A hot new Olympus ultrazoom, cool new cord collector, and other stuff to
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Longer Than Yours
Normally, we call this class of cameras "superzooms," but we may have to rename this model a "superduperzoom." The new Olympus SP-550 Ultrazoom has an 18X zoom lens (28-504mm equivalent), and we're talking optical zoom, not digital pseudozoom. Looking a bit like a mini-DSLR, this 7.1MP cam has a relatively bright lens, at f/2.8-5.4, and can be set to ISOs up to 1600 (3200 if you shoot at 3MP). Before you panic that you'll never hold it steady when you're all zoomed-in, take note: The SP-550 has mechanical image stabilization via a shifting CCD sensor, plus a digital stabilization mode that bumps up ISOs and speeds up the shutter. Serious shooters will enjoy RAW capture, full manual exposure, and three metering options. Compose your pic by eye-level electronic viewfinder or on the 2.5-inch LCD monitor, and when you're ready for an upgrade, try the auxiliary wide-angle and tele lenses. They let you extend down and up to 20mm and 857mm, respectively, for a combined range of -- drumroll please -- 42X optical. It does 640x480 video, too. Sure, it saves to xD Picture Cards, but waddya gonna do. ($500, estimated street; www.olympusamerica.com)
Pantone's monitor calibrators run from simple to elaborate, with a wide variety of features and prices. For beginners, its Huey ($80, street) is a good choice, but serious photographers looking for higher-level controls, accuracy, and calibration options should consider Pantone's new Eye-One Display LT ($115, street). Like the Huey, you can use it to calibrate either CRT or LCD monitors with push-button simplicity, and it also measures ambient light. The kicker: pro-level tools, including the ability to select gammas between 1.8 and 2.2, adjust target color temperature and luminance, calibrate multiple monitors connected to a single workstation, and, thankfully, store all that information in a custom profile. (www.pantone.com)
It's almost always been a given that most hubs and cord-catchers are ugly desktop casualties of our need for ever-more computer peripherals. That's why we're enamored with French designer Ora-Ïto's LaCie Hub. It's gorgeous, functional (there are five USB 2.0 ports and three FireWire 400 ports), and it even comes with a little fan -- very useful when you work up that inevitable Photoshop sweat. ($80, street; www.lacie.com)
How To... Brush Up In Photoshop
Looking for a better frame or a new flourish to add to your pictures? Adobe Photoshop lets you load up on externally created brushes, then use the Brush tool to stamp sweet designs anywhere you want. Where do you find them? Getbrushes (www.getbrushes.com) is a great place to start -- you can download, import them into Photoshop, and pretty up your pics for free.
How To... Toss Your Camera
If the idea of throwing your precious camera in the air to see what kind of awesome images you'd get makes you queasy, you're probably not up for the latest Flickr-bred phenomenon: camera tossing. But if you're a confident catcher, the pictures and instructions on the Camera Toss blog, run by tossing originator Ryan Gallagher, may convince you to give it a shot. Check it out at cameratoss.blogspot.com.