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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The 10 Megapixel Club

When you need resolution and the compactness of an SLR, these are the four current models you'll want to check out

Nikon has been fielding questions about bringing out a camera with a full-frame image sensor for a few years now. Its answer in the spring of 2005 was the D2x. No, the D2x doesn't have a full-frame sensor, but it's clear that this highly capable professional body was designed to attack the advantages of full-frame. At the top of that list is the resolution. The D2x comes in at 12.2-million effective pixels. That's within striking distance of the highest-resolution, full-frame models on the market. At the same time, Nikon has been developing newer and better digital-specific lenses to mitigate the problems of the Dx-sized CMOS sensor's inherent magnification factor at the wide end of the range.

There's no question that a Dx-sized sensor packed with so many photosites is susceptible to noise. Each photosite measures five microns square. In response, Nikon engineers have developed new noise-reduction algorithms matched specifically to the sensor. If you're familiar with the Nikon D1x, you know that the image sensor on that camera had photosites that were rectangular rather than square. Some photographers felt that the resulting “resolution shift” yielded interesting effects. Whether or not Nikon agreed with that assessment, the D2x avoids the issue altogether with its conventionally shaped photosites.

Much of Nikon's reputation with professional shooters is built on the ruggedness of the camera body. The D2x holds up that tradition. With a clear emphasis on durability in challenging environments, the D2x has a magnesium chassis and seals at all points of vulnerability. Waterproof? Don't throw it into the pool, but the camera is touted as being fully weatherproof.

As a professional camera, the D2x has all of the shooting features you'd expect. You can shoot at five frames per second at full resolution for 15 RAW (NEF) images or 21 JPEGs. In the Continuous High Speed Cropped Image Mode (which cuts the sensor's resolution to a cropped 6.8 megapixels), you can shoot at eight frames per second. Continuous High Speed Cropped is an interesting feature, which gives you considerably higher shooting speed, but at the expense of resolution and angle of view. The trade-off can be well worth it in some situations.

The D2x is priced at ab/ut $5,000 (estimated street price).
Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com.


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