January/February 2013

Sigma Glass

Global Vision is the latest concept to come from Sigma and stresses quality in design, manufacturing and inspection. The lenses fall into one of three groups: Contemporary, Art or Sports. Every lens is MTF-tested using Sigma’s new A1 system based on the high-resolution Merrill Generation Foveon sensor. The first of the new lenses is the 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG HSM, which features one FLD and four SLD glass elements to control lateral and axial chromatic aberrations, as well as a Hyper Sonic Motor to assure accurate, quick and quiet autofocusing. The lens can focus down to 11.8 inches for a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:5.2. It takes 67mm filters, measures 3.0×3.7 inches and comes in mounts for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony/Minolta DSLRs. Estimated Street Price: $899. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com, www.sigma-global.com.

Lighting Matters

The Profoto RFi softboxes feature deeper shapes to direct light forward rather than spreading it to the sides, and use recessed fronts that minimize stray light and serve as mounts for the optional Softgrid, which creates even more directed light. They come in four shapes: Rectangular (ideal to light an entire person); Strip (for distinct rim light); Square (for soft symmetric light); and Octa (for beautiful, natural-looking catchlights in subjects’ eyes). A new line of speed ring adapters makes the softboxes compatible with more than 20 different flash brands, from shoe-mount to high-end studio strobes. RFi softboxes are available in 12 sizes, from 1×1.3 feet to 4×6 feet, including 3- and 5-foot-diameter Octa models. Estimated Street Price: $99 to $429. Contact: Profoto, (914) 347-3300, www.profoto.com/us.

Video Support

Available with economical aircraft-grade aluminum legs (VT-2003) or sturdy, yet lightweight carbon-fiber legs (VT-2203), Sirui’s new VT-series professional video tripods offer solid, versatile support for high-end digital video cameras or DSLRs with external monitors. The provided adjustable ground-level spreader offers precise leg positioning and added stability. Minimum height for both versions is 14.7 inches, maximum height is 62 inches and retracted height is 28 inches. Both models feature a strong, lightweight aluminum spider with a 75mm bowl that accepts the optional Y-75B leveling ball set for video applications. An ideal companion is the new Sirui VH-20 Pro Fluid Video Head, which weighs just 4.6 pounds, can support 33 pounds and combines smooth fluid movements with an advanced balancing system. The aluminum VT-2003 weighs 6 pounds and the carbon-fiber VT-2203 weighs 5.3 pounds. Each can support up to 55 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $259 (VT-2003); $399 (VT-2203); $634 (head). Contact: Argraph, (201) 939-7722, www.argraph.com.

NYIP Books

The New York Institute of Photography is launching a new book series called the Quick-and-Easy Everyday Photography Guides. The first two titles are Top Travel Photo Tips from Ten Pro Photographers and Top Ten Secrets for Perfect Baby & Child Portraits. Written by NYIP Director Chuck Delaney, the first book includes input from top travel shooters who share secrets and advice on what they have learned throughout their careers. The second title is written by portrait photographer Clay Blackmore who’s a Canon Explorer of Light. He provides insight, background, tips and guidelines for his 10 favorite types of baby and child photographs, all based on various lighting situations. The books are available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Estimated Street Price: $16 (each). Contact: New York Institute of Photography, (800) 445-7279, www.nyip.com.

Power Up

The Broncolor Scoro studio-flash power packs are high-end units that offer convenience, style, performance and precision. The Scoro S models have three individually controlled outlets, and the Scoro E models have two. All Scoro power packs can deliver 3-3200 J, with color temperature 5500K +/-50K over a 10-stop range. The S models have a top duration of 1/10,000 (t 0.1) or 1/14,000 (t 0.5), while the E models have a top duration of 1/8000 (t 0.1) or 1/12,000 (t 0.5). Accuracy is +/-0.5%, with excellent repeatability. The S models can deliver up to 50 flashes per second (at reduced power) and have fan cooling. All Scoro models feature sleek housings with large carrying handles. Each is available in versions compatible with Bron RFS or RFS 2 remote-control units. Estimated Street Price: $5,979 (1600E); $8,101 (3200E); $9,357 (1600S); $12,906 (3200S). Contact: Hasselblad Bron, (800) 456-0203, www.bronimaging.com.

