Magazine Article


Fall Preview II: Midrange DSLRs-Bargains at All Prices
Digital Deal


The Alpha 700 includes the moving-imager internal image-stabilization system Sony calls Super SteadyShot, also a handy feature when shooting with slow shutters.

The burst-shooting derby is another competitive realm, the A700, claiming the capacity to knock off JPEGs at 5 per second for as long as there's space on the memory card, or up to 18 frames at that rate in raw format.

As a home-theater and TV company, as well as a camera company, at a time when laws are mandating an imminent replacement of a lot of TVs, Sony has taken the step of an enhancement mode to make camera output look better on a Bravia LCD HDTV. The A700 and several new lenses introduced by Sony maintain the Minolta mount.

Bursting Forth

The 12.3MP Nikon D300 utilizes the EXPEED processing engine to crank pictures through the camera at 6 per second, according to Nikon specs (or 8 fps when an optional external battery pack is used), for up to 100 shots at normal/large JPEG settings. The D300 is the first Nikon DSLR with a dust-reduction feature, yet another healthy trend.

In the burst-shooting race, Canon's 10MP D40 claims a 6.5-fps rate at fine/large JPEG settings for up to 75 pictures (17 in RAW format). Canon has described that as best-of-class performance. Canon further describes the D40 as sealed against the elements-did somebody say trend again? We certainly hope so. We think cameras should be built like hockey pucks. The D40 has a Live View monitor, and a dust reduction system.

Why are we suddenly seeing so many new, useful features added to cameras at such reasonable costs? Because the technological infrastructure has moved to a position where we can.

It's fun playing phony economist. That's why there are so many volunteers doing it. Real economists might think there's more to economic dynamics than the price of a subway ride (although we're still not sure one is worth 40 times what we paid in '48).

But even comparing apples with apples, today's DSLR value comes out as a wowser. There were DSLRs just 10 years ago, and most of 'em delivered a one-megapixel picture. The low-priced ones sold for around $12,000. They had all the traits of 35mm cameras that we once considered so liberating, and today would find so limiting.

Don Sutherland has sold cameras across the counter, shot with them as a pro, and written about them for more than 30 years. Don is a photo historian as well as a futurist, and is the author of the immortal slogan, "If you have one foot in the future and one in the past, you understand the present perfectly." Email Don at Go to for a ton of digital photos.