Just Out 07/04

Just-Out-07-04

Just-Out-07-04

New gear that has impressed our editors

MAKE A SPLASH
Who says SLRs can't swim? The Aquapac SLR case ($120 street) promises to keep your camera dry while you get wet. It would also do the trick for those action shots during monsoon season. Really more of a bag than a case, it's made of soft plastic, with an "optically clear" material called Lenzflex around and in front of the lens. Twisting three clips along a hard plastic edge seals the case. The result: you can take it down to 15 feet. Perfect for snorkeling. And if you lose your grip, it will bob to the surface. The kit includes a shoulder strap. A size guide on the company's web site lists all the cameras that fit. (AquapacUSA; 512-628-8486; www.aquapac.info)
DIGITAL NOSTALGIA
Leica rangefinder fans in Japan have been dusting off their L- and M-mount lenses ever since Epson announced that the world's first digital rangefinder camera would go on sale this month in that camera-obsessed country. Dubbed the R-D1, its body-only street price is 300,000 yen, about $2,850. It hits the U.S. later this year. The 6.1-megapixel R-D1 bears an uncanny resemblance to the Voigtländer R2 film-burner (manufactured by Cosina), but uses an APS-size CCD sensor and stores 6MP, 3MP, or 12-bit RAW files on SD memory cards. And is that a film-winding lever on top? Yes, and it actually cocks the mechanical shutter. Even cooler is the "film rewinding" knob that now lets you scroll through pictures on the 2-inch, 235,000-pixel swiveling LCD. Like the R2, it has a switchable 1X viewfinder set to 28-, 35-, or 50mm (rather than the R2's 35-, 50-, or 75mm) to compensate for the R-D1's 1.53X 35mm lens factor. Another old-time touch: there's no built-in flash, just a hot-shoe. (Epson America, Inc.; 800-463-7766; www.epson.com)

SPECTACULAR SHADOWS
Portrait lighting just got easier. Westcott's new Master's Brush softbox add-on gives you a two-stop difference between the center and outer edges, so you get a gentle fall-off of light. Westcott achieves this with a multilayer front panel and an internal baffle. The Master's Brush is a variation on Westcott's 16x22-inch silver-interior Box 1 softbox and comes in a package with a Box 1 ($229.90 list) or as an add-on kit for any 16x22 softbox ($99.90 list), or (F.J. Westcott Co.; 419-243-7311; www.fjwestcott.com)

STOWAWAY TRIPOD
So you're on a shoot and need a tabletop tripod, but you left it at home? If you had a Davis & Sanford tripod and the company's new SwitchGrip ($19.97 list) you could just remove a hidden mini-tripod from your regular tripod's handle and shoot away. The SwitchGrip fits Davis & Sanford's CourierXT, MagnumXT, Explorer, and Ranger tripods. Stowed, the SwitchGrip with mini-tripod weighs eight ounces and is eight inches long. (Tiffen Company; 631-273-2500; www.tiffen.com)

POSH PAPYRUS
Adorama's new ProJet Elite fine-art inkjet papers let you add anything from texture to shine. The line includes Photo Rag, Linen Texture, Silver Mirror, and Velvet Smooth varieties. Photo Rag is 100-percent cotton, acid-free watercolor paper, Linen Texture gives you just that. Silver Mirror is a reflective, polyester-based foil, while Velvet Smooth has a texture to match its name. All ProJet Elite papers come in a range of weights, 4x6- to 17x22-inch sizes, as well as rolls. Prices start at $9.99 for 10 8.5x11 sheets of lightweight Photo Rag. (Adorama; 800-223-2500; www.adorama.com)