January/February 2016

Lensbaby Composer Pro II With Edge 50 Optic

The latest member of Lensbaby’s optic swap system, the Composer Pro II is bundled with the Edge 50 Optic to produce beautiful photos with a selectable “slice of focus” in the midst of a defocused image. Composer Pro II has been updated with a sturdier metal body, which locks in the tilt and swivel lens position more securely. The manual-focus Edge 50 Optic—which can be swapped out for other lenses—offers a 50mm focal length with an aperture range of ƒ/3.2 to ƒ/22. Available for a wide range of mounts, including Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and E, Pentax K, Fujifilm X, Micro 4/3 and Samsung NX. Price: $425. Contact: Lensbaby, lensbaby.com.

Interfit S1 Monolight With HSS

Powered by a rechargeable battery for wire-free shooting or via AC power, the 500Ws Interfit S1 Monolight with HSS delivers high-speed sync up to an amazing 1/8000 sec., as well as TTL for Canon and Nikon cameras. The 4500 mAh Li-ion battery provides up to 350 full-power flashes (400 in HSS mode) and can be controlled by an optional TTL remote. The S1 is bundled with battery and AC power options while a slightly smaller and less expensive version, the S1a, is AC-powered only. Both include a flash head, 7-inch Bowens S-Type reflector and mini-USB cable. Given their capabilities, both models offer good value for the dollar. Price: $1,000 (S1); $600 (S1a); $100 (remote for Canon or Nikon). Contact: Interfit Photographic, interfitphotographic.com.

Sigma 20mm F/1.4 DG HSM | A

Sigma has become the darling of third-party lenses the past few years, and one of their newest wide-angle pieces of glass, the 20mm ƒ/1.4, is bound to join the list of photographer favorites. Designed for full-frame cameras, this fast prime is compatible with APS-C sensors, as well, and, at 20mm, is the widest in Sigma’s Art Lens line. Available in Sigma, Nikon or Canon mounts, the lens is compatible with Sigma’s USB dock for convenient updates and its Mount Conversion Service if you need a different mount. Price: $899. Contact: Sigma, sigmaphoto.com.

Fujinon Teleconverter XF1.4X TC WR

Looking toward the future, Fujifilm has released the Fujinon XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter that currently works with the Fujinon XF50-140mm ƒ/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens and will be compatible with select lenses going forward, including the Fujinon XF100-400mm (currently on Fujifilm’s XF lens road map). For now, though, you can turn your XF50-140mm lens into a 70-200mm equivalent telephoto. You’ll lose a stop with the teleconverter, but since the XF50-140mm is relatively fast at ƒ/2.8, it’s a minor trade-off given the extra focal length. And, like the lens, the teleconverter is water-resistant, too, so you’re good to go regardless of the weather. Price: $450. Contact: Fujifilm, fujifilmusa.com.

PocketWizard Plus IV Transceiver

PocketWizard’s new Plus IV Transceiver retains all the benefits of its Plus III predecessor, but adds a few new features, including a TTL pass-through hot-shoe mount. For one, as a transmitter, the top shoe provides on-camera TTL compatibility with most Canon, Nikon and Panasonic cameras and flashes. The company hopes that, upon further testing, the Plus IV also will be compatible with at least some Fujifilm and Olympus cameras. Use the Plus IV as a receiver, and you have control over a speedlight mounted on the shoe when it’s set to a manual power level. PocketWizard views the Plus IV as the perfect complement to the Plus III rather than a replacement. Either way, you’ll get good use out of both models. Price: TBD. Contact: PocketWizard, pocketwizard.com.

Lomography Petzval 85 Art Lens

Take a step back into the 19th century with Lomography’s Petzval 85 Art Lens. Based on a traditional design from the mid-1800s, the Petzval is manual focus only and produces a sharply focused area that fades into softer focus with a vignette. Optional aperture plates are available for crafting your own special look using the 85mm ƒ/2.2 lens on Nikon F or Canon EF cameras. It works as well on 35mm analog cameras as it does on digital, and is compatible with both cropped and full-frame sensors. Price: $599 (lens); $25 (aperture plates). Contact: Lomography, lomography.com.

ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender 2 Mirrorless Softbox Kit

Designed for smaller speedlights that are used with mirrorless cameras, ExpoImaging redesigned its Rogue FlashBender 2 shapeable light modifier to fit compact flashes with a head circumference between 6.25 and 7.25 inches, like the Nikon SB-500. And, ExpoImaging has improved the belt-and-buckle attachment strap for a more secure fit. Create a softbox on the fly, shape a snoot or reflect/bounce light with this highly portable, affordable accessory. Price: $50. Contact: ExpoImaging, expoimaging.com; rogueflash.com.

Epson Legacy Paper

Epson pulled out all the stops for the new Legacy Paper line, working closely with artists, European papermakers, galleries and chemical engineers to develop papers for photographers who want to exhibit and sell their prints. This collaboration produced a series of four papers with an emphasis on excellent black density, color fidelity and archival properties. Legacy Platine, Legacy Fibre, Legacy Baryta and Legacy Etching papers are available in cut sheets and rolls. Price: TBD. Contact: Epson, epson.com.

