10 Hot New Cameras
Top technologies and features are finding their way into the whole range of digital cameras, from compacts to D-SLRs
The annual Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Show is an exciting time of year for camera enthusiasts because that's when many new models are introduced. This year's show (March 8-11) was no exception, bringing us a number of exciting new cameras with some great features. We'll look at these features and then at 10 new models that incorporate the latest digital camera technologies.
Image Stabilization. More camera and lens systems are providing some form of image stabilization to counteract the effects of handheld camera shake. Methods include shifting lens elements, shifting the image sensor, electronic compensation and automatically increasing the ISO in dim light to provide higher, blur-reducing shutter speeds. If you shoot handheld, stabilization is a terrific feature.
Anti-Dust Technology. Dust on the sensor isn't a big problem with digital cameras that have built-in lenses, but with digital SLRs, each time you change lenses, dust can enter and settle on the filter over the sensor, adorning every image you shoot thereafter. Olympus introduced in-camera dust removal with its EVOLT E-1 back in 2003; now a number of D-SLRs offer anti-dust systems. Next to image stabilization, dust removal is my favorite D-SLR feature.
LCD Monitors. These have been getting bigger, with 2.5 inches (diagonal measurement) and even larger monitors on many models. Live-view monitors, standard on compact digital cameras, are now available in D-SLRs from pioneering Olympus, as well as Canon, Leica and Panasonic. Quite a few compact digital cameras offer flip-out monitors, which further assist in composition and photographing at odd angles when looking through a traditional viewfinder would be uncomfortable, if not impossible. Also, be sure to check how viewable the monitor is in daylight; with some, it's very hard to see images and read menus in bright conditions.
Face Recognition. A number of new cameras offer face-recognition technology, with which the camera is magically able to identify human faces in a scene, focus on them and expose for them, for better people pictures.
Macro Mode. Many compact digital cameras will focus extremely close, some to within an inch of the subject. This literally opens up a whole new world of shooting opportunities. Things to consider here include focusing distance versus focal length (some cameras will focus close only at the shortest focal length) and access (check how easy it is to enter and exit normal, macro and super-macro modes).
Histograms. D-SLR cameras let you view histograms during image playback. A histogram is a bar graph of the tones in the image, and when you learn to read one, it can tell you at a glance whether an image is properly exposed (basically, you want the histogram to run from one side to the other; if it doesn't go all the way to the left, the image is overexposed; if it doesn't go all the way to the right, the image is underexposed). This is a useful feature, employed by many pro photographers, but you can find compact digital cameras with it, too.
Scene Modes. For years, compact 35mm cameras and entry-level 35mm SLRs have offered scene modes that automatically set the camera for shooting popular subjects such as portraits, landscapes, sports action and close-ups. Many digital cameras offer scene modes for a wider range of subjects and adjusting contrast, color saturation and sharpening, as well as shutter speed and aperture. Scene modes make it easy for even novice shooters to get good images of these subjects quickly and easily.
RAW + JPEG. Today's D-SLRs allow you to shoot RAW images and JPEG images simultaneously. This lets you quickly review what you shot as JPEGs, then process the RAW images of the "keepers" for maximum image quality. Some compact digital cameras also offer this useful capability.