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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 D90
The D90 joins Nikon’s mid-level D80 which is still available. The D90 was the first digital SLR (by a nose) to be able to capture HD video. The exact specs are 720p (1280 x 720 pixels), with mono sound via a built-in microphone. The new D-Movie Mode is an extension of the D90’s Live View feature, which lets you compose images via the 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor. While it lacks the D300’s Handheld live mode (which uses phase-detection AF), the D90 provides three contrast-detect AF modes: wide-area, normal-area and Face detect (you also can focus manually).

Other notable D90 features include a 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor (APS-C-sized) similar to the one in the D300, an effective sensor-cleaning system, an 11-point autofocus system with Face Priority, 3D Color Matrix Metering II with a Scene Recognition System that computes 30,000 different photographic scenes for exposure accuracy, a continuous shooting mode of 4.5 fps, Active D-Lighting and a wide range of In-Camera Image Editing features, including fisheye effect and a straighten and distortion control. The D90 also has low noise sensitivity from 200 to 3200 and various exposure options for full manual control.

Key Specs
Sensor: 12.3-megapixel CMOS
Format: 23.6x15.8mm (1.5x)
Storage: SD/SDHC
A/D Conversion: 12-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 4.5 fps
LCD: 3.0-inch, 920K-dot with Live View
AF: 11-point
Metering: 3D Color Matrix II, 75% CW, 2% spot
ISO Range: 200-3200,
Dimensions: 5.2x4.1x3.0 inches
Weight: 22 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $1,000

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1
The Lumix DMC-L1 was Panasonic’s first foray into the D-SLR market a couple of years ago and still remains an attractive camera for the professional photographer. It utilizes the Four Thirds Live MOS image sensor (the same as Olympus), has a resolution of 7.5 megapixels and a body style that’s reminiscent of a retro rangefinder camera with traditional exposure controls. The DMC-L1 was one of the first digital SLRs to use Live View and the first to have a Leica lens designed specifically for the camera. The camera feels like an older analog model, with a lever-operated light-metering mode and one for the motordrive. It also has an effective dust-removal system.

Live View operation with the 2.5-inch LCD monitor lets you focus manually or use the camera’s standard phase-detection AF system (which briefly disrupts the live view as the mirror flips down for focusing). The Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 lens sold with the L1 incorporates Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) for steadier handheld shooting. The L1 churns out a nice dynamic range with its low-consumption Live MOS sensor. The DMC-L1 also features shutter speeds from 60 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B, a built-in flash and easy operation.

Key Specs
Sensor: 7.5-megapixel Live MOS
Format: 17.0x13.0mm (2.0x)
Storage: SD/SDHC
A/D Conversion: 12-bit
Max. Drive Rate: 3 fps
LCD: 2.5-inch with Live View
AF: 3-point
Metering: 49-zone (256 in Live View)
ISO Range: 100-1600
Dimensions: 5.7x3.4x3.1 inches
Weight: 18.7 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $900


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