Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The proliferation of high-end, back-to-the-future, retro-design cameras has style as well as substance
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Of course, the Df can use all current AF, AF-S, DX and AF-D Nikkor lenses (like other full-frame Nikon DSLRs, it automatically crops to 1.5X DX format when a DX lens is mounted, producing 6.8-megapixel images). FX (full-frame) lenses range from 14mm to 800mm (DX lenses go down to 10-24mm, but that's equivalent to 15-36mm with the DX crop), including many with VR Vibration Compensation. But, unlike other Nikon DSLRs, the Df is also compatible with classic Ai and non-Ai Nikkor lenses with full-aperture metering. Concurrently with the Df, Nikon has also introduced the new classic FX-format AF-S Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.8G Special Edition lens honoring the design of the classic Ai lenses (and the Df camera). Dimensions are 5.6x4.3x2.6 inches and 25 ounces.
Estimated Street Price: $2,749 (body); $2,999 (with 50mm Special Edition kit lens). www.nikonusa.com
Olympus kind of started the current retro wave with its E-P1 PEN mirrorless camera in 2009. The E-P1 and its successors are based on the look of the classic compact Olympus PEN half-frame 35mm cameras of the 1960s, and while they're excellent image-making devices, none has a built-in eye-level viewfinder (an electronic viewfinder is available as an optional accessory for some of them).
Enter the OM-D, based on the look of the classic compact Olympus OM-series 35mm SLRs of the 1970s. The original OM-D E-M5 drew a lot of praise when introduced in 2012, and the current flagship OM-D E-M1 is becoming popular with pros as a go-anywhere system camera. Actually, the mirrorless E-M1 is also the successor to the last Olympus pro DSLR, the E-5: Yes, it's that good.
A "mini-DSLR"-style mirrorless model with a rugged freeze-, dust- and splashproof body, a state-of-the-art, 16.3-megapixel Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor and powerful new TruePic VII processor, the E-M1 offers a feature set that goes well beyond that of the E-5.
The new Dual Fast AF system provides great lens versatility. The camera uses 81-point contrast AF when native Micro Four Thirds lenses are mounted and automatically engages 37-point on-sensor phase-detection AF when legacy Four Thirds lenses are used. (When continuous AF is selected with an MFT lens, both AF systems work together to improve tracking performance.) There are 57 Four Thirds and MFT lenses currently available, all designed specifically for the Four Thirds/MFT image sensor. These include 32 Zuiko and M.Zuiko Digital ones from Olympus, providing focal lengths from 9mm through 300mm, plus an 8mm fisheye. With the sensor's 2X focal-length factor, this provides users with focal lengths equivalent to 16mm through 600mm on a 35mm camera. Note that an adapter, preferably the new weather-sealed MMF-3, allows you to attach Four Thirds lenses to the E-M1.
You can choose a single AF point or activate a 3x3-point group or let the camera choose the AF area. Super Spot AF lets you pinpoint focus on a tiny subject or a tiny area of a subject. There's not only face-detection AF, but also eye-detection AF, which can be set for nearest-eye, right-eye or left-eye priority. You can also quickly focus anywhere in the image merely by touching the spot on the LCD monitor. For manual focusing, focus peaking is available.
You might think that devoting sensor pixels to AF instead of the image could reduce image quality, but only about 6% of the 16.3 million pixels are devoted to AF. The E-M1's TruePic VII processor delivers effective noise reduction and lens aberration corrections, and the sensor produced the highest score yet (by a point) for a Four Thirds-format sensor in DxOMark.com's testing.
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