D-SLRs: Buy Now!
Why there has never been a better time to upgrade your primary camera
The E-420 doesn’t have sensor-shift stabilization like other Olympus D-SLRs, but can use Leica D 14-50mm and 14-150mm Four Thirds System lenses with Mega O.I.S. stabilization. Like all Four Thirds System cameras, the E-420 can use all Four Thirds System lenses (but not Micro Four Thirds System lenses). Olympus lenses currently run from an 8mm fisheye and a 7-14mm zoom to a 300mm, plus 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. With the Four Thirds sensor’s 2x focal-length factor, this means focal lengths equivalent to 16-600mm on a 35mm camera are available (to 1200mm using the 2x converter). Sigma offers a 300-800mm zoom for Four Thirds System cameras; add the 2x converter to the sensor’s 2x focal-length factor, and that extends the long end of the range to 3200mm (35mm-camera equivalent).
Pentax K2000. If you’re looking for a simple buying experience, the 10.2-megapixel K2000 comes boxed with an 18-55mm lens and a shoe-mount electronic flash unit; all you have to decide is whether you want the black version or the limited-edition white version. The K2000 is a simple model aimed directly at those moving up from a compact digital camera. It’s tiny (4.8x3.6x2.7 inches) but solid (18.5 ounces), and manages to squeeze both sensor-shift Shake Reduction and a sensor-dust remover into the package. Other features include ISOs to 3200, shooting at 3.5 fps and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor (but no Live View operation). While most D-SLRs run on proprietary rechargeable batteries, the K2000 runs on readily available AAs. Like all Pentax D-SLRs, the K2000 can use the full range of Pentax lenses.
Samsung GX-20, Pentax K2000, Sigma SD14
Samsung GX-20. Similar in form and features to the Pentax K20D (and sharing the same 14.6-megapixel CMOS image sensor), the GX-20 employs its own image processor, so images aren’t quite identical to the K20D’s. While it shares the K20D’s handy RAW button that provides one-touch switching between JPEG and RAW shooting, the GX-20 provides only one RAW format, Adobe’s DNG. Also shared with the K20D are such exposure modes as TAv, which lets you set the shutter speed and aperture you wish to use, and the camera adjusts the ISO to produce correct exposure at those settings; and Sv mode, in which you set the ISO you wish to use, and the camera adjusts the shutter speed and aperture to provide correct exposure. Live View AF on the 2.7-inch LCD monitor is phase detection. Other features include sensor-shift stabilization and a sensor-dust remover.
Samsung offers its own and Schneider lenses for the camera, but like the K20D, the GX-20 can use all Pentax K-mount lenses.
Sigma SD14. Short on bells and whistles and long on image quality, the SD14 is a straightforward D-SLR that features the unique Foveon X3 full color-capture image sensor. In fact, Sigma recently purchased Foveon, so we expect to see more Sigma/Foveon-sensor cameras in the future. Conventional image sensors record just one primary color at each pixel site, interpolating the missing colors at each site from data from neighboring pixels (via complex proprietary algorithms). The X3 sensor actually does record all three primary colors (red, green and blue) at every pixel site. Thus, there’s no need for a Bayer filter array over the sensor, no need for interpolation, and no need for an image-softening low-pass filter. The potential for sharper, more accurate RAW images should be evident.
Sigma is best known for its lenses, and it offers more than 40 for the SD14, with focal lengths from a 4.5mm circular fisheye and 10-20mm superwide zoom to a 800mm supertelephoto, plus 1.4x and 2x converters. With the sensor’s 1.7x focal-length factor, this provides focal lengths equivalent to 7.65-2720mm on a 35mm camera. Several of the newer lenses have built-in OS optical stabilization.