Microsoft Surface Pro 2 Tablet/Computer
iPro Lenses for Smartphones and Tablets
Sony Alpha 7R Interchangeable Lens Camera
Sigma 24–105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens
Sekonic L478 Series Light Meter
Westcott Ice Light
SKB iSeries 1914 Pro DSLR Case
Nikon D610 DSLR Camera
Adobe Lightroom 5
Spider Pro Large Lens Pouch
Vanguard Quovio 41 Camera Bag
Sirui T-2205X Tripod
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The days of traditional laptops as photographers’ favorite portable computer option may be coming to an end with the fall 2013 introduction of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. With a Haswell Core i5-4200U processor, an Intel HD 4400 graphics card and 11-inch display, the Pro 2 is the smallest tablet footprint that runs Windows 8.1 and the complete Office Suite, and is compatible with full versions of Photoshop and Lightroom. Add one of the optional keyboards, with their two keyboard angles, 24 degrees for desktop use and 40 degrees for comfortable lap use, and you have a full-feature laptop for amateur and professional photographers. With its greatly improved battery life, camera-tethering capabilities and many configuration options, to 512GB storage/8GB RAM, the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 deserves serious consideration by any photographer on the go.
Schneider Optics revolutionized iPhone photography during 2012 with the release of its iPro Lens System that included a fisheye, wide-angle and 2X tele lens for the iPhone 4/4S. During 2013, the company took the next step, as smartphones became serious creative tools both for amateurs and professionals. The new Series 2 (S2 System) consists of five lenses for the iPhone 5S, 5, 4S and 4; iPad Mini; and Samsung® Galaxy S4: the three lenses mentioned above and a macro S2 and a Super Wide S2. Select one of the Starter Packs for the smartphones listed above. Each Pack includes a pocket-sized lens case that protects the iPro lenses, and is also a universal tripod mount and comfortable handle. Choose the iPro Trio Kit with the 2X Tele Lens, 2X Super Wide Lens and 2X Macro Lens, or any combination of iPro Lenses. iPro Lenses can be attached to the iSight or Facetime Camera on the iPad Mini with the iPro Mini Clip.
Sony hasn’t hesitated to push the digital camera envelope and its newest interchangeable lens camera, the Alpha 7R, may have burst through the envelope into its own universe. Its most obvious technological advancement is being the world’s smallest and lightest ILC full-frame camera, at less than half the size and weight, and packing a 36.3-MP full-frame Exmor sensor. With its gapless on-chip lens design, a 2.4-million-dot OLED viewfinder, Wi-Fi capability and a fast-intelligent AF that matches full-frame performance, the Sony A7R is truly something totally new. The 3-inch Xtra Fine™ LCD tilts 84 degrees up and 45 degrees down and its WhiteMagic™ technology makes it significantly easier to use menus and preview images in bright daylight. In addition to a Wi-Fi connectivity feature, the Sony A7R also steps forward into today’s most advanced technology choices, including PC control with remote video capture and viewing Ultra High Definition images on 4K TVs.
Sigma introduced this new full-frame lens to the photography world during the October PhotoPlus Expo 2013. Sigma designed the 24–105mm f/4 Art lens with its modulation transfer function (MTF) “A1” measuring system that advances its optical standards to be compatible with the most-recent DSLR camera technology. Another important feature is the largest possible fixed-aperture-to-zoom ratio, making this new Sigma lens an excellent choice for many types of photography, including close-up work with a minimum focusing distance of just less than 17” (45cm) and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.6. The new Sigma 24–105mm f/4 Art lens will first be available with Canon mounts, and then Nikon, Sigma and Sony mounts.
Sekonic offers its L-478 LITEMASTER PRO Series of light meters in D and DR models. Both are the world’s first touchscreen-operated light meter, which includes large 2.7-inch displays that provide data for ambient, flash and cine. Fast calibration with your camera is another important feature of the L-478 series, using Sekonic’s Data Transfer software, Sekonic or X-Rite Brand targets or manually loading information to the DTS program or on the meter. The L-478DR model is designed for use with wireless technology, such as PocketWizard ControlTL, with a built-in radio module and antenna inside the meter. With all its features for still photographers, the L-478 series is sure to be a favorite among filmmakers too. It’s easy to switch between HDSLR and Cine, select infinite frame rate and shutter angle and use the unique, light-source filtration compensation mode for precise lighting control.
Photography lighting will never be the same now that Wescott has introduced the Ice Light, which was a 2013 Hot One winner from Professional Photographer. The Ice Light is a 20-inch (52cm) wrap-around, handheld light wand that doesn’t require a light stand since it only weighs 1.3 pounds. With 1/4-20 threads at both ends, it will easily mount to a light stand, tilter bracket or mini-tripod. The Ice Light casts a wide 72.6-degree beam angle through a frosted diffusion surface and the 1,160-lumen LED light can be dimmed to various outputs, and it’s rated for 50,000+ hours. The light is daylight balanced, but you can easily add gels with the clips that are included in the kit to convert it to Tungsten or any color. The Ice Light kit includes battery charger/power cord, gel clips and a carrying case with a shoulder and belt strap. Plus, it fits in many cases and most regulation, carry-on luggage.
