Issue: 20091201

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
December
12
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73
Friday, December 26, 2014

Articles
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POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0001.xml
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FUJIFILM: FINEPIX F70 EXR
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FUJIFILM
FINEPIX F70 EXR
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0002.xml
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MPIX
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MPIX
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tableOfContents
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CONTENTS
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0004.xml
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THK PHOTO PRODUCTS, INC.: Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX
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THK PHOTO PRODUCTS, INC.
Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0005.xml
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SYNC
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SYNC
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0006.xml
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EDITOR'S LETTER
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Taking it to the street
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When we test cameras, we don’t just shoot and analyze targets in the Pop Photo Lab. We also take them out and see how they perform under real-world conditions. Technical Editor Philip Ryan does almost all of this shooting—after all, he writes our DSLR reports.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0007.xml
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POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0008.xml
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HOYA CORPORATION: PENTAX K-7
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HOYA CORPORATION
PENTAX K-7
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0009.xml
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DON’T MISS...
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SHOWCASE
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0010.xml
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SIGMA CORPORATION: DP2
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SIGMA CORPORATION
DP2
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0011.xml
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Buffalo Technology (USA), Inc.
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Buffalo Technology (USA), Inc.
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0012.xml
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WE WANT THIS
WHITE IS THE NEW BLACK
THE HOTTEST NEW STUFF AND THE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS BEHIND IT
And with Pentax’s new starter DSLR, so are red and blue
PENTAX K-X
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WHO SAYS YOUR DSLR has to be black? Pentax’s new $650 (street) K-x also comes in red, white, and blue—with kit lenses to match each of them but blue. Replacing the K2000, this entry-level camera has a 12.4MP CMOS sensor, 24-frames-per-second HD (720p) video capture, and sensitivity all the way up to ISO 12,800.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0013.xml
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JUST OUT
OLD-STYLE PRIMES
Manual focus, fixed focal length, and new from Zeiss
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CANON EOS shooters now have more optical options, thanks to a new lineup of eight manual-focus, full-frame, Canon EFmount prime lenses from Carl Zeiss. Derived from the acclaimed, sharp, and built-tolast Zeiss lenses made for Contax 35mm SFRs, the full line is slated to land in stores by early 2010— and this Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 has already hit shelves.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0014.xml
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ADD A DIMENSION
The first 3-D digital compact camera has arrived
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WITH TWO lenses and two CCD sensors, Fujifilm’s FinePix REAL 3D W1 can shoot two images (or videos) simultaneously—and combine them to form what we perceive as a three-dimensional experience. That would be cool enough on its own, but the best part is that viewing requires no special glasses.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0015.xml
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NEWS FEED
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The world’s most sensitive astronomical camera, marketed by Photon, uses a CCD controller to count photons-and it produces 25 gigabytes of data per second. NASA and the MontMégantic Observatory will use the new camera to make images of faraway stars.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0016.xml
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INSIDE TECH
3-D Display
How does Fujifilm’s V1 viewer let you see 3-D images without glasses?
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Very skinny vertical bars of black pixels. On a normal display, a 3-D file would look blurred because you’d see images meant for both your left and right eyes. But the V1’s layer of bars—the parallax barrier—directs the correct image to the correct eye for real 3-D sans specs.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0017.xml
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MAIN FRAME
HP’s Wi-Fi screen shows your photos—plus the weather
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DIGITAL FRAMES can be great, but we always want them to do more. Enter the DreamScreen from HP. Thin and shiny, it shows photos and videos—and runs web-based applications, too. It lets you visit Facebook, listen to Pandora radio through built-in speakers, or check the weather.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0018.xml
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HUE CONTROL
These mini targets make color correction a snap
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SHOOTING RAW gives you maximum control over white balance, but that doesn’t make it easier to get it right. X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport does. The slim case contains targets for white balances ranging from warm to cool, and a grayscale to prevent clipping shadows or highlights.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0019.xml
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New Software
Google Picasa 3.5
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Want to tag your photos using face recognition, geotag by dragging and dropping them directly onto a map, and share them the moment you offload? Picasa 3.5 does all those things—for free, This simple program is good for snapshots, and especially useful for shooters who use Google’s Gmail.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0020.xml
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CLOSER LOOK
SHOOT IN THE DARK
Ridiculously high ISOs for still photos—and video, too
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Philip Ryan
IF YOU’RE ANNOYED that you can’t use a fast shutter speed when shooting with available light—in a cave—Nikon’s new D3S, due to arrive in stores in November, is the camera for you. Its standard ISO range of 200-12,800 gets you most of the way there, and its expanded range, which goes all the way up to 102,400—three stops faster than ISO 12,800—will have you shooting in the dark.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0021.xml
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TAMRON CO., LTD.
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TAMRON CO., LTD.
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0022.xml
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STATE OF THE ART
GRAIN BUSTER
Sony’s innovation reduces noise without dropping ISOs
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Dan Richards
COMPACT CAMERAS aren’t great in low light—their smaller pixels make for more noise at high ISOs. But these (and some other) Sonys employ a noise-zapping method called Hand Held Twilight mode. This quickly snaps six frames and combines them to extract one lower-noise image, using positional interpolation to line them up.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0023.xml
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TOOLBOX
LIGHT UP
This posable, magnetic flashlight goes anywhere
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WE LOVED Joby’s Gorillapod from the moment we saw it—its posable legs make your camera mountable to any surface the legs wrap around. So when we heard about the Gorillatorch ($30, direct from www.joby.com), we were excited. This magnetic-footed, dimmable light is great for hooking onto all kinds of surfaces to help you, say, set up and focus when you’re shooting at night.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0024.xml
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digitaldays
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THE GUTS
SLIM DOWN
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GFl’s shallow lensmount
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THE DISTANCE from the front of lensmount in Panasonic’s Lumix DMCGF1 ($900, street; www.panasonic.com) to its sensor is, according to our estimates, about 0.76 inch. It’s quite slim. How? This live-view-only camera isn’t a DSLR, so there’s no mirror box up front to bulk it up.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0026.xml
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Bogen Imaging Inc.: Manfrotto
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Bogen Imaging Inc.
Manfrotto
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0027.xml
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Sony Electronics Inc.
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Sony Electronics Inc.
