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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cameras For A Modern Cartier-Bresson

New small, but highly capable cameras give street shooters and photojournalists some interesting options for making ­top-quality images


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Sony NEX-7; Sony Cyber-shot RX1
Sony's new Cyber-shot RX1 features a full-frame, 24.3-megapixel CMOS sensor (the same one used in Sony's new SLT-A99 full-frame DSLR) and a built-in Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm ƒ/2 wide-angle lens—it's the first full-frame pocket camera (it measures just 4.5x2.6x2.8 inches and weighs 17 ounces). Normal ISO range is 100-25,600, expandable to 50-102,400. There's a 3.0-inch, 1229K-dot LCD monitor, and optional eye-level optical and electronic viewfinders are available. The RX1 can shoot 1080 video at 60p and 24p. List price is $2,799.

Another quality Sony street shooter is the NEX-7 mirrorless model. It has a 24.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (the same one used in the Sony SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 APS-C DSLRs) and a normal ISO range of 100-16,000. There's an excellent built-in eye-level OLED electronic viewfinder, as well as a tilting 3.0-inch, 921K-dot external monitor. Besides excellent still images, the NEX-7 can shoot 1080/60p full HD video. Measuring a compact 4.7x2.6x2.7 inches and weighing just 10.3 ounces, the NEX-7 uses Sony E-mount lenses and (via an optional adapter) Sony A-mount DSLR lenses. List price is $1,199 (body only).

Fujifilm offers three excellent street shooters. The FinePix X-Pro1 features Fujifilm's X-Trans image sensor, a 16.3-megapixel APS-C unit with a unique RGB filter array that differs from conventional Bayer arrays by using a more random arrangement that positions red, green and blue pixels in every horizontal and vertical row. This minimizes moiré and false colors, allowing Fujifilm to do away with the sharpness-robbing optical low-pass filter required by most Bayer-sensor cameras. Normal ISO range is 200-6400, expandable to 100-25,600. Video capabilities include 1080p and 720p at 24 fps, with stereo sound. The X-Pro1 uses the Fujifilm X electronic lens mount. Currently, three XF lenses are available: 18mm ƒ/2 R wide-angle, 35mm ƒ/1.4 R normal and 60mm ƒ/2.4 R macro. Dimensions are 5.5x3.2x1.7 inches and 15.9 ounces. List price is $1,699 (body only).


Sigma DP2 Merrill; Sigma DP1 Merrill
The X-E1 is a lower-cost alternative to the popular X-Pro1, featuring the same 16.3-megapixel APS-C image sensor, but replacing the X-Pro1's unique, but bulky Hybrid Multi Viewfinder with a high-definition, high-luminance 2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder that actually has higher resolution. The camera has a 2.8-inch, 460K-dot external LCD monitor, and contrast-based AF is very quick; it can shoot still images at up to 6 fps. Video capabilities include 1080 and 720 at 24p in H.264 (MOV) format, with stereo sound via a built-in microphone or an optional external mic. The X-E1 takes the same lenses and has the same ISO range as the X-Pro1. Dimensions are 5.1x2.9x1.5 inches and 12.3 ounces. Estimated street price is $999 (body only).

Fujifilm's third street shooter (actually, the first, chronologically) is the rugged FinePix X100, an all-in-one model with a 12.3-megapixel APS-C sensor and a built-in 23mm ƒ/2 lens (35mm equivalent on a full-frame camera). EXR technology lets you choose high-resolution, wide dynamic range or high-sensitivity/low-noise processing. Normal ISO range is 200-6400, expandable to 100-12,800.

It features a 2.8-inch, 460K-dot external LCD monitor, and a unique hybrid viewfinder lets you choose between electronic and optical viewing. You can shoot 720p video at 24 fps, with stereo sound. Dimensions are 5.0x2.9x2.1 inches and 14.3 ounces. List price is $1,199.

Sigma's newest DP models, the DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill, each features the 45-megapixel (three 14.8-megapixel layers) APS-C Foveon sensor used in the current SD1 Merrill DSLR. The photodiodes (pixels) in image sensors aren't sensitive to color; they just measure the amount of light that strikes them. To produce color images, conventional image sensors use a Bayer array of red, green and blue filters over the pixels so that each pixel receives just red, green or blue data; the missing colors for each pixel are then obtained by interpolation using data from neighboring pixels and complex algorithms. The Foveon sensor stacks three pixel layers so each pixel site records red, green and blue data. This results in image quality well beyond what a Bayer sensor of equivalent horizontal-by-vertical pixel count can produce.

 

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