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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

Nikon D300
The Nikon D300 was introduced at the same time as the D3 and features much of the same technology, but with a 12.3-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) CMOS sensor and a more compact body—and a much lower price. The D300 shares fast 51-point autofocusing, with focus tracking by color, an improved 1,005-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II system for intelligent autoexposure, selectable 12-bit or 14-bit A/D conversion, and a 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor with two Live View modes (Handheld with phase-detection AF and Tripod with contrast-detect AF). The D300 shoots continuously at 6 fps (8 fps with optional battery grip), and it has a very usable ISO scale with high signal-to-noise ratios from 200 to 3200 (100 and 6400 also are available).

The D300 has some features the D3 doesn’t have, like a self-cleaning sensor unit and a built-in flash. It also shares with other recent Nikon D-SLRs the versatile Picture Control System. This provides four basic settings—Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome—which can be customized as to sharpening, tone compensation, brightness and saturation. You even can create your own Picture Control settings and transfer them to other compatible Nikon D-SLRs.

Key Specs
Sensor: 12.3-megapixel CMOS
Format: 23.6x15.8mm (1.5x)
Storage: CF (UDMA-compliant)
A/D Conversion: 14-bit or 12-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 6 fps
LCD: 3.0-inch, 920K-dot with Live View
AF: 51-point
Metering: 1005-pixel 3D Color Matrix II, adjustable CW, 2% spot
ISO Range: 200-3200, plus 100
and 6400
Dimensions: 5.8x4.5x2.9 inches
Weight: 29.3 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $1,600

Olympus E-3
When the E-3 was first announced in October of 2007 as the successor to the Olympus flagship model, the E-1, there had been four years in between to build anticipation for photographers invested in the Four Thirds System of optics. The Four Thirds System, developed mainly by Olympus and Kodak, had piqued interest thanks to its “Digital Specific” design, with sensors that were even smaller than APS type, effectively doubling focal magnifications.

The E-3 took the Four Thirds to the next level with a marketing strategy aimed squarely at the advanced amateur making the step up to pro. Olympus has been a pioneer in the digital realm, the first to offer Live View on a D-SLR, as well as in-camera dust reduction. The tradition was improved upon with the E-3. A rotating, dual-axis articulating Live View LCD provides easy framing from any angle, even 180 degrees for self-portraits, especially accurate thanks to the 100% coverage provided by the LCD screen, which is a trait shared by the 100% coverage of the optical viewfinder, as well.

One of the biggest criticisms of the E-1 was its autofocus, and Olympus spent a lot of time and energy developing the new E-3 11-point autofocus, claiming it upon initial release to be the fastest system available when paired with the concurrently developed Zuiko ED SWD 12-60mm ƒ/2.8-4.8 lens. Dust reduction with the Supersonic Wave Filter also has been carried over, and a few of the other notables include In-Body Mechanical Image Stabilization for up to five stops of compensation with all lenses and a weather-resistant, sealed magnesium-alloy body.

Key Specs
Sensor: 10.1-megapixel Live MOS
Format: 17.3x13.0mm (2.0x)
Storage: CF (I & II), Microdrive, xD-Picture Card
A/D Conversion: 12-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 5 fps
LCD: 2.5-inch, tilting/rotating with
Live View
AF: 11-point
Metering: 45-point, CW, spot
ISO Range: 100-3200
Dimensions: 5.6x4.58x2.9 inches
Weight: 28.68 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $1,699




 

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