Monday, June 01, 2009

DSLR Cameras

Although I'm quite happy with my Pentax K10D, I could always use higher ISO and better auto-focus. There never seems to be enough light to use a fast enough shutter speed for hand held shooting, or a small enough aperture for more focus lattitude. Thank goodness for image stabilization or I'd be even worse off.

So I can't help but covet the Nikon D3's awesome low light abilities. Of course, it also costs roughly $5000 and is a huge heavy beast, so I don't really want one.

The Nikon D700 also performs well and it's somewhat cheaper and smaller. But, like the D3, it has a full-size sensor (the actual size of 35mm film). The bigger sensor is one of the reasons for the better performance. The problem is that I like the increase in focal length that the smaller sensors give you. On a full size sensor, my zoom would be 18 to 250mm. But on my Pentax with a smaller sensor, it's equivalent to 27 to 375mm. You could use a tele-extender but then you lose another stop of light, and this zoom is already quite slow. Of course, there are other lenses, but that's a whole 'nother story!

I've looked at the Nikon D300, which has a smaller sensor, but it's performance isn't as impressive as the D700 (or the D3). The Nikon D90 which is actually a more "consumer" oriented model, actually does better for low light, also does video, and it's considerably cheaper.

One of the reasons I bought the Pentax was because it had in-camera image stabilization, which means you're not buying expensive image stabilization in multiple lenses. But so far, I've stuck to my one super-zoom lens, so the argument doesn't really hold. And the image stabilized Nikon version of this lens is actually 18 to 275mm (as opposed to 250mm).

I also like how the Pentax will output standard DNG format instead of just a proprietary format like most other cameras, although this isn't a huge factor.

To complicate things, Pentax is coming out with a new K7 model this summer. Full test results aren't out yet so it's hard to tell how it will compare. It shoots video like the D90. And it's small and light and weather/dust proof which is a plus for me. The auto-focus is supposed to be better. And it would work with my existing lens. The resolution has increased, which is good in some ways (more room to crop), but higher resolution means smaller pixels on the sensor, which usually means more noise (i.e. worse low light performance). e.g. My Pentax K10D sensor with 10mp rates higher than the more expensive K20D with 14mp. (Of course, there's a lot more to a camera than just the sensor.)

Of course, I don't really need a new camera at all. An expensive camera is no guarantee of good pictures!

PS. For some reason I haven't got interested in Canon cameras, although I've had several smaller Canon's, and I'm sure their DSLR's are good too. The Sony Alpha's also have good specs but I don't know much about them either.

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