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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Camera, Lenses, Landscapes!


Get the right gear to cover all of your landscape shooting opportunities

Labels: CamerasD-SLRsGear
This Article Features Photo Zoom
Pentax K-01 (Mirrorless)

Pentax's newest mirrorless model features a 16.3-megapixel APS-C image sensor similar to the highly regarded sensor in the flagship K-5 DSLR. Normal ISO range is 100-12,800, expandable to 25,600, and the camera accepts just about any Pentax K-mount lens ever built, plus Pentax medium-format and screw-mount lenses, via adapters. The K-01 features a retro-meets-contemporary look that's functional as well as creative. Smaller and lighter than the K-5 (4.8x3.1x2.3 inches and 16.9 ounces vs. 5.2x3.1x2.3 inches and 23.3 ounces), the K-01 features a machined aluminum frame with a covering highlighted in yellow, black or white.

Autofocusing is contrast-based, with focus peaking to aid in manual focusing on the big LCD monitor. With focus peaking, in-focus edges in a scene are highlighted in color so you easily can see where focus is, even in dim lighting. The 3.0-inch LCD monitor features 921,000-dot resolution, but doesn't tilt or swivel.

The K-01 incorporates Pentax's effective sensor-shift shake reduction, which works with all lenses. It provides a high-speed-vibration sensor-dust removal system, and a number of built-in filters offer access to creative special effects in-camera.

While recent Pentax DSLRs have offered in-camera HDR capability, the K-01 improves on it, allowing the photographer to choose among three exposure increments and the level of the effect (as well as Auto HDR). You even can do HDR shots handheld.

The K-01 can capture 1920x1080 full HD video at 30p, 25p and 24p, 1280x720 HD at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p, and 640x480 SD at 30, 25 and 24 fps (the 50 and 25 fps rates are PAL system). A built-in microphone records stereo sound, and there's a jack for an external mic. Video format is MP4 with H.264 compression. You can adjust the shutter and aperture, and use the camera's sensor-shift stabilization for video. A video button provides instant start of recording. Maximum clip length is 25 minutes.

The K-01 uses the same D-LI90 battery as the K-5 DSLR, so you should get more shots per charge than other full-time live-view cameras that use smaller batteries (but not as many as the DSLR). There's a built-in flash unit (ISO 100, GN 39, in feet, 12 in meters), plus a hot-shoe for Pentax dedicated external flash units. Images are stored on SD, SDHC or SDXC cards (UHS-I-compliant).

Also of interest to landscape shooters are the Pentax K-5 weather-resistant DSLR, which as of this writing has the highest score of any APS-C-sensor camera in the DxOMark.com raw sensor ratings, and the Pentax 645D, an under-$10,000 medium-format DSLR with a 40-megapixel 44x33mm sensor and excellent image quality.

Sony NEX-7 (Mirrorless)

Featuring the same 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor as the SLT-A77, but with a mirrorless design so the light doesn't have to travel through a translucent mirror to reach the sensor, the NEX-7 produces the best image quality of any Sony digital camera. ISO settings range from 100-16,000. Besides image quality, the NEX-7's landscape assets include manual-focus peaking, which outlines in-focus edges in your choice of white, red or yellow, making it easy to see exactly where focus is in a scene. You can frame images via the tilting 3.0-inch, 921,600-dot LCD monitor or the built-in 2,359,000-dot XGA OLED eye-level EVF (the same one used in the SLT-A77 and A65).

Auto HDR combines the best of two bracketed shots in-camera to provide more detail in shadows and highlights. Sweep Panorama and 3D Sweep Panorama modes let you create in-camera stitched panoramic images merely by sweeping the camera across the scene. Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) improves detail in high-contrast scenes. Anti-Motion Blur and Handheld Twilight modes quickly capture six images and then combine the data to minimize blur in motion and low-light shots.

Twin dials atop the camera complement the traditional NEX "three buttons and a dial" setup on the back to make operation easier than ever. An electronic first shutter curtain and the absence of an SLR mirror make for very quick response—shutter lag is just 20 milliseconds.

Especially handy for landscape photography, the NEX-7 can correct chromatic aberration, vignetting and distortion in-camera. The camera has ultrasonic sensor-dust removal, but no SteadyShot Inside sensor-shift image stabilization. (Sony's 18-200mm zoom for the NEX cameras has Optical Steady Shot stabilization.)

Should you wish to record nature in motion, the NEX-7 can shoot 1920x1080 full HD video at 60p, as well as the more usual 60i, plus 24p for a "cinematic" feel, thanks to the new AVCHD Progressive 2.0 format. The camera also can do 1440x1080 and 640x480 video at 30p in MP4 when smaller files are needed. A built-in microphone provides Dolby Digital stereo sound. You can shoot videos in P, A, S or M mode. The camera will shoot full-res still images at 10 fps with focus and exposure locked at the first frame or at 2.5 fps with continuous AF and exposure adjustments.

The NEX-7 uses Sony E-mount lenses, which currently number three: an 18-55mm kit zoom, an 18-200mm "superzoom" and a 30mm 1:1 macro. Other lenses can be used via adapter. Sony offers two adapters that allow you to use Sony Alpha (DSLR) lenses on NEX cameras—the LA-E2 even provides a translucent-mirror phase-detection AF system similar to the one in the SLT-A65.

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