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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

Labels: D-SLRsGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

ADVANCED SCENE RECOGNITION: Several DSLRs offer advanced or intelligent exposure modes enabled by the processors' analysis of the scene, including subject distance from the camera just prior to exposure. For example, the Canon EOS T3i combines five technologies into its EOS Scene Intelligent Auto mode: Picture Style Auto, Automatic Lighting Optimizer, Auto White Balance, Autofocus and Automatic Exposure. In one shot, the camera optimizes colors and skin tones if it spots a face in the scene, as well as shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene, and simultaneously adjusts shutter speeds when motion is detected. There's also a Basic+ mode that lets you select "shoot by ambience" or "shoot by lighting and scene type." Additional capabilities are found in the Sony A580's Auto+ mode, which also can choose Auto-HDR or Multi-Frame NR depending on movement and light levels in the scene. Nikon's Scene Auto Selector analyzes the scene and automatically chooses the appropriate Portrait, Landscape, Close Up or Night Portrait modes.


Sony DSLR-A580
SENSOR PIXELS: 16.2 MP
LCD SIZE: 3.0"
LCD RESOLUTION: 921K
LCD TILT: Yes
TOP VIDEO MODE: 1080/60i
AUTO-HDR: Yes
INTELLIGENT SCENE MODES: Yes
IN-CAMERA EDITING: No
SPECIAL EFFECTS: No
STREET PRICE: $899

IN-CAMERA PHOTO AND VIDEO EDITING: Why wait until you get back to your computer to crop or adjust image quality on your still photos, or fill up your memory card with unwanted video content? Thanks to its EXPEED 2 image processor, the Nikon D5100 can trim video clips, resize and apply creative effects to RAW files, and correct lens distortion on still photos. The Canon EOS T3i's Video Snapshot feature, powered by its DIGIC 4 processor, can record several video clips (in 2-, 4- or 8-second lengths) and combine them into one clip, while its Movie Digital Zoom function can be set to magnify the center of a scene by 3-10x while producing full HD 1080p video.

SWEEP PANORAMA MODE: The Sony A580 takes advantage of its fast burst capabilities and BIONZ image processor in its Sweep Panorama and Sweep Panorama 3D modes. Just point the camera at the scene and hold down the shutter button while sweeping the camera from side to side (either horizontally or vertically). Then, the camera automatically stitches the sequence into a single, 23-megapixel panoramic JPEG image. Sure, you can create higher-res panoramic images by capturing a sequence of 16.2-megapixel images and stitching them together in a number of programs, but that takes much more time and effort. On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to create a 3D panoramic image, which the Sony does by offsetting frames and combining them into a file that can be shown in 3D on compatible TVs and devices.


Sony DSLR-A560
SENSOR PIXELS: 14.2 MP
LCD SIZE: 3.0"
LCD RESOLUTION: 921K
LCD TILT: Yes
TOP VIDEO MODE: 1080/60i
AUTO-HDR: Yes
INTELLIGENT SCENE MODES: Yes
IN-CAMERA EDITING: No
SPECIAL EFFECTS: No
STREET PRICE: $749

CREATIVE MODES AND SPECIAL-EFFECTS FILTERS: Thanks to increased processing power, these cameras can apply a wide variety of sophisticated special effects and styles to images and movies you capture. The Nikon D5100 lets you modify or remove selective colors in a scene, create high-key or low-key images, or produce a "miniature effect" that makes a subject appear as a miniature-scale model. You also can turn a picture into a color sketch, and with movies this effect creates a series of drawings that play back as an animation. The Canon EOS T3i includes five in-camera Creative Filters—Soft Focus, Grainy Black and White, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera (mimicking a plastic lens) and a Fish Eye Effect. Faster processors also enable more advanced slideshow transitions and the ability to output full HD slideshows and movies via each camera's mini-HDMI port.

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