DPP Home Gear Cameras Pro DSLR Roundup

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pro DSLR Roundup

DPP takes a look at the currently available top-level cameras and calls out the key features to help you find the model that’s best for you and the way you shoot

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Nikon D700

Featuring essentially the same sensor, ISO range and image quality as the original D3 in a lighter, more compact and far less costly package, the D700 also employs the same 51-point AF and 1005-pixel metering systems, making it a great choice for the photographer who wants to travel light or is on a tighter budget.

The D700 finder shows 95% of the actual area vs. the D3S’s 100%. Maximum shooting rate is 5 fps (up to 8 fps with the optional MB-D10 Multi-power Battery Pack), the shutter is tested to 150,000 cycles vs. 300,000 cycles for the D3 models, and a smaller battery provides 1,000 shots per charge (CIPA standard). The D700 has the advantages of a more compact size, much lower cost, a built-in pop-up flash when you need a little fill and a sensor-dust remover (the D3S also has one; the D3X and original D3 don’t).

Like the D3 series, the D700 features a 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor with Handheld and Tripod AF Live View modes and an Electronic Virtual Horizon that makes it easy to level the horizon in landscapes. And like those cameras, it can use all AF Nikkor lenses, automatically switching to cropped DX mode when a DX lens is attached.

Why You Should Buy This Model:
The D700 provides the original D3’s excellent image quality and high-ISO performance in a much more compact and lower-priced package.

Pentax K-5

Replacing the K-7 atop Pentax’s DSLR lineup, the new K-5 features a similar compact and weatherproof body, but with a new 16.3-megapixel, APS-C format CMOS sensor, faster operation, full HD video and more. It can produce 14-bit RAW files in your choice of two formats, Pentax’s proprietary PEF or Adobe’s universal DNG, and shoot up to 8 RAW or 22 JPEG images at 7 fps, fastest ever for a Pentax DSLR. ISOs go up to 51,200 (normal ISO range is 100-12,800).

The first Pentax DSLR to offer 1920x1080 full HD video, the K-5 shoots it at 25 fps. It also can do 1280x720p HD and 640x480p SD video, both at 30 fps and 25 fps. A built-in microphone can record mono sound, and there’s a jack for an external stereo mic. Video is recorded in AVI format, with Motion JPEG compression. Custom Image Modes and Digital Filters can be used for video as well as still shooting.

Like all current Pentax DSLRs, the K-5 provides sensor-shift image stabilization that works with any lens you attach to the camera. Sensor-module-vibration dust reduction is also provided. There’s an HDR mode, which shoots frames +3, 0 and -3 EV around normal, then blends the best of each in-camera into a high-dynamic-range image with detail from highlight through shadow. There are five blend settings, and pixel alignment permits doing HDR shots handheld.

All Pentax DSLRs can use just about any Pentax lens, including (via adapter) medium-format and old screw-mount optics.

Why You Should Buy This Model:
The K-5 provides pro image quality and performance with pro-quality weather-, dust- and cold-proofing at a very low price, making it ideal for budget-minded pros who want multiple camera bodies.

Olympus E-5

When Olympus introduced the Four Thirds System back in 2003, it was with a pro DSLR, the 5-megapixel E-1. The new 12.3-megapixel E-5 is the third pro Four Thirds model (there was no E-2 or E-4)—and the best. This rugged pro camera is completely splash- and dustproof (as are the pro lenses), and improves on the E-3’s super-quick AF speed with SDM lenses. (In Live View mode, the camera uses slower contrast-detect AF with Face Detection.) The E-5 provides +/-20-step AF adjustment, an important feature for those looking to get the most sharpness out of their lenses.

The first Olympus DSLR to provide HD video capability, the E-5 can shoot 1280x720 HD and 640x480 SD video at 30 fps in AVI format with Motion JPEG compression. A built-in microphone can record mono sound, and there’s a jack for an external stereo mic.

Dual memory-card slots let you use CompactFlash (including UDMA) and SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. A tilting/swiveling, 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor facilitates video and odd-angle still shooting. The E-5 has a built-in, pop-up flash unit (ISO 100/ guide number 42 in feet, 13 in meters), the hot-shoe accepts external flash units, and there’s wireless TTL flash control.

The E-5 features a very effective Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-dust reduction (an Olympus innovation), sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses (with a claimed 5 EV effectiveness), 5 fps shooting, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec., an HDMI output so you can show HD videos in HD on HDTV sets and more.

Why You Should Buy This Model:
The E-5 is ideal for Four Thirds fans who want the best performance available in the format or who want to shoot video clips along with still photos.


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