The year 2009 was a banner one for D-SLRs, with 17 models introduced by six manufacturers. Here’s a rundown of some of the best for outdoor photographers. Note that the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Nikon D3S were both introduced at press time and are covered in our First Look department in this issue. Extensive specs for these (and many other) D-SLRs can be found on the OP website: www.outdoorphotographer.com/gear/cameras.
Canon EOS 7D List Price: $1,699 (body only)
The new 18-megapixel EOS 7D features dual DIGIC 4 processors that make possible high-speed shooting and full HD video, along with quicker response and better image quality. A/D conversion is 14-bit, which provides four times the tonal gradations/colors of 12-bit. Auto Lighting Optimizer, Highlight Tone Priority and High ISO Noise Reduction also help improve image quality.
Access the Canon EOS 7D Live View feature for capturing full 1080p HD video in variable frame rates.
The 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor provides three Live View AF options: Quick (the same quick phase-detection used for non-Live View shooting); Live (contrast-based, slower but doesn’t momentarily disrupt the live image; great for landscapes and animal portraits); and Face Detection (contrast-based). You also can focus the live image manually, magnifying it five or 10 times—handy in dim light or when using a teleconverter.
The AF and metering systems are completely new, as is a dual-axis electronic level that helps keep the horizon horizontal in landscape shots.
FULL HD VIDEO: The 7D can record your wildlife and waterfall images with motion and sound via its HD Movie feature. You can shoot 1080p full HD at 30, 24 or 25 fps, 720p HD at 60 or 50 fps and SD 640x480 video at 60 or 50 fps. The 7D provides easy manual control of exposure and focusing, adaptive exposure compensation and even in-camera video editing. You can record mono sound via the built-in microphone or stereo sound via an optional external mic. 8 fps: The quickest wildlife action should present no problems for the fastest APS-C-format D-SLR, which can shoot up to 126 Large/Fine JPEGs at 8 fps. LENS CORRECTIONS: With 18 megapixels, you really test the limits of your lenses. The 7D lets you fine-tune autofocusing for up to 20 lenses to correct any tendency to front- or back-focus. There’s also built-in compensation for vignetting. STANDOUT FEATURE: The 7D’s 18-megapixel Canon CMOS sensor provides the highest pixel count in the APS-C format, and with it, the ability to record fine detail and produce huge prints of those epic landscape vistas. You can also shoot RAW images at reduced resolution (10.1 and 4.5 megapixels) when you don’t need 18 megapixels. ALSO CONSIDER:Canon EOS 50D
If you don’t need video and can live with “only” 6.3 fps, the 15.1-megapixel EOS 50D provides most of the 7D’s other features in a more compact package for around $500 less. List Price: $1,099.