Bright Light

Video requires continuous light sources, and many studio still shooters prefer continuous sources, too. Manfrotto‘s LED lights are highly efficient and stable, losing less energy through heat generation and providing consistent color output from 1% through 100% power. The highly shock-resistant units also offer reduced power consumption and long lifespan. The camera-mounting units come in six sizes, from Pocket through Maxima, and output 5600K light. The Maxima-84 Hybrid unit can be used as a flash unit at 4X the power of the continuous source, and has a built-in rechargeable 1.5-hour lithium battery (smaller units are powered by AAA batteries). Manfrotto LED lights can be mounted in the camera’s hot-shoe or on a 3⁄8-16 threaded light stand or tripod. Estimated Street Price: $39 to $279. Contact: Manfrotto, (201) 818-9500, www.manfrotto.us.

Secure Backpacks

The Pelican ProGear Sport Backpacks feature light rip-stop nylon and either a crushproof, watertight hard case or a rigid compartment to protect your DSLR system while you focus on the assignment at hand. The Elite models come with an integrated crushproof case for protecting laptops, tablets and other extras that features many of the same military-grade qualities as other classic Pelican cases. The watertight O-ring seal with an automatic pressure-equalization valve ensures that water stays out. A set of four adhesive memory foam buffers helps make sure that contents are secured for travel. The largest is the S100 Elite, and it measures 18.5x13x10 inches with capacity for 15-inch laptops. Other features include a SureGrip soft rubber handle, floating shoulder straps and lumbar pad, a chest clip and a removable hip belt. Estimated Street Price: $269 (S100 Elite). Contact: Pelican, (855) 604-8562, www.pelicanprogear.com.

Pro Capture

Phase One Capture One Pro 7 features new and improved options for enhancing image quality. More precise definition of fine detail and stronger recovery of deep shadow and highlight detail round out the top improvements. The noise-reduction algorithm delivers solid performance, even at high ISO levels. The Clarity tool helps boost landscape images or enhance skin tones in portraits. You now can organize images using a flexible cataloging system that allows you to work with multiple catalogs at the same time, share them and switch between them without having to relaunch the program. Estimated Street Price: $299 (new); $99 (upgrade). Contact: Phase One, www.phaseone.com.

Paper Cuts

The popular Epson Signature Worthy paper collection now includes three new canvases. Exhibition Canvas Natural delivers gallery-quality prints with industry-leading Dmax and color gamut without employing optical brightening agents (OBAs). The paper is available in a Gloss, Satin and Matte finish, and features a new OBA-free coating that maintains a bright white point for saturated colors, rich blacks and solid shadow detail. Constructed on a flexible base of blended cotton and polyester, the 19 ml thick Exhibition Canvas Natural media are both durable and offer improved flexibility, allowing them to be coated and stretched for easy finishing and framing. All three types are available in roll widths of 13, 17, 24, 44 and 60 inches, as well as 17×22-inch cut sheets. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Epson, www.proimaging.epson.com.

Ground Glass

MultiStitch delivers precise digital stitching for pro photographers using large-format cameras and DSLRs or medium-format digital backs. It mounts to your 4×5 along all four edges and on both sides. You can make vertical or horizontal images with full camera movements. With a medium-format digital back, you can use your widest lenses. The built-in MultiVent protects your devices from bellows pressure, stretching the time between costly cleanings. MultiStitch comes with a mask that allows you to compose and focus on the ground glass. With a DSLR, you can use lenses from about 90mm, depending on your 4×5. Unlike sliding pano backs, MultiStitch doesn’t interfere with camera movements, shoots horizontal and vertical, and has no cranks to turn or loose parts to misplace. The MultiVent is also incorporated. Estimated Street Price: $950 (Canon/Nikon mount for DSLRs). Contact: MultiStitch, www.multistich.com.

