Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Is Now The Time For Full-Frame D-SLRs?
With more options, state-of-the-art technology and lower prices, D-SLRs are worth a careful look for serious outdoor shooters
The first full-frame D-SLR was a prototype shown by Pentax at the 2001 PMA show. That 6-megapixel MZ-D model never reached production. The first full-frame D-SLR to go on sale was the Contax N Digital, back in the spring of 2002. It featured the same Philips 6-megapixel CCD sensor as the Pentax, but never gained wide popularity and was discontinued after about a year.
The first full-frame D-SLR to really catch on was Canon’s EOS-1Ds, which came out later in 2002 and featured a Canon 11.1-megapixel CMOS sensor. That model was followed by the 16.7-megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark II late in 2004 and the current 21.1-megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III in 2007, all featuring Canon CMOS sensors. Canon also introduced a much lower-priced, full-frame model, the 12.8-megapixel EOS 5D, in 2005.
Kodak introduced the 13.5-megapixel DCS Pro 14n in 2003, followed in 2004 by the DCS Pro SLR/n (Nikon mount) and DCS Pro SLR/c (Canon mount, made by Sigma) in 2004. These, too, soon disappeared.
Thus Canon produced the only really successful full-frame D-SLRs until Nikon introduced its first full-frame model, the D3, late in 2007. Nikon followed that top-of-the-line model with the $2,000-lower-priced D700 in 2008.
Looking To The Future
Early in 2008, Sony announced the development of a 24.81-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor with on-chip A/D conversion, so it’s reasonable to expect new top-of-the-line D-SLRs from Sony and Nikon (long a user of Sony sensors) featuring this unit. And Canon’s fine EOS 5D, by far the lowest-priced, full-frame D-SLR, is getting a bit long in the tooth, having been introduced some three years ago, so we look forward to a 5D replacement, too.
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