Essential imaging extras

The team takes a look at some of the latest accessories that ll make your photographic life not only easier, but better too... Tamrac Zuma 4 A bag designed for both a DSLR, lens and big enough to shove an iPad or netbook into? That s the Zuma 4 for you Need to carry around your basic DSLR kit and, also, some form of mobile technology to look at the pics while you re out and about? Don t want to carry a large rucksack or something which shouts steal me now ? Well the Zuma 4 ticks all those boxes. It s a compact, oblongshaped bag, a bit like a sandwich box, but with a shoulder strap and hand strap on the top. You can get a DSLR, a lens and either a small lens or a flashgun in the main compartment. However, it s the rest of the storage that catches the eye because it s full of pockets, mesh pouches, holders and there s the zipped compartment, with foam padding, for your iPad/netbook/tablet. As if that wasn t fancy enough, there s a specially designed sleeve just for the Apple wireless keyboard. There s also a side holder for a Tamrac ZipShot MiniTripod or umbrella and a removable rain cover so it stops any leakages altogether. Meanwhile, the side meshes also feature Tamrac s modular accessory system so that the bag can even be customised with extra accessories. It s 14" wide, 7" across and 10" high (36x18x27cm), while inside the room comes out at 11.5" wide, 5" across and 9" high (29x13x23cm). The entire thing weighs a reasonable 2lbs (907g), but the only colour it comes in is black. Even the inside foam colour i: grey although some of the swatches are red. VERDICT This is reasonably priced for a bag that has a lot to offer. It makes great use of the space, though that s because the design is fairly bland so it really is an oblong pit, into which your stuff descends. There s loads of compartments and webbing, the area for the tablet/netbook is handy and the sleeve for the Apple keyboard allows for some showmanship. The best thing is that it has a waterproof cover and doesn t give the impression it s filled with expensive gear. STM skinny 3 This brand new case will keep your iPad 3 nice and safe along with making a real style statement Our friends down under at STM bags have come up with a new case, especially designed for those lucky people with a third generation iPad. STM s co-founder Adina Jacobs, remarked, "Our customers are looking for a great way to protect, carry and work with the new iPad." We bet they are Adina, so it s a good job you ve released the skinny 3. This is a sleek and modern looking case, with a flexible cover that bends round and tucks nicely underneath to make for a stand as well. The outer material is a tough shell inside which there s a soft, padded lining to keep your iPad snug. The cover is one of those with magnets so when you open it, it wakes the iPad up, and when closed, it sends it back to sleep. There are notches and holes in all the right places to allow access to the ports and controls. The other bonus about the hard-wearing exterior is that it s very light, so adds little to the overall weight of the iPad. It can take a decent knock or two and is also water resistant, though you really donwant to spill your cappuccino over it thanks to all those access holes. The lining is micro suede and it measures 24.1x18.8x1.6cm, while the weight is a wrist-pleasing 181 g. The fun part is that it s available in blue, pink, berry, mushroom and black. VERDICT Initially you might think that this is a little pricey considering it isn t leather, but the street prices vary between ?22-?32, so shop around and get a good deal. The actual material is certainly knock resistant and, thanks to the fabric lining, the iPad gets cushioned from any blows. The range of colours is welcome, though really, if you re going to flaunt it you don t want the black or ill-advised mushroom colour. Overall then this is a good case for a valuable product. RAM Mount U-bolt camera mount Like to go out riding on your bike? Here s how you can stick a camera on-board and record the event If you like nothing better than cycling up mountains, or taking your motorbike through dramatic countryside, it s great to capture the scenery, or even the ride, without having to stop and film it every time. That s where the kit from RAM Mount comes in because there s an attachment for every kind of photographer. This one is definitely for the cycling and biking fraternity and is called the U-Bolt Mount, with Standard 1 "Ball Arm and Round Camera Base. The zinc-coated metal U-bolt and nuts will fit over a rail or handlebar from 0.5”to 1.25" in diameter. You just slip it under the handlebar and add the screws on the other side. They also have optional covers, which can be handy if you re going out in the rain or intend to leave it fastened on permanently. There s also a plastic padding element that can be used if the handlebars are quite small. Then, on the other side of the U-bolt, there s the 1" ball and onto this fits the arm, which can be rotated at a variety of angles and then fastened securely with a tightening screw. At the other end is the ball and plate and this is where your camera goes. Just keep rotating until it s locked solid. The base plate is quite large so it can take a decent DSLR, although a heavy, pro DSLR with a big lens might need more support. For standard consumer items or compact cameras where you want