Think Tank Photo Lily Deanne Camera Bags

Designed by senior designer Lily Fisher and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer (and company co-founder) Deanne Fitzmaurice, the Lily Deanne series of camera shoulder bags from Think Tank Photo were designed by women for women. But these shoulder bags—available in three sizes—don’t use a pretty-in-pink approach. Photographers have a choice of Licorice or Chestnut colors, with a highly visible turquoise interior to make it easy to locate accessories. The bags are smart-looking, well made and highly functional, with plenty of room for camera g
ear, tablets or laptops. Price: Lucido ($200); Mezzo ($250); Tutto ($300). Contact: Think Tank Photo, thinktankphoto.com.

X-Rite ColorChecker For Video

Achieving critical color balance and exposure settings for video just got easier with X-Rite’s ColorChecker Video and ColorChecker Passport Video. Both the 8.5×11-inch, double-sided ColorChecker Video and the smaller, more portable ColorChecker Passport Video feature multiple, vectorscope-friendly chromatic color patches, a white balance target, skin tone patches and a linear grayscale series for dynamic range. While only the larger model offers illumination check chips and desaturated color patches, the Passport version, which offers four video production targets (including one for focusing), folds neatly into a small case, so you may want to keep both in your gear kit. Price: ColorChecker Video ($129); ColorChecker Passport Video ($149). Contact: X-Rite Photo, xritephoto.com.

Perfectly Clear LUCiD Apps

Like the Perfectly Clear plug-ins, the new LUCiD Desktop and iOS apps make short work of image editing. The cross-platform Desktop app is equipped with quick-fix, one-touch presets, as well as sliders for manual adjustments. A simple interface opens to eight presets (Details, Vivid, Beautify, Beautify+, Fix Dark, Fix Noise, Fix Tint, Landscapes). Click on the adjustments tab for a dozen manual slider options. When you find a combination you like, you can copy and paste settings to your images for a quick and easy workflow. Check out the iOS app to bring LUCiD to your iPhone or iPad. Price: $49 (Mac and Windows); $3 (iOS). Contact: Perfectly Clear (Athentech), hellolucid.com, athentech.com.

Corel ParticleShop Plugin

Based on Corel Painter’s brush technology, the new cross-platform ParticleShop plug-in is equipped with assorted effects brushes to add fiery flare or stormy weather to your images. With 11 brushes in the $50 starter pack, you can extend a swirl of fabric or a sweep of hair, create a dystopian atmosphere with Dust & Debris brushes or add a bit of sparkle if you’d like. To extend your creativity, additional brush packs are available for $30 each. The plug-in is compatible with Corel Photo-Paint and PaintShop Pro, as well as Adobe Photoshop (starting with CS6), Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. Price: $50; additional brush packs ($30 each). Contact: Corel, painterartist.com, corel.com.

ON1 Photo 10

ON1 has revamped and renamed its Perfect Photo Suite software. Now called ON1 Photo 10, the new user interface is only one of the improvements you’ll notice, along with speedier performance, lighter memory requirements and a streamlined workflow. All the same components are there, including Effects, which has absorbed the Perfect B&W module, Enhance and Portrait. Seemingly small improvements like auto advance, easy access to sub-folders when browsing and mobile integration, to name a few new features, combine to make Photo 10 standalone and plug-in software a notable update. Price: $120 (full); $100 (upgrade). Contact: ON1, on1.com.

Macphun Aurora HDR

Software developer Macphun and HDR guru/photographer Trey Ratcliff teamed up to create Aurora HDR, a new Mac-only application that’s fully equipped to handle all your high-dynamic-range needs. From edgy presets to more subtle extensions of shadow and highlight detail, Aurora HDR offers a wide range of controls and options, including layers. Available in Standard and Pro versions, both operate as standalone apps and, if you choose, plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Elements and Aperture. Designed to work on bracketed or single images, the software also works well with Macphun’s other photo applications such as Intensify and Noiseless. Price: Standard ($50); Pro: ($100). Contact: Macphun, macphun.com.

PortraitPro Version 15

Efficient and intuitive, PortraitPro is a high-powered portrait retouching software equipped with enough virtual sculpting and makeup tools to rival a plastic surgeon and MUA in one easy-to-use package. Updated with a full complement of controls, Version15 lets you realistically apply or enhance your subject’s makeup and adjust skin tones. The Child Mode has been enhanced, there’s a new wide-angle lens-correction option for selfies, and the software supports Apple Retina and high-res PC displays. This full-featured application excels at portrait retouching—with manual controls or presets—but also provides basic image adjustments, as well. The Standard version is standalone only; Studio and Studio Max work as standalone apps or plug-ins. Upgrade pricing is available. Price: Standard ($80); Studio ($120); Studio Max ($240). Contact: PortraitPro (Anthropics), portraitprofessional.com.

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