camera, printer and projector, there are options to suit your needs and budget.
Buyer's Guide 2009: D-SLRs $1,000 - $2,000
Speed and control upgrades are just two reasons to step up to the “sweet-spot” models
For experienced SLR users who want pro-level controls without a professional price tag, the "sweet-spot" D-SLRs offer the best mix of technology and value. Models in this price range improve upon entry-level models with faster response and burst rates, plus more sophisticated autofocus and metering systems and controls. Some models also offer upgraded sensor and processing technologies, like 14-bit A/D conversion (16,384 gradations versus 4,096 gradations with 12-bit A/D conversion) and broader ISO ranges.
Buyer's Guide 2009: D-SLRs Over $2,000
The tools of the pros, these top-tier models offer the cutting edge of digital image capture
If you make your living with your camera or simply want the very best performance and latest technologies, pro models offer uncompromising feature sets and image quality. This also is the range where you'll find "full-frame," 35mm-size sensors, allowing you to use 35mm lenses with no magnification effect.
Buyer's Guide 2009: D-SLRs Under $1,000
As technology advances, pro-level features are appearing at entry-level prices
For first-time D-SLR buyers, the sub-$1,000 category is often the best balance between performance and price. The entry-level segment of the market is highly competitive, with manufacturers vying to bring photographers into their systems.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Fine-Art Printers
Don’t call them desktops—the latest generation of inkjet printers produces gallery prints at impressive sizes
Inkjet printers have been outstanding for years now, but the latest generation really advances the state of the art. As camera resolution has increased to easily support it, the trend is toward making larger, 13x19-inch printers the best printers possible for photographers. The 13x19-inch print is big enough to display beautifully when framed and hung on a wall, yet not so big that a few quickly fill up all of your wall space.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Image Processing Software
The latest generation is more photographer-friendly than ever, with powerful
Photoshop has become one of those brands, like Coke® or Kleenex®, that's so iconic, it represents a whole category of products. It even has become a verb, as in "to Photoshop" an image. So it may come as a surprise when we say that it might not be the best choice for your photo needs.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Lenses
What to know about the most important part of your camera system
Cameras get all the attention. When a new camera is expected from one of the big players, the rumor mill starts up and bloggers frantically conjecture at what new features and technologies it might have.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Monitors
Upgrade your digital workspace with a high-res LCD display
Buying a monitor for digital photography is one of the most important decisions to make on the computer side of imaging. While a smaller, basic monitor may be fine for web browsing and e-mail, when it comes to digital photography, a large, high-resolution display makes the process a lot easier and more enjoyable. With the monitors we'll suggest here, you'll have room for big images and all your Photoshop tool palettes.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Must-Have Accessories
Essential gear to make your photography more efficient, fun and creative
Camera bags are especially important as they perform two vital functions, protecting your gear from damage and keeping it all organized. Available in a range of sizes, shapes and styles, there's no perfect bag for everyone, but there's a perfect bag for you, your equipment and the types of photography you do.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Online Sharing & Services
A few stars in the universe of web-based options for photographers
What's the best way to share, print and store your digital images? For millions of photographers—from casual shooters to pros—the answer can be summed up in one word: online. Over the past 10 years, web-based photo services have honed their skills and become an essential part of many photographers' workflow. Even pros who routinely perform all of these tasks on their own can benefit from the efficiencies of using online experts.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Photo Workstations
Upgrading to a faster, more powerful machine can dramatically improve your speed in the digital darkroom
With so many factors to weigh, deciding which computer best fits your photographic needs is a challenge. Consider power and expandability first. Dual-core processors now are the standard in today's high-performance notebooks and desktops. With this technology, each chip serves as two processors in one, so the computer performs faster while consuming less power.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Portable Printers
Be the life of the party with quick prints anytime, anywhere
Making 4x6-inch, photo-quality prints at home and on the go has never been easier. There are several excellent snapshot printers on the market. Most are reasonably priced and easy to use. Many print directly from your camera or memory card, allowing you to make prints without booting up your computer. Some even run on battery power. And all of those that we've included here produce great-looking prints. How to choose, then?
Buyer's Guide 2009: Software Plug-Ins
Extend the power of your photo processor with these smart apps
Plug-ins are one of the best tools photographers have in the digital darkroom. They extend the power of our primary photo application-some by adding new functionality and others by making complicated adjustments much faster and more intuitive. There's a plug-in for just about every essential task, from color correction and noise reduction to creative effects and finishing touches.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Specialty Papers & Inks
Experiment with third-party and exotic inkjet media for creative results
Conventional wisdom says that for the best-looking prints, you should stick with your printer manufacturer's papers and inks. It's not bad advice because their printer-software drivers are fine-tuned for those inks and papers to ensure excellent results and print longevity. But if you only print with the standard photo stock, you're missing a chance to make an artistic choice.
Buyer's Guide 2009: Storage
Make room for more photos and backups with these external solutions
Every photographer needs a backup strategy. Trust us when we tell you that hard drives fail, and when they do, you'll be really glad you had copies of your photos and other irreplaceable files on multiple drives. External storage solutions like those included here offer an affordable, convenient way to safely archive your photo library. Desktop drives offer the most capacity for the best price and come in a range of models and configurations. Portable drives give you the extra security of taking a copy of your files with you wherever you go. They're also handy for backing up photos when traveling with a laptop.