Leica's latest digital classic, Lexar's ultra-fast memory cards, and other
stuff to covet now.
Some cameras are status symbols, and the new Leica C-LUX 2 ($499, estimated street) is destined to become one. The ultracompact 7.2MP point-and-shoot not only has a slender body and 2.5-inch display, it also packs a lot of power. There's fast performance, an optically stabilized f/2.8-5.6 (28-100mm 35mm equivalent) Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 3.6X zoom lens, and an Intelligent ISO mode that detects motion and adjusts shutter speed and ISO. Based on the Panasonic Lumix FX30 ($300, street), the Leica version has its own firmware, a long warranty, and cosmetics (accented by the famous red dot). To get the maximum envy from your friends, though, slip it into its retro-sleek leather case ($50, estimated street, not shown).
If faster is better, then Lexar's new UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access) CompactFlash cards are among the best. Speed-rated at 300x, Lexar claims that these 2-, 4-, and 8GB cards ($65, $120 and $220, street) can sustain write speeds of 45MB per sec in compatible cameras, camera backs, and card readers. So far, only a few camera backs are UDMA-certified, but you can reduce download times from digital cameras by pairing the card with the Lexar Pro UDMA FireWire 800 Reader ($80, street). The cards also come with Lexar's Backup n Sync software, Image Rescue 3, and Corel's Paint Shop Pro X. (www.lexarmedia.com).
The Right Light
Thought the only way to get soft diffused close-ups on location was to lug tons of equipment? It's not. The Quantum Mini Folding Softbox QF69 ($75, street) folds up flat, works with all of the Qflash series, and has a built-in Hotspot Reducer. Mount it to your camera bracket or umbrella bracket and get studio-like close-ups wherever. (www.qtm.com)
Edit Photos Anywhere
Upload your photos to Picnik (www.picnik.com), and you can adjust their color and saturation, sharpen, resize, and more -- all for free and without installing anything on your computer. You can even tune up your Flickr photos without downloading them into Picnik. It's perfect for making quick fixes when you're miles away from your digital darkroom.
Get in the Picture
Quik Pod ($25, street) solves two vexing problems: entrusting your camera to a stranger to take your picture, and missing a shot because you couldn't get above the crowd. The light little monopod extends to 18 inches and attaches compact cameras and camcorders. (www.quikpod.com)