The Best Photo Gear Of The Year

They help you make better pictures, solve multiple problems and put more fun in your photography. They are Photography's Outstanding Products for 2011, and every one has been lba and/or field tested by Popular Photography's thoroughly picky editors.

Six of PopPhotos' 23 selections are on display here, and we have a strong feeling you will love them as we do. For the entire list, click here.

Best for the Studio:

Paul C. Buff Einstein Monolight This studio strobe is unusually light (1.95kg) and compact for a 640Ws monolight, has an unusually bright (250W) modelling lamp, and can be dialled down to an unusually low power (2.5Ws) by way of-yes-an unusually short (1/13,000 sec) flash duration. This fan-cooled unit has a built-in optical slave, and can fire up to 10 times per second. ($US500, direct;

For the entire list, click here.

Best for the Fashionista:

Manfrotto Lino Pro Field Jacket Ever seen a photo jacket that you wouldn't be embarrassed to wear around town? We have: this insulated, waterproof, wind-resistant Lino model, in stylishly slimming matte black. The larger pockets include removable protective-padding inserts, can be expanded to hold lenses or flash units, and can be contracted via zippers to function as traditional coat pockets. ($US500, street;

For the entire list, click here.

Best for the Tripod:

Manfrotto MH055M8-Q5 Tripod Head Shooters who do both stills and video can have a head problem: The three-way pan/tilt head that's right for video doesn't allow the fast composition that a ballhead does, but there's no way you're going to get smooth video panning with a ballhead. This Manfrotto is two heads in one: A swich toggles between ballhead operation and fluid pan/tilt movement. Made of light magnesium, it has adjustable friction, a quick-release shoe, a panning lock, and a removable panning handle that reverses for right-handed or left-handed operation. ($US350, street;

For the entire list, click here.

Best for the Hiker:

Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW Backpack We call this a solid hiking pack because it's almost literally true: A rigid plastic back panel acts something like a hiking frame. Made of water-repellent ripstop fabric, this lightweight (1.3kg) pack has enough room for a DSLR with integrated vertical grip with lens attached, plus an additional lens. Side access to the well-padded camera compartment means you don't have to take the bag off to get your camera or change a lens. It has tripod straps, pockets and compartments galore, and a built-in waterproof rain cover. ($US200, street,

For the entire list, click here.

Best for Fisheye Fun:

7.5mm f/3.5 Rokinon Fisheye MFT The sole full-coverage fisheye lens in a Micro Four Thirds mount, this Rokinon takes in a breathtaking, wildly curved 180-degree angle of view. Like other Rokinons we've tried, it makes up for its no-frills operation (manual aperture and focus only) with a solid build and excellent finish. And it can make for wackedelic video. ($300, street;

For the entire list, click here.

Best for the Stylish:

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Quirks, it has a few, but then again, you need only pick up this jewel-like camera to overlook them. Designed like a classic rangefinder (and you know which one), the X100 has two viewfinders in one: a crystal-clear optical bright-frame finder that can switch in a wink to a fine-grain electronic viewfinder that provides 100 per cent framing accuracy at any distance. The fixed 23mm f/2 (35mm equivalent) lens, with an aspheric element plus high-refractive-index glass, showed virtually no light falloff and without a doubt contributed to the camera's fine showing in our resolution tests. Overall, it earned an Extremely High image quality rating. About those quirks: Too many controls are lost in menus, and the camera will capture only JPEGS (not RAW) at ISO 100 and 12,800 (huh?). But it's so pretty... ($US1200, street;

For the entire list, click here.

Top Image: Korionov/Shutterstock

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