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Nikon Raises The Resolution Bar With D800

Nikon raises the resolution to 36.3-megapixels in the D800 and D800E

Nikon is raising the bar on resolution and video by fielding two new cameras the D800 and D800E, both boasting an unusually large 36-megapixel image. That would make the D800 the first in the Nikon DSLR line to challenge resolution formerly only available in medium format cameras.

That will mean 7360 x 4912 resolution RAW images that are over 70MB in size, while processed TIFF files will be over 212 MB. The files are so big Nikon decided to add USB 3.0 support to the camera.

At the core the D800 and D800E both start with a full frame, FX-format, 35.9 x 24 mm CMOS 36.3-megapixel sensor backed by Nikon’s Expeed 3 image processor. The imaging system incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system that promises lightning fast response.

The D800 also promises minimal noise under variable lighting conditions, with a native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 25,600 and will output 16-bit images. Coupled with the image processing is a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor for its Advanced Scene Recognition system, which can accurately detect human faces, and recognize scene colors and brightness, according to Nikon.

Back of the D800 shows a clean layout and full size LCD screen

While recent camera models have included upgraded video specs to make them competitive with Canon cameras, the D800 is the first that aggressively attacks the video market. The D800 boasts manual exposure and audio controls in video mode and 1080p recording at 30, 25 and 24 fps, coupled with a built-in optical filter with anti-aliasing properties. Nikon also claims users can also send full uncompressed video out via HDMI as the video is being captured. It remains to be seen whether that promise delivers on the set, but could be a huge upgrade for filmmakers.

The D800E model is basically the same camera without the anti-aliasing filter and is aimed at studio and commercial photographers who may be less concerned about moire and more concerned with maximum detail.

The D800 will be priced more competitively with the Canon 5D MK II with the D800 being offered at $2,999.95 and the D800E at $3,299.95.

For a long time Nikon seemed reluctant to battle for the DSLR video market, but with the introduction of the D800, it’s on now as Nikon fields a camera worthy of both studio photographers and professional videographers.

The upgraded video specs in the D800 will certainly appeal to filmmakers

More Info At:

Nikon USA

Compare To:

Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D MK II

Nikon D800 vs Canon EOS 7D

Nikon D800 vs Nikon D4

Nikon D800 vs D700

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Pentax’s new Mirrorless Camera the K-01

pentax K-01

Pentax fields a winner with the stylish K-01 - by Pentax

Pentax finally announced their newest interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera, the Pentax K-01, will be available starting in the middle of March. Judging by the initial specs, it looks like it will be worth the wait, with Pentax avoiding the mistakes made by many of their competitors.

Pentax started with a big chip. At its heart the K-01 sports an APS-C CMOS 16.28 megapixel sensor, avoiding the mistake of some camera makers in hobbling their mirrorless cameras with tiny chips. Backing that up is the new Prime M imaging engine that boasts an ISO rating to ISO 100 to ISO 12800, or to ISO 25600 with the noise reduction features enabled.

pentax k01 top view

Top view of the K-01 showing the hot shoe and mode dial - by Pentax

Then they take the big chip coupled with a fast processor and layer on all the fun mirrorless goodies, like the choice of four image aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1) to accommodate different subjects and it also supports RAW output.

The K-01 boasts a six frame per second burst mode with near silent operation so you can take pictures even at events where noise would be a problem.

pentax k01

The K-01 sports both a hot shoe and pop-up flash - by Pentax

Software features an in-camera, ultra-wide HDR mode, an 81 point contrast detect auto-focus system and it’s one of the few digital cameras to sport a multi-exposure mode.

The video shooters will flip over the K-01’s video specs with the diminutive camera offering 1080p at 30/25/24 fps. Pentax is claiming HDMI full HD output with sound, but it’s not clear if that’s live output or just for exporting video clips. Here’s the claim right from Pentax, decide for yourself:

“The PENTAX K-01 also comes with an HDMI type C terminal, which allows the user to simultaneously output both Full HD movie clips and stereo sound, as well as an external microphone input terminal.”

