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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The DSLRs Of 2009


Despite the slow economy, nature photographers were treated to more than a dozen new high-tech D-SLRs this year. We’ve compiled a selection of the models that you’re sure to want to know more about.

Labels: CamerasD-SLRs

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Pentax K-7
List Price: $1,199 (body only)
Featuring the same 14.6-megapixel resolution as its K20D predecessor, the new K-7 provides enhanced image quality, thanks in part to sensor improvements and a new PRIME II imaging engine. You can shoot RAW images in either Pentax’s PEF format or Adobe’s “universal” DNG format, and switch between RAW and JPEG shooting at the touch of a button.

The K-7 improves on the K20D’s LCD monitor, featuring a 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot unit with improved Live View and even HD video recording. You can shoot 1280x720p HD video in 16:9 format or 1024p video in 3:2 format, both at 30 fps, with stereo sound via an external microphone.

The K-7 features the latest iterations of Pentax’s sensor-shift Shake Reduction and sensor-dust removal systems. Shake Reduction works with any lens you mount on the camera, while the dust-removal system is handy on a camera whose lenses will be changed in the field on a regular basis.

AUTO LENS CORRECTION: When you use a DA-series Pentax lens on the K-7, the camera automatically corrects for distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations.
EXCELLENT WEATHERPROOFING: Like the K20D and K10D before it, the K-7 features excellent dust- and weather-resistance, but adds cold-resistance to the mix, making it a fine outdoor photography body.
COMPACT SIZE: The K-7 is the most compact “serious” D-SLR, handy when you want to travel light.
STANDOUT FEATURE: The K-7 can shoot three bracketed exposures and combine the best of each in-camera to produce an image with better detail from shadows through highlights.
ALSO CONSIDER: PENTAX K20D
Now selling for just over half of the K-7’s price, the 14.6-megapixel Pentax K20D features the same resolution, excellent weather- and dust-resistance, a Shake Reduction system, a sensor-dust remover, two RAW formats, very good AF performance and more. List Price: $1,099.

Pentax K-x
List Price: $649 (with 18-55mm zoom)
Pentax’s newest D-SLR, the K-x offers a lot of features at a low price. A new 12.4-megapixel CMOS sensor and PRIME II imaging engine provide normal-range ISO settings from 200-6400, expandable to 100-12,800. Quick for an entry-level camera, the K-x can shoot at 4.7 fps and has a top shutter speed of 1⁄6000 sec. Images are stored on SD cards, including the high-speed SDHC variety.

Other handy features for the outdoor shooter include Live View with phase-detection or contrast-based autofocusing (or manual focusing on a magnified image), the ability to shoot in either of two RAW formats, sensor-shift Shake Reduction that works with all lenses and a sensor-dust removal system.

AA BATTERIES: While rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used by most D-SLRs have their advantages, the K-x operates on four AAs. Lithiums are recommended or rechargeable NiMH units, but in a pinch you can run the camera on AA alkalines, which can be bought just about anywhere—convenient when you’re in a remote location with no camera stores nearby.
IN-CAMERA HDR: Like its big brother K-7, the K-x can shoot three bracketed exposures and merge the best of each into a High Dynamic Range image, useful when you encounter a high-contrast scene.
VERY COMPACT: The Pentax K-x shares “most compact D-SLR” honors with its K2000 kid brother, but packs in more features and performance. The design allows for one-handed operation, great for getting those exotic angles.
STANDOUT FEATURE: The K-x is the lowest-priced D-SLR to offer HD video capability. It can shoot 1280x720p HD and 640x416p SD video at 24 fps.
ALSO CONSIDER: PENTAX K2000
The K2000 lacks Live View and video, but offers simple operation, an equally compact body, a 10.2-megapixel sensor with the dust-removal system, sensor-shift Shake Reduction and more—at a price around $150 less than the K-x. List Price: $599 (with lens kit).

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