With the proliferation of all kinds of gadgetry not only for everyday needs, but also for needs we thought we would never have, the camera market sadly seems to be moving in the same direction. Actually, it is already half way there. New cameras, lenses and accessories keep popping up every few months and come in all shapes, forms and colors. The camera market seems to be experiencing the same over-saturation that other electronics companies are seeing today. People do not want to buy new TVs anymore, so manufacturers are trying to find new ways to sell more TVs by adding more features. The approach is built on typical consumerism – make something look shiny and more interesting than it was before and it might lure people into buying it every year. Camera companies are sadly following exactly the same practice. Announcements are becoming more important than the products themselves, so manufacturers are pushing more redundant choices year after year just to make headlines.
DSLR cameras by design have some inherent flaws and limitations. Part of it has to do with the fact that SLR cameras were initially developed for film. When digital evolved, it was treated just like film and was housed in the same mechanical body. Aside from the circuitry required for a digital sensor and other electronics, new digital film media and the back LCD, the rest of the SLR components did not change. Same mechanical mirror, same pentaprism / optical viewfinder, same phase detection system for autofocus operation. While new technological advances eventually led to extending of features of these cameras (In-camera editing, HDR, GPS, WiFi, etc), DSLRs continued to stay bulky for a couple of reasons. First, the mirror inside DSLR cameras had to be the same in size as the digital sensor, taking up plenty of space. Second, the pentaprism that converts vertical rays to horizontal in the viewfinder also had to match the size of the mirror, making the top portion of DSLRs bulky.
During the last few years, the interchangeable lens camera industry has seen massive changes. If only a few years ago, a DSLR was considered to be the only serious photographic tool (not counting film cameras), we now have mirrorless cameras that are no less impressive. They’ve already stolen quite a few APS-C sensor DSLR sales. The full-frame market, on the other hand, has seen a huge increase in offerings. It would seem only yesterday when Nikon had three distinctly different full-frame cameras in its lineup – the D700, D3 and D3x. Now, if you count D800 and D800E as separate models, it has five. The newest sibling has been announced, one surrounded with so much hype and hope, you can only ask – what took Nikon so long? But let’s not dwell on the past, because the digital FM2 – or something as close to it as you might have hoped – is finally here. And just look at it. It has dials, and lots of them!
1) Nikon Df Key Specifications
Before we get all excited, let’s take a quick look at Nikon Df key specifications:
- Solid, magnesium-alloy construction with weather-sealing
- 16.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (same as the one in Nikon D4)
- ISO sensitivity range of 100-12,800 (boost down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 204,800)
- Shutter speed range of 30-1/4000s, flash sync-speed 1/200s
- 39-point AF system (same as the one in Nikon D610), 9 cross-type sensors, focuses down to f/8
- 2016-pixel RGB image sensor, full non-AI-S lens metering
- EXPEED 3 processor
- Large 3.2″ LCD screen with 921,000 dot resolution
- Pentaprism optical viewfinder with 100% coverage and approximately 0.7x magnification
- SD card slot
- Maximum continuous shooting speed up to 5.5 frames per second
- Measures in at 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm
- Weighs 760g with battery and memory card
- $2749 body-only, $2999 with the new Special Edition AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens
Without a doubt, Nikon has created a lot of hype around the upcoming Nikon Df camera. With five teaser videos that talk about “pure photography”, Nikon has spiked interest among the photography community, including our team at Photography Life. Many of us, especially those that shoot event, wedding and portrait photography have been desperately waiting for a true Nikon D700 replacement. Something with a good number of pixels, but not too many (yes, those D800 files are huge!). Something that can produce very low noise images at high ISOs. Something that is fast with a solid build, but does not come with a huge price tag and a heavy body. Nikon finally answered those calls with the Nikon Df. Read on to find out what we think about this remarkable camera.
What makes the Nikon Df remarkable? I have used this word a few times already, because I think the Nikon Df will be even a bigger hit than the Nikon D800. If you remember from February of 2012, we covered the Nikon D800 release extensively. From what we saw, being world’s first 36 MP full-frame camera, the Nikon D800 created a lot of interest – mostly from landscape, architecture and studio photographers that needed more than the 12 or 16 MP that Nikon was traditionally using on its DSLRs. However, many portrait photographers, especially pros that come back from events with thousands of images felt that the D800 was too much of a camera for them (yes, the D800 files are huge!). From Nikon’s new product positioning, it was pretty clear that the D700 was a mistake never to be repeated again – Nikon did not want to compromise the sales of its high-end line in the future (and the D700 did lower D3 sales significantly). But Nikon knew very well that it left a gap in its high-end DSLR line. Instead of coming up with yet another DSLR, Nikon decided to take a very different route. Why not take the much wanted Nikon D4 sensor, put it in a retro body to appeal portrait photographers (especially the group that loves shooting film), strip it down to a bare minimum without bells and whistles like video that are of no interest to most photographers, and market it as a fusion of DSLR and early SLR/rangefinder Nikon cameras? That’s how the Nikon Df was born.
