New ways to print bigger, soften your focus, eliminate grain, shoot from the
wrist, and more.
A 17-incher is the acme of desktop printers: Who wouldn't want to whip out images so big that you have to stand back to appreciate them?
Canon's new entry, the imagePrograf iPF5000, is a beaut. It has two, count 'em, two heads to transport a whopping 12 inks. According to Canon, that means faster prints with a superwide gamut.
This is also the first wide-format printer to feature the new Lucia pigmented inks, which should translate into greater longevity and compatibility with more fine-art papers. In fact, Canon is introducing several new media to coincide with the printer's introduction.
Another bonus of having 12 cartridges: Enough slots to hold both matte and photo blacks, so there's no need to waste time and ink by flushing the heads to change them. That's a good thing, too, because this liquid color doesn't come cheap -- replacing all the cartridges at once will run you about $900. We look forward to seeing what this machine can do. ($1,900, street; www.canon.com)
Baby Makes 3
Short of switching to a view camera with a tilt-shift lens, there's no better way to get cool selective-focus effects than with a Lensbaby. Originally just a little, black, elephant trunk that replaced an SLR's lens, this baby's evolved. With the first two generations, exposure time was dictated by how long you could hold the bendy trunk steady between your fingers, and your image's repeatability depended on how well you could replicate the direction you pointed it. All that's changed with the Lensbaby 3G. With the added focusing rods, it's easy to frame the picture you want, choose the location of the spot of focus, then lock it in with a push of a button. While you used to be able to get sharp focus where you wanted it about half the time, now there's barrel focusing with a fine-focus ring on the lens to enable sharpness almost all the time. This should prove a boon to anyone shooting macro, working in a studio, or doing any kind of picture-taking where you might want to try the same shot twice. ($270, estimated street; www.lensbaby.com)
We always get excited when Kodak's got a new development on the film front -- once in a while we like to dust off our old cameras and remind ourselves what it's like to shoot without a preview. Plus, we still know people who shoot exclusively with the stuff. That's why we're amazed with Kodak's new Portra Professional 160- and 400-speed VC and NC films: They're not merely tweaked, but actually new, with a fresh, from-the-ground-up formulation. Kodak says that means the grain structure is visibly finer and the color is more saturated. The VC type also has lower contrast, so you'll get better results when, inevitably, you scan it to go digital. (www.kodak.com)
We may spend hours daily on yoga and pilates, but we'd still rather not do a belly flop just because we're trying to get a ground-level photo. Enter Hoodman's Right Angle Viewer, which clips like a periscope onto your viewfinder and lets you get a bug's-eye view without having to actually mingle with the bugs. Since it pivots a full 360 degrees, macro shooters and aficionados of the copystand can now look down while standing beside their camera, rather than trying to balance precariously over the top of it to frame a shot. You can even zoom in from 1:1 to 2.5X magnification, so you can check focus and fine-tune a cropped-in composition. ($130, direct. Fits most DSLRs; see www.HoodmanUSA.com for compatibility and more information.)
Print Your Videos
Still not sure what to do with those low-res videos from your digicam? Turn them into low-tech keepsakes: Upload short videos and FlipClips will turn them into actual flip books, like you used to get at the comic book store. They come in tiny size, greeting-card size, or book size, and there's even bulk pricing for party favors. (Starting at $9 for one; www.flipclips.com)
Get Really, Really Close
Ever wish you could get more macro than macro with your point-and-shoot? X-Loupe can fulfill all of your close-up dreams in the form of a supermagnetizing attachment that fits onto a Canon Digital ELPH. Magnify 60X with the starter kit, or trade up for the pro version and add the 100X and 150X interchangeable lenses. Since it zooms in entirely with the attachable front, you can still use all the camera's usual features. That means you can preview your shot or even capture extra-close video. (About $1,450 including the Canon camera; www.x-loupe.net)
Shoot and Ski
We don't recommend shooting while you snowboard: Not only could you break your face, but probably your camera, too. So how do you record the action? Strap on GoPro's Digital Hero wristcam. It's got a waterproof housing and a sturdy strap with a special ski-glove attachment, and it shoots both still and video. Store VGA photos and QVGA video on the 32MB of internal memory, with only a AAA battery. You can take it swimming, too -- it's waterproof down to 30 feet. ($80, direct; www.goprocamera.com)
Carry Paper in Your Camera
Packing for a trip, it's hard enough to remember to bring enough socks, much less all those printed-out confirmation numbers, maps, and restaurant listings. But the one thing you'll never forget is your camera, and that's why the data transport feature on Casio's 7.2MP Exilim EX-S770 is so cool. You can automatically convert web pages, e-mail, and documents to JPEGs and view them on the S770's LCD screen. The best? When you have to look at your map, everyone will think you're just checking out your latest photo. ($380, street; exilim.casio.com).