The race for pixel perfection
In their search for the ultimate in imaging, professional photographers continue to be on the lookout for the Holy Grail of digital SLRs. Top camera manufacturers continue to meet photographers' demands for higher resolution, faster processing speeds, and special features that will help bring their photographic vision to the next level. Digital Imaging takes a look below at some of the newest offerings on the DSLR landscape. Some are available today and a few are just about ready to hit the market.
Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Pro shooters looking for a versatile DSLR with super-fast functionality may meet their match with Canon's newest hi-end model. The EOS-1D Mark II features Canon's trademark 8.2 effective megapixel CMOS sensor, producing sharp photos with natural color, rich gradation and minimal noise.
The world's fastest AF-SLR camera (as of Jan, 2004), it achieves an impressive speed even when shooting RAW. 8.5 frames per second are maintained with maximum bursts of 40 shots in Large JPEG and 20 shots in RAW format, whether in the One-Shot AF or AI Servo AF mode.
Other features in this new model include: an advanced Evaluative Through-the-Lens (E-TTL) Autoflash system; white balance compensation; seven color matrix settings (five presets and two customizable options); improved software features; and the widest ISO speed range of any EOS digital camera (built-in settings of 100-1600, and extendable as low as 50 or as high as 3200 through the ISO extension menu).
Fuji Finepix s3 pro
Housed in a sturdy polycarbonate body with an F-mount lens fitting, and following in the footsteps of the very popular Fuji S2 Pro, the Fuji FinePix S3 Pro boasts a new 4th generation Super CCD SR Sensor with 6.17 million S-pixels and 6.17 million R-pixels , producing up to 12.1 million effective pixels. The wider dynamic range results in broader tonal response, greater smoothness and more natural-looking images, even when dealing with bright lights and deep shadows.
The S3 Pro accepts a wide range of Nikon-mount lenses, and it has approximately a 1.5x magnification factor. It is powered by only 4 AA batteries, instead of the two types previously required.
Other features of the S3 include: intelligent flash with a D-TTL full-aperture exposure metering system; dual shutter release buttons; two media slots capable of handling the xD-Picture Card or CF Type II cards. Shutter speeds range from 30 sec. to 1/4000 and both high-speed IEEE 1394(Firewire) and USB 2.0 interfaces are provided for optimal transfer speed and capability.
Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n
The Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n delivers medium-format quality and 35mm flexibility. Made for Nikon mount lenses and using a new 4,536x3,024, 12-bit CMOS imager that covers the entire 24mmx36mm image area, the SLR/n allows photographers to tap into wide-angle benefits without the need for ultra-wide lenses. The new sensor, which records 13.5 million pixels, uses High Performance-Low Noise (HPLN) technology to increase sensitivity and reduce noise levels to achieve a much higher ISO performancesaid to be the broadest in the business, with a range of 6-1600.
Variable resolutions offer freedom of choicephotographers can select from 3, 6, or 14-megapixel options for whatever shooting situation they encounter (captured at about 1.7 frames per second). Plus, images can be saved as either RAW files, standard JPEGs, or Kodak Professional's Extended Range Imaging Technology (ERI) JPEG files, which can be corrected or enhanced by the photographer after a shooting session.
Other features of the SLR/n include a longer exposure mode (allowing for exposures up to 60 seconds at lower ISO settings); a convenient 'sleep' mode to save battery life; and free firmware and software upgrades to let photographers stay in the forefront of imaging technology. One very special option is a built-in 'Pocket Wizard' transmitter, allowing photographers to free themselves of wires and external transmitters.
Kodak DCS Pro SLR/c
With specs virtually identical to the SLR/n, the Kodak DCS Pro SLR/c offers something new from Kodak-a DSLR that accepts Canon EF mount lenses. As with the SLR/n, the SLR/c has dual slots for CF Type I and II, as well as MultiMedia cards.
Nikon's new DX Format CCD imaging sensor is the hallmark of the company's new 6.1 effective megapixel D70. No matter what a photographer's lighting situation, white balance is kept under control with the Nikon 3D Color Matrix Meter. With an ability to shoot at three frames per second, images are viewable on a 1.8'' 130,000 dot LCD screen with user-friendly menus.
Photographers can choose from seven new automated Digital Vari-Program selections (including Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, and Night Landscape) and three color modes, thanks to a next-generation color reproduction system. Also new on the D70: a JPEG+NEF Combination Filing System that enables simultaneous recording of NEF (RAW) and JPEG data in the same shot, helping to expedite workflow in time-critical shooting situations.
Other features include: a built-in auto pop-up flash with i-TTL control that supports Nikon's Creative Lighting System; maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec; a high-speed, five-area autofocus system; and a new, optional AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom lens.