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Friday, January 12, 2007

Buyer's Guide 2007: D-SLR Systems

For your best images, digital SLR systems offer the latest technologies and flexibility


NikonNikon
Cameras. Nikon's D-SLR system includes five camera bodies, more than 50 lenses, a terrific flash system and a host of accessories. The entry-level model is the 6.1-megapixel D50, one of the lower-priced D-SLRs but a very good performer, offering a sturdy body, easy operation, flash sync up to 1⁄500 sec. and up to 2,000 shots per battery charge.

Replacing the popular workhorse D70s is the new D80, a 10.2-megapixel model that features technology from the D200, along with a quick 0.18-second startup time, fast 80 ms shutter response, a new high-res image-processing engine, a new in-camera image editor, simple operation and more. The 10.2-megapixel D200 offers excellent image quality, superquick performance, a rugged magnesium-alloy body and lots more.

The D2Hs is Nikon's action camera, capable of shooting bursts of up to 40 RAW or 50 JPEG 4.2-megapixel images at 8 fps and featuring a rugged body and all the features you'd expect in a pro camera. Nikon's top-of-the-line D2Xs is a 12.4-megapixel model that provides super image quality, lightning-quick response, up to 3,400 shots on a battery charge, a high-speed cropped mode that lets you shoot 6.7-megapixel images at 8 fps and lots more. Both the D2Xs and D2Hs offer optional wireless file transmission.

Lenses. Nikon D-SLR users can choose among more than 50 AF lenses, from a 14mm superwide-angle to a 600mm super-telephoto, including zooms from 17-35mm to 200-400mm. There are seven DX lenses, optimized for Nikon D-SLRs (they'll vignette if used on 35mm film SLRs), from a 10.5mm fish-eye and 12-24mm zoom through an 18-200mm wide-range zoom. Since all Nikon D-SLRs have "APS-C"-sized image sensors, the DX lenses can be used on all of them. The focal-length conversion factor for all Nikon D-SLRs is 1.5x, which means their users have available 35mm camera focal-length equivalents of 16mm through 900mm. Nikon also offers 1.4x, 1.7x and 2x teleconverters.

Nikon's AF-S lenses utilize Silent Wave AF motors for quick, quiet autofocusing. VR lenses contain Vibration Reduction systems that automatically compensate for camera shake. CRC lenses incorporate floating close-range correction element groups for sharper results at close range.

Flash. Nikon's AF Speedlight flash system has long been known for exposure accuracy and ease of use, and the current Creative Lighting System version featuring i-TTL Balanced Fill-Flash with monitor pre-flash provides accurate exposures in the widest range of shooting situations yet. I-TTL is available with all current D-SLR bodies and the SB-800 (ISO 100 GN 184, in feet), SB-600 (ISO 100 GN 138) and SB-R200 (ISO 100 GN 33) Speedlights. Besides i-TTL flash, Nikon's Creative Lighting System provides simple operation, wireless control of up to three groups of Speedlights, flash exposure lock, modeling flash and more. There's even a Wireless Close-up Speedlight System, which greatly simplifies producing beautiful lighting for close-up subjects. Nikon D-SLR models except the D2Hs and D2Xs also have built-in i-TTL Speedlights.

Other accessories include remote controls, power supplies, AC adapters, angle finders, close-up gear, wireless data transmitters and interchangeable focusing screens for the pro models and more. Nikon PictureProject downloading/RAW-conversion software comes with the cameras; optional software includes Camera Control Pro for remote operation, Image Authentication software that confirms original images are unaltered (D2Xs only) and the newly revamped Nikon Capture NX, which provides extensive RAW image-editing capabilities, lens correction tools, D-Lighting for enhanced shadow and highlight detail, and more.

 


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