DPP Home Gear In Focus November-December 2006

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

November-December 2006

New Tools Of The Trade

In Focus Leaf Aptus S-Series
The three digital camera backs in the new Aptus S-Series from Leaf are amazingly fast, providing shooting speeds of up to 75 frames per minute for unlimited bursts, thanks to accelerated image-processing hardware, a new lossless image-compression engine, FireWire 800 and SanDisk CompactFlash Extreme IV technology. Featuring huge built-in 6x7cm touch-screen LCDs, the Aptus backs come in 22-, 28- and 33-megapixel versions, with image sizes of 48x36mm (22 and 33 MP) or 44x33mm. Also announced is new Leaf Capture 10 software for PC and Mac, including live video and other new features. Estimated Street Price: $32,995 (Aptus 75S); $20,995 (Aptus 65S); $24,995 (Aptus 54S). Contact: Leaf America, (866) 4-US-LEAF, www.leafamerica.com.

In Focus 10.2-Megapixel Pentax K10D LL
Hot on the heels of its K100D and K110D consumer-oriented D-SLRs is the Pentax K10D, a 10.2-megapixel model with built-in Shake Reduction, Dust Removal and a dustproof, weather-resistant body. Being body-integral, the Shake Reduction provides blur-free handheld shooting with all system lenses, not just a few stabilized ones. Other features include a new PRIME (Pentax Real IMage Engine) imaging engine and high-performance 22-bit A/D converter for excellent image quality and quick performance, 3-fps shooting, a 100,000-cycle shutter, a 2.5-inch wide-view LCD monitor and more. Estimated Street Price: $899 (body); $999 (with lens). Contact: Pentax Imaging, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.

In Focus L-Series Canon Lenses
Canon has delivered two new L-series pro lenses for EOS SLRs, film and digital. The EF 50mm ƒ/1.2L USM is the fastest AF lens in its class (as of this writing). Dust and moisture protection and a high-refraction glass-molded aspherical element complement the fast maximum aperture, providing corner-to-corner image quality even wide open. The EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS USM features enhanced weather sealing, Canon's excellent Image Stabilizer technology, a circular diaphragm for more natural appearing backgrounds, and distance information for even more accurate ambient and flash exposures. One fluorite and two UD elements keep chromatic aberrations under control throughout the zoom range. Estimated Street Price: $1,499 (50mm); $1,249 (70-200mm). Contact: Canon U.S.A., (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.

In Focus Capture One More LL
Phase One has released the latest version of its powerful RAW workflow software. Capture One 3.7.5 includes support for the latest D-SLRs, including Nikon's D2xs and D80 and Canon's EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi). Also supported are Leica's new M8 digital rangefinder camera, Epson's R-D1s and Sony's DSLR-A100 (and, of course, previous D-SLRs). Features include excellent RAW capture, intuitive workflow and a lot more. There are two versions: Capture One PRO and Capture One LE, the former having more features, including creative styles (Mac version only). Estimated Street Price: $499 (PRO), $99 (LE). Contact: Phase One, (888) PHASE-ONE, www.phaseone.com.

In Focus LiveBooks/EDU
LiveBooks/EDU is a web-based system that gives students and teachers of photography the same marketing tools employed by pros to share their work and become known via the Internet. The package makes it easy to create and update your own web-based photography portfolio. An exclusive Lightbox tool lets users respond to client job requests with customized portfolios in real time. Estimated Street Price: $59/month (three-month minimum) or $699/year (Deluxe); $29/month (three-month minimum) or $325/year (Lite). Contact: LiveBooks, (800) 253-2085, www.livebooksedu.com.

In Focus Hasselblad H3D
Hasselblad has introduced the H3D D-SLR. Featuring a 48x36mm image sensor, the camera is available with two different backs—the H3D-22 (22 megapixels) and H3D-39 (39 megapixels). The sensor in both backs is the same 48x36mm physical size. Images are stored on internal CF cards or the camera can be linked to a FireWire-connected Hasselblad Imagebank or other tethered device for more storage space. While the H3D was designed from the ground up as a digital camera, it also can be outfitted with a 120 or 220 film magazine as the job requires. Images can be saved to a variety of formats, including the raw Adobe DNG format. List Price: H3D-22 ($26,995); H3D-39 ($31,995). Contact: Hasselblad, (425) 861-6434, www.hasselblad.com.

