It’s been a while since an entirely new niche of digital camera has come along, but with the release of the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic DMC-GF1, that’s what we have. These “Micro Four Thirds” cameras represent the first significantly new class of camera since, possibly, Canon’s D30 SLR in 2000. With their small size, interchangeable lenses, and sensors that are larger than what you’ll find in a point-and-shoot, they offer a new option for SLR shooters who want a smaller second camera, but don’t want to give up too much image quality. Conversely, for point-and-shooters who are ready to move on, but don’t want to hassle with the weight of an SLR, a Micro Four Thirds camera might be just the ticket. But which of these two cameras is right for you?
If you’re looking to buy a starter digital camera – either for yourself or as a gift – then you might be surprised to find that your options are fairly limited. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Are you crazy?! Every time I go into Best Buy there’re huge piles of little point-and-shoot digital cameras!” While this is true, there are very few of those that I would consider a “starter” camera. “Starter” implies that this first camera will be a start – that you’re looking for a camera that will be a jumping off point, and that you (or your gift-ee) might want to learn from this camera, and one day move on to something more advanced. Here’s what you should buy, and why.
Canon has positioned their new Rebel XSi at the “entry-level” end of their product line. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to divide digital cameras into “entry-level” and “mid-range” and “high-end.” In the early days, there was a single distinguishing feature that made it simple to tell what market a camera was aimed at: the image quality of an entry-level camera was markedly different from a high-end, “pro” level camera. Those days are now long gone, and ‚Äì just as with entry-level and pro-level film cameras ‚Äì you can now shoot high-end image quality with an entry-level camera. Canon’s Rebel XSi marks the high end of Canon’s low end, and the new model offers important changes over its predecessor, the Rebel XTi.
|Over the last few years, the digital camera market has been sliced into fine slivers. There are cheap, not-so-cheap, and expensive point-and-shoots; a full spectrum of SLRs from $600 all the way up to $8,000; and stratospherically priced medium-format digital backs, owned by a precious few.
Sitting on its own, outside the realm of the point-and-shoots and SLRs is the Leica M8, a rangefinder camera based on the traditional M-series Leica body. Priced at roughly $5,500 for the body only – with Leica-branded lenses starting at around $1,500 for a 35 or 50mm lens – the M8 sits in the same price category as heavy hitting SLRs like the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Nikon D3.
If you’ve been shopping for a mid-range digital SLR, it’s a safe bet to say you’ve probably been considering the Nikon D-300. The latest rev of Nikon’s mid-range camera, the D-300 offers some impressive changes from it’s predecessor, the D-200. As with previous Nikon models, no other camera comes close to Nikon when it comes to feature list, and the D-300 backs up its features with improved image quality.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing an SLR, from image quality, to feel and weight, interface, and features. Obviously, if you’re already a Canon shooter with an investment in lenses, switching to Nikon is less compelling. But if you’re just starting out, or if you’re already a Nikon owner, then you’ll want to give heavy consideration to the D-300.
Reader panzeriv88 sends in a very interesting tip that might help in the stormy, wet months of winter. If you end up with a submerged camera, don’t give up all hope. If you’re careful and take quick action, it might be possible to dry the camera without damaging it. Read on for details.
Like most digital SLRs, Nikon’s family of digital SLRs offer the ability to shoot in raw mode. However, Nikon’s raw offerings provide a twist, in the form of compressed raw. The promise of compressed raw files, of course, is that they take up less space and allow you to store more images on your card. Data compression algorithms fall into two categories: lossy techniques, which degrade the quality of your image; and lossless techniques, which reduce file size without affecting image quality. Nikon users often ask whether the compressed raw format is lossless or lossy, so I decided to look into the question.