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0028.xml
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PHOTO CHALLENGE
SPIDER FAN
CONVERSATION, INSPIRATION, CONTESTS, AND YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
NEXT PHOTO CHALLENGE
Inspired by our Great Outdoors special, an eBay shooter takes his macro lens outside
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Lori Fredrickson
CHRISTOPHER WELLS of Detroit has long been inspired by Popular Photography. In fact, he even had his Canon PowerShot S3 IS superzoom converted to shoot infrared images because of one of our articles. After reading “Through Fresh Eyes” (October 2009), he put his 65mm f/2.8 Canon MP-E macro lens to new use.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0029.xml
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MY PROJECT
Modern Antiques
Telling camera history in tintypes
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Bill Westheimer
THE PROJECT STARTED by chance, after I photographed someone in my studio for a different assignment. He saw my collection of old cameras and told me a wonderful story about his old camera and his father—I realized that everyone who owns an old camera has such stories.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0030.xml
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TAMRON USA Inc.
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TAMRON USA Inc.
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0031.xml
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LETTERS
Clean Green
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I ALWAYS ENJOY reading lens tests of all types from all manufacturers, and the Leica 50mm f/0.95 was no exception in your September 2009 issue. However, there seems to be a trend where Pop Photo sometimes tests full-frame optics (such as the Leica 50mm f/0.95) on smaller sensors, such as the M8, and reports their findings in the SQF charts as if they were tested on the likes of the fullframe M7.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0032.xml
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ProPicsExpress
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ProPicsExpress
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0033.xml
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Tamrac, Inc.: MicroSync
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Tamrac, Inc.
MicroSync
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0034.xml
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TECH SUPPORT
Better Color
What Should I Buy?
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Q I want to buy the Sony Alpha 900, but I'm worried about its color accuracy. If I shoot with it in RAW, can I tweak the white balance in Adobe Camera Raw to improve its color accuracy? J. Reynolds Spokane Valley, WA A The color accuracy in our Pop Photo Lab test of the Sony A900 wasn’t bad at all— just shy of Excellent—and we doubt you will be displeased with it, unless you do a shoot for a fashion catalog and need to have critically exact color matching.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0035.xml
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Quantum Instruments Inc.
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Quantum Instruments Inc.
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0036.xml
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Advertisement: Dual Access System
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Dual Access System
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0037.xml
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YOUR BEST SHOT
Glamour Shots
This month’s winners made stunning images from ordinary scenes
3rd Place $100 Prize
2nd Place $200 Prize
1st Place $300 Prize
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Lori Fredrickson
ERIC EVANS, 16, STUDENT, MENLO PARK, CA “I like the way lightbulbs look on the inside, and I thought light sparkling off the glass would look neat. I shot this on a table against a black blotter— the hard part was laying out shards with tweezers.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0038.xml
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sunpak: Quantaray XLF-50
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sunpak
Quantaray XLF-50
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0039.xml
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Panasonic: LUMIX GF1
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Panasonic
LUMIX GF1
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0040.xml
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Really Right Stuff
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Really Right Stuff
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0041.xml
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HOW
CREATIVE THINKING
ACTION PACKED
EXPERT TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR BETTER PHOTOS
Get right in the middle of the story
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Debbie Grossman
ACCORDING TO editorial photographer John Loomis, getting access to shoot the military may be difficult, but once you’re in, you’re golden. Then the real work begins. Tasked with capturing Marine Corps drills for a story in Men’s Health magazine, Loomis wanted to convey the extreme physical effort of these recruits.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0042.xml
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HOW
FIX IT FAST
Sun Block
A little tweak of reality helps a composition
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Dan Richards
THE FIX-IT TEAM rarely engages in this sort of hanky-panky, but when we saw Manjeet Jadeja’s charming photo of wild asses, we knew that sun had to move. The Gujarat, India, resident captured a neat moment, with the nuzzling duo near center, but the glowing orb fights it for attention.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0043.xml
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HOW
QUICK TIP
Tele Power
For more interesting close-ups, move back
What’s This?
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Peter Kolonia
WHEN WE first saw Rüdiger Schütz’s floral study of three cosmos flowers, the relative sizes threw us. Surely this was a digital composite. How could the one blossom be so large relative to the other two? In fact, there was no Photoshopping here.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0044.xml
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HOW
LIGHTING
Dazzling Ring
Prized by fashion pros, now ring lights are for everyone
HOW TO USE A RING LIGHT ADAPTER
THE GEAR
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Peter Kolonia
FOR A SHARPLY etched subject with an electrifying catchlight in the eye, no light source you can find beats a ring flash. These camera accessories mount around the lens and come in two sizes. Macro units have small flash tubes like those in shoe-mount flashes, with a diameter not much larger than the lens.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0045.xml
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HOW
SOFTWARE WORKSHOP
Balance Your Light
Combine with conversions from file
QUICK TIP
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Final Step
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Debbie Grossman
MOST OF THE TIME, one RAW conversion is enough—you shoot a photo, use software to perfect the exposure and white balance for the overall image, and you're done. But when your scene contains two very different types and amounts of light, the best thing to do is process your RAW image twice, then use software to put them together.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0046.xml
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Portrait Professional 9
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Portrait Professional 9
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0047.xml
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HOW
YOU CAN DO IT
Along for the Ride
For a wheel’s-eye view, clamp your camera to a fender and go
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Final Step
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Peter Kolonia
WHEN THE German magazine Stern approached Donald Miralle (www.donaldmiralle.com) to shoot a new line of HarleyDavidson motorcycles, the Carlsbad, CA-based commercial and editorial photographer was thrilled. Then it hit him: “I’d had very little experience shooting moving vehicles!”
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0048.xml
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MENTORSERIES
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MENTORSERIES
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0049.xml
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Nikon
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Nikon
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FEATURES
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INTO THE Fog
HOW TO EXPLOIT NATURE’S SOFTBOX
Embrace Your Limitations
America’s Foggiest National Parks
Timing is Everything
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Ian S. Frazier
WEATHER CAN be an outdoor photographer’s best friend or worst enemy. Never is this more true than when fog rolls in, fleeting as a spring shower or stubbornly blanketing the coast for a week. The key lies in knowing where and when fog forms, and how to translate its moody feel into an image.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0051.xml
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The Tiffen Company
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The Tiffen Company
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0052.xml
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FEATURES
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Family Ties
BRING YOUR LOVED ONES TOGETHER IN PICTURES
Exposure and Focus
What You,ll Need
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Peter Kolonia
AUNTS, UNCLES, cousins, offspring, spouses, parents ... Help! How will you catch up with family this holiday season and find time to photograph it all? No worries. We asked a dozen successful amateur and pro portraitists for tips on better family photos.
PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0053.xml
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THK PHOTO PRODUCTS, INC.
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THK PHOTO PRODUCTS, INC.