In Focus Nikon 70-300mm Zoom
Nikon has introduced the compact 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor lens with a host of features to complement the famed Nikon image quality. The ED-IF in the name means the lens employs two Extra-Low Dispersion glass elements (along with three uncredited aspherical elements) to minimize aberrations and distortion at all focal lengths, along with internal focusing for better balance and a nonrotating front element. AF-S means the lens uses Nikon's Silent Wave AF motor for smooth, silent focusing. VR means Vibration Reduction (Enhanced VR II, in this case), allowing for sharper handheld shots at slower shutter speeds. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: Nikon Inc., (800) NIKON-UX, www.nikonusa.com.

In Focus SanDisk Extreme IV LL
As digital camera pixel counts go up, the need for faster, larger-capacity memory cards follows closely. SanDisk has introduced the Extreme IV line of CompactFlash cards, featuring capacities of 2, 4 and 8 GB and minimum read and write speeds of 40 MBps—right now the fastest in the world. A new SanDisk Extreme FireWire 800/400 reader was also introduced in order to download the cards at that rate. Estimated Street Price: $159 (2 GB); $319 (4 GB); $559 (8 GB); $79 (Extreme FireWire reader). Contact: SanDisk, (866) SAN-DISK, www.sandisk.com.

In Focus Exposure Control LL
The new Sekonic L-758 DigitalMaster series of light meters are touted as the first multi-function meters that can be calibrated to match the sensitivity of a digital camera's sensor at all ISO settings. The meters take into account flash, ambient lighting and file format characteristics. Using a USB cable and Sekonic Data Transfer software, all camera exposure profile information is uploaded from a computer to the meter. Up to three camera exposure profiles can be stored and quickly recalled when switching cameras. A built-in PocketWizard wireless triggering radio transmitter is optional. Other features include flash analyzing, spot/incident measuring modes and customized settings. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Sekonic, (914) 347-3300, www.sekonic.com.

In Focus Pelican Laptop Case
The Pelican 1080 HardBack is a crushproof, watertight case that protects a 13-inch laptop computer from the rigors of travel. A vent with a Gore-Tex® membrane provides automatic pressure balance, while the high-impact, heat/chemical-resistant composite shell and plush-foam inner liner provide physical protection. Estimated Street Price: $69. Contact: Pelican Products, (800) 473-5422, www.pelican.com.

In Focus Blinkbid Pro 4.02 LL
Most photographers would rather be shooting than bidding on jobs. Blinkbid Pro 4.02 runs natively on Apple's new Intel-based computers and simplifies and speeds up the bid-making process. Features include easy estimate revisions, printing advance invoices from estimates, quickly calculating potential profits from a job, taking into account different tax methods, clearly differentiating talent costs from the rest of a job, a more robust license builder and a greater ability to customize the program. Estimated Street Price: $159. Contact: Blinkbid, www.blinkbid.com.

In Focus Kingston Ultimate CF Cards LL
The top-of-the-line Ultimate CompactFlash memory cards from Kingston now come with Ontrack EasyRecovery software preloaded. The upgraded cards also feature super-fast, sustained write speeds of 133X and come in capacities as large as 8 GB. EasyRecovery version 6.1 is designed to retrieve photos that have been corrupted or accidentally deleted. Estimated Street Price: $88 (2 GB); $189 (4 GB); $416 (8 GB). Contact: Kingston Technology, (877) KINGSTON, www.kingston.com.

In Focus LaCie Series 300 LCD Monitors
LaCie has added a 20-inch model to its respected 300 Series Monitors, along with 12-bit gamma correction that provides correction that's 16x more precise than the previous generation. The LCD monitors feature a CRT-grade color gamut, up to 700:1 contrast, wide 178-degree viewing angles, maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200, LaCie easyHood to shield from ambient light, Pivot Pro software to enable portrait mode and more. Estimated Street Price: $879-$1,599. Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500, www.lacie.com.

In Focus Brickhaus TetherGRIP
One unwelcome aspect of digital technology is the increasing presence of more and more cords. Studio photographers in particular are likely to have a combination of both power and data cables leading into cameras. Trip on one, and you risk serious damage to your expensive equipment. The TetherGRIP Pro hooks to your camera and securely holds cords, taking the load off the connection. Your cables will stay securely connected. Estimated Street Price: $34. Contact: Brickhaus, LLC, www.tethergrip.com.

