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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The New Breed Of DSLRs


Canon, Nikon, Sigma and Sony are pushing into new territory with their latest high-end camera models

Labels: Gear
This Article Features Photo Zoom
As a 1-series EOS camera, the EOS-1D X has a rugged magnesium-alloy cover and chassis, with 76 gaskets and seals to keep out moisture and dust. The accessory Speedlite 580EX II, Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E6A and GPS Receiver GP-E1 also are sealed against weather and dust, as are many of the L-series EF lenses. A new Ultrasonic Wave Motion Cleaning (UWMC) system provides more effective sensor-dust removal than previous EOS cameras. The shutter is rated at an amazing 400,000 cycles.

The Intelligent Viewfinder shows 100% of the actual image area, with a superimposed LCD display similar to that of the EOS 7D. For live-view and video, the 3.2-inch Clear View II external LCD monitor features 1,040,000-dot VGA resolution.

While its predecessors offer slots for CompactFlash and SD memory media, the EOS-1D X has two CF slots, each accepting Type I and Type II cards and compatible with UDMA 7 cards (recommended for high-speed still and video shooting).

The EOS-1D X can use all Canon EF and TS-E lenses, but not EF-S lenses (which were designed specifically for Canon's APS-C-format DSLRs and would vignette on a full-frame camera). Currently, these number about 60, from the 8-15mm ƒ/4L fisheye zoom and 14mm ƒ/2.8 super-wide-angle to the 800mm ƒ/5.6L supertelephoto, including macro and tilt-shift lenses, plus 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

Nikon D4
Nikon announced its long-awaited flagship pro D4 camera at the CES show in January. It will replace the 12.1-megapixel D3S, but as of press time, we're not sure whether it will also replace the 24.5-megapixel D3X.

The D4 features an all-new Nikon-designed, 16.2-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor and EXPEED 3 image processing. It can shoot full-resolution images—JPEG or NEF (RAW)—at 10 fps with autofocusing and metering for each shot. It also can shoot full-res images at 11 fps with focus and exposure locked at the first frame.

A new RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III system features a 91,000-pixel RGB metering sensor (vs. 1005-pixel for the D3S). Normal ISO range is 100-12,800, expandable down to 50 and up to 204,800, with all settings available for both still and video shooting.

The AF system in the D3S was excellent. The system in the D4 promises to be better. The new AF system still has 51 points, but an improved AF module can now focus in light levels down to EV -2. And it provides AF at ƒ/8 and faster—up a stop from previous Nikon pro DSLRs. This means the D4 can autofocus with any current lens and teleconverter Nikon makes. Fifteen of the AF points are cross-types at ƒ/5.6; one is cross-type at ƒ/8 (surrounding points become line sensors at ƒ/8). There's a new totally silent shutter-release mode, in which the camera can shoot 2-megapixel images at 12 or 24 fps.

Of course, the D4 is rugged and sealed against the elements, like its predecessors. It features a 3.2-inch, 921K-dot LCD monitor that can automatically adjust to ambient light levels. More controls are provided for easier vertical-format shooting. Many buttons are illuminated, so you can find them in light levels requiring ISO 204,800. There are two memory-card slots, one for CompactFlash (UDMA 7-compliant) and one for the new XQD cards, which are 25% to 30% faster. The Virtual Horizon now covers roll, pitch and yaw axes.

Video resolutions include 1920x1080p at 30 and 24 fps and 1280x720p at 60 fps. You can adjust the shutter speed, aperture and ISO independently. A built-in microphone provides mono sound; there also are jacks for an external stereo mic and headphones. B-frame compression makes for more detailed output with reasonable file size. The low-pass filter over the image sensor has been optimized to minimize video artifacts.

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