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PopularPhotography_20091201_0073_012_0054.xml
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30 TOP PICKS
ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS4
CANON EF 100MM F/2.8L MACRO IS USM
CANON POWERSHOT S90
WE TRIED THEM, WE LOVED THEM, AND NOW WE LAUD THEM. HERE’S A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THE PHOTO PRODUCTS THAT WOWED OUR EDITORS THE MOST THIS YEAR.
CANON EOS REBEL T1I
CASIO EXILIM EX-FC100
COREL DIGITAL STUDIO 2010
EYE-FI PRO WIRELESS SD 4GB MEMORY CARD
GITZO OCEAN TRAVELER TRIPOD
LASTOLITE KICKERLITE SOFTBOX
LEICA M9
LOWEPRO PRO ROLLER X-SERIES BAGS
LEICA 50MM F/0.95 NOCTILUX
CAMERA OF THE YEAR
CANON EOS 7D
NIKON D3X
OLYMPUS E-Pl
NIKON AF-S DX 10-24MM F/3.54.5G ED
NIKON D3S
NOVOFLEX MICRO FOUR THIRDS LENS ADAPTERS
OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-54MM F/2.8-3.5 II AF
ORBIS RING-FLASH ADAPTER
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-GF1
PENTAX SMCF-DA 35MM F/2.8 MACRO LIMITED
SANDISK 64GB CF MEMORY CARD
SIGMA 24-70MM F/2.8 EX DG HSM
SINGH-RAY VARI-NDUO FILTER
SONY ALPHA 550
SONY ALPHA 850
SONY CYBERSHOT DSC-HX1
TAMRON 18-270MM F/3.5—6.3 DIII VC AF
THINK TANK SHAPE SHIFTER BAG
adobe
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adobe
ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS4
$585
To harness the power of Photoshop, you have to learn to use Adjustment Layers and Masks—often major stumbling blocks for new users. CS4 solves this with panels that make these tools accessible to everyone. And any upgrade that makes Photoshop easier is a winner in our book. $585 for Windows or $640 for Mac, street; www.adobe.com
adobe
CANON EF 100MM F/2.8L MACRO IS USM
The first-ever L-series Canon lens in the 100mm macro focal length, this is also Canon’s first mid-tele macro with image stabilization (and a new IS mechanism, to boot). Fast, silent, and full-frame, it provides revelatory 1:1 lifesize magnification, along with a nonrotating front barrel that readily accepts a macro ringlight for insect, floral, and other close-up favorites. $1,050, street; www.usa.canon.com
adobe
CANON POWERSHOT S90
$430
The S90 hits the magic number—f/2—at the wide end of its 28-105mm equivalent lens. Combined with ISOs up to 12,800 and image stabilization, that makes this the available-light champ among compacts. (Apertures slow down to f/4.9 at tele, though.) It uses the 10MP CCD from the PowerShot G11, which combines larger sensor size and bigger pixels than typical compacts, for better noise performance at those high ISOs. We like the RAW capture and manual-exposure mode, too. $430, street; www.usa.canon.com
adobe
CANON EOS REBEL T1I
$795
We won’t call the Rebel T1i an EOS 50D Lite, because there’s nothing lite about this most advanced Reb—except the weight. It uses the 15.1MP CMOS sensor, 14-bit A/D converter, and 920,000dot, 3-inch screen from the 50D, and it offers HD video recording, which the 50D lacks. You do have to size video down to 1280x720 to get a 30-fps frame rate (it’s a choppy 20 fps at 1920x1080), but that still beats the competition. $795, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Canon EF-S IS lens; www.usa.canon.com
adobe
CASIO EXILIM EX-FC100
$253
Casio is still the only game in town for super-slow-motion video and absurdly fast burst rates. With the 9.1MP EX-FC100, all that power fits in your pocket. While it won’t refocus or meter between shots, it can shoot bursts at up to 30 fps. Cineastes can capture video at up to 1000 fps for nature-documentary hovering hummingbird shots—though, of course, not at high-def resolution. $253, street; www.casio.com
adobe
COREL DIGITAL STUDIO 2010
$90
Made for the technophobic crowd, this easy-to-use software can also find a place in the workflow of a seasoned shooter. The Windows-only program has a pleasant, streamlined interface, and it will help you get your pictures to Facebook and your videos to YouTube without much effort on your part. $90, direct; www.corel.com
adobe
EYE-FI PRO WIRELESS SD 4GB MEMORY CARD
$150
Shooting is easy—it’s getting the pictures off the card that’s a pain in the neck. Eye-Fi steps in to upload your images automatically without requiring a connection to the computer. But the newer Pro card won us over because it can finally upload RAW files—not just JPEGs, as was the case with the original Eye-Fi card. $150, street; www.eye.fi
adobe
GITZO OCEAN TRAVELER TRIPOD
$1,125
Surf photographers know the horrible crunch of sand grinding away the inner threading of a tripod leg lock. Not so with Gitzo’s new Ocean Traveler. A light, travel-ready, carbon-fiber tripod with an 8.8-pound capacity, it has specially sealed leg locks to keep most surfside corrosives safely away from the inner workings. Pricey? Yes, but this is a specialist’s tool. $1,125, street; www.gitzo.com
adobe
LASTOLITE KICKERLITE SOFTBOX
$207
Tired of stand-mounted fill lights creeping into the edges of your studio portraits? Lastolite has an answer: the KickerLite softbox. A 3x4-foot fill light, it accepts most studio strobe heads and virtually any shoe-mount flash. Best thing? It requires no lightstand—it sits on the floor, well out of your frame. $207, street; www.lastolite.com
adobe
LEICA M9
$6,995
Finally, the digital Leica goes full-frame, courtesy of a Kodak-made 18MP CCD sensor whose design overcomes the problem of light falloff at the outer edges of the sensor (read our test on page 79). The first full-frame digital rangefinder, and the smallest digital full-framer of any type, the M9 also uses a menu and control interface whose elegant simplicity better befits a Leica than that of the M8 series. $6,995, street, body only; us.leica-camera.com
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LOWEPRO PRO ROLLER X-SERIES BAGS
$270-360
In three sizes, these have hard-walled exteriors that harbor a removeable backpack with adjustable, padded gear compartments. Wear the backpack, double the capacity. The handle is a camera platform, and there’s a built-in TSA-approved cable lock. $270-360, street; www.lowepro.com
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LEICA 50MM F/0.95 NOCTILUX
$9,995
Ten grand is a lot—make that an awful lot—to spend on a lens, but for the deep-pocketed who want to shoot in abysmal light sans flash or tripod, this superbly built beauty beckons. The world’s fastest lens, it’s also among the sharpest we’ve ever tested, with only slight barrel distortion and vignetting gone by f/1.4. $9,995, street; us.leica-camera.com
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CANON EOS 7D
$1,700
By finally providing a truly rugged, pro-oriented APS-C format DSLR, Canon redefines the way people should think about sensor size. Pros now can choose what size sensor best fits their assignment, and enthusiasts have a full range of options based on their shooting style. This solid piece of engineering wowed us with its 18MP CMOS sensor resolution, its fast 8-fps burst rate, and its tough weathersealed body. It also marks a refinement of Canon’s metering and autofocus systems, which now work together to track subjects by shape and color. $1,700, street, body only; www.usa.canon.com
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NIKON D3X
$7,600
When we speak of refinement, we think of this 24.6MP full-framer. It delivers more resolution than any other DSLR with a 35mm or smaller sensor. It captures usable images all the way to ISO 6400, has a 5-fps burst rate for action shots, and is built to withstand both Death Valley and Denali. Ample customization and other high-end features expand the capabilities of pro shooters. With Nikon’s WT-4a wireless transmitter and Camera Control 2 software, for instance, you can trigger up to 10 D3X bodies from your computer. $7,600, street, body only; www.nikonusa.com
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OLYMPUS E-Pl
$750
