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Meet this year's hottest new shooters

The New Camera Class of 2014: DSLR Alternatives

In just a few short years the world of photography has been turned upside down, and the advent of the iPhone and other innovations like mirrorless cameras has created a dizzying array of options. We take a look at the latest new class of cameras, none of them DSLRs, but all capable and unique in their own right.

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A 50mm Prime Shootout

Want This, Get This: Zeiss Otus or Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art

The way we see it, the 50mm prime competition comes down to two lenses. One makes zero compromises and pursues optical perfection at whatever the cost, and one achieves nearly the same optical clarity while costing a hell of a lot less.

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Things Look Brighter the Second Time Round

Breakdown: Lytro Illum

Back in 2011, when Lytro introduced the Light Field, critics gasped in amazement at the camera’s ability to refocus pictures after the shutter snap… and in horror at the angular, boxy design. Lytro updated and repackaged their technology as the Illum, which represents their first real foray into the consumer market.

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The filmmaker/editor's secret weapon

Tested: Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Fitting right between the Indie filmmaker’s DSLR and Hollywood studio’s Arri Alexa, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera ($2,000), with its 13 stops of dynamic range and 2.5K sensor, makes filmmakers jump for joy. We took it on a test drive.

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Five Oceans, Five Cameras

Buying Guide: Underwater Imaging

Nowadays, there are many options for underwater photography and videography available to the avid diver and occasional vacation snorkeler alike. These five underwater imaging options — everything from custom-machined metal housings to cameras that don’t need a housing at all — will serve you well on your next dive trip. What you shoot is up to you.

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No excuses, just good shots

Kit: Essentials for the Budding Movie Maker

Today’s affordable tools, cameras, classes and copious creative outlets have brought making a film (one of the best story-telling devices) nearly to the everyman. Still, all those advances can’t change a basic fact: sometimes making a movie means going to where the story is rather than waiting for it to come to you. But paying to check 10 Pelican cases of equipment will essentially eat your entire production budget, not to mention it’s tough to sneak into a location if you have a fleet of boxes and bags. This kit can be carried by one or two people in traditional suitcases — which means you get your shots, no matter where those shots may be.

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To Russia We Fly

Kit: Capturing the Olympics

Packing for a trip to Russia for the Sochi Olympics is no small feat. There’s weather, international travel, technology and a desire to stay light on our feet to consider. Gear needs to be tough, functional, lightweight and understated. Here’s a sampling of what we’re packing to use on a normal day in Sochi.

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Less is more, you photo whore

Guide to Life: Snap a Decent Instagram

As it turns out, most of Instagram’s 100 million users aren’t jet setting to exotic locations, climbing mountains or doing other exceptionally picturesque stuff (see #dentist for further evidence). That being said, you don’t have to summit Everest to post interesting Instagrams. By following a few (relatively) straightforward guidelines you’ll soon be ‘gramming like Ansel Adams.

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Get Above the Action

Rotary Club: Take to the Skies with These 3 Drones for the GoPro

Drones with GoPro capability have exploded in popularity over the past two or three years and are finally beginning to arrive at price points that might make the budget-minded filmmaker’s ears perk up. With that in mind, we sought to find the best drones for aerial filmmaking; after some worthwhile learning experiences (don’t try and learn to fly one in a New York City office), we’ve arrived at our three favorites.

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Look Ma, No Mirrors!

Nikon AW1

The underwater digital camera is certainly not a new concept; you probably picked one up before your honeymoon to take pictures while scuba diving. How’d that work out for you? Not too great, we bet, because while the underwater digital camera is clever in theory, there aren’t many companies who have made it worth our time and money. The lenses are cheap, the images are underwhelming, and face it: the cameras are homely as hell. Luckily, Nikon has decided to get serious about underwater photography — and photography in all sorts of rough conditions — with the new AW1 ($800), the first mirrorless digital camera that’s completely waterproof and has interchangeable, waterproof lenses.

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Don't take my Kodachrome away

Want This, Get This: Nikon Df or Olympus OMD E-M1

If you’re like us, you have a long list of cameras you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy shooter along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’re celebrating two DSLRs that recall the golden age of film while also delivering next-gen features.

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Through the Looking Glass

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

Announced all the way back in September 2012, Tamron’s 70-200 f/2.8 Di VC USD ($1500) — one of the company’s gutsiest moves into the pro lens field — had plenty of time to be picked apart prior to its release. Though the lens was announced a year and a half after Canon introduced the second edition of their vaunted 70-200 f/2.8 IS, the Tamron was able to combine image quality and build that kept up with the competition at a significantly reduced price point. In May 2013, nine months after its initial announcement, Tamron’s bold product was released — and then vindicated by an outpouring of positive reviews.

