Sophisticated new studio lights, a perfect poolside compact, and other gear
we covet now.
STEP INTO THE LIGHT
Bowens' Esprit Gemini series now has two basic versions with digital readouts: the Digital GM250 and GM500 ($563 and $632, street). Advantages? Control of light output in 1/10-stop increments and adaptable digital displays that show f-stops or watt-seconds. The display can be inverted for ceiling-mounted lights. They're smaller and lighter, too, and have features such as auto flash dump, with preflash slave sync, and proportional modeling light output.
You can cross underwater housings off the packing list for your snorkeling vacation -- Pentax's Optio W30 ($263, street) can take wet shots up to 10 feet deep without the hassle of those big, clumsy shells. The 7.1MP compact is dust-proof, too, so dropping it in sand, mud, or ice cream won't wreck it. Its 2.5-inch LCD has an antireflective coating and Bright mode so you won't have to hide under a towel to see what you're shooting. The small camera also packs a 3X optical zoom, Digital Shake Reduction, and Face Recognition autofocus. At this price, you won't get soaked.
Tiffen has long set standards for lens filters -- now it's created digital ones. Tiffen Dfx digital filter software lets you add effects after you shoot. There's a polarizer, a graduated neutral-density filter, foggers, and warmers -- and also effects you could never do incamera. An Adobe Photoshop plug-in ($100, estimated street) has a good range; the Pro complete edition ($300, est. street) has over 1,000. (www.tiffen.com)
Become an Icon Sure, you could have your caricature drawn at a theme park, but will that get you the sweetest avatar on the net or be scalable to poster-size? For $40 or $50 (depending on the artist), Iconize Me! will turn a digital photo of you into a striking cartoon-version, and then send you all the file types you need for the web or poster prints. (www.iconizeme.com)
Know Where You Shot It Forget carrying a notebook -- GPS is the way to track where you got each shot. Sync the GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr ($100, direct) to your camera clock, and when you offload images, software adds geotags to them, with detailed information on their locations that you can view on a map. It even integrates with photo-sharing sites such as Flickr. (www.gisteq.com)