Talk about redefinition: Micro Four Thirds is the first really new concept in interchangeable-lens cameras since the modular 35mm SLR took hold a half-century ago, and Olympus was first to exploit the small size the format permits. The E-P1 evokes the bygone heyday of rangefinders with its beautiful metal body—you can even get a collapsible lens. While not without flaws, it beats some DSLRs in image quality. $750, street, body only; www.olympusamerica.com
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NIKON AF-S DX 10-24MM F/3.54.5G ED
$820
The widest DX Nikkor zoom, this 15-35mm equivalent offers near flawless handling, with light weight, compact proportions, perfectly damped zoom and focusing actions, and extremely rapid and quiet autofocus. Its true forte, though, is its close-focusing and magnifying power: 1:4.1—the closest we’ve seen to an ultrawide macro. (See test, page 86.) $820, street; www.nikonusa.com
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NIKON D3S
$5,200
Continuing the legacy of its predecessor, the D3, Nikon’s new D3s (see Closer Look, page 18) offers a top ISO of 102,400. That makes it the first DSLR to reach above 100,000 (although, as we went to press, Canon announced the equally sensitive EOS-1Ds Mark IV). It’s also one of the fastest in terms of burst speed, capturing 9 frames per second for up to 82 highest-quality JPEGs in a single press of the shutter release. $5,200, street, body only; www.nikonusa.com
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NOVOFLEX MICRO FOUR THIRDS LENS ADAPTERS
$160-290
The German adapter specialist Novoflex has given a potential boost to the fledgling Micro Four Thirds system with not one or two, but a dozen new lens adapters. Now, Micro Four Thirds owners have the option of Nikon (G or non-G) lenses, as well as glass from Leica, Olympus OM-mount, Pentax, Sony, and more. $160-290, street; www.hpmarketingcorp.com
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OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-54MM F/2.8-3.5 II AF
$550
The fastest and probably most expensive kit lens anywhere, this versatile step-up lens boasts weather-resistant sealing, fast and quiet AF, superior sharpness and contrast as well as shockingly strong distortion control (0.01 and 0.02% barrel at 35 and 54mm, respectively). Why not a constant f/2.8? Olympus wanted big-league optics, but also user-friendly dimensions and weight. $550, street; www.olympusamerica.com
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ORBIS RING-FLASH ADAPTER
$199
Similar adapters mount around specific hot-shoe flashes (see Lighting, page 42), but the Orbis brings something new to the party: It will mount on almost any hot-shoe flash, instantly giving your lighting the edgy ring-light look that can otherwise cost thousands to acquire. $199, street; www.orbisflash.com
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PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-GF1
$900
Though first to the Micro Four Thirds scene, Panasonic let Olympus beat it to the punch with the extremely compact design of the E-P1. The GF1 is equally compact, with a more subdued black finish, but it brings with it the remarkable image quality and contrastbased AF speed we enjoyed in its older Lumix siblings, the G1 and GH1—as well as 720p video at up to 60 fps. $900, street, with 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Lumix G Vario lens; www.panasonic.com
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PENTAX SMCF-DA 35MM F/2.8 MACRO LIMITED
$540
From its matteblack anodized aluminum barrel and etched markings to the buttery draw of its manual focus ring, this 52mm equivalent reflects the high standards of Pentax's Limited line. Optics are even better: Flawless sharpness, imperceptible distortion, minimal falloff. Best of all? Larger-than-life 1:0.92 magnification. $540, street; www.pentaximaging.com
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SANDISK 64GB CF MEMORY CARD
$700
SanDisk clocks its Extreme Pro cards at up to 90MB per second and, as if that weren’t enough, the cards also come in sizes up to 64GB. Sure, even top DSLRs can’t yet write fast enough to take full advantage of that speed, but the time it takes to offload shrinks when you use a FireWire 800 card reader. $700 for 64GB, street; www.sandisk.com
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SIGMA 24-70MM F/2.8 EX DG HSM
$900
This high-speed pro-grade (EX) full-frame lens represents a gauntlet thrown down before the Canons and Nikons of the world. With its excellent sharpness, superior build, compact proportions, very well controlled distortion, no edge falloff to speak of, high speed, and quick, quiet autofocus, Sigma is giving the big guys a run for their money. $900, street; www.sigmaphoto.com
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SINGH-RAY VARI-NDUO FILTER
$390
A revolution in multitasking, this all-inone does the work of multiple neutral-density filters, a warming filter, and polarizer. Two rotating rings offer continuously adjustable neutral density from -2.7 to -8 stops. Expensive, but could singlehandedly replace almost every filter now jammed into your camera bag. From $390, direct; www.singh-ray.com
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SONY ALPHA 550
$950
The 14.2MP Alpha 550 steps up the competition in the step-up category with a class-leading burst rate (7 frames per second), the biggest articulating LCD screen yet (3 inches), and two methods of live view—the delay-free system using a separate sensor, plus a direct feed from the imaging sensor for perfectly accurate framing. Most intriguing new feature: the high-dynamic range (HDR) mode that can align and combine two images in the camera into one with greater tonal range. $950, street, body only; www.sonystyle.com
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SONY ALPHA 850
$2,000
Bringing full-frame luxury to the masses, Sony’s A850 offers 24.6MP shooting for hundreds less than its Alpha 900 and all its competitors, but makes you give up only some burst speed (3 fps instead of the Alpha 900’s 5), a little viewfinder accuracy (98% instead of 100%), and a wireless remote control. Not much, considering that most DSLRs don’t come with remotes anyway. And, if you don’t shoot sports, you probably won’t miss the burst speed. (See our test, page 71.) $2,000, street, body only; www.sonystyle.com
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SONY CYBERSHOT DSC-HX1
$420
The HX1’s cool technology includes Sweep Panorama, which lets you just sweep the camera in an arc to capture an extrawide image; Dynamic Range Optimizer for taming excessive contrast; and Hand Held Twilight mode, a unique—so far—-noise-reduction system described in this issue’s State of the Art (page 20). But the fundamentals also impress: tested resolution near 2000 lines with Excellent color accuracy, plus effective image stabilization that lets you stay at lower ISOs for better image quality. $420, street; www.sonystyle.com
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TAMRON 18-270MM F/3.5—6.3 DIII VC AF
$600
This Tamron lens, a 29—405mm equivalent, has the longest zoom range (15X) currently available for DSLRs. It also includes a Vibration Compensation system that should gain users between 1.5 and 3 stops of handheld shooting. Other impressive results: no discernible vignetting at three of the four focal lengths we tested, and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.89. $600, street; www.tamron.com
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THINK TANK SHAPE SHIFTER BAG
$250
The Shape Shifter is one of the only camera bags we’ve used that gets better after you’ve taken your camera out of it. A zipper around the sides of this backpack lets you shrink its depth, so it won’t stick out very far while you shoot: Loaded with gear, it’s 7 inches deep, but zipped tight it’s only 3 inches—no more smacking people with your pack when you turn to grab your shot. $250, street; www.thinktank photo.com
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Newegg Inc.