Pentax included both an intelligent hot shoe and a pop-up flash when some manufacturers mysteriously dropped one or the other.

Anti-shake image stabilization is accomplished by sensor-shift technology and it uses focus peak technology for faster response.

At $749 for the body and $899 for the camera and a 40mm XS pancake lens, Pentax may have a winner on their hands with the K-01.

More From:

Pentax

Pentax Forums

Compare To:

Pentax K-01 vs Nikon J1

Pentax K-01 vs Sony NEX-5N

Pentax K-01 vs Olympus Pen E-PL3

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Canon, Nikon Top User Surveys

Nikon D7000

The Nikon D7000 gets very high marks in user satisfaction

The big names in the photography business are there for a reason and that reason is because they have consistently produced some of the best cameras in the history of photography. All the same, the question I get a surprising number of times is, “What is the best camera on the market?” That’s not a question anyone can answer. Best in what terms? Best for studio work? Best in a combat zone? Best family camera? Best value for the money? Best for a professional? Best for a beginner? There are different answers for all of those questions and sometimes a different answer between one person and the next.

A quick look around at 10 camera web sites will yield 10 different rankings with a bit of overlap. With so much variation in the rankings, how do you figure out which camera is right for you?

A survey by PC World does present some broad conclusions. An aggregate of other rankings, including here at  Snapsort, does outline some interesting trends.

Canon and Nikon Are The Big Kids On The Block

The data taken together supports the perhaps obvious conclusion that Canon and Nikon are the big two, though the reasons for their popularity are quite different and challengers are evolving. Canon cameras are rated as being more reliable, with Nikon coming in 5th in the reliability survey, behind Canon, GE, Panasonic and Casio. Seriously, if you’re losing to Casio in reliability, maybe you need take a hard look at your QA/QC methodology.

Nikon ranks number one when it comes to owner satisfaction with their camera features, just edging out Canon for the number one spot. Yet Casio and Panasonic both score high marks and end up in the top five in both categories.

With their domination of the video market, it’s likely Canon will stay on top. Nikon was slow to react to the DSLR video trend and Canon carved out a nearly exclusive domain in the video space. Nikon has since improved their support for features like 24p, but with so many wedded to Canon glass and shaping their work flow around Canon, making headway into the video market is going to be slow going for any of the challengers. If Nikon has an edge to elbow into the video market it’s their lenses.

One thing to keep in mind is that one of the reasons it may be so hard to pick a “best” camera is that there are so many good contenders out there these days.  If you have the talent, you can take almost any camera and take fantastic photos.  Truly it’s little things that will make the biggest difference.

As you can see there are no easy answers when it comes to choosing a camera. Take your time, compare a lot of models, ask a lot of questions, and focus on the features most important to you.

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iPhone 4 Tops Flickr Camera Stats

The iPhone 4 shoots to the top of Flickr's camera ratings

Data from Flickr confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time: The camera people are most likely to use is the one they’re most likely to have with them. No surprise then that the number one camera on Flickr is the Apple iPhone 4.

Coming along in second place is the entry level Nikon D90. Priced at around $1,200 with the 18-105mm kit lens, Nikon seems to have found the sweet spot between price and performance.

The next three in the top 5 all belong to Canon. It’s no surprise to find the EOS 5D MK II in the list, although the Rebel T2i in the fourth spot is kind of a surprise. Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise for the T2i to be on the list when I consider that among my friends who are professional wedding photographers, one uses the T2i as his main camera and two use it as their backup body.

Anyone who owns a Canon EOS 7D would not be surprised to find it in the top 5. It is one of the most reliable pieces of photographic equipment I’ve ever used.

One should take statistics on Flickr with a grain of salt. While they are reflective of the relative popularity of certain cameras, not all cameras record the camera type in the meta data, which is particularly true of smartphones, and those tend to be under-represented in the data.

