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Friday, August 1, 2008

D-SLRs For The Landscape

Choose the best camera for your landscape photography

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Sony DSLR-A700
With a new 12.24-megapixel Sony Exmor CMOS image sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, on-chip noise reduction before and after A/D conversion and a Bionz imaging engine to tie it all together, the A700 turns out beautiful image quality—at ISO 6400, it’s better than ISO 1600 film. That gives the landscape shooter lots of versatility in handling all kinds of lighting conditions, from predawn to postdusk, and even moonlit landscapes at midnight.

Sensor: 12.24-megapixel Exmor CMOS, 1.5x
LCD: 3 inches
Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO Range: 160-6400
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $1,400
Super SteadyShot sensor-shift shake reduction works with all lenses, for much sharper handheld and monopod-mounted shots, while a sensor-dust remover vibrates dust off the sensor assembly each time you switch the camera off. Four Creative Styles (Standard, Vivid, Neutral and Adobe RGB), plus three switchable Image Styles (Portrait, Landscape and B&W, by default), let you select a “look” for each shot, and you can modify contrast, saturation and sharpness to suit your taste. Five-level DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer) is very effective on contrasty scenes.

Like all Sony D-SLRs, the top-of-the-line (for now) A700 accepts a wide range of Sony and Minolta Maxxum lenses, plus Zeiss T* lenses designed for the camera. Currently, Sony lens focal lengths range from an 11-18mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 16.5-27mm on a 35mm camera) and 16mm fish-eye (24mm on a 35mm camera) to a 300mm ƒ/2.8 supertelephoto and 500mm ƒ/8 mirror lens.

The mode dial allows you to choose the various shooting modes and scene-selection modes. When the camera is rotated, as is often the case when shooting a landscape, the menus are displayed in that orientation. No more tilting your head! Super SteadyShot, Sony’s name for anti-shake, is built into the camera and selected by the switch on the lower right of the camera back. White-balance and ISO buttons on the top of the camera are conveniently placed. The pop-up flash can be quite useful in low-light landscape situations.

Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Sony DSLR-A350
Sensor: 14.2 MP/1.5x
LCD: 2.7 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust: Vibration
Stabilization: Sensor shift
ISO: 100-3200
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $
Lineage: Sony introduced its first D-SLR in 2005 after obtaining D-SLR technology from Konica Minolta when that company left the camera market. That A100 model now is out of production, and the Sony lineup includes the A200, A300 and A350. The A700 currently is the top model in Sony’s D-SLR lineup, although a new pro model should be announced by the end of the year.

Cool Factor:
Five-level Dynamic Range Optimizer and DRO bracketing deliver beautifully detailed sunrises/sunsets and contrasty forest scenes.


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