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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

D-SLRs For The Professional

2008 was a big year for D-SLRs, and there are now more choices than ever for pros seeking a primary or backup camera. Check out some of the key innovations and the latest models.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

High-End D-SLRs
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
Last year, the EOS-1Ds Mark III was our king of the D-SLRs with its 21.1-megapixel full-frame image sensor. It’s still a terrific camera, but has seen its megapixel count topped by Sony’s 24.6-megapixel DSLR-A900 and its image quality surpassed by its own “kid brother,” the new 21.1-megapixel EOS 5D Mark II. Considering that the Mark II costs substantially less and throws in HD video capability to boot, the question might arise: “Why the EOS-1Ds Mark III?”

Well, two main reasons: The top-of-the-line EOS-1Ds Mark III is a far more rugged camera, with a 300,000-cycle shutter (vs. 150,000 for the 5D Mark II), pro-level dust and moisture sealing, and dual memory-card slots. The EOS-1Ds Mark III also offers better performance, with more advanced AF and metering systems, and faster shooting (5 fps vs. 3.9 fps for the Mark II). Add a 2x teleconverter to an ƒ/4 lens, and the resulting ƒ/8 combo won’t autofocus with the EOS 5D Mark II, but will with the EOS-1Ds Mark III—a big advantage for those who need long focal lengths, and especially important in a full-frame camera that doesn’t provide a smaller sensor’s “telephoto” factor.

Dual DIGIC III image processors working in parallel contribute to the speed and image quality. The Mark III can shoot up to 56 full-resolution JPEGs or 12 RAW images at 5 fps, and it has essentially the same AF system as the EOS-1D Mark III action camera, so it’s well suited to action work as well as studio and landscape photography.

Key Specs
Sensor: 21.1-megapixel CMOS
Format: 36x24mm (full-frame)
Storage: CF (UDMA-compliant) and SD/SDHC
A/D Conversion: 14-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 5 fps
LCD: 3.0-inch, 230K-dot with Live View
AF: 45-point (19, plus 26 Assist)
Metering: 63-zone, 8.5%, 2.4%, CW
ISO Range: 100-1600, plus 50 and 3200
Dimensions: 6.1x6.3x3.1 inches
Weight: 42.5 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $7,295

Canon EOS-1D Mark III
The EOS-1D Mark III offers great speed and terrific image quality. It shoots 10.1-megapixel images at a remarkable 10 per second (in bursts of up to 110 full-res JPEGs or 30 RAW images), but as many photographers use it for its image quality as for its speed. Due, in part, to large pixels (10.1 megapixels on an APS-H-format sensor work out to a pixel pitch of 7.2 microns compared to 6.3 microns for the full-frame EOS-1Ds Mark III’s), in part, to the dual DIGIC III image processors and, in part, to 14-bit A/D conversion, the EOS-1D Mark III’s image quality is superb to ISO 1600 and beyond.

AF performance is excellent. It’s seriously rugged like all 1-series EOS pro cameras, with a magnesium-alloy body and chassis, excellent dust- and waterproofing, and a 300,000-cycle shutter. A Self-Cleaning Shutter mechanism uses ultrasonic vibrations to remove dust from the sensor assembly, and the Dust Delete Data feature maps and records the locations of any remaining dust, then removes it automatically with the provided Digital Photo Professional software.

Like the full-frame Mark III, the EOS-1D Mark III has a 3.0-inch, 230,000-dot LCD monitor with Live View capability, albeit with manual focusing only. You can enlarge the live image 5x or 10x for fine focusing control. With a USB cable (or wirelessly via the optional WFT-E2A wireless file transmitter), you can display the live image on a computer monitor and operate the camera from there via the provided EOS Utility software. The camera has slots for CompactFlash and SD cards, and you also can record images to external USB hard drives.

Key Specs
Sensor: 10.1-megapixel CMOS
Format: 28.1x18.7mm (1.3x)
Storage: CF and SD/SDHC
A/D Conversion: 14-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 10 fps
LCD: 3.0-inch, 230K-dot with Live View
AF: 45-point (19, plus 26 assist)
Metering: 63-zone, 13.5%, 3.8%, CW
ISO Range: 100-3200, plus 50 and 6400
Dimensions: 6.1x6.2x3.1 inches
Weight: 40.7 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $4,199


 

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