$229 to $469; Wacom
Wacom has long been the leader in building excellent pressure-sensitive graphics tablets. Its Intuos5 is a perfect example of everything I’ve come to expect from the company, offering exceptional build quality, a sturdy drawing surface, and beautifully rendered digital pen strokes. But with this entry, Wacom didn't merely match its past efforts. The Intuos5 includes full touch capability, sports a redesigned button interface and heads-up display, and supports wireless usage. The HUD in particular redeems Wacom’s somewhat clunky software attempts of years past, providing users with a simple and clean way to see their programmable buttons and switch among them.
The touch surface of the tablet maps to all of OS X’s Multi-Touch gestures, letting you switch between hand and pen to move around your canvas and your computer. Between the tablet’s touch sensitivity and its new ExpressKeys buttons, Wacom has practically eliminated the need for you to use a mouse and keyboard in your production process.
Graphics-tablet sales will always be at least somewhat confined to professional markets. But if you’re a digital artist, a compositor, or simply someone who prefers a touch-and-pen interface to a trackpad-and-keyboard setup, the Intuos5 is Wacom’s finest midrange tablet yet.—Serenity Caldwell
$1000 (body only); Olympus
Insofar as Micro Four-Thirds cameras go, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is a chart-topper not only because it’s modeled directly from the company’s OM line of stylish, feature-rich SLRs, but also because in its new digital incarnation, it produces outstanding images. With a highly customizable feature set, a compact design, a swift autofocus and burst mode, a mix of three dials and a touchscreen LCD, and a weather-resistant body, this mirrorless interchangeable lens model is good-looking and well-designed.
The camera earned grades of Superior in critical test categories such as exposure, color, sharpness, and distortion. The included clip-on flash in the hot shoe produced even coverage corner-to-corner, as well. But the OM-D E-M5 is not without its fun side: Plenty of imaging goodies, such as multiple exposure capability, a wide array of scene modes—including 3D—and a set of art filters allow you to preview effects on the LCD or in the EVF before you press the shutter button. Top that off with an extensive assortment of available accessories and lenses, and you have a camera that shines for almost any photo enthusiast.—Jackie Dove
As a dedicated camcorder that falls squarely between two worlds—consumer and prosumer—the compact Sony HandyCam HDR-PJ760V is a compelling choice because it works like a champ under tough conditions. Right out of the box, this showstopper was able to capture a refinery explosion and fire, with spectacular results. This model intelligently compensated for exposure and minimized artifacts while shooting directly into the sun, as well. Its optical image stabilization, combined with its surround-sound stereo capability, captured video that was sharp, crisp, and color-accurate—rich without oversaturation—and paired with great audio quality. And let’s not forget some of the Handycam HDR-PJ760V’s cool extras: The unit offers a pivoting color viewfinder, as well as advanced manual controls, GPS capability, and a miniprojector component that lets you turn the camcorder into a presentation tool.—Jackie Dove
Screencasting has come a long way from pointing a camcorder at your Mac’s display or taking individual screenshots and arranging them in a slideshow. While some utilities are content to capture on-screen actions, ScreenFlow goes a long, long step further by also allowing you to edit what you’ve captured. Previous versions provided an adequate set of tools for creating solid screencasts. With the software you could capture your screen; edit the resulting video; add captions, titles, and transitions; zoom in and out on important elements; embed picture-in-picture video from a connected camera; and export your work in a variety of formats. Version 4 brings some welcome enhancements, including the ability to nest clips (so that you can manipulate them as a single unit), add closed captioning, use green-screen effects, and apply audio and video filters to your videos. If it’s one-stop screencasting you’re after, ScreenFlow 4 is the tool to use.—Christopher Breen