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Talk about shopping in advance

12 Guys of Christmas: The Techie

Oddly enough, the proliferation of electronic gadgetry, computer stuff and other digital goodies has made buying for the discerning sparkhead (we just coined that — please enjoy and proliferate at will) tougher. With this list, we aim to make the shopping a little simpler by covering suggestions for readers, photogs, movie buffs and gamers. Take a gander and start clicking; your techie giftee will thank you, probably with an email or holographic video message or something.

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Autofocus in Every Pixel

Canon EOS 70D

We know you feel tech savvy standing at your son’s baseball game with a digital SLR around your neck and a high-def camcorder over your shoulder. But with the latest technology from Canon, the digital SLR is finally capable of shooting high-def videos worth your time and effort. Ten years and seven iterations after releasing their game-changing 10D digital SLR, they’ve done it again with the 70D ($1199), a mid-range digital SLR for the photographic enthusiast who’s ready to shoot smooth videos right next to stunning stills.

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Point Taken

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II

Thanks to 16MP smartphone cameras and the mirrorless revolution, the old point-and-shoot has been headed towards extinction. That’s not exactly the way Sony sees things. They stubbornly released the best damn pocket camera in the world, the RX100, last year. The mighty marvel’s massive one-inch sensor paired with a fast f/1.8 Zeiss lens effortlessly produced rich 20MP images, even in the novice hands of doting grandparents and hapless tourists. How did Sony respond to the positive reviews? They released the RX100 II ($748), which is even better.

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Hope you don't have a fixed income

Prime Time: 5 Best Fixed-Lens Cameras

There was a time when photographers didn’t carry nine different lenses with their camera, a time when one wide-angle lens was enough to get an adroit photographer through the day because he realized that sometimes the best way to zoom in was to damn well walk closer to his subject. While most of us like having a versatile zoom lens, there’s something to be said for having only one focal length: when you shoot with a fixed focal length camera, you don’t take pictures, you take photographs. We’ve rounded up the top six “fixies” to get you started on your path towards being an artisan.

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Orange is the New Black

Introducing: Gear Patrol x DSPTCH Camera Straps (Giveaway!)

Since 2010, San Francisco-based DSPTCH has designed rugged, functional camera straps that pair military-spec webbing and Paracord with high-quality hardware. They’re available in a variety of excellent, reserved hues, but we couldn’t help but wonder what a combination of blaze orange and matte black hardware might look like. Neither could DSPTCH — and so we’re pleased to introduce GP x DSPTCH straps in our signature color.

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Reflecting on the best

More For (Mirror)less: 6 Best Mirrorless Cameras

When in 2004 Epson released the R-D1, the world’s first mirrorless digital camera, photographers weren’t sure what to make of it. Ten years later every major camera company has thrown their proverbial hat into the mirrorless ring. In fact, with digital sensors equal to those found in DSLRs, interchangeable pro-quality lenses, and magnesium-alloy construction, mirrorless cameras are quickly becoming the choice of many professionals looking to downsize their gear. It’s safe to say 2014 will be the year of the mirrorless camera, and we’ve rounded up our favorites to help you prepare.

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Puzzling Over Professional Micro Four Thirds

Tested: Olympus OM-D EM-1

Olympus’s new OM-D EM-1 ($1,400, body only) is way ahead of its time. Effectively an upgraded version of the already-capable E-M5, the E-M1 is an excellent shooter across the board, albeit one that can’t quite find its place in the market. We say: stay different, E-M1.

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Taking photos... the long way

Daclotype

Handling incredibly dangerous chemicals and taking a single, earth-shattering shot — as much as it sounds like a recent happening in Breaking Bad, we’re actually talking about daguerreotype. Invented in the early 1800s, the labor-intensive process laid the groundwork for modern photography. Today, artists like Dan Carillo keep the tradition alive. This short film features incredible shots of Carillo’s daguerreotype process.

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Brace Yourself

Steady As She Goes: 3 Great Monopods

You’ve got the latest DSLR, a smattering of lenses and the best location in the world, but try as you might, things are still looking more Monet than Ansel Adams. Even with the best image stabilization technology and neurosurgeon hands, photos will loose their crispness around exposures longer than 1/20th of a second. Past that, you’re going to need something sturdy to rest on. Less is more, we say. Here are our three favorite monopods.

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Just add water

Kit: Diving the Bahamas

While we love diving for its ability to transport us to an alien world, defy gravity and commune with nature, we also love it for the gear. Diving may be the most gear-intensive sport out there, with the possible exception of mountain climbing. Without your mask, you don’t see, without your tank and regulator, you don’t breathe, without your dive computer, you risk a nasty case of the bends. For our recent trip to the Bahamas, we packed along our favorite warm water diving kit, a collection of necessities, safety backups and just a little bit of style.

