Monolights are a great option for photographers who want to work with portable, yet powerful off-camera lighting. The aluminum-housing Flashpoint Budget Studio Monolight Flash units come in 120Ws, 160Ws and 300Ws options. AC-powered, the units take 0.5 to 2 seconds for recycling time, and provide an audio and LED alert when they’re ready for the next flash. Additional features include a preflash test button, optical slave/master setting with LED indicator, SA fuse-protected circuit and replaceable flash tube. Each unit is also available as a kit, with a 40-inch white/black umbrella from Glow by Flashpoint and a six-inch Flashpoint three-section light stand. List Price: $49/$89 (Budget Studio Monolight Flash 120/Kit); $69/$109 (Budget Studio Monolight Flash 160/Kit); $99/$139 (Budget Studio Monolight Flash 300/Kit). Contact: Flashpoint (Adorama), www.adorama.com.
The Strobies Pro-Flash One Eighty provides versatile lighting options at a budget-friendly price. Used either on- or off-camera, just like a traditional speedlight, the 180Ws bare-bulb flash spreads smooth and even light across your frame. The Pro-Flash One Eighty is powered by an external 11.1V/4500 mAh li-ion battery pack that provides 700 flashes with a 2.2-sec. recycle time for shutter speeds as quick as 1⁄8000 sec. The One Eighty can also be used with a variety of modifiers to vary the lighting look. List Price: $594 (Strobies Pro-Flash One Eighty and Battery Pack); $405 (Strobies Pro-Flash One Eighty Flash Head); $209 (Strobies Pro-Flash Battery Pack, compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony and Metz speedlights). Contact: Interfit, www.interfitphotographic.com.
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm ƒ/1.2 ASPH Power OIS
Pushing the aperture range of Micro Four Thirds lenses, Panasonic recently announced the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm ƒ/1.2 ASPH Power OIS lens for the LUMIX G system. With an 85mm equivalent, the rugged metal case has 14 lens elements in 11 groups. Two aspherical elements, an extra-low-dispersion element and an ultra-high refractive index element ensure sharp images from corner to corner with high contrast without color bleed. Nine blades create a smooth bokeh, and the Power OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) compensates for handheld shake, allowing you to take full advantage of the large aperture range. List Price: $1,599. Contact: Panasonic, shop.panasonic.com.
Ideal for indoor use with versatility to light large group portraits down to studio product photography, the FlexFlash monolights, in both 200Ws and 400Ws options, are now being offered by Photoflex. With an oversized LCD screen, these monolights sync with speedlights using a preflash detection system and contain an auto-cooling system. With auto-voltage protection for worldwide use, Continuous Mode allows for output control independent of the flash for continuous light and Auto Power Save kicks in after 20 minutes of inactivity. The FlexFlash features the universal S-type bayonet mount for all sizes of softboxes. Estimated Street Price: $319 (FlexFlash 200Ws); $389 (FlexFlash 400Ws). Contact: Photoflex, www.photoflex.com.
Acratech Video Ballhead
The aluminum and stainless-steel Acratech Video Ballhead provides a sturdy all-in-one tool for making fluid video movements and sharp still photos. Fluid damping maintains smooth pans and tilts, and you can fully adjust the ball tension control for your needs. The oil-less and greaseless ball doesn’t attract dirt, and the open frame allows quick and easy cleaning. The video handle is removable, and a 15mm bull’s-eye level and laser-engraved dual degree markings allow for use as a panoramic head or with a long lens. Compatible with Arca-Swiss quick-release plates, the head fits standard ¼”-20 and 3⁄8″-16 tripods. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: Acratech, www.acratech.net.
HDR Projects 2
HDR projects 2 offers control over seven HDR algorithms, including smoothing, denoising and halo adjustment, all in full 32-bit quality. An exclusive fully automatic alignment tool helps with handheld brackets and moving leaves. Features include individual weighting for every luminance, fully automatic high-end ghosting correction with manual control, when desired, 56 presets (sorted by theme) for pro results, five tone-mapping algorithms and 52 high-end filters. There’s also integrated RAW processing for pretty much every RAW format. List Price: $169.99. Contact: Franzis, www.franzis.de.