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A quick and slightly opinionated round-up of the week in the world of photography
Nikon Brings Full HD Video to Entry-Level D3100 DSLR
Nikon this week announced the 14MP D3100 DSLR, which replaces the D3000 and is Nikon’s first truly entry-level DSLR to offer HD video. Not just any old HD, but full 1080p, 30fps HD video. For a low-end DSLR, that's a first. Nikon says AF will be faster and more camcorder-like whereas most AF systems on DSLRs tend to be a bit slower. A new CMOS sensor replaces the CCD type sensor, which may mean a big boost in low-light image quality (the range is 100-3200 with a boost up to 12,800 at lower resolution) to bring this camera on par with the D5000. Other features include an 11-point AF system, 3-inch LCD and subject tracking. In keeping with its status as a step-up camera for point-and-shooters, it has the instructional Guide Mode’s easy-to-use beginner-oriented interface as well as Scene Recognition. Look for the D3100 in September for around $699.95 with the kit lens. Read what Nikon says or pre-order it now.
Nikon also unveiled four new lenses, available in September:
AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G ED: An ultrafast, high-performance portrait lens designed for pro studio and field use; portrait and wedding photographers will appreciate the lens’s shallow depth of field. Internal focus, ghosting and flare reduced, rugged construction, and claimed edge-to-edge sharpness with full-frame and APS DSLRs. Expected price: Approximately $1,699.95. Pre-order now.
AF-S 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR: A high performance lens with constant f/4 maximum aperture, this is a prosumer lens that offers a versatile range and high quality. Will work with APS and full-frame sensor cameras. Expected price: Approximately $1,049.95. Pre-order now.
AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR: An enthusiast level lens, it’s Nikon‘s first 10.7X long-range zoom, and works with APS and full-frame Nikon cameras. Specs include 2 ED glass elements to minimize chromatic aberration, M/A focus switch, internal, quiet autofocus. Expected price: Approximately $1,299.95. Pre-order now.
AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR: Designed to complement to the 18-55mm kit lens, this is a consumer-grade lens that brings a longer-range telephoto option. Nice touch: Tripod Detection Mode, which lets users shoot with the camera mounted on a tripod without switching out of Vibration Reduction mode. Designed for APS-sensor cameras only. Expected price: Approximately $399.95. Pre-order now.
Nikon Compacts Include New ProjectorCam
No sooner had I posted a review of the Nikon S1000pj compact projector camera than Nikon replaced it this week, with the S1100pj. The new version is said to have a 40 percent brighter 14 lumen projector (the S1000pj has a 10-lumen lamp, so their math is right), a higher-resolution 3-inch, 460,000 dot touch LCD screen, a 5-way image stabilization system, and ISO up to 6400 on its 14MP sensor. It also looks way cooler than its predecessor, and comes in four colors. It’s coming next month for about $350.
Nikon also announced the S5100, a 12MP compact digital camera with a 2.7-inch display, 5x optical zoom, 4-way stabilization, 18 scene modes, auto scene tracker, subject tracking, and Smart Portrait System, as well as a groovy design. The camera, which can record 720p HD video at 30fps, is said to have a fast start-up time and minimal shutter lag. Nikon says noise reduction software should improve image quality at higher ISOs, although I suspect that, as with other similar cameras, it won’t make a huge difference at the top speed, ISO 3200. It’ll be available for a budget-friendly $180 list price in October. Get details.
Canon EOS 7DSV Studio Version
While a new DSLR was expected from Canon, the announcement this week of the EOS 7DSV took a lot of photographers by surprise. For starters, it wasn’t accompanied by the usual late-August flood of new Canon product announcements. Then again, it isn’t quite late August yet. The big news here is that this camera is designed for studio photographers, especially the wedding-portrait crowd. It will be bundled with a barcode reader and software that will let studios keep track of things better when shooting massive amounts of images. Five different level “locking” features disable unwanted camera controls so the photographer won’t inadvertently select the wrong shooting mode or feature, streamlining operation in the moment. Get more details from Canon’s press release.
Three new Canon PowerShot models
A recent survey of professional photographers showed that one of the most popular pocket cameras for those who make their living in photography was the Canon SureShot S90. Now comes its successor, the S95, along with the new SD4500 IS and SX130 IS compact cameras. All models boast a 10MP sensor with what Canon says is improved low-light sensitivity and claimed reduced noise at higher ISO levels, plus HD video capabilities. The S95 adds 720p HD video and in-camera HDR scene mode—two features users asked for—plus macro photography mode that compensates for angular shift and shake, and a 3x f/2 lens that starts at 28mm (35mm equivalent) plus RAW. The SD4500 sports a 10x optical zoom and full 1080p HD video, the first for a Digital Elph series model. The SX130 has a 12x optical zoom lens and captures 720p HD video with stereo sound, plus several creative exposure modes including Fisheye and Miniature.