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article
71
71,72,73,74,76
LAB
DSLR TEST
BIG SENSOR, SMALLER PRICE
AUTHORITATIVE TESTS, REVIEWS, AND BUYING ADVICE
Sony’s new Alpha 850 brings down the cost of high-megapixel, full-frame photography
SONY A850
Where Costs Were Cut
The Shooting Experience
Alpha vs. Alpha
TEST RESULTS
Facing the Competition
SPECIFICATIONS
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Philip Ryan
JUST A FEW years ago, a full-frame DSLR would have set you back as much as a late-model used car. Now, Sony is offering its new 24.6MP Alpha 850 for a cool two grand (body only). And our lab tests revealed image quality close to that of its more expensive sibling, the A900 ($2,700, street, body only).
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Graphic Authority
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New York Institute of Photography
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New York Institute of Photography
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74
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VANGUARD USA Inc.
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VANGUARD USA Inc.
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1&1 Internet, Inc.
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1&1 Internet, Inc.
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THK PHOTO PRODUCTS, INC.
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THK PHOTO PRODUCTS, INC.
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Buydig
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meridian
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article
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79,81,83,84,120
LAB
LEICA M9
Lone Ranger
THE ONLY DIGITAL RANGEFINDER WITH A FULL-FRAME SENSOR
Focus and Framing
Very Simple Control
Winning Numbers
TEST RESULTS
Out There on Its Own
SPECIFICATIONS
[no value]
[no value]
Philip Ryan
LEICA HAD A HARD time switching to digital. Focus issues delayed the digital back for R-series SLRs, the infrared filter in the M8 rangefinder had to be augmented with special filters for lenses, and Leicaphiles had to wait years for an M-series camera with a sensor as big as a frame of 35mm film.
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F.J. Westcott.
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F.J. Westcott.
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Interfit Photographic Ltd
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Interfit Photographic Ltd
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ADORAMApix
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article
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86,88,89
LAB
LENS TEST
A Wider View
TWO NEW ULTRAWIDE ZOOMS FOR DSLRS WITH APS-C-SIZE SENSORS
Nikon Brings You Closer
SPECIFICATIONS
TEST RESULTS
SUBJECTIVE QUALITY FACTOR
Sigma: Speed for Less
SUBJECTIVE QUALITY FACTOR
The Choice You Face
SPECIFICATIONS
TEST RESULTS
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Julia Silber
HOW MUCH RANGE do you want in an ultrawide-angle zoom lens? How close do you want to get to your subjects? And how much do you want to spend? These are a few of the questions you need to ask yourself when comparing these two new digital-only ultrawide zooms from Nikon ($800, street) and Sigma ($650, street).
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ADORAMA
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ADORAMA
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article
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90,92
LAB
SOFTWARE REVIEW
Too Much?
THE LATEST ELEMENTS PROGRAMS ARE OVERSTUFFED WITH FEATURES
SPECIFICATIONS
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Debbie Grossman
NOT EVERYONE who’s getting serious about image editing wants to spend $700 on software, at least not right away. That’s where Adobe’s $100 Photoshop Elements steps in. Still the best place for beginners to start, it will help you learn Photoshop basics such as Layers, Adjustment Layers, and Selections.
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Schneider OPTICS
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Schneider OPTICS
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GARY FONG
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GARY FONG
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review
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DON’T MISS...