As a professional photographer, there is no margin for error when it comes to protection of your equipment, and few equipment manufacturers know this as well as the people at SKB Cases. That’s why they design and build with military grade materials, giving you the highest standard of protection and security. The SKB iSeries of cases reflects that tough-minded approach. They are waterproof, airtight, corrosion and impact-resistant, and even include an automatic ambient pressure equalization valve. During early 2013, the company introduced the iSeries 1914 Pro DSLR Case, with an interior of high quality PE foam and room for two DSLR bodies with battery grips attached. There are also four lens slots and additional compartments for a flash, memory cards, batteries and other gear. With quality, heavy-duty wheels and a sturdy handle, the iSeries 1914 Pro DSLR Case moves through the airport easily and allows you to pull it right to the shoot site.
With the October 2013 release of the D610, Nikon signaled that it wanted a larger share of the affordable full-frame DSLR market. According to Nikon, only its D800 cameras deliver better high-resolution performance, but they cost approximately $1,000 more than the D610. In some sense, the D610 is a lighter and more affordable version of the D800 full-frame; and although the specs are not the same, the D610 provides all any serious full-frame amateur or newly minted professional would ever need. Many of the highest-level pros could find it to be an excellent second DSLR. The Nikon D610 includes a 24.3-MP sensor; a 100–6400 ISO range; an outstanding autofocus system with 9, 21 or 39 focus points; maximum of 6 fps continuous shooting at full resolution in both FX and DX formats; and broadcast-quality, 1080 Full-HD video at 30p, 25p or 24p frame rates.
Adobe released Lightroom 5 during July 2013, and its improvements proved once again that it might be the best editor for most photographers. No doubt, Photoshop is the king of the hill, but it is so feature-rich—and costs many times more than Lightroom—that only a small number of photographers can justify the investment. One of the important upgrades of Lightroom 5 is a customizable spot removal tool, with a selection of icons that match what you’re editing, such as the human-shaped icon to delete people with one action. The spot-highlighting tool reveals dust and other aberrations much clearer, so they’re easily removed to create virtually spotless images. The smart previews mode allows you to create 2540-pixel lossy DNG copies of RAW images you’ve stored on an external drive. You can then edit the copies on your computer’s internal drive, which saves the changes, but the originals remain unchanged until you move them to your working drive.
If you’re the kind of photographer who must access your camera quickly, then there are no better camera-carrying products for you than Spider’s Black Widow and SpiderPro Holster Systems. Your camera, or cameras, hangs from your waist for a quick, draw-and-shoot action. Now, Spider has made access to your 70–200mm f/2.8 lens just as fast and easy with its Pro Large Lens Pouch. It opens wide, with its vertical zipper, so you can reach further into the pouch, compared to others, and grab the lens around the middle. The rear lens cap is tethered to the pouch, so it’s totally secure. The Spider Pro Large Lens Pouch attaches to the SpiderPro Holster or Black Widow Holster or any heavy-duty belt you may use. The Pro Large Lens Pouch comes with a Spider Monkey base, tab with adhesive strip and Velcro strip.
Photodex has made a name for itself by providing photographers with three ProShow tools to create beautiful photo and video slideshows. ProShow Gold is for hobbyists; and the new version 6 has been expanded to include a greater selection of editing and adjustment tools and font options and Caption Motion Effects, which adds movement to your slideshow text. ProShow Producer was created for professionals; and ProShow 6 puts more design options in their hands with text layers and keyframe enhancements that freeze motion between keyframes and keeps all values on a keyframe when switching from automatic to manual mode. New to ProShow Web, from which you can create slideshows online for Mac, PC and mobile devices, is a tool to combine text and images for any part of a show. The new timing-control feature allows for the setting of a specific time period for any effect or transition. Professional photographers will like the option to save and re-use custom themes when creating batch shows, so they can do more with less time.
The people at Vanguard are passionate about designing and manufacturing the near-perfect camera bag for photographers who are equally passionate about their creativity. During 2013, Vanguard came even closer to perfection with the Quovio 41 Camera Bag. Its what every working pro needs for photo and video assignments that always has his or her on the move. Its primary feature is the Quick Access opening, so you can put your hands on your camera immediately to capture those fleeting moments or images. The interior of the Quovio 41 has generous space and thick padding to accommodate a complete selection of equipment securely. Pack it with 1–2 professional-level DSLRs with grips or a semi-professional camcorder; as large as a 14-inch laptop; 5–6 lenses, including as large as 70–200mm f/2.8; a flash unit; and various accessories. It will also carry two tripods and is designed with two mesh pouches for all the various accessories every working pro must carry with him or her. The Quovio 41 also offers many versatile carrying options, including a comfortable shoulder strap, thickly padded handles, trolley attachment loop and ICS Harness, which is sold separately. Each Quovio 41 Camera Bag comes with a bonus memory card wallet.
The photography marketplace is filled with a myriad of tripod choices, but few have been so ideally designed for travel and outdoor photographers as the Sirui T2205X. It is specially manufactured with a thermally hardened layer, so it’s more resistant to dings and scraps and the broad range of weather conditions during landscape or wildlife photography. As with all Sirui tripods in the TX series, the 2205X is the most compact, but still full-size tripod available because the legs can be inverted and locked 180 degrees, which makes it smaller than comparable tripods. It has 5 carbon-fiber legs for greater stability on uneven terrain and retractable spiked feet that provides added firmness in sand, mud or similar conditions. With the legs fully extended, this tripod reaches almost 6 feet in height; and the leg-locking mechanism means it’s totally operational and secure at this height. The center column also inverts for low-angle and macro photography, putting the top plate just 5.11 inches from the surface. The Sirui T-2205X Tripod is rated to hold a maximum of 26 pounds of equipment, which accommodates virtually all of the heaviest configurations of cameras and lenses.
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