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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Battle Of The DSLRs

Everyone aspires to a top-of-the-line, super-trick, über-pro DSLR, but what are you really buying, and can a mid-level model actually give you better images?


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Today, you can get very good image quality with DSLRs from high entry-level on up, in both full-frame and APS-C format. If your pro job demands the best possible 80-megapixel images at a low ISO, you need (or need to rent) a medium-format camera. If it requires the best possible image quality at a high ISO, you need one of the newer full-frame DSLRs. Otherwise, in terms of image quality, a lower-priced newer DSLR could serve as a good backup, or even a main camera, for many pros.

Performance
Pro DSLRs outperform lower-end ones, of course. The AF systems are quicker and more accurate, the metering systems are better, and the pro models have more powerful processors that speed operation and can handle more complex noise-reduction algorithms. But the performance gap between pro and some mid-level DSLRs isn't as great as you might expect. Sometimes the latest technological breakthroughs are introduced in the next DSLR model to be released rather than waiting for the next generation of the highest-end one.

Besides speed and accuracy, another AF consideration is sensitivity. The highest-end DSLRs can autofocus in dimmer light than entry-level models. Nikon's top models (D4, D800/D800E and D600) and Canon's (EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III with current firmware) can autofocus with lens and teleconverter combinations as slow as ƒ/8, and so can the new $1,199 Nikon D7100. Other current DSLRs can't autofocus with lens and teleconverter combinations slower than ƒ/5.6.

THE CONTENDERS
Full-Frame Sensor Normal ISO Range Max ISO AF Points (X-Type) Min. AF Aperture Min. AF EV Shutter Cycles Max. fps* Buffer RAW/JPG** AF Fine Adjust
Canon EOS-1D X 18.1 MP 100-51200 204800 61 (to 41) 8 -2 400K 12 38/180 Yes
Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP 100-25600 102400 61 (to 41) 8 -2 150K 6 18/65 Yes
Canon EOS-6D 20.2 MP 100-25600 102400 11 (1) 5.6 -3 100K 4/5 17/1250 Yes
Nikon D4 16.2 MP 100-12800 204800 51 (15) 8 -2 400K 10 92/170 Yes
Nikon D800/D800E 36.3 MP 100-6400 25600 51 (15) 8 -2 200K 4(5) 21/56 Yes
Nikon D600 24.3 MP 100-6400 25600 39 (9) 8 -1 150K 5.5 22/57 Yes
Sony SLT-A99 24.3 MP 100-25600 25600 19 (11)*** 5.6 -1 200K 6 15/15 Yes
APS-C                    
Canon EOS 7D 18.0 MP 100-6400 6400 19 (19) 5.6 0.5 150K 8 25/130 Yes
Canon EOS 70D 20.2 MP 100-12800 25600 19 (19) 5.6 0.5 100K 7 16/65 Yes
Canon EOS T5i 18.0 MP 100-12800 25600 9 (9) 5.6 0.5 N/S 5 6/30 No
Canon EOS SL1 18.0 MP 100-12800 25600 9 (1) 5.6 0.5 N/S 4 8/1140 No
Canon EOS T3 12.2 MP 100-6400 6400 9 (1) 5.6 0 N/S 3 5/830 No
Nikon D300S 12.3 MP 100-6400 6400 51 (15) 5.6 -1 150K 7 18/44 Yes
Nikon D7100 24.1 MP 100-6400 25600 51 (15) 8 -2 150K 6(7) 7/73 Yes
Nikon D5200 24.1 MP 100-12800 25600 39 (9) 5.6 -1 100K 5 8/35 No
Nikon D3200 24.2 MP 100-51200 12800 11 (1) 5.6 -1 100K 4 18/80 No
Pentax K-5 II/K-5 IIs 16.3 MP 100-12800 51200 11 (9) 5.6 -3 100K 7 8/30 Yes
Pentax K-50 16.3 MP 100-6400 51200 11 (9) 5.6 -1 N/S 6 8/30 Yes
Pentax K-30 16.3 MP 100-12800 25600 11 (9) 5.6 -1 N/S 6 8/30 Yes
Pentax K-500 16.3 MP 100-51200 51200 11 (9) n/s -1 N/S 6 8/30 Yes
Sigma SD1 Merrill 15.3x3 MP 100-6400 6400 11( 11) n/s -1 100K 5 7/7 Yes
Sigma SD15 4.7x3 MP 100-1600 3200 5(1) n/s 0 100K 3 21/21 No
Sony SLT-A77 24.3 MP 100-16000 16000 19( 11) 5.6 -1 150K 12 13/13 Yes
Sony SLT-A65 24.3 MP 100-16000 16000 15 (3) 5.6 -1 150K 8 13/17 No
Sony SLT-A58 20.1 MP 100-16000 16000 15 (3) 5.6 -1 N/S 5 6/7 No
Four Thirds                    
Olympus E-5 12.3 MP 200-6400 6400 11( 11) N/S -2 150K 5 20/unlimited Yes
*Maximum fps at full resolution with AF for each frame; figure in parentheses is maximum fps in 15.3 MP cropped mode
**Maximum number of RAW/highest-quality JPEG images per burst
***SLT-A99 has a 102-point phase-detection AF sensor overlaying the image sensor, as well as a main 19-point AF sensor
****Price with asterisks is for body with kit zoom lens; otherwise price is for body only
N/S = Not stated by manufacturer


 

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