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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Holiday Buyer's Guide

A look at some of the gear that’s available for the nature photographer on your gift list

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Sony DSLR-A900, Tamron 18-270mm and Nikkor 70-200mm

Nikon D300
As we put together this year’s annual OP Holiday Buyer’s Guide, we’re taking a slightly different approach compared to years past. It’s impossible for us to completely cover all of the incredible products that are available and make excellent gifts. In this guide, we’ve highlighted a number of products and product categories with brief descriptions of specific items.

Canon EOS Rebel T1i
You’ll find full descriptions of most of the products on our website by doing a search (www.outdoorphotographer.com), and we highly recommend the Digital Photo website (Digital Photo is our sister publication, and that magazine’s annual Buyer’s Guide information can be found at www.dpmag.com). There’s a lot of incredible gear for the nature photographer in your life (or for yourself in case the family doesn’t get the hint when you leave this article open on the coffee table for the month of November).

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
In rapid succession, Nikon, Canon and Sony all introduced major new D-SLRs in late 2009. Earlier in the year, Olympus and Samsung had added to their product lines, and Pentax surprised many photographers by vying for shelf space in the crowded professional-end space. What started out as looking like a rough year ended up getting much more interesting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
What makes a camera well suited for nature photography? Features we like to see include adequate resolution to allow for making large prints and also some cropping down the road, low-light shooting capability, fast and accurate AF, and shooting speed.

Pentax K7
You’re hard pressed to find any current D-SLR that can’t function as a good one in the outdoors, and it’s up to the individual photographer to determine where to make trade-offs. For example, a wildlife photographer will put a premium on shutter speed and AF performance whereas a landscape photographer will want the lowest noise possible for shooting at the fringes of the day.

Olympus E-P1
Whatever kind of photography you love, the most exciting new feature over the last 12 months has been the inclusion of HD video in a D-SLR. There have been a number of discussions on the Internet and elsewhere about what is “true HD” (30p vs. 24p, 1080 vs. 720, etc.), but the simple upshot is that you can now shoot incredibly high-quality video with a D-SLR and not just one super-expensive, multi-thousand-dollar model. For example, the Canon EOS Rebel T1i costs less than $800. Stepping up in price, the Canon EOS 7D, Nikon D300S, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 and Pentax K-7 all price out around $1,250 to $1,800. Of course, the cameras that started the “HD video in a D-SLR” revolution are still available as well. The full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the APS-C Nikon D90 don’t look to be on their way out just yet.

Sigma DP4
Other notable cameras for this holiday season are the Olympus E-P1, which is a compact, interchangeable-lens, retro-inspired Micro Four Thirds design, and the Sigma DP2, the successor to that company’s compact, integrated-lens camera with Sigma’s Foveon image sensor. Canon also introduced a much-anticipated update in its popular G-series with the PowerShot G11.

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