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Monday, October 8, 2007

The Best D-SLRs Get Better

In this year's most significant camera announcements for professional photographers, Canon and Nikon both have announced a pair of new D-SLRs

In this year's most significant camera announcements for professional photographers, Canon and Nikon both have announced a pair of new D-SLRs. The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and Nikon D3 are taking their places as the pro models at the top of each company's respective lines while the Canon EOS 40D and Nikon D300 come onto the scene as potent backups.

These are exciting times for professional photographers, with major players Canon and Nikon both introducing new top-of-the-line and mid-range D-SLRs almost simultaneously. Canon has the new 21.1-megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III, and Nikon has its first full-frame D-SLR, the D3. Canon also introduced the EOS 40D, a 10.1-megapixel model with Live-View mode, a sensor-dust remover and 6.5 fps shooting and more, while Nikon announced the D300, featuring 12.3 megapixels, 6 fps shooting, two Live-View modes, sensor-dust remover and more. As these cameras come into the marketplace, they redefine the top end of resolution, image quality and speed.

Canon introduced its first full-frame D-SLR, the 11.1-megapixel EOS-1Ds, some five years ago, following it about two years later with the 16.7-megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark II. Now, the long-anticipated EOS-1Ds Mark III is here, with a 26% increase in resolution over its pixel-laden predecessor.

Sharing much of the advanced technology with the recently introduced 10 fps EOS-1D Mark III, the new Mark III differs primarily in its 21.1-megapixel full-frame image sensor and a slower but still rapid advance rate (5 fps). The camera shines at commercial studio work, epic landscapes and action in the field—it's light enough, rugged enough, fast enough and has enough megapixels to handle just about any pro assignment.

In a lower-priced vein, the EOS 40D is the fourth generation of Canon's popular mid-level D-SLR, with pro image quality and performance, a host of features and an attractive price. Where the 30D represented a relatively minor upgrade of the 20D, the 40D is a quantum leap over the 30D, with 23% more pixels, a system to combat sensor dust, a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with Live-View mode, 6.5 fps shooting and more.

Nikon announced its new top-of-the-line D3, with a Nikon-developed, full-frame 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, three image formats, 9 fps shooting at 12.1 megapixels and 11 fps at DX-format 5.1 megapixels, new Nikon EXPEED image processing, two Live-View modes, superquick response and more.

While the D3 is Nikon's best D-SLR yet, the company says it's aimed at sports photographers and photojournalists, and has dropped the D2HS action camera from its lineup, while the D2XS remains, which leads one to wonder—could there be a D2XS successor in the works?

Nikon's new D300 incorporates many of the D3's technologies and features in a rugged body with a new 12.3-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) CMOS image sensor—and a notably lower price. Like the D200 (which remains in the Nikon lineup), the D300 will see much pro use.


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