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A rugged, ergonomic and affordable tripod.Hahnel may not be a brand that s often associated with quality tripods, but the Triad 90PG could change that. Aimed at photographers needing a chunkier set of legs to support their camera set-up it s not lightweight or compact at 2.2kg and 69cm collapsed length, but it can extend to a towering 166cm and has been built to survive daily abuse. The legs have a simple three-section design constructed from relatively thick tubing that minimises any flexing, while retractable metal spikes within the chunky rubber feet keep everything firmly planted on most surfaces. Add in the robust all-metal crown and the Triad 90PG does live up to Hahnel s claim of being solid enough to support a 7kg SLR and lens.

New photographyErgonomics are also well catered for thanks to wide and grippy quick-lock leg clamps and foam padding on all three legs, making this an easy tripod to use in harsh weather. Even the rugged carry bag features a surprisingly luxurious neoprene shoulder strap to keep you comfortable on the move. But where the Triad 90PG really stands out from the crowd is its pistol grip head. One squeeze of the trigger handle enables effortless 360° horizontal rotation, a 90° twist for shooting in portrait format, then a further 270° of vertical rotation.

An independently adjustable top plate provides smooth panning without risk of vertical movement and completes what is an impressively precise and easy-to-use head. Tripods of this design and build quality usually command a serious price tag, so at ?100 the Triad 90PG is something of a bargain and a highly recommended buy. Plumb new depths of underwater photography with this waterproof action camera.Thanks to its waterproof housing the WingmanHD can be used to shoot full HD video in places that you wouldn t dream of taking your precious SLR —even 100ft (30m) below water. Both the camera and its housing have a standard tripod bush so you can shoot with the camera supported on a tripod or use one of the five included helmet (pictured), suction-cup and bar-mounting accessories. The camera s exposure, white balance and focusing systems are all automatic, so all you need to do is turn it on, lock it in the housing and press the record button —or the shutter button to record 8Mp stills. Footage is recorded to MicroSD media and an 8Gb memory card is included in the package. The camera s build seems on a par with that of the GoPro HD Hero2 (?300), but it costs around ?100 less and comes with more mounting options. Video footage quality is good, although the 170° lens makes straight horizons bend quite a bit, and it s almost impossible to see an image on the 1.5-inch LCD in bright light. This is a pack of popular gadgets for creating beautiful flash lighting. The elliptical diffusion dome produces images with controlled highlights and soft shadows almost on a par with a bounced flash. The 145mm-long snoot takes things to the opposite extreme, focusing light into a controlled beam that can be further tightened by adding the separate honeycomb end caps. The included 150mm beauty dish does a decent job of creating soft light, and gold and silver reflector discs add a warm or cool tone, with the spread of light controlled by three plug-in honeycomb filters of varying densities. The fastening clamps may not be the most securely designed, but for the sheer number of flash modifiers and accessories, the value offered by this simple lighting kit is hard to beat. The Photosynth application enables you to pan an iPhone or iPad up, down and around, taking images automatically. You can then merge the shots into one impressive 360° horizontal and vertical global panorama. In reality, the app actually works best when you use it in wide-open spaces with plenty of varied surrounding scenery. Smaller or more uniform environments tend to confuse the software somewhat, which unfortunately results in a misaligned and unusable final image. New photographyHahnel Tuff TTL The Hahnel Tuff TTL enables a hotshoe flashgun to be used off-camera, and as the name suggests, it s built to last. Operating the Tuff TTL is easy, with water-resistant power switches and test buttons, plus a selector to switch between normal, high-speed sync and rear-curtain sync modes. The 2.4GHz wireless link can reliably transmit over long distances, and can sync between any number of extra base units. The ISM (Industrial, Scientific, Medical) radio band technology enables digital channel mixing, which helps to provide reliable TTL (Through the Lens) information while eliminating interference from other wireless devices. The set-up is versatile, with the inclusion of a tripod mount on the base unit, power from regular AA batteries and compatibility with Canon, Nikon, Nissin, Sigma and Metz flashguns. Available for around ?100, the Tuff TTL is a competitively priced, high quality and durable wireless TTL flash trigger.  Part of the popular  For Dummies  series, this is a useful and clearly-written primer on one of the more demanding photographic genres. The book is well organised, starting off with the basics before moving on to the different types of macro shots —nature, people, still life, jewellery, and so on. There is also a good section on making the most of natural and artificial light. It s quite text heavy, so more pictures and diagrams and fewer words would have made for easier reading. At 21.99, it s pricey too. This budget backpack looks the part, but falls short on design and build quality.Photography can be an expensive business, so once you ve spent a fortune on the hardware, you may have to settle for a budget bag. The Tecno s design requires the bag to be almost split in half to access the lower compartment. This wouldn t be so bad if the upper section was especially useful, but thanks to its waterproof lining, the supplied adjustable dividers can t locate properly, and as such any kit stored there will rattle around unsupported. The back padding is fairly comfortable, but the rest of the bag is too light to inspire much confidence that your kit is well protected. Even with its current price reduction, there s little reason to choose this over a pricier but tougher bag. See page 119 for six of the best. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Panasonic s TZ series pioneered a range of travel cameras that pack a lens with a large zoom range into a small camera, and the TZ30 is its current flagship model. There s a lot crammed into this camera, including a 24-480mm (equivalent) lens, a 1/ 2.33-inch 14Mp sensor, full HD video recording GPS technology with a map, and a three-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen LCD screen. Captured images are bright, dynamic and well-saturated, but the camera s higher sensitivity settings are best avoided. Photo backpacks. Carry your kit the easy way with a backpack that spreads the load in style. Matthew Richards tests six sumptuous sacks Crumpler Cupcake Full Photo Price ?95 Web: www.bags4gear.co.uk Unlike the  half photo  version of this backpack, which has a split main compartment for camera kit, nearly all of the available room is given over to photo gear. There s also a section for a small laptop. The rounded design makes the bag less likely to catch on obstacles, but the compromise is reduced carrying volume. Hama Daytour 230 Price: ?75 Web: www.hama.com This is a split backpack, but both main compartments have plentiful dividers for camera gear. You can remove the dividers from either section to give space for general travel items, and both sections feature quick access to cameras with attached lenses. It s versatile, beautifully made and a real bargain at the price. Kata DR-465i DPS Digital Price: ?60 Web: www.katabags.co.uk A neat split backpack that s lightweight and compact, the Kata s lower section can accommodate an SLR with attached lens, a couple of extra lenses and a flashgun. This section hinges out, and you can also remove the padded camera compartment completely and use the Kata as a regular backpack. Lowepro Vertex 100 AW Price: ?100 Web: www.lowepro.com Big and butch, the Vertex 100 cossets one or two SLRs and a gaggle of lenses, flashguns and accessories with Lowepro s customary design qualities. It has weatherproof zips on the camera and laptop compartments, plus a slipover rain cover. Extra front pockets are kitted out for organising accessories and memory cards. Manfrotto Veloce V Price: ?90 Web: www.manfrotto.co.uk This works well as a full photo or split backpack, depending on how you position the dividers. In full photo mode, there s quick access to your camera and attached lens via a second zip and fastener at the top. A full-length inner section is ideal for holding a Manfrotto travel tripod, but it s also suitable for extra-long lenses. Vanguard Skyborne 45 Price: ?115 Web: www.vanguardworld.co.uk As with many carry-on bags, a wrap-around zip enables you to increase the depth of the main compartment if needed. There are two main compartments, although you can convert them into one large space. Extra compartments provide more room for accessories, including a padded sleeve for a 12-inch laptop or iPad.

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