Wide Star

Tokina fills out the focal length of a popular favorite.

Tokina has recently shown remarkable success in controlling distortion at ultra wide focal lengths, while keeping prices low. This new 12-28mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX wide-angle zoom for Canon and Nikon APS-C bodies ($599, street) continues that fine trend.

The successor to Tokina’s hard — to-keep-in-stock 12-24mm f/4 PRO DX II of 2003, the newcomer boosts the focal-length range— our Nikon-mount test lens is the full-frame equivalent of an 18-42mm; for Canon it would be about 19-45mm. It also has a new autofocus motor and sensor, plus two spheric elements

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Why telephotos rule for portraits

If you’re keen on shooting portraits, then for the very best results you need to invest in lenses with pulling power.

WHILE THERE ARE countless focal lengths on offer to digital SLR photographers, ask any specialising in portraiture the type of lens they prefer and the answer is almost always, without exception, either a prime like a 50mm or 85mm, or a telezoom like the 70-200mm f/2.8. The reason for this is simple — these types of lenses have characteristics that are perfect for shooting stunning portraits.

One of the main reasons for using lenses with a telephoto coverage is

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Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4GEDV £83o|

HANDLING: This lens is considerably larger than its 18-35mm sibling and getting on for double the weight too. It handles beautifully and is extremely well made, exuding class. Zoom and focus rings are one-finger light, though there was a bit of play in the manual focusing ring of our review sample.

FEATURES: The headline here is VR image stabilisation-a first for a lens of this type. This is at least partly responsible for the extra weight of 17elements in 12 groups, with a generous sprinkling of premium glass and aspherical surfaces. Aperture is a constant f/4 and compared to the

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TAKING GREAT PORTRAITS requires a multitude of skills to be mastered and our monthly guide aims to cover them all so that you’re well prepared for every possible challenge. Over the coming months, we’ll be looking in depth at different forms of lighting and more advanced techniques, but in this fourth part, we examine a key consideration you must make

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Lens basics

Choosing a lens can be tricky for new users. That’s where our beginner’s guide comes in…

The beauty of investing in a DSLR or CSC is that you can swap lenses, giving you a whole new perspective on the world and allowing you to get really creative with your photography.

Being able to change lenses allows you to select a lens often more suited to your subject and by adding lenses to your camera bag, you build up a much more versatile camera set-up. In many ways, lenses are a more important consideration than the camera, as a lens will

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Lens accessories

There’s a variety of add-ons you can buy to modify your lens’ behaviour or specification

There are many accessories that have been developed to alter the characteristics of your lens, typically to increase focal length or enable macro shooting, and as they’re available from several manufacturers the choice usually caters for all budgets.

So rather than having to invest in additional lenses, you can adapt an existing optic to mimic the characteristics of another lens. Not only is it a more affordable solution, but they will usually also weigh far less and be less of a burden to carry around.

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How lens choice affects perspective

WHEN TAKING PORTRAITS that include the location as well as the subject within the frame, it’s important to understand how the scene looks completely different depending on the focal length of the lens in use. While many beginners are concerned only with ensuring the subject fills a particular area of the frame, experienced photographers look to use a focal length that gives the perspective they desire in the image.

By using a wide-angle and moving closer to the subject, they are set against a wider view of the general scene that boasts far more depth. By using a telephoto setting.a

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Focal turns the air Blue(tooth)

Focal XS Book Wireless Desktop speakers £300

Focal’s commitment to audio outside dedicated hi-fi has grown in recent years, and the Focal XS Book Wireless desktop speakers are the latest addition to its more consumer-focused product range.

Ultimately, we’re looking at a pair of the original XS Book speakers launched in late 2011, except this time they come bearing aptX Bluetooth for wireless playback.

The design is therefore almost identical to its predecessors’. The same tapered look remains, as do the 19mm aluminium dome tweeters and 10cm polyglass mid/bass drivers. There’s still a 20W-per-channel amp in the right-hand master speaker.

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Focal planes for fantastic shots.

Understanding focal planes, nodal points, convex and concave lenses and how light interacts with them may seem baffling but this is fundamental to creating perfect images.

The sheer genius of photography lies in its simplicity. When we purchase a DSLR, the things we most concern ourselves with are often megapixels and the weight of the camera body. However, your pictures are only ever going to be as good as the glass on the front of the camera will allow — in other words, you should pay as much attention to your lens choice as whatever else you are spending sizeable

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Focal SM9

Designed for studio use, these stereo speakers fit the domestic bill too


Price £4580 ★★★★★

Highlight the Focals’ ability to play loudly while still sounding clear, refined and composed is a rare quality indeed, especially at this price.

Consider if you want an insightful, dynamic and powerful active speaker and don’t mind the SM9’s functional appearance


Type Standmount

Sensitivity n/a

Impedance n/a

Max power handling 600W

Biwirable No

Finishes 1

Dimensions 32 x 49 x 39cm

Sound and Vision we don’t make a habit of covering studio-orientated equipment, but in the case of Focal’s SM9s we’ve made

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