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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gear Up For Travel


Find your ultimate travel D-SLR


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Pentax
While photographers can (and do) travel with all sorts of cameras, it’s a welcome alternative to carry a lightweight model that incorporates features especially useful for travel photography. In compiling our list of travel D-SLRs, we used the following criteria:

Compact size. It’s easier to carry a light camera around all day than a heavy one, and it’s easier to fit a small one into your carry-on luggage.

Built-in flash. A built-in flash unit means you’ll always have enough light to photograph nearby subjects. Built-in flash units have ISO 100 guide numbers (GN) between 36 and 43, in feet; 43 is about a 2⁄3-stop more powerful than 36 (a high-end shoe-mount flash has an ISO 100 GN of maybe 190—nearly five stops more powerful than a GN 36 built-in flash). Built-in flash can be used as fill on a bright day with harsh shadows and can augment a powerful accessory unit.

Image stabilization. Stabilization allows you to get sharp, handheld images two to four shutter speeds slower than is possible without it. Several manufacturers offer in-camera sensor-shift stabilization, which works with any lens you attach to the camera (but stabilizes only the recorded image, not what you see in the SLR viewfinder). Others provide stabilizer lenses, which offer the advantage of stabilizing the viewfinder image as well as the recorded one, but you get stabilization only with those lenses.

Maximum ISO of 3200 or higher. A high ISO gives you leeway to be photographing in low light while still maintaining a reasonable shutter speed. High ISO films were a staple of National Geographic shooters who habitually work at the darker fringes of the day, which helped create a distinctive look. That’s one big advantage of digital imaging over roll film: You can make each shot at the ideal ISO setting.

Auto-bracketing. When traveling, you often encounter spur-of-the-moment photo ops that don’t give you time to adjust and fine-tune the exposure. Auto-bracketing makes it easy to get a good exposure of such scenes, even in tricky lighting. Set auto-bracketing, and the camera automatically shoots several exposures in rapid succession.

Modest appearance
.
Big, heavy D-SLRs attract attention, including that of potential thieves, local authorities and photo subjects who might react negatively to someone who looks too “pro.” More compact, mid-range models gather less attention and are less “threatening.”

Low price
.
For the cost of a top-end D-SLR, you can get a few mid-range ones, providing a second camera in case the first malfunctions. You generally can find these lower-priced models for sale in most cities, even airport electronics shops from Frankfurt to Singapore, should acquiring a replacement become necessary; pro models are available in far fewer places. Two lighter bodies weigh less than one top-level camera, too.

Anti-dust features
.
It’s not always possible to review photos regularly on the road, so you could take hundreds of photos without noticing dust spots until you get home. A good travel D-SLR will have built-in anti-dust features, including some that literally shake dust off the sensor assembly using ultrasonic vibrations.

Brand popularity
.
If you choose a popular camera brand, the chances are better that you might be able to borrow a needed wide-angle or telephoto lens from someone in your tour group.

There are other useful features for travel photographers. Scene modes quickly set the camera optimally for shooting popular subjects like people, landscapes, close-ups, action and night scenes. Live-view LCD monitors make composing in dim light or at odd angles easier. Extended dynamic-range features provide better detail in contrasty scenes. Weather resistance lets you shoot in fog and drizzle. If you really want to travel light, a wide-range zoom like an 18-200mm covers most travel-shooting situations. And remember to take plenty of memory cards and spare batteries for your camera(s).