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THE GUIDE
OUR OPINIONATED TAKE ON THE DSLRS AND LENSES WE'VE TESTED
CANON EOS-1D MARK III
CANON EOS 50D
CANON EOS REBEL XSi
NIKON D3X
CANON EOS-1Ds MARK III
CANON EOS REBEL T1i
LEICA M9
NIKON D90
CANON EOS 5D MARK II
CANON EOS REBEL XS
NIKON D3
NIKON D300S
NIKON D700
OLYMPUS E-30
PENTAX K-7
SONY ALPHA 330
SONY ALPHA 850
NIKON D5000
OLYMPUS E-520
PENTAX K2000
SONY ALPHA 380
SONY ALPHA 900
OLYMPUS E-3
OLYMPUS E-620
SIGMA SD14
SONY ALPHA 700
OUR STAR RATINGS
CANON EF-S 10-22MM F/3.5-4.5 USM
NIKON AF-S DX ZOOMNIKKOR 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5G ED
NIKON AF-S ZOOM-NIKKOR 17-35MM F/2.8D ED-IF
PENTAX 12-24MM F/4 PENTAX DA ED
SIGMA 12-24MM F/4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM
TAMRON SP 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5 DI II LD
CANON EF 16-35MM F/2.8L II USM
NIKON AF-S DX ZOOMNIKKOR 12-24MM F/4G
NIKON AF ZOOM-NIKKOR 18-35MM F/3.5-4.5D ED IF
SIGMA 10-20MM F/3.5 EX DC HSM
SONY DT 11-18MM F/4.5-5.6
TOKINA AT-X 11-16MM F/2.8 PRO DX
CANON EF 17-40MM F/4L USM
NIKON AF-S ZOOM-NIKKOR 14-24MM F/2.8G ED
OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14MM F/4
SIGMA 10-20MM F/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
SONY ZEISS VARIO-SONNAR T 16-35MM F/2.8 ZA SSM
TOKINA AT-X 12-24MM F/4 PRO DX
CANON
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CANON
EOS-1D MARK III
$3,700
$3,700, street, body only The emphasis is on speed over megapixels in the 1D Mark III, whose dual processors make it an ideal tool for shooters of fast action. Soon to be replaced by the 1D Mark IV. STANDOUT SPEC Demonic speed in autofocusing, subject tracking, and, notably, burst rate: 10 fps for full-res JPEGs. SENSOR 10.1MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
EOS 50D
$1,000
$1,000, street, body only Current flagship of Canon APS-C models offers class-leading image quality, a great build, and very speedy shooting—but no video. For that, you'll need an EOS 7D—see the Pop Awards. STANDOUT SPEC 6.3-fps burst rate beats all the competition in this class—but others are catching up fast. SENSOR 15.1MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
EOS REBEL XSi
$625
$625, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S IS lens While it lacks video, the XSi's well-designed package of fine imaging, fast-forany-class AF, and excellent viewfinder make it a hit in its class. If you don't need video, this may be your Reb. STANDOUT SPEC Relentless consistency of image quality throughout the ISO range. SENSOR 10MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
D3X
$7,600
$7,600, street, body only Without question, the overall image quality champ of current DSLRs—and should be for a while. Built like a tank, it's heavy and expensive, but those who love it don't care. Has the fastest AF in low light. STANDOUT SPEC The absolute, breathtaking state-of-the-artness of it. SENSOR 24.5MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
EOS-1Ds MARK III
$6,100
$6,100, street, body only Once Canon's megapixel king, it now shares that throne with the newer EOS 5D Mark II. Awesome image quality in a bulletproof body—at a high cost in both weight and dollars. A favorite of nature and studio shooters both. STANDOUT SPEC Medium-format imaging from a (sort of) 35mm body. SENSOR 21.1MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
EOS REBEL T1i
$785
$785, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S IS lens As far from a "starter" camera as any Rebel has ever come, the T1i has the same sensor and nearly the same processing power as pricier big brother EOS 50D. STANDOUT SPEC Sheer imaging power—both still and video—ranks best for this price. SENSOR 15MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO RES/FRAME RATE 1080i/20 fps, 720p/30 fps LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
M9
$6,995
$6,995, street, body only Leica finally serves up a full-frame M body, and it produced Excellent image quality through ISO 800. Outside the lab, we loved the classic Leica style and good old-fashioned simplicity of operation. But what's with the max ISO of 2500? STANDOUT SPEC A sensor that delivers all the quality Leica lenses can deliver. SENSOR 18MP CCD, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION None VIDEO None LCD 2.5-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
D90
$810
$810, street, body only The first DSLR with video, it remains Nikon's main midlevel model, with great resolution, HD movie-making, and near-perfect layout. Unlike lesser Nikons, it accepts lenses without AF motors. STANDOUT SPEC The pop-up flash that supports wireless flash control. You won't find that on the D5000. SENSOR 12.3MP CMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO RES/FRAME RATE 720p/24 fps LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
EOS 5D MARK II
$2,700
$2,700, street, body only Long-awaited update of the original full-frame workhorse, the Mark II impressed us with stellar image quality, HD video, rugged construction—but not the older AF system recycled from the Mark I. Film students have taken to its video big time. STANDOUT SPEC Excellent image quality to ISO 3200—'fluff said. SENSOR 21.1MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO RES/FRAME RATE 1080p/30 fps, 720p/30 fps LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
EOS REBEL XS
$500
$500, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S IS lens Inheriting the sensor of the former "top Rebel" XTi, the XS adds live view to round out Canon's most economical DSLR. And it comes with an IS kit lens, standard. STANDOUT SPEC The XS, for an "entry-level" model, autofocuses faster than many a pricier camera. SENSOR 10MP CMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 2.5-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
D3
$5,000
$5,000, street, body only Large pixels for soaking up low light, tanklike body for absorbing punishment, state-of-the-art AF and metering—plus a pricetag and weight to match. Soon to be replaced by the D3S. STANDOUT SPEC Everything, but usable image quality at ISO 25,600 is still a wow. SENSOR 12.1MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
D300S
$1,760
$1,760, street, body only Thoughtful major tweak of the well-regarded D300 adds video (though we wish it did 1080p at 30 fps) and increases native burst rate to 7 fps. Very competitive with the current state of the midrange art, but that battle is really heating up. STANDOUT SPEC Color-and-shape-sensing AF tracking still a standout shooting tool. SENSOR 12.3MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO RES/FRAME RATE 720p/24 fps LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
D700
$2,700
$2,700, street, body only For the enthusiast craving pro-grade features, the D700 offers a full-frame sensor borrowed from the D3 supercamera, sensitivity to ISO 25,600, 51-zone AF, and a pop-up flash with wireless flash control. STANDOUT SPEC That big, juicy full-frame sensor in an enthusiast’s $2,700 body, for great low-noise shooting from ISO 100 through 6400. SENSOR 12.3MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
E-30
$900
$900, street, body only Olympus' less-expensive companion to the prograde E-3 boasts more megapixels, an impressive for its class 5-fps burst rate, comparable handling, and an assortment of fun filters—pop art, anyone? STANDOUT SPEC The fully-articulating LCD screen makes live view much more useful while also protecting the screen from harm if you turn it inward. SENSOR 12.3MP LiveMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2.5-3 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.7-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
K-7
$1,160
