SIGMA WR CERAMIC PROTECTOR FILTER
Lens filters don’t get any tougher than Sigma’s Water Repellent (WR) Ceramic Protector. This clear ceramic glass filter is shock- and scratch-resistant, with a water-repellent coating that not only protects the front of your lens, but also repels water, dust and oil, making it easier to clean stray fingerprints and smudges. The Sigma clear glass ceramic material is 10 times stronger than conventional filters and three times stronger than those that are chemically strengthened. At the same time, it’s up to 50% thinner and up to 30% lighter than previous Sigma filters. It’s available for lenses with front filter threads that range from 67mm to 105mm in diameter. List Price: $93-$315. Contact: Sigma, sigmaphoto.com.
NEW NIKON FLAGSHIPS
The new flagship Nikon D5 sets the stage for a whole new era of DSLR design, and will be the benchmark for Nikon cameras for years to come. The D5 has a 20.8-megapixel sensor and a brand-new autofocus sensor with 153 AF points for incredible focus precision. A new EXPEED 5 processor allows the D5 to capture images at up to 12 fps with full autofocus and auto exposure. The D5 captures full 4K video and has a touch-screen panel for focus selection and for settings. List Price: $6,499.
The Nikon D500 is the long-awaited replacement to the D300S, and it inherits many of the key new features from the D5. The weather-resistant body features a 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor with the same high-precision AF sensor and processor. The result is a professional-quality APS-C DSLR that can capture images at up to 10 fps, with an ISO range from 100-51,200, expandable up to ISO 1,640,000. The D500 features Nikon SnapBridge, an easier connectivity system that uses Bluetooth to connect to a smart device and automatically transfer images without having to reconnect. An optional WiFi module is available for faster WiFi transfer. The D500 is capable of capturing 4K video at up to 30p and full HD video at various frame rates, and can output to an external recorder. List Price: $1,999. Contact: Nikon, nikonusa.com.
The SLT-a68 from Sony is shipping to the U.S. and Canada this April. Compatible with Sony’s A-mount lenses, the a68 is built around a new, 24-megapixel, APS-C-sized sensor with an ISO range of 100-25,600. Trickle-down features from higher-end cameras like the a77 II include 79 AF points for wider and faster autofocus. Continuous shooting speeds up to 8 fps (with AF), customizable controls and advanced video features such as clean HDMI out add value to this reasonably priced camera. List Price: $600 (body only); $700 (with DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II lens). Contact: Sony, store.sony.com.
TOPAZ TEXTURE EFFECTS SOFTWARE
Available as a plug-in or standalone software, Topaz Texture Effects, as the name implies, provides a wealth of options for adding textures, as well as dust and scratches, lens flare, light leaks and more. The application comes with 130 full effects, in addition to more than 275 elements to create custom looks. You can easily add textures you’ve created or purchased elsewhere. User-created effects can be downloaded or shared via the new online Topaz Community. This easy-to-use, cross-platform software also provides basic image-editing tools, masking, layers and additional workflow features. List Price: $70. Contact: Topaz Labs, topazlabs.com.
Perfect for parties and events, but also useful for businesses, educators and the classroom, Boinx Software’s PhotoWall+ (formerly named PartySnapper) is one of the first apps developed specifically for the latest-generation Apple TV. Two apps work together to create a live display of photos on Apple TV: PhotoWall+ for the Apple TV and a free PhotoWall+ Camera for iOS devices to shoot and share images. Images are stored in iCloud, and users can download and share their photos with a web app. List Price: $4.99 (PhotoWall+ for Apple TV); free (PhotoWall+ Camera). Contact: Boinx Software, boinx.com.
LIGHTROOM FOR ANDROID 1.4
Good news for Android users. Lightroom for Android version 1.4 is now available as a free download on Google Play and doesn’t require a paid Creative Cloud subscription. Although you can’t sync your images and edits with the desktop version of Lightroom without a CC subscription, you still have full access to all of the mobile app’s features on your Android device. And, since Lollipop allows you to capture raw DNG files, you now can process them in Lightroom mobile for Android. Contact: Google Play, play.google.com; Adobe, adobe.com.
SIRUI MYSTORY PHOTO SHOULDER BAGS
Sirui’s line of MyStory Photo Shoulder Bags comes in five different sizes to accommodate a range of equipment, from mirrorless cameras with two lenses and an 8-inch tablet to a full DSLR setup with up to 5 lenses and a 15-inch laptop. Highly functional, the shoulder bags are constructed from water-resistant canvas and feature an expandable flap top for easy access, a removable insert and a tripod holder/water bottle pouch. Accented with natural leather and antique silver finished hardware, these messenger-style shoulder bags are designed to look good, too. List Price: From $170. Contact: Argraph, argraph.com.
The cross-body Sliding Sling Camera Strap from BosStrap is a good replacement for the neck strap that came with your camera. The strap has been updated and now features a quick-release buckle so you can easily disconnect the camera with one hand. That adds to the strap’s already useful features, including the fact that it attaches to the camera strap lug rather than the camera’s tripod socket. And, because there’s no bulky shoulder pad, the strap can be neatly wrapped around the camera or lens for stowing in a camera bag. The straps are available for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Conversion kits can be purchased to update earlier BosStrap models. List Price: $54 (DSLR); $53 (mirrorless); $20 (conversion kit). Contact: BosStrap, BosStrap.com.
TAMRAC G-ELITE BACKPACKS The merger of Tamrac and Gura Gear brings photographers a new line of backpacks. The Tamrac G-ELITE G32 and G26 are reminiscent of Gura Gear’s Kiboko and Bataflae designs with their convenient “butterfly”-type openings. The G32 has plenty of room for pro DSLRs with a 500mm lens attached (up to an 800mm detached lens) or a medium-format system. The G26 carries the same gear, but maxes out at a 500mm lens. Rugged, but lightweight, the backpacks come with a lifetime guarantee. List Price: $430 (G32); $380 (G26). Contact: Tamrac, tamrac.com.
3POD TRIPODS, MONOPODS, BALLHEADS & VIDEO HEADS
If you’re looking for a new support system, 3Pod has a line of functional—and affordable—tripods and monopods. The Orbit Overhead Shot System Tripods, available in aluminum or carbon fiber, come in 3-section and 4-section models with an interesting twist. The center column can be extended upward and tilted for photographing subjects overhead or at low angles. Also available in aluminum or carbon fiber, the 4-section monopod comes with a pivoting fluid base for easy panning. The 3Pod line includes a tabletop tripod, as well as an assortment of heads for both still and video. List Price: From $75 (monopod); From $200 (3-section tripod). Contact: Adorama, adorama.com.
WESTCOTT FLEX LED MATS
Westcott has expanded its line of FLEX LED Mats, which includes the earlier released daylight and tungsten 10”x10” models. Several new sizes including 10”x3”, 1’x1’, 1’x2’, 1’x3’ and 2’x2’ daylight (5600K) models are now available. Additionally, Westcott released Bi-Color versions of the 10”x3”, 1’x1’ and 1’x2’ Flex LED Mats with adjustable color temperatures between 2800K and 6000K. These flexible mats are lightweight, portable and compatible with the new Scrim Jim Cine system. List Price: From $300. Contact: Westcott, fjwestcott.com.