travel dslrs travel dslrs
travel dslrs travel dslrs
Top left: The Samsung GX-20 is available with a power booster battery pack, which gives you more shots without changing batteries. Top right: Controls on the camera are easy to manipulate without removing the viewfinder from your eye. The combination thumb pad and wheel as well as the switch for the in-camera stabilizing feature are all placed for easy access. Bottom left: A mode dial gets you into the shooting mode you want without going through a menu.
Features
Sensor: 14.6-megapixel CMOS, 1.5x
Weight: 25.2 ounces
Built-In Flash: ISO 100/GN 42, in feet
Stabilization: Sensor-shift in body
Maximum ISO: 6400
Auto-Bracketing: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $1,299
Samsung GX-20
Travel photographers on the move will appreciate Samsung’s sensor-shift optical image stabilization, which is built into the body and functional with all lenses. The GX-20 is a very close cousin of the K20D (thanks to a partnership between Samsung and Pentax) and features the same 14.6-megapixel Samsung CMOS sensor and the same feature set (except the 14-bit RAW images are Adobe DNG only). RAW files can be converted to JPEG right in the camera. The ability to use nearly all Pentax K-mount lenses increases your chances of being able to borrow a needed focal length from a fellow traveler. Samsung also markets several Samsung and Schneider lenses designed specifically for Samsung D-SLRs. The 2.7-inch live-view monitor, weather-resistant and dustproof construction, sensor-dust remover and very good performance add up to a camera able to handle just about anything you’ll encounter in your travels.
Lineage
: The GX-20 builds on the GX-10, upping the resolution to 14.6 megapixels from 10.2, increasing the LCD monitor to 2.7 inches from 2.5 and adding live-view, in addition to adding a host of digital filters like HDR (high dynamic range), B&W and color effects.

Cool Factor
: A combination wheel-and-thumb-pad navigator makes changing modes and metering choices easy without moving your eye from the viewfinder.
Alternative Travel Camera
Camera Resolution Weight Flash Stabilization Max. ISO Auto-Bracketing Estimated Street Price
Samsung GX-10 10.2 MP 25 ounces ISO 100/GN 36, in feet In body 1600 Yes $1,300*
* including 18-55mm zoom lens

travel dslrs travel dslrs
travel dslrs travel dslrs
Clockwise from top left: Despite its compact size, the Pentax K20D has a large, bright LCD monitor. AF, stabilization, focus point and metering modes all can be selected with your thumb while composing. The LCD panel on top of the camera shows the pertinent shooting data, and the mode dial is simple to access. Below, left: The pop-up flash is especially convenient in a travel camera.
Features
Sensor: 14.6-megapixel CMOS, 1.5x
Weight: 25.2 ounces
Built-In Flash: ISO 100/GN 42, in feet
Stabilization: Sensor-shift in body
Maximum ISO: 6400
Auto-Bracketing: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $1,299
Pentax K20D
Those who want to make huge prints of their travel photos will love the K20D’s new 14.6-megapixel Samsung/Pentax image sensor—a pixel count exceeded only by Canon’s $8,000 pro EOS-1Ds Mark III among current 35mm-form-factor D-SLRs, and at a price less than some 10-megapixel models. If you don’t like to stay in your hotel room in less-than-perfect weather, you’ll enjoy the K20D’s weather-resistant and dustproof body. Sensor-shift Shake Reduction works with all lenses and coupled with ISOs up to 6400 make it easy to capture the real atmosphere wherever you travel. High-frequency vibrations remove dust from the sensor each time you switch on the camera, a dynamic-range expansion function helps with high-contrast situations, and the 2.7-inch LCD monitor provides live-view capability. You also can shoot in either of two RAW formats: the “universal” Adobe DNG or Pentax’s own PEF—and can switch from JPEG to RAW shooting with the touch of a button. Pentax offers a number of compact DA-series lenses designed specifically for its digital SLRs, including super-compact 21mm, 40mm and 70mm models, but the camera also can use virtually all Pentax lenses (with some Supersonic Drive limitations on shooting features). New SDM lenses provide quick, quiet autofocusing and share the body’s weather and dust resistance.

Pentax
Lineage: The K20D expands on the K10D concept, with a number of improvements over that fine weather-resistant, dustproof camera, including: 14.6 megapixels (vs. 10.2), a 2.7-inch LCD monitor with live-view capability (vs. 2.5-inch) and new Custom Image and Expanded Dynamic Range functions.

Cool Factor
: The weather-resistant and dustproof body combined with new SDM lenses give you the flexibility to shoot in any conditions.


               
Alternative Travel Camera
Camera Resolution Weight Flash Stabilization Max. ISO Auto-Bracketing Estimated Street Price
Pentax K200D 10.2 MP 22.2 ounces ISO 100/GN 42, in feet In body 1600 Yes $720
Samsung GX-10 10.2 MP 25 ounces ISO 100/GN 36, in feet In body 1600 Yes $750

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