$1,160, street, body only Built like a tank, Pentax’s flagship DSLR has a well-designed body and records pleasing video, but its image quality and AF speed fall short of similarly-priced competitors. STANDOUT SPEC 77 weather seals let you shoot in 14°F temperatures. SENSOR 14.6MP CMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2.5-3 stops VIDEO RES/FRAME RATE 1536xl024/30fps, 720p/30fps LCD 3-in., 921,000-dot
CANON
ALPHA 330
$600
$600, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Sony DT SAM lens An entry-level DSLR with a flexible LCD, the Alpha 330 has speedy autofocus, the best live view in town, and a price fit for the thriftiest photographers. STANDOUT SPEC The live view uses the conventional (and fast) AF system, fires with no delay. SENSOR 10.2MP CCD, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2.5 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.7-in, 230,400-dot
CANON
ALPHA 850
$2,000
$2,000, street, body only Minor change of the A900 drops viewfinder accuracy to 98%, slows burst rate to 3 fps, and forgoes a wireless remote control. It kept the impressive image quality, top ergonomics, and superfast AF, though—so much so that it achieved an equal rating to the A900. STANDOUT SPEC The most full-frame bang for the buck you can get today. SENSOR 24.6MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2-2.5 stops VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
D5000
$730
$730, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DX Nikkor VR lens For Nikonians who want a hinged and tilting LCD, the D5000 is the only option. Plus you get video, 4-fps burst shooting, speedy AF, and sensitivity out to ISO 6400. STANDOUT SPEC The price—it offers (almost) everything the D90 has but costs $80 less. SENSOR 12.3MP CMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO RES/FRAME RATE 720p/24fps LCD 2.7-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
E-520
$450
$450, street, with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital lens Its live view previews exposure settings (albeit on a non-swiveling LCD), and overall ergonomics are very user-friendly—all for $450, with a lens. Paired with its housing, you'll have a diving rig for under $1,200. STANDOUT SPEC The built-in image stabilization fared extremely well in our field tests and can be used with any lens you put on the camera. SENSOR 10MP LiveMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2-3 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.7-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
K2000
$430
$430, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Pentax DA lens Nice-handling beginner’s DSLR, with image quality and AF speed that can’t keep up with more expensive cameras. Still way ahead of any compact, though. STANDOUT SPEC With adapters, this camera can use any lens Pentax has ever made. SENSOR 10.2MP CCD, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2.5 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.7-in, 230,000-dot
CANON
ALPHA 380
$800
$800, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Sony DT SAM lens With its made-for-beginners display interface and great live view, the Alpha 380 would be perfect for those new to DSLRs. STANDOUT SPEC One of the best live-view systems yet, works without delay in AF or firing. But we do wish it showed 100% of the scene. SENSOR 14.2MP CCD, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2-3 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.7-in., 230,400-dot
CANON
ALPHA 900
$2,700
$2,700, street, body only Sony's blockbuster full-framer puts up top resolution numbers at ISO 100 but has some catchup to do in noise and color accuracy. Speedy AF and great ergonomics almost make us forget that it doesn’t have live view or pop-up flash. STANDOUT SPEC That big, bright viewfinder makes you realize why you prefer SLRs. SENSOR 24.6MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2-2.5 stops VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 921,600-dot
CANON
E-3
$1,120
$1,120, street, body only Pros cotton to Olympus’ flagship for its super-rugged construction and its superior lens line. Also nice: Fast AF, a small but swiveling LCD, and built-in image stabilization. STANDOUT SPEC Alloy chassis fully encases the innards—including the back, a weak area on many DSLRs—and allows you to fold the LCD inward to protect it from scratches—or worse. SENSOR 10.1MP LiveMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2.5-3 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.5-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
E-620
$700
$700, street, with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital lens For arty amateurs, the E-620 offers the still-new seeming Art Filters, special effects that invite experimentation. Plus: small, light build, and body-based, sensor-shift IS. STANDOUT SPEC The super-articulated swiveling/tilting LCD that the E-520 lacks. SENSOR 12.3MP LiveMOS, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2 stops VIDEO None LCD 2.7-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
SD14
$725
$725, street, body only Unique 3-layer RGB sensor distinguishes the cultish SD14, an aging design that has fallen well behind the current state of the art in imaging, AF, and shooting speed. STANDOUT SPEC Imaging with a creamy, subtle, almost filmlike quality. SENSOR 4.7MPx3-layer Foveon X3 sensor, 12-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION Lens-based VIDEO None LCD 2.5-in., 230,000-dot
CANON
ALPHA 700
$850
$850, street, body only The camera that put Sony on the map as a maker of enthusiast DSLRs may be an oldie, but it's still a goodie for its rugged build, fine imaging, and thoughtful design. We still haven’t heard of a replacement, but we're sure it will happen soon. STANDOUT SPEC One of the most intuitive control and menu interfaces yet. SENSOR 12.2MP CMOS, 14-bit RAW capture IMAGE STABILIZATION 2.5-3 stops VIDEO None LCD 3-in., 920,000-dot
CANON
EF-S 10-22MM F/3.5-4.5 USM
$789
$789, street Still the lightest of the ultrawide zooms, though not lightweight in price. It boasts rugged construction, with sharpness, distortion and light falloff all above average, and a close-focusing distance of 9.4 inches. Tight! STANDOUT SPEC The insanely light (less than a pound) weight. MOUNTS Canon EF WEIGHT 0.9 pound LENGTH 3.6 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
AF-S DX ZOOMNIKKOR 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5G ED
$800
$800, street, with hood and case Handling is the key here: focus and zoom rings are perfectly damped, and the AF is very fast and quiet. The lens' 1:4.1 magnification power is the best in this group. Distortion and vignetting are average. STANDOUT SPEC That 1:4.1 subject magnification. MOUNTS Nikon WEIGHT 1.1 pounds LENGTH 3.5-3.8 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
AF-S ZOOM-NIKKOR 17-35MM F/2.8D ED-IF
$1,770
$1,770, street, with hood and hard case Top-grade construction and sweet handling in a pro-level lens, sharp throughout the aperture and focal length ranges. Distortion, though, at 17mm and 35mm is high by current standards. STANDOUT SPEC Sharpness with f/2.8 speed. MOUNTS Nikon AF-S WEIGHT 1.7 pounds LENGTH 4.2 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
12-24MM F/4 PENTAX DA ED
$730
$730, street, with hood Another 12-24mm, this is top dog in a hot category. All-metal lensmount and constant aperture contribute to Best in Class designation. Minor bummer: no weathersealing. STANDOUT SPEC Imperceptible distortion at 18mm and 24mm—and no vignetting at these focal lengths. MOUNTS Pentax KAF2 WEIGHT 1 pound LENGTH 3.5-3.6 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION In the camera
CANON
12-24MM F/4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM