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They'll never believe you otherwise

Motion Captured: The 5 Best Action Cameras

Thanks to the introduction of action cameras, pretty much anyone with a thing for the outdoors — novice mountain climbers, intermediate cyclists, veteran X-Games athletes and the lot — is utilizing these point-of-view shooters for hi-def footage of mesmerizing scenery and insane stunts. Fortunately for you, we’ve managed to narrow down the top offerings based on performance, suitability, features and price. Take a break from planning that next base-jumping adventure and get a closer at the five best action cameras available now.

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Connectivity never looked so good

Canon EOS 6D: Turning Creativity Into Reality

The creative process is a series of concessions. That ideal image, pristine and brilliant in your mind, gradually breaks down in the face of technological limitations and, well, real life. Canon’s EOS 6D, the lightest and most affordable of the brand’s full-frame models, seeks to narrow the gap between vision and reality. With a 20.2 megapixel sensor, a 100 to 125,6000 ISO range, and 11-point autofocus, the EOS 6D more than holds up its end of the creative bargain.

Read on for a breakdown of all the camera’s unique features.

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A new Rebel with a cause

Canon EOS Rebel T5i: Entry Level, Redefined

Canon’s Rebel line of DSLRs has always offered an impressive mixture of features while remaining completely approachable. The recently released Canon EOS Rebel T5i continues this tradition as the new flagship of the Rebel line. Like the EOS Rebel 650D before it, this shooter boasts an 18MP CMOS sensor, a 9-point cross-type AF sensor, a 3-inch 1.04m-dot touch-sensitive vari-angle ClearView II LCD, and Full HD video mode, complete with continuous autofocus in movie mode with subject tracking; these are all contained in a body that feels more professional than its predecessor.

Click to learn more.

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The complete package either way

Walkaround Guys: 5 Best Everyday Kit Lenses

Kit lenses have a bad reputation for being the cheap training wheels of the photography world, built solely to make the DSLR buying process more approachable for thrifty consumers in search of a one-stop upgrade. These knocks against the category aren’t completely unfounded, but you shouldn’t let the general snobbery of experienced photographers steer you away from a good deal or convenience. There are a variety of kit lenses that are still a tremendous value and a great starting point for building a glass collection, whether they’re purchased with a camera or on their own. Here, you’ll find a few of our favorites across a variety of major brands and setups.

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A Full-Frame Legacy Lives On

Canon 5D Mark III: Setting the Standard

Canon has long stood apart from its competitors in the world of DSLR cameras. Each successive EOS release since the pioneering EOS 650 model in 1987 has pushed the vanguard of photographic technology, all the while maintaining sleek, elegant design and attending to customer feedback.

This attention to the consumer shines through in the Canon EOS 5D Mark III ($3,499), a camera that has single-handedly set the standard for modern DSLRs.

Let’s dive further into how the Canon EOS 5D Mark III continues Canon’s full-frame legacy.

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Scrappy Shooters

Adventure Proof: 5 Best Rugged Compact Cameras

Smartphones have made typical point-and-shoots about as useful as Ryan Lochte in a public speaking class. But until our favorite thigh weights gain a thicker skin, there will always be space for tougher rigs designed to take a licking and keep on clicking. Toss one of these rugged cameras into your bag before your next big adventure, and maybe you’ll finally capture some evidence to go along with that hell of a yarn.

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Don't Call Them Point-and-Shoots

Tiny Titans: 5 Best Enthusiast Compact Cameras

The point-and-shoot market may have hit a smartphone camera iceberg, but the ship hasn’t sunk yet. In fact, bitter competition has sped up the photography arms race, producing a wide field of top-tier compact cameras with big sensors — at a better price. Boasting image quality more than good enough to be deemed professional, these cameras can be a useful tool for the prosumer and feverish enthusiast alike, providing an infinitely more portable, all-in-one option rather than bulky DSLRs while sharing many of the same features and image quality.

That said, it’s up to you sharpen the focus on what you really need. We don’t mind walking a few steps to get the right shot — so our choices hone in on the best compact cameras that sport big sensors, fixed lenses and fast focusing. There’s a big field of small shooters; we’re here to slim it all down to the cream of the crop.

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Don't Sweat The Wet

Outex Waterproof DSLR Cover

Problem: you want to use your DSLR to shoot some rad watersport photos, but standing on the shoreline or using those disposable waterproof cameras isn’t nearly rad enough. And even less rad is trying to fit your personal rig into a Ziplock freezer bag to protect it from the wet. Solution: Outex waterproof DSLR covers.