In Focus Acolens Correction Software
Acolens is a software program that corrects optical deficiencies in photos—distortions, vignetting and soft edges. These are especially evident in images made with smaller-format digital cameras and wide-angle lenses. Corrections can be made based on lens profiles in a preinstalled lens databank, or the user can calibrate his or her own lenses using the Acolens Reference Chart. Corrections are based on scientifically developed, highly accurate algorithms, and the software has been designed to be easy to understand and use. Estimated Street Price: $750 (software); $850 (reference chart). Contact: Nurizon Software, (347) 332-6900, www.nurizon-software.com.

In Focus 3000 Lumens From Toshiba LL
The new Toshiba TLP-X3000U digital projector provides a bright 3000 lumens, yet weighs just 6.2 pounds. Featuring XGA 1024 x 768 pixel resolution and a 400:1 contrast ratio, the projector comes with an effective anti-theft feature: When a palm-sized panel is removed, the projector won't operate unless the owner's password is entered on the remote control. Other features include one-touch auto setup, a digital zoom function on the remote control, instant power off with no cool-down time required and a “blackboard” function that enables wall color adjustment for better presentations. List Price: $1,739. Contact: Toshiba America, (800) TOSHIBA, www.toshiba.com.

In Focus Lee Filters Starter Kit
Every once in a while, you'll hear someone at a seminar talking about how much they can do with Photoshop and how little they use filters on a camera. That may work for people who are happier spending time in front of a computer, but for simplicity and maximum control, nothing is a substitute for shooting with a filter on your camera. Lee Filters have been an industry standard for years. The resin filters and adapter mounts give you a full range of possibilities in the studio or on location. The new Lee Starter Kit is built for a photographer who wants filters but doesn't want to incur the expense of a full system all at once. The kit includes a filter holder, a 0.6 graduated ND, a graduated coral filter, a cleaning cloth and a storage pouch with components. The $199 list price is a savings of more than $140. Contact: Lee Filters, (800) 576-5055, www.leefiltersusa.com.

In Focus Lexar 8 GB Pro CF Card LL
The Lexar Professional 8 GB CompactFlash memory card now transfers data at 20 MBps—133X. The 8 GB capacity is especially useful for users of high-megapixel digital cameras and those who can't “reload” easily, such as underwater photographers. Like all Lexar Professional flash memory cards, this new one comes with the full version of Lexar Image Rescue 2.0 and Corel's Paint Shop Pro 9 image-editing and management program. Estimated Street Price: $424. Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.

In FocusLadderKart
Here's a handy dual-use device. The Photographer's LadderKart from Adorama is a three-step stepladder with a 300-pound weight capacity and an extra-sturdy hand truck with a 250-pound weight capacity all in one. Made of strong, lightweight aluminum alloy, the unit folds to just 6.5 inches and is easily switched back and forth from ladder to hand truck. Estimated Street Price: $59. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

In Focus Flash PerformanceLL
Profoto combines power and portability in its new AcuteB 600 battery flash generator. At just 7.5x7.5x5 inches and 10.8 pounds, the generator can hold up to 160 full-power flashes. Add to that a maximum output of 600 Ws and a power range of seven ƒ-stops. Optionally, the AcuteB includes a built-in radio synch unit, compatible with the PocketWizard system. The generator will be sold as a kit with a charger, lamp head, reflector, tripod and bag. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Profoto, (914) 347-3300, www.profoto-usa.com.

In Focus Tenba Air Case Upgrades
Shipping gear or taking it on a plane has become a significant hassle in recent years. FAA and TSA regulations have again changed, further limiting what can be carried on an aircraft. While these measures might make for better security, they don't make for the convenient transport of photo gear. Long used by professionals for their durability and protective qualities, the Tenba Air Case line is now being fitted with Datapanel ID systems to make shipment and identification easier and more reliable. The Datapanel is heavily reinforced to prevent detachment and holds standard-size FedEx or UPS labels. A smaller panel also holds a business card or other identifier. You can opt for a laser-engraved plate (which is changeable, in case you move) for a complete ID system. Contact: Tenba, (914) 347-3300, www.tenba.com.

In Focus Pixto-U.com
Pixto-U.com offers simple-to-use lab services that make it dead easy to have a variety of specialty and novelty prints delivered to your door. Photos go through an automatic retouching process, and for $.50 per image, you can get specialty retouching if the photos need it. Other portrait services, like having a child appear on a sports card or magazine cover, are also available. Contact: www.pixto-u.com.


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