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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

Sony DSLR-A900
The Sony DSLR-A900 is the big brother of the A700. The A900 brings the Alpha line up to full frame with a 24.6-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor that can provide images at up to 6048 x 4032 resolution. The sensor’s on-chip A/D signal conversion provides faster image processing and improved noise reduction and, as in the A700, extra noise reduction is performed during image processing.

Many other features are carryovers from the A700, including the Advanced Dynamic Range Optimizer, in-camera SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization (a first for full-frame D-SLRs), an Alpha lens mount for compatibility with Alpha and Konica Minolta/Minolta Maxxum-compatible lenses, and Bionz Image Processing (though Sony was able to make the jump to full-frame by giving the camera dual processors). New features include a Quick Navi interface for swiftly accessing frequently used settings, and an Intelligent Preview function for applying the effects of selectable functions like white balance and exposure to an LCD preview before you’ve taken the shot.

Key Specs
Sensor: 24.6-megapixel Exmor CMOS
Format: 35.9x24mm (full-frame)
Storage: Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, CompactFlash and Microdrive
A/D Conversion: 12-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 5 fps
LCD: 3.0-inch, 921K-dot
AF: 9-point, with 10 Assist points
Metering: 40-segment honeycomb, CW, spot
ISO Range: 200-3200, expandable to 100-6400
Dimensions: Approx. 6.0x4.5x3.25 inches
Weight: 29.98 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $2,999

Backup D-SLRs
Canon EOS 50D

The EOS 50D ups its predecessor’s resolution by 50 percent (15.1 megapixels vs. the EOS 40D’s 10.1) while retaining nearly the same shooting speed (6.3 fps vs. 6.5 for the 40D). Canon’s new DIGIC 4 image processor provides speedy operation along with finer image detail and more natural colors, while 14-bit A/D conversion produces four times as many steps from white to black as 12-bit conversion. The 50D sports the same new 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor as the new EOS 5D Mark II, with the same Live View capabilities (except HD video). An improved sensor-cleaning system adds an anti-dust fluorine coating to the low-pass filter over the sensor. The AF and metering systems are the same as the EOS 40D’s.

With a UDMA CompactFlash card, you can shoot 6.3 fps bursts of up to 90 Large/Fine JPEGs (up to 60 with a standard CF card), or up to 16 RAW images, at full 15.1-megapixel resolution. There are three RAW formats: full-resolution (4752 x 3168 pixels), sRAW 1 (3267 x 2178 pixels) and sRAW 2 (2376 x 1584 pixels). The two small RAW formats work out to 7.1 and 3.7 megapixels, respectively, ideal for photojournalistic work.

The DIGIC 4 processor provides quick operation despite the big 15.1-megapixel file size, more efficient power consumption for Live View operation and finer image detail with better color reproduction than the EOS 40D’s DIGIC III. The 50D provides a normal ISO range of 100-3200, expandable to 6400 and 12,800.

An especially nice feature of all midrange EOS D-SLRs is the ability to set exposure compensation merely by rotating the big Quick Control dial on the camera back—no need to fumble around for an exposure-compensation button and a small dial to do the deed.

Key Specs
Sensor: 15.1-megapixel CMOS
Format: 22.3x14.9mm (1.6x)
Storage: CF (UDMA-compliant)
A/D Conversion: 14-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 6.3 fps
LCD: 3.0-inch, 920K-dot with Live View
AF: 45-point
Metering: 35-zone, 9%, 3.8%, CW
ISO Range: 100-3200, plus 6400 and 12,800
Dimensions: 5.7x4.2x2.9 inches
Weight: 25.7 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $1,399


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