DPP Home Gear Cameras What's Your Next Pro DSLR?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's Your Next Pro DSLR?

The lines between top-tier and mid-level camera models are blurring. We look at the features and capabilities that are most important for your work so you can make a thoughtful decision before leaping into an über-pro hot-rod unit.

If speed is your need, the top models from Canon and Nikon are your ticket. Canon's EOS-1D X can shoot its 18.1-megapixel images at 12 fps, with continuous autofocusing and 18.1 megapixels at 14 fps with focus locked at the first frame. Nikon's D4 can shoot its 16.2-megapixel images at 10 fps with continuous AF and 11 fps with focus locked at first frame. Why don't these flagship pro models have as many megapixels as their manufacturer's midrange full-frame models? Largely to provide these superquick shooting speeds, and also to provide top low-light capability.

Of course, the EOS-1D X and the D4 have superquick and accurate AF systems that can keep up with these shooting rates. The top APS-C DSLRs also provide fast shooting: 12 fps for Sony's SLR-A77 (with continuous AF), 8 fps for Canon's EOS 7D, and 7 fps for Nikon's D300S and Pentax's K-5.

The flagship cameras are the most rugged and weather-resistant. But all of today's top DSLRs are quite rugged, and many pros use mid-level full-frame and high-end APS-C DSLRs in the field, to good effect. Note that none of the DSLRs is warrantied against water damage, something to keep in mind when facing a torrential downpour. Many photojournalists use top Canon and Nikon DSLRs successfully in all kinds of conditions. (Make sure the lens is weather-sealed, too; a sealed body with a nonsealed lens will put you out of business quickly in a heavy rain.) If you have to shoot in the rain, it never hurts to use a protective cover.

Full-Frame Sensor Pixel Size (microns) Normal ISO Range External Monitor Top video AF Points Max fps* Memory Dimensions (inches/ounces) List Price**
Canon EOS-1D X 18.1 MP 6.9 100-51,200 3.2 in., 1040K 1080/30p 61 12 2CF 6.2x6.4x3.3/47.3 $6,799
Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP 6.3 100-25,600 3.2 in., 1040K 1080/30p 61 6 CF, SD 6.0x4.6x3.0/30.3 $3.499
Canon EOS-6D 20.2 MP 6.5 100-25,600 3.0 in., 1040K 1080/30p 11 4.5 SD 5.7x4.4x2.8/24.0 $2,099
Nikon D4 16.2 MP 7.3 100-12,800 3.2 in., 921K 1080/30p 51 10 CF, XQD 6.3x6.2x3.6/41.6 $5.999
Nikon D800 36.3 MP 4.9 100-6400 3.2 in., 921K 1080/30p 51 4 CF, SD 5.7x4.8x3.2/31.7 $2,999
Nikon D800E 36.3 MP 4.0 100-6400 3.2 in., 921K 1080/30p 51 4 CF, SD 5.7x4.8x3.2/31.7 $3,299
Nikon D600 24.3 MP 6.0 100-6400 3.2 in., 921K 1080/30p 39 5 2SD 5.6x4.4x3.2/26.8 $2,099
Sony SLT-A99 24.3 MP 6.0 100-25,600 3.0 in., 1228K tilt/rot. 1080/60p 19+102 6 CF, MS 5.8x4.4x3.1/25.8 $2,799
Canon EOS 7D 18.0 MP 4.3 100-6400 3.0 in., 920K 1080/30p 19 8 CF 5.8x4.4x2.9/28.9 $1,599
Nikon D300S 12.3 MP 5.5 200-3200 3.0 in., 921K 720/24p 51 7 CF, SD 5.8x4.5x2.9/30.0 $1,699
Pentax K-5 II 16.3 MP 4.8 80-51,200 3.0 in., 921K 1080/25p 11 7 SD 5.2x3.8x2.9/23.3 $1.199
Pentax K-5 IIs 16.3 MP 4.8 80-51,200 3.0 in., 921K 1080250p 11 7 SD 5.2x3.8x2.9/23.3 $1,299
Sigma SD1 15.4x3 MP 5.0 100-6400 3.0 in., 460K No video 11 6 CF 5.7x4.4x3.1/24.7 $2,299
Sony SLT-A77 24.3 MP 3.9 100-16,000 3.0 in., 921K tilt/rot. 1080/60p 19 12 SD,MS 5.6x4.1x3.2/23.0 $1,399
Four Thirds                    
Olympus E-5 12.3 MP 4.3 100-6400 3.0 in., 460K tilt/rot. 720/30p 11 5 CF, SD 5.6x4.6x2.9/28.2 $1,699
* Maximum frame rate at full resolution with AF for each frame
** List price for body only


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