Smart Portraits

When time is short, it’s helpful to have a tool that can help you touch up portraits quickly. Portrait Professional from Anthropics is an incredibly powerful tool that works its magic with data acquired from analyzing thousands of images to determine what makes facial features attractive or not. For more fine-tuning, there are separate controls for adjusting facial dimensions and skin characteristics. Portrait Professional Studio is a 32-bit application, and Studio 64 is 64-bit for taking advantage of processing capabilities of the latest computers. All other Studio features are the same and include batch processing, improved plug-in support for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, and extended RAW file support for better color control. Estimated Street Price: $59 (Studio); $118 (Studio 64). Contact: Anthropics, (971) 238-0917, www.portraitprofessional.com.

Tough Drive

The LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt hard drive series is fast, flexible and strong. With Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces, the drive gives you connectivity options, and the USB 3.0 interface is backward-compatible so you can connect it to computers with USB 2.0. Available models include 1 TB HDD, 120 GB SSD and 256 GB SSD. The Rugged SSD delivers speeds up to 380 MB/s while the HDD can perform at up to 110 MB/s. The drive is bus-powered through the included USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt cables, a nice feature that spares you from having to use a separate power adapter. The design follows the first Rugged portable drive with a removable bright orange rubber protective case, which covers the edges and keeps the drive safe from shocks and drops. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $199. Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500, www.lacie.com.

Clip It

The Capture Camera Clip System does away with neck straps and swinging cameras. It consists of an aluminum clip that fits on any belt or strap, and a quick-release plate that screws into the camera’s tripod socket. Then, you just slip the camera in and (after pressing the quick-release button) out of the clip. The weatherproof aluminum unit comes with a lifetime guarantee, and works with any camera that has a standard tripod socket (1⁄4-inch diameter, 20 threads per inch). It can handle more than 100 pounds of force, but take note that not all belts and straps can. You can mount the camera in the clip in four directions, for easy lens changes, and can use a hand strap with it, if desired. The ARCAplate and MICROplate fit most Arca-type tripod heads, while the DUALplate fits both Arca and Manfrotto RC2 heads. Estimated Street Price: $79. Contact: Peak Design, www.peakdesignltd.com.

Speed Indeed

High-megapixel RAW still shooting and HD video require fast memory cards. The Transcend 1000X CompactFlash card supports UDMA mode 7, with high-speed transfer rates of up to 160 MB/s read and 120 MB/s write. It’s also VPG-20-compliant, which means it’s able to capture pro-quality video at sustained write speeds of at least 20 MB/s without dropping frames. Estimated Street Price: $109 (16 GB) to $749 (128 GB). Contact: Transcend, www.transcend-info.com.

Flashpoint Tripod

The Flashpoint F-2127 Version II Carbon Fiber tripod supports 17.6 pounds, extends to a maximum height of 57 inches and has 3-section legs. Besides the lightweight advantages—this tripod weighs just 2.7 pounds without a head—carbon fiber doesn’t transfer heat like aluminum, but does absorb vibrations so images look sharper. The F-2127 also comes with flip locks for fast operation, and the center column can become a low column for ground-level use. Estimated Street Price: $179. Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

Extreme Flash

The Nissin MG8000 is designed for heavy use, when maximum flash output is required over a long period of time without overheating or shutting down. This new flash produces more than 1000 continuous 1/1 flashes without overheating. It delivers all the features and benefits of the popular Nissin Di866 Mark II flash, with the added advantage of unequalled heat resistance. The key here is Nissin’s use of special heat-resistant materials developed for this model, as well as replacing the traditional flash tube with a quartz tube that reduces heat significantly. The MG8000 is designed to support Canon E-TTL and Nikon iTTL systems. When combined with the external Nissin Power Pack PS300, the flash operates at maximum speed. It ships with an add-on diffuser and is powered by four AA NiMH or lithium batteries. Recycle time is 5.5 seconds and faster with the PS300 power pack. Estimated Street Price: $629. Contact: Nissin, www.nissindigital.com.

