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2008 Editors' Choice Awards

Tamron AF18-250mm Di II Zoom

My favorite subjects are birds, but when I’m out hiking, I like to shoot scenic vistas and flower close-ups, too. This means taking two or three lenses, which, in turn, means traveling with a photo vest or backpack. Tamron’s AF18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 Di II zoom was designed for small-sensor D-SLRs, on which it provides 35mm camera-equivalent focal lengths of about 28-400mm, so it can handle those magnificent vistas as well as camera-shy birds and wildlife. It also focuses down to 17.2 inches at all focal lengths, great for those flower close-ups. I enjoyed using our Tamron 18-250mm test lens: It let me hike the way I like—with a camera on a neck strap, unencumbered by no other gear. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Tamron USA, (631) 858-8400, -MS

Hoodman HoodLoupe

Those LCD monitors on D-SLRs are terrific, letting you check exposure, focus (and in people shots, expressions) right after shooting an image. But they’re hard to see in bright outdoor light. Hoodman’s HoodLoupe Professional is a hooded magnifier that fits over the monitor for easy, glare-free viewing. Built-in +/-3-diopter eyepiece correction means sharp viewing even for those with aging eyes. Use the camera’s monitor-zoom feature as usual to zero in on a portion of the image. A comfortable lanyard lets you carry it around your neck. Estimated Street Price: $70. Contact: Hoodman USA, (800) 818-3946, -MS


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Many of us are in the habit of going on a trip, taking tons of photographs, coming home and letting those stunning images sit on a memory card. While Adobe Photoshop Lightroom isn’t a replacement for your photo software, it’s a comprehensive workflow tool for efficiently importing, organizing, managing and nondestructively editing images. What immediately impressed me was the interface. With a clean black and dark-gray background, your photos are the focus. The controls are split up into identifiable groups. The application segments your workflow into five modules that you see from the interface—Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web. All act independently of each other, giving you full, intuitive control. List Price: $299. Contact: Adobe Systems, (800) 833-6687, -KC

Adorama Cam-Pod

It can be a pain to lug a tripod everywhere, and there are places where tripods aren’t even allowed. Image stabilizers in cameras and lenses help steady the camera, but won’t lock in a composition as you study it, and your arms can get tired from holding the camera in position for extended periods. Adorama’s Cam-Pod is a bean-bag-like support with bifolding cushions you can mold to your camera/lens for better support and easy positioning on almost any surface. Estimated Street Price: $20 ($15 for the Mini version). Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, – MS


Epson Stylus Photo 1400

Taking your photos from the screen to a hi
gh-quality print is easier when the printer you’re working with delivers rich colors, operates quickly and is affordable. The Epson Stylus Photo 1400 produces colorful, archival-quality prints up to 13×19 inches. The printer uses the DX5 MicroPiezo print head, which delivers five droplet sizes with the smallest at 1.5 picoliters. Having a range of droplet sizes matters because it allows for smoother gradations and transitions between the light and dark areas of your photos. Epson’s six-color Claria Hi-Definition dye-based inks make colors pop, and they’re rated to be smudge-, water- and fade-resistant for up to 98 years under glass and 200 in an album. An 11×14-inch print takes about three minutes. Estimated Street Price: $349. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, -KC

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