Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Big-Time DSLRs Under $1,000
Packed with power, advanced features and high performance, the latest sub-$1,000 HD SLRs are outstanding options for serious nature photographers
For most photographers, the main benefits derived from improved image-processing engines found in these models are lower noise at high ISOs and the ability to process data from high-resolution photo bursts up to 7 fps on the Sony A580, for example, and HD video and sound. But they also enable exciting new features, including Auto-HDR, Multi-Frame NR, Advanced Scene Recognition, in-camera photo and video editing, Sweep Panorama shooting and a wide variety of creative effects. Let's take a closer look at these features.
AUTO-HDR: For years, DSLRs have included controls to expand or optimize dynamic range in high-contrast scenes. Canon calls it Automatic Lighting Optimizer, Nikon calls it Active D-Lighting, and Sony calls it DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization). While all three of these controls optimize the shadows and highlights from a single exposure, newer Auto-HDR and in-camera HDR features combine data taken from two (Nikon) or three (Sony) bracketed exposures. The result is an improved JPEG image that can provide better shadow and highlight details than you could possibly achieve from manually processing a single RAW image file, and may rival the results you get from manually combining several exposures using HDR software. The Sony A580 even has the ability to auto-align each of its three exposures to compensate for slight hand movement during the sequence, so you don't need a tripod.
MULTI-FRAME NR: For improved low-light performance, the Sony A580 can quickly capture six images of a scene and combine the images to reduce noise, especially in shadow areas. This is best performed when the camera is tripod-mounted, and it allows the camera to be set to ISO 25,600 with amazing results.
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