$860
$860, street, with hood and case The EX for Sigma indicates pro quality, and this lens is indeed sturdy. At 1.4 pounds, though, for a variable aperture, it's got a weight problem. STANDOUT SPEC Only slight barrel distortion (0.22%) at 12mm, MOUNTS Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Sony WEIGHT 1.4 pounds LENGTH 4 inches FILTER SIZE Rear gelatin type STABILIZATION No
CANON
SP 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5 DI II LD
$480
$480, street, with hood Among the hottest new ultrawide angle zooms, this Tamron produces only Slight barrel distortion, great close-up performance, and almost no vignetting. STANDOUT SPEC A very tight 9.4-inch close-focus distance, plus no falloff at 18 and 24mm. MOUNTS Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony WEIGHT 1 pound LENGTH 3.3-3.7 inches FILTER SIZE 77 mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
EF 16-35MM F/2.8L II USM
$1,549
$1,549, street, with hood and case This L-series superstar has dust-and moisture-sealed build, and fast and quiet autofocus. The low distortion numbers at the longer focal lengths (0.12%, 0.19% pincushion) promise straight subject lines. Close-focus? An amazing 10.6 inches. STANDOUT SPEC Three aspheric elements to lower linear distortion. MOUNTS Canon EF WEIGHT 1.5 pounds LENGTH 4.4 inches FILTER SIZE 82 mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
AF-S DX ZOOMNIKKOR 12-24MM F/4G
$1,030
$1,030, street, with hood A popular focal-length equivalent in full-frame (18-36mm), this lens offers excellent sharpness, but high distortion numbers at the widest setting: 1.31% barreling. Average close-focus (11.7 inches) and magnification (1:8) numbers. STANDOUT SPEC Convenient operation and a constant aperture. MOUNTS Nikon AF-S WEIGHT 1 pound LENGTH 3.5 inches FILTER SIZE 77 mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
AF ZOOM-NIKKOR 18-35MM F/3.5-4.5D ED IF
$600
$600, street, with hood Variable aperture makes this lens a lower-cost alternative to Nikon's 17-35mm f/2.8, with near comparable sharpness. Like many older wide-angle zooms, though, it produces distortion—Visible at all tested vocal lengths, STANDOUT SPEC Almost no light falloff throughout the focal-length range. MOUNTS Nikon AF WEIGHT 0.9 pound LENGTH 3.3-3.6 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
10-20MM F/3.5 EX DC HSM
$650
$650, street, with hood and case Sigma's fastest ultrawide zoom also offers an HSM motor for extremely quiet AF. Distortion control at longer focal lengths, and vignetting at the widest, were spectacular, STANDOUT SPEC Almost no distortion at 14mm and 20mm, MOUNTS Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Sony. WEIGHT 1.2 pounds LENGTH 3.5-3.6 inches FILTER SIZE 82mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
DT 11-18MM F/4.5-5.6
$700
$700, street, with hood Among the best distortion control for APS-C ultrawide zooms, and useful close-focusing distance, make this lens a good choice for architectural photography. Lightweight, but AF is loud. STANDOUT SPEC Slight distortion—0.27% at 14mm, and 0.13% at 18mm. MOUNTS Sony/Minolta WEIGHT 0.8 pound LENGTH 3.2-3.3 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION In the camera
CANON
AT-X 11-16MM F/2.8 PRO DX
$600
$600, street, with hood Fast glass with constant aperture are the catch phrases used to describe this favorite. Its most direct competitor has a variable aperture and weak distortion control for about the same price. Pounce! STANDOUT SPEC Distortion at 16mm, only .06%—rated Imperceptible. MOUNTS Canon, Nikon WEIGHT 1.3 pounds LENGTH 3.6 inches FILTER SIZE 77 mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
EF 17-40MM F/4L USM
$765
$765, street, with hood and case Slower by one stop, lighter in weight, much lighter in price than Canon's 16-35mm f/2.8L, but comparably sharp, this lens is a favorite of landscape shooters. Distortion goes to Very Visible barrel at 17mm, though. STANDOUT SPEC "L" of a good price for an L lens. MOUNTS Canon EF WEIGHT 1 pound LENGTH 3.8 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
AF-S ZOOM-NIKKOR 14-24MM F/2.8G ED
$1,830, street, with hood and case A pro's full-framer, it justifies its price with a fast constant aperture, ultra-wide angle of view, and incredible distortion control. Only its weight and lack of filter drawer dampen our enthusiasm. STANDOUT SPEC Virtually no distortion (0.02% pincushion) atthe 24mm setting. MOUNTS Nikon AF-S WEIGHT 2.2 pounds LENGTH 5.2 inches FILTER SIZE None STABILIZATION No
CANON
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14MM F/4
$1,500
$1,500, street, with hood and case A true ultrawide utility lens for Four Thirds shooters, this zoom delivers dust and moisture proof construction and light falloff that is among the best in this category. STANDOUT SPEC No detectable vignetting at 10 and 14mm focal lengths. MOUNTS Four Thirds WEIGHT 1.8 pounds LENGTH 4.7 inches FILTER SIZE None STABILIZATION In the camera
CANON
10-20MM F/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
$480
$480, street, with hood and case A bargain hunter's dream, with pro-grade build, superior sharpness, and fast, quiet HSM autofocus. One flaw: Very Visible barrel distortion (1.26%) at 10mm. STANDOUT SPEC A price well below comparable camera makers' lenses. MOUNTS Canon, Four Thirds, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Sony WEIGHT 1.1 pounds LENGTH 3.2 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION No
CANON
ZEISS VARIO-SONNAR T 16-35MM F/2.8 ZA SSM
$1,900
$1,900, street, with hood and case This lens will last a lifetime. Unusual in an ultrawide: a midbarrel focus-lock button that prevents AF hunting. The same button can also trigger an image preview in the LCD. Surprising magnifying power: 1:3.6 at 35mm. STANDOUT SPEC Tanklike construction. MOUNTS Konica Minolta, Sony WEIGHT 1.9 pounds LENGTH 4.5 inches FILTER SIZE 77mm STABILIZATION In the camera
CANON
AT-X 12-24MM F/4 PRO DX
$400
$400, street, with hood The least expensive of the 12-24mm category, with sharpness often better than most. The newer PRO DX II ($500, not tested) has a built-in motor allowing its use all Nikon bodies; this version does not. STANDOUT SPEC Optical quality for the price. MOUNTS Canon, Nikon WEIGHT 1.3 pounds LENGTH 3.6 inches FILTER SIZE 77 mm STABILIZATION No
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B&H Foto & Electronics Corp.
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article
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DON’T MISS...
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TIME EXPOSURE
Alluring Librarian
Amazing Beauty
Speed to Spare
Expert Amateur
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Harold Martin
How do you make a pile of books draw attention? Have a model peek from behind the stack. Photographer Douglas Kirkland posed Astrid Lance in front of his 8x10 Deardorff view camera and 8½-inch f/6.3 Kodak Ektar lens. Lighting was supplied by Ascor speedlights totaling 12,000 wattseconds.
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BACKSTORY
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What a Blast
Ben Cooper tells how he sacrificed his lens for the shot
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Lori Fredrickson
I SHOT THIS Delta 4-Heavy rocket—the world's largest unmanned launch vehicle—on freelance assignment at Cape Canaveral in fall of 2007. I'd decided to do something insane for once and put the camera right under the rocket, so I used a Nikon N2000 with ISO 400 film.
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SanDisk Corporation: Extreme
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Extreme
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