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.
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.
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.
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