January/February 2008

During the winter months, the photography market heats up. This is a time of year when the camera manufacturers often bring out their newest, trickiest, most advanced products to a waiting press corps. In the fall of 2007, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony all made announcements about new high-end cameras, and by the beginning of winter, we were seeing these products in camera stores and rental houses.

With so many professional-caliber cameras on the market, the D-SLR Wars are raging once again. Resolution increases, powerful on-board image processors and advanced metering and autofocus capabilities mark the current array of tools at our disposal. While resolution continues to take center stage in most of the marketing paraphernalia and advertising, many professionals are looking past that specification when it comes to making a buying decision. Of course, resolution is important, but considering that even lower-end backup cameras have at least 10 megapixels and most top-end professional cameras are coming in at around 12 megapixels (the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III is a massive 22 megapixels), we’re at a point where resolution isn’t as much of a decisive factor.

In our third “D-SLR Wars” feature, we delve into these cameras and speak with a number of the world’s best shooters about their favorite features on each model. It’s one thing to see a bunch of specs and compare the numbers, but to really get a feel for how something works, nothing beats talking to the people who use these cameras to make their living. The comprehensive article also lists some of the standout features and specs of each camera. For a full comparison chart, you can visit our Website where we’ve assembled a complete list, www.digitalphotopro.com.

Even the best camera is still a tool, of course. It takes a craftsman to use that tool to produce art, and in this issue we feature the work of one of photography’s greatest artists and craftsmen, Douglas Kirkland. This isn’t the first time we’ve featured Kirkland in DPP because when you have a chance to sit down and talk with someone of his experience, it just isn’t possible to cover all the bases in a single article. Kirkland remains an active shooter and also has become an active teacher and guest lecturer around the world.

Most of us were brought up making our first serious images in black-and-white. Whether it was a high-school or college darkroom or self-taught experiments with a roll of Tri-X and the local lab, black-and-white was our first medium of expression, and we exploited our ability to exercise complete control over each frame. Now in the digital age, things have come full circle as Photoshop and modern printers allow us to have a finer level of control than ever before. By comparison, the wet darkroom seems clunky versus the sorts of minute adjustments we can make to tonality. Two of the finest digital black-and-white masters, R. Mac Holbert of Nash Editions and fine-art photographer and DPP columnist John Paul Caponigro, give us their insight into the aesthetics of modern black-and-white work.

Okay, enough writing. I’m going to experiment with one of the new cameras that was just sent to us for review. I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do!

—Christopher Robinson, Editor

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