A lot of people wonder what to buy as their first Nikon lens. Most people new to digital photography and DSLRs don’t bother reading about cameras and lenses as much since there is too much information and too many recommendations. They end up purchasing a kit lens that they use for a year or two, only to realize that they want something better. Yes, kit lenses are a good deal but are they worth the purchase? While it makes sense for some people to buy kit lenses with cameras, I personally stay away from cheap entry-level zooms and prefer solid all-purpose prime lenses instead. Read on to find out more about my personal recommendations, aimed at someone who is just getting into photography.
This week is quite busy, with so many great products being introduced by different brands including Sony, Sigma and Fuji (an announcement to be posted tomorrow). Nikon is also announcing a couple of products before the Photo Plus convention in New York (which I am planning to attend and fully cover). The first announcement is for the Nikon D5300, an upper entry-level DSLR aimed for beginners and amateurs. It has been only a year since Nikon refreshed the line with the D5200 and now the camera is updated again with some new interesting features and improvements to make the line more compelling compared to the competition.
The Nikon D5300 ships with exactly the same sensor as the one on the Nikon D7100 (see our review), without an anti-aliasing filter. With a number of the current Nikkor DX lenses struggling to resolve a lot of detail to fully take advantage of high resolution APS-C sensors, looks like Nikon’s strategy is not to include AA filters in all future models. While removing such a filter will certainly yield slightly sharper images, moire can potentially become an issue when photographing fine patterns, textures and fabric.
It has been a little over a year since Sony announced world’s first fixed lens 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony RX1. Shortly after, Sony released another version of the same camera without an anti-aliasing filter and gave it a slightly different name – Sony RX1R, similar to what Nikon did with the D800 and the D800E. And with Sony’s hard push on the NEX-series cameras, we thought that it was a matter of time until Sony announces a full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera system. Back in 2012, we predicted that Sony would release a full-frame camera in 2013 and it seems like our predictions were indeed true. Today is a very exciting day for the world of photography, because Sony has just announced world’s first full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with autofocus capabilities. Sony is shaking up the industry once again with a breakthrough product that will lead the way for others in the future. Some might say that this is the beginning of the end of DSLRs. Read on to see what we think.
Canon has just announced a successor to the popular but aging 60D. The new member of EOS family is called 70D and packs a number of improvements over the rest of the line-up, including the higher-end 7D model. 70D is positioned squarely against Nikon’s D7100 DSLR with virtually identical body-only price and competitive on-paper specifications.
Canon 70D Overview and Key Specifications
The first thing that should be mentioned about 70D is the new APS-C CMOS sensor. Canon has been using the same 18 megapixel unit in its crop sensor cameras ever since 7D was launched back in 2009. For a while now, every single crop sensor camera from Canon featured this sensor. While competitive at the time of its launch, it has begun to show its age when compared to newer units found in Sony, Pentax and Nikon cameras. They all offered better low-light high ISO performance and better dynamic range. It was just a matter of time before Canon updated it. The new sensor has a slightly higher resolution at 20.2 megapixels. We are yet to see if there’s any improvement in these areas, but manufacturing a new sensor usually is a good start. At just over 20 megapixels, it’s also not that far off 24 megapixel mark of its closest rivals.
Along with the mirrorless Q7, Pentax has just announced the entry-level K-500 and a slightly more advanced K-50 DSLRs. The new DSLR cameras packs a very competitive APS-C sensor and a lot of tempting features into compact bodies. Both K-50 and K-500 offer a lot of the same specifications, but K-500 further knocks around $200 off K-50′s price and costs around $600 to purchase. Pentax has also revised two kit zoom lenses. Both 18-55mm and 50-200mm class lenses are weather sealed. Let’s see what the two cameras can offer in terms of specifications.
Main Pentax K-50/K-500 Specifications
Traditionally, Pentax DSLRs have always been about good value with competitive prices that become even more tempting thanks to generous specification. The story is no different with K-50/K-500. I can’t help but admire the effort Pentax is making, because, coupled to the excellent Limited series lenses, these cameras can be great for casual shooting. As with Pentax q, 120 color combinations are available. Both DSLRs offer 16.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensors with ISO sensitivity of up to 51200 and 3″ LCD screens with approx. 921k dots. Couple that to a 100% optical pentaprism viewfinder (glass, not mirror) and built-in, sensor-based image stabilization and you end up with a very attractive package indeed. What’s more, K-50 comes with weather sealing.