Another factor to consider is that statistics on Flickr evolve slowly and are backward facing. So many of the hot new camera models may not be reflected in the statistics for some time to come.

In the point-and-shoot category, Canon owns all of the top five slots. The wildly successful S95 leads the parade, with the G12 coming in second.

Another factor to consider is that Flickr represents a sub-section of photographers actively sharing their photos. Not all photographers are equally active in social media sharing and many of the old timers are skeptical of using photo sharing services.

It is good to check on the statistics from time to time, just to watch the parade of technology. Judging by the stats, for many of you your new camera is also the device you use to make phone calls.

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Full Frame vs Crop Sensor

Canon 5d mk ii

The Canon 5D MK II has a full frame sensor and a recently reduced price tag

The discussion of a full frame DSLR versus a crop sensor (APS-C) camera just got more interesting when B&H Photo decided to offer an eye-popping discount on the Canon 5D MK II, offering the body-only with a 16 GB CF card for under $2,000 around Christmas (now back up to $2500).

While I can live without a full frame sensor, the concepts of “need” and “want” become jumbled at times, like when B&H offers a big discount on a full frame camera that I wanted anyway. So, it’s good to go back over the differences and remember why you select one over the other.

First, it might be good to understand where the term “full frame” comes from in the first place. Full frame means the camera’s image sensor is roughly the same size as 35mm film, or 24mm x 36mm. That, my friends, is a big sensor. And, when it comes to sensors, size matters.

Interestingly, one of the reasons you frequently find a Canon 7D being used on a movie set like Black Swan, instead of a full frame Canon 5D MK II, is because the APS-C chip also approximates a film stock used widely in motion picture production called academy 4-perf. PL movie lenses cover 16mm x 22mm and take a wild guess how big an APS-C sensor is? If you guessed 13.8mm x 20.7mm, you were cheating.

The bottom line is a Canon 7D with a PL mount can accommodate all those marvelous movie lenses. There’s even a place that will permanently alter your 7D to be a PL mount movie camera!

It’s More Than Physical

The physical difference between the sensors is significant, with the full frame sensor being closer to twice as large. That is both good and bad depending on the circumstances. Since big chips are harder to manufacture and have a higher defect rate, they are vastly more expensive. So, if your wallet has anything to say about your camera selection, you’ll likely end up with an APS-C camera.

sensor size

You can see the APS-C chip is slightly less than half the size of a full frame 35mm sensor

The payoff for the extra cost of a full frame sensor is in the detail you get and the low light performance. At ISOs above 1600 a Canon 5D will simply blow the doors off my 7D. Even though I don’t do that much low light shooting, that’s my excuse for wanting a 5D MK II.

Also, if you’re shooting a lot of landscapes or other fine detail, a full frame camera will provide better resolution at distance.

Notice the qualifier “at distance”. Up close, like in a studio setting, the difference will be extremely difficult to notice with the biggest differences introduced by the quality of the lenses.

What Strange Magic Is This?

It’s not magic, just that at studio and portrait distances a full frame camera is shooting largely on the center of the sensor and you’ll likely be cropping out the edges anyway. That’s why I can shoot studio shots side-by-side with my friends owning 5D MK II’s and they’re surprised to see very little difference in our final shots. However, were we to walk across the street to the beach and shoot some landscapes, they would remember why the extra money was worth it.

That’s why it’s important for people to have an idea of what kind of photography they want to do before selecting their gear. Buying the camera before figuring out your photographic specialty is the tail wagging the dog.

My decision to go with a 7D is because most of my work is as a PJ. Lots of run and gun, a lot of being bumped, dumped and jostled, and occasionally working in the elements. An armor-plated crop sensor camera is well suited to that type of work, plus I shoot a lot of video.

I was perfectly happy with my APS-C crop sensor…until B&H put the full frame 5D MK II on sale. Curse you, B&H, curse you. ;-)

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