Just Out - January 2004

Just-Out-January-2004

Just-Out-January-2004

Clean Up Your Noisy Images
Do images from your digital camera show too many noise particles? nik multimedia's Dfine 1.0 ($100 street) can help. Dfine comes with custom profiles that target noise based on the individual camera. It controls luminance noise (light and dark specks), or chrominance noise (color artifacts). Dfine ships with a Photoshop-compatible plug-in that can selectively reduce noise using a variety of brushes. A single-click process saves and accesses frequently-used settings. (nik multimedia; www.nikmultimedia.com)

Deal Yourself a Graphics Card
Are you looking to enhance your digital darkroom with a new graphics card, but can't find one that works well with photos, gaming, and your Windows applications? The Graphics Blaster Picture Perfect card ($150 street) from Creative Labs can help. A graphic card (or video card, as it's also called) speeds up the visual processing power of your computer. In other words, it dramatically cuts the time the computer needs to turn digits into something visually displayable on your monitor. The Graphics Blaster Picture Perfect card has 64MB of high-speed RAM that allow you to view hi-res photos in full color. It features a VGA connector, a typical monitor connection, and a DVI connector found on flat-panel displays. To make your digital darkroom even better, the card ships with ArcSoft's Panorama Maker, Photo-Impression, and Photo Print software. (Creative Labs; 800-998-5227; www.americas.creative.com)

Video Binox in View
The latest frontier to be conquered by digital video technology is the binocular. Bushnell's compact, lightweight (26-ounce) Instant Replay 8x32 binocular includes a 2MP digital still mode, and can record up to five 30-second, 15-fps video avi files on an included 16MB CompactFlash card. Both still and video files are viewable on a pop-up LCD screen. Video resolution is 0.35 MP, and the still mode's two compression options allow for 50 high-quality or 150 normal-quality images per 16MB card. Included accessories: strap, carrying case, USB cable, connecting software, and two AA cells. The tripod bushing underneath should help produce jitterless, if not Hollywood-quality, video. No street price as of press time, but the unit is listing for $600. (Bushnell Performance Optics; 800-423-3537; www.bushnell.com)

Put a Sock on It
No, it's not a shower cap. It's the Adorama Strobo-Sock, a nylon fabric flash diffuser that easily fits over flash heads five inches in diameter or smaller, including heads from Quantum, Sunpak, Lumedyne, and Norman heads. Like most flash diffusers, it claims to soften the light output of a direct flash burst. The Strobo-Sock, however, is lighter and more easily stowed than boxy plastic diffusers. Machine washable, each Strobo-Sock cuts light output by approximately one stop. Two for $20. (Adorama; 800-223-2500; www.adorama.com)

Carbon Fiber for Le$$
Tripods with lightweight carbon-fiber leg sections are no longer rare, and competition among manufacturers is forcing prices down. Hakuba-Velbon, for example, recently introduced full-featured, amply sized, three- and four-leg-section tripods made of carbon fiber that street for around $300. (Three years ago, they would have been $600.) The three-section HG-503MX (shown) rises to a respectable 70 inches, weighs a manageable four pounds, and has spongy, finger-friendly urethane leg sleeves. Like the four-section 504MX, the 503MX also has protective rubber feet, three-position splayable legs, and a split center column for ground-level operation. (Hakuba USA; 800-423-1623; www.hakubausa.com)