The S95 will be available later this month for around $399; The SD4500 is expected in September for $350; The SX130 will be available next week for $250. Get details on Canon’s press release.
Ricoh Announces 10.7x Pocket Zoom Camera
Ricoh stretched its zoom range to 10.7x with today’s announcement of the CX4, featuring a 28-300mm optical zoom lens, sensor-shift image stabilization to reduce blur (they claim up to an amazing 3.7 stops) and subject-tracking autofocus. The back-illuminated 10MP sensor (claimed to produce better quality in low light) also delivers 720p HD video, while the 3-inch LCD sensor is high resolution at 920k dots. I can't wait to get my hands on this one and test Ricoh's claim about image stabilization and low noise. Adorama is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Ricoh cameras; we expect it to be available by early next week.
It’s a Mad 3D World
We were born, one company’s commercial says, to see the world in 3D. What the ad fails to mention is that, over the years, many have tried and failed to come up with a viable 3D still photography system, mainly because the means to display the results were either too expensive, too inconvenient, or simply didn’t look very realistic. Are those days of overpriced failures (remember the Nimslo?) drawing to a close? Fujifilm has tweaked the compact 3D camera they introduced last year. The Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 shoots 720p HD video in 3d. You can capture the left and right images separately or together, and you can also shoot traditional 2D images. Manual, aperture-priority and scene modes are available. So far, so good.
But the key question remains, what do you view it on? The W3’s lenticular monitor is one way, but what if you want to see the images big? Well, there are 3D TV Sets made by Sony, Panasonic (shown), Samsung and LG. These generally require a pair of 3D glasses and are a significant expense (perhaps mitigated by the fact that buyers would also get to see their favorite movies, like Shrek 3, Inspector Gadget, and Avatar in 3D in the comfort of their home theaters).
But what if you’re not ready to plunk down several grand to build a home theater around a big 3D-friendly monitor? Viewing 3D images on a limited budget remains the greatest challenge in bringing bring 3D to the masses. There’s also a lab that does lenticular prints (shades of Nimslo, again) from your digital 3D files, but again, it’s an extra step and expense. You can’t make lenticular prints at home…yet.
Canon, Epson Announce Photo Printers
You can, however, do some other amazing things with the latest generation of printers. Canon and Epson announced photo printers this week. The Canon Pixmas (Models MG8120 and MG6120) are all-in-one affairs with touch-screen control, HD Movie Print2 for capturing and printing stills from HD videos (the catch: you need to have shot the videos with Canon cameras. Both models connect wirelessly to WiFi networks.
Epson’s Stylus Photo PX820FWD is the new flagship wireless Epson All-In-One model, also featuring WiFi, touch-panel operation, and “better-than-lab-quality” photos with Epson’s Claria Photographic Ink, full color print time of 10 seconds, and a dye-based ink which is claimed to last 98 years in a frame and over 200 years in an album.
And the Winners Are…
The European Imaging and Sound Association has just announced its 2010-2011 Photo Awards. The EISA consists of 50 special-interest consumer electronics and photo magazines from across Europe. Each year, the editors get together and declare the best products in various categories. Winning the prize means prestige—and sales—for the respective equipment and software companies.
Here are this years EISA photo product winners. Do you agree with EISA's choices?
- Photo Software: Apple Aperture 3
- Camera: Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i in the US)
- Advanced SLR: Canon EOS 7D
- Printer: Epson Stylus Pro 3880
- Super Zoom Camera: Fujifilm FinePix HS10
- Micro System Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 9-18mm f/4-5.6
- All-Weather Compact Camera: Olympus Tough 8010
- Professional Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED VRII
- Professional Camera: Nikon D3s
- Multimedia Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2
- Travel Compact Camera: Panasonic Lumix TZ10
- Advanced Compact Camera: Samsung EX1
- Lens: Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM
- Compact Camera: Sony Cyber-shot DDSC-HX5V
- Micro System Camera: Sony NEX-5
- Zoom Lens: Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD
Food for thought and further discussion: Should the EISA invite U.S. photographic publications (Shutterbug, American Photo and Popular Photography) into the fold? Would it change the results?
That's a wrap! Have a great weekend!