My impression of a tabletop tripod was probably like yours—a squat, three-legged support that collapsed down to handily fit inside a camera bag. After unpacking the 17 camera supports that arrived, I had to modify my definition of the genre to include designs that mushroom to roughly 2 feet when fully open—and some with considerable girth and heft. That also meant extending my thinking to models with a center column and multiple leg sections, which might be more correctly termed “mini” tripods. Either way, in contrast to a standard tripod at its full height, the tripods under discussion, when fully open, have a small footprint and should effortlessly fit in tight spaces.
Nik Software Color Efex Pro 4
This is the latest version of Nik’s popular digital photographic filters for image retouching and enhancement. Color Efex Pro 4 is easy to use and offers a new generation of technologies and features that help you to create stunning effects. It has stackable filter combinations, visual presets, filter recipes, and new filters such as Detail Extractor, Vintage Film Efex, and Image Borders. The software also includes a History Browser, improvements to imaging algorithms, greater performance, and enhanced usability. The Color Efex Pro 4 Complete Edition contains 54 filters for a suggested retail price of $199.95. The Select Edition contains 25 filters for $99.95. You may also upgrade to the Complete Edition from any edition of Versions 2.0 or 3.0 for $99.95.
There’s a new trend in camera carriers that appeals to photographers who want to look chic while still maintaining the core functionality of the bag. In terms of style they are at polar opposites to rugged backpacks or gear-laden roller bags, yet even the most stylish camera bag has to carry gear in a practical and organized fashion. That includes being built to withstand the rigors of being jostled or bumped in crowds, and being constructed to protect against spilled drinks, or rain at the very least. At the same time, the ideal bag should be built to carry everything we may need on a shoot, and then some.
Just as interchangeable lenses on an SLR each have a specific purpose or meet a certain need, the same applies to tripod heads. Even if a head comes as part of the tripod kit, you soon realize you may need to replace or supplement it. In this buyer’s guide to tripod heads we’ll look at some of the factors to consider, including budget, load considerations, applications, and matching heads to “sticks.” We’ll also look at the various types of heads available and how each can be used for very specific shooting needs.
Jan 20, 2012
Published: Dec 01, 2011
Like most of you, I’ve been frustrated by the amount of dust that accumulates not only on my sensors but also on my cameras and lenses in general. It’s an ongoing battle. Take photos, clean cameras; take photos, clean cameras.
I often get questions about how to store digital image files safely and securely. Although there have been a lot of options, all of them have involved compromises. Recently, however, one of our readers told me about Millenniata.com, and I immediately looked into this new American company. I found that Millenniata has a new DVD disc technology that provides “more than” archival life expectancy, as established by the US Department of Defense’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, California. Their report can be downloaded as a PDF file from the Millenniata website.
Nikon 1 J1 Camera
The new Nikon 1 J1 is a compact system camera that features a 10.1-megapixel CX-format high-speed AF CMOS sensor. It has a dual core image processor and an advanced hybrid autofocus system that provides the user with fast AF with 73 focus points. The J1 can also capture 10 frames per second (fps) with a full resolution continuous shooting speed of 60 fps (AF locked). The camera comes with Short Movie Creator software and My Picturetown and features a Smart Photo Selector mode that allows the camera to select the best photo from a series of images based on a number of factors, including exposure, composition, focus, and facial recognition. The color choices with matching kit lenses include white, pink, red, silver, and black. The suggested retail price for the J1 10-30mm lens kit is $649.95.
When I say filter, your first thought may be a Photoshop plug-in. That’s natural, especially if your first good camera was digital. But folks who cut their photographic teeth shooting 35mm film know all about the light-bending qualities of glass screw-in filters. Physical filters were once the best (and sometimes only) way to get certain types of creative shots. Although still as effective as ever, they’ve fallen from favor for several reasons.
Dec 15, 2011
Published: Nov 01, 2011
Over the years I’ve photographed hundreds if not thousands of models and subjects on muslin, canvas, and other background materials, and in many unique settings. I’ve had the privilege to shoot many magazine covers, dozens of catalogs, and ads for magazines.
In this month’s Roundup we offer an introduction to a sampling of backdrop companies with products ranging from cloth to paper to virtual. Space prohibits us from covering their often extensive product lines, so we encourage you to follow up by contacting them directly. Many offer online as well as printed catalogs.—Editor
The performance parameters of today’s cameras are flat-out astonishing. Many current entry-level and middle-tier D-SLRs provide image sensors with resolutions ranging from 12-18 megapixels (MP), burst rates of 5-7 fps, and full 1080p HD video capability. Sophisticated digital point-and-shoots are not far behind, with 10-14MP sensors, 720p or 1080p HD video, and respectable burst rates in the 3-5 fps range. Needless to say, pro and prosumer D-SLRs often exceed even these incredible specs, with sensors in the 20-25MP range, blistering burst rates up to 10 fps, deep buffers, and phenomenally rapid image processing software. Not surprisingly, flash memory manufacturers have responded with a veritable explosion of high-capacity, high-speed memory cards with incredible write speeds and an array of enhancements aimed at increasing reliability and security.
Nik Software’s Snapseed is a photo application designed specifically for the iPad. It enables you to create amazing photos with a wide variety of filters and tools. Filter choices include Grunge, Vintage, and Drama. Snapseed features U Point technology in touch devices, bringing precise selective adjustments to change lighting, color, and more by simply touching and swiping the screen. Snapseed allows users to enhance, edit, and share their photos via social networks, e-mail, and even print via Apple’s AirPrint Wi-Fi printing standard. Snapseed for the iPad is available on the App Store (www.niksoftware.com/buysnapseedipad) for $4.99. Tutorial videos are available at: www.niksoftware.com/snapseed.
Having shot with numerous Lensbaby products over the past years I’ve almost grown accustomed to their ingenious approach to image-making tools and the equally ingenious way in which they approach product design. I do have to admit that one area in which I took less advantage than I might have was in aperture control and how that affected depth of field in my Lensbaby shots, more from laziness or simply forgetting about changing the aperture inserts as I got involved in the shoot. (For those who have not shot with Lensbaby optics you lift in and drop out, via supplied magnetic wand, the various aperture rings corresponding to the diameter of the desired aperture for the optic in use.) Now, this impediment to getting the most from the optics (admittedly, again, my own) is removed with their latest product, the Sweet 35 Optic.
DeluxGear’s Lens Cradle system features a Neo Duet Camera Strap and a Cradle Mount. The strap has thick neoprene lycra for stretch and nonslip shark tooth webbing for comfort on your neck and shoulders. The Cradle Mount is made from durable polycarbonate and an auto-grade ABS blend. It offers an arc-like dual mounting platform for use with any camera and lens with a tripod collar and can safely support the heaviest lenses. The Lens Cradle can be configured into various mounting options. The system package includes the Cradle Mount and four-point Neo Duet Camera Strap for an MSRP of $49.99. The Cradle Mount and Neo Duet Camera Strap may also be purchased separately.
New Nikon COOLPIX Cameras
Nikon recently introduced eight new COOLPIX digital cameras. Among them is a superzoom model, the COOLPIX P500, which offers a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 36x optical zoom lens, and EXPEED C2 dual image processors. Available in black or red, this model has an MSRP of $399.95. The P300 offers 12.1 megapixels with a 4.2x wide-angle lens, backside illumination CMOS sensor, high ISO sensitivity, and user-controlled shooting modes. Available in black, it has an MSRP of $329.95. For more information on these and other new COOLPIX models, please visit the Nikon website.