High Dynamic Range

HDR Express 2 from Unified Color improves on its predecessor in several ways. With new image-stacking functionality, the application can automatically arrange, sort and group bracketed exposures. A new visual browser allows you to quickly and easily identify images by thumbnails rather than file names. The program is powered by Beyond RGB color technology, which allows color and brightness channels to be adjusted independently, preventing the color shifts typically associated with HDR images that look overdone. With Adaptive Tone Mapping algorithms, contrast, color and detail retention in the highlight areas of large dynamic range images is improved, while also maintaining optimal contrast and color in darker areas of the image. Estimated Street Price: $99 (new); $59 (upgrade). Contact: Unified Color, (650) 591-5511, www.unifiedcolor.com.

Must-Have Filter

B+W‘s new XS-Pro Digital Filters feature special Multi Resistant Coatings (MRC) with nanotechnology for excellent antireflection characteristics, color reproduction and contrast, and to minimize ghosting caused by reflections from digital image sensors. The mounting rings are made of brass with matte black finish, and they’re extra-thin to minimize vignetting with superwide-angle and zoom lenses. Clear, UV and Kasemann circular polarizing filters are available in sizes from 49mm through 82mm; clear and UV are also available in 86mm. Estimated Street Price: $92 to $306 (clear and UV); $221 to $506 (polarizer). Contact: Schneider Optics, (800) 645-7239, www.schneideroptics.com.

High-Tech Table

Featuring a sleek, high-grade aluminum design, the Savage Air Flow Tech Table has more than 45 ventilated slots designed to rapidly disperse heat generated from laptops, a snap-in accessory system and a variety of options for customizing each model and maximizing your productivity. The table lineup was created for easily integrating any laptop or desktop into your workflow while providing versatility for tethered shooting and editing both in the studio and on location. You simply connect the table to any tripod or light stand and start shooting. The slotted design makes attaching accessories a fast, easy process. The Air Flow Tech Table is available in sizes of 15.75×18.5 and 14×16 inches. Estimated Street Price: $279 (15.75×18.5 inches). Contact: Savage, (800) 624-8891, www.savagepaper.com.

In A Flash

The Phottix Odin TTL Trigger provides wireless radio control of TTL flash with full TTL functioning, along with remote control of power and flash zoom settings. The Odin consists of an on-camera transmitter and control unit, plus receiver units for Canon, Nikon or Sony hot-shoe flash units. You can mix TTL and manual flash units, use high-speed sync (up to 1/8000) and second-curtain functions, adjust manual power remotely and more. The four-channel, 2.4 GHz transmitter and receiver units can operate at ranges greater than 328 feet, and use AA batteries. Kits are available containing one transmitter and two receivers. Estimated Street Price: $349 (transmitter and receiver). Contact: OmegaBrandess, (410) 374-3250, www.omegabrandess.com.

Cleaning Tool

Choose from five different LensPen models, all with a specific job to tackle, for cleaning the optical surfaces of your camera equipment: the Original LensPen for DSLR lenses; MiniPro for compact camera and video lenses; MicroPro for eyepieces, as well as phone and tablet camera lenses; FilterKlear for filters; and DigiKlear for LCD displays. All the models feature two working ends with a retractable natural brush for removing loose dust and a carbon-impregnated cleaning pad for removing fingerprints from the optics surface. The carbon compound used is similar to the one found in printer’s ink. The LensPen lineup is sleek, compact and fits easily in a pocket or camera bag. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: LensPen, www.lenspen.com.

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