to use the video function though it s ideal. This setup is actually three components, so if you already own a mount from RAM, you can save money by just purchasing the element you don t have. VERDICT Rugged and sturdy, this is designed to take a load and keep rolling with it. The U-bolt is a more secure option than the sucker mount we looked at recently and the large base plate means you can attach all but the heaviest DSLRs to it. Ita simple, component system, so you can buy extra elements without having to re-buy those that you already have. Overall then this a great idea and the perfect piece of kit for those looking to capture images and video on the move. Essential imaging extrasWacom Intuous 5 Pen Small Take your digital retouching and editing to the next level with a professional calibre graphics tablet from Wacom acorn is one of the top names in graphics tablets, which are invaluable if you do a lot of editing work using Photoshop. There s a new range out, the Intuous 5, and this is the Pen Small version. It features 2048 levels of sensitivity and can differentiate the angle the pen is being used at to give a more natural feel. The pen it comes with has five different styles of nib, so it really does feel like drawing on paper. There are 10 nibs supplied in total, five standard ones, one flex, one stroke and three felt options. It has a soft-touch surface as well as the ergonomic wrist rest, so it s easier on the hand and features up to eight configurable keys so you can use them for your favourite short cuts. There s also a multi-functional Touch Ring with four programmable functions per application. That means you can set it up for things like scrolling, zooming, brush size alteration, canvas selection and image rotation. The big news is of course the touch sensitivity so that as well as the ring, the tablet accepts multi-touch gestures, which coordinate with the Express View display on screen.There s an optional wireless connectivity kit if you want to keep trailing wires out of the way, otherwise it connects via USB. In use the tablet really does have a softer and higher quality feel to it than you may be used to with a standard tablet and while the surface area isn t that large, it is certainly responsive and very accurate too. VERDICT You have a decision to make here-do you go for a cheaper tablet but one that has a lot more drawing space, or go for this small size tablet from Wacom that s a real joy to use, although doesn t have that much hand space. You might find it a little cramped, especially for drawing, but there s no denying the quality of the pen and included nibs or the accuracy of the tablet itself. It s pricey compared to more cheaply-made devices, and the gestures seem a bit wasted on a small tablet, but it s a quality offering nonetheless that s sure to please. Hanns.G HL272 Let your images roam free in the huge expanse of a 27" widescreen monitor You can never have enough screen space, especially when it comes to digital photography. More space means it s easier to edit and to see the fine details. So, if you re tired of your current and insignificant monitor, then it s time to go large with this 27" offering from Hanns.G. Now it has to be said that you may not need or want something this large, but if you do, then it s certainly going to fill your field of view. The design is slender and neat, though not especially trendy. Thankfully though, the power lead goes into the back of the monitor, not into a separate power supply. This is TN panel display, rather than the more expensive IPS standard, which has two advantages. One is the lower cost, the other is faster refresh rates and, indeed, that s a decent 5ms, which showed no ghosting at any point. There s plenty of brightness on offer at 300cd/m2 so you can use this in bright environments, or even play films on it. Meanwhile, the contrast ratio of 1000:1 is fairly typical and didn t cause any issues. The panel also has a couple of small 2-watt speakers built in, but consider these a backup option. The actual resolution is of course, full HD at 1920x1080, but on a monitor this size, that makes the pixels pretty big, so text isn t as well rounded as it could be. There are several inputs on the back covering VGA, HDMI and DVI-D and the front-mounted controls are easy to use. In terms of quality, there s some variation along the top and a little light leak along the bottom, but really, these are minor quibbles. An IPS panel would be better, but not significantly so. The viewing angles are fine and the skin tones and colour rendition are good to the naked eye. On calibration tetsting though, the panel showed only a 96% sRGB coverage, which is slightly off what you might predict beforehand, while the 75% AdobeRGB and 70% NTSC were exactly what you would expect. In real terms, the slight shift on sRGB doesn t really cause any issues, but if you re going to be proofing AdobeRGB images then you really need to be looking at a wide gamut monitor. VERDICT The power lead is in a slightly awkward place and the smaller 22" Hanns.G monitors are a little more stylish, but there s no denying that there s an awful lot of screen space here for the money. Despite being a TN panel, rather than IPS, the quality is still fairly good thereby making it a worthy all-rounder for photographic and general purpose use too.

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