Sunday, November 26, 2006

Popular Photography Calls Canon Digital Rebel XTi High End Camera in Bargain Body

Popular Photography and Imaging has done its review of the Canon Digital Rebel XTi, and the reviewers like what they see.

“It strains the term ‘entry-level,’ ” the review said, referring to advances since the original Digital Rebel. “It’s now more of a high-end camera in a bargain body.”

“Aside from a few inconveniences, shooting with the Rebel XTi is thoroughly pleasurable,” Pop Photo said. “It works fast and accurately. No, it’s not a bulletproof tank, and some of the control buttons are barely up from point-and-shoot. But given the image quality, autofocusing, fast shooting, and exposure controls of the XTi, it’s not just a deal, it’s a screaming bloody great deal.”

The Canon won praise for accurate autofocusing, high image quality, an easy-to-read LCD panel and two ways to remove sensor dust but was criticized for lacking a second command dial, for burying flash-level settings in the menu and for not being as tough as the EOS 30D. In scientific lab testing, image quality, resolution and color accuracy all received “excellent” ratings. Noise was rated “very low” at ISO 100 and 200, “low” at 400 and “moderately low” at 800 and 1600. Highlight/shadow detail was “very high” but contrast was “slightly low.”

The review appeared on Pop Photo’s web site dated November but was not in the November issue of the magazine.

Click here to read the complete review.

Copyright 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nikon Offering “Select and Save” Rebates

Nikon is offering rebates on lenses and accessories under a program that increases the amount of the rebate according to the number of Nikon products purchased. The “Select and Save” program, which began October 26 and applies to purchases made through January 28, offers savings of as much as $300.

Under the program, Nikon is offering rebates ranging from $10 on a 28mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor up to $100 on either a 300mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor or 400mm f/2.8D ED-IF II AF-S Nikkor.

But the amount of the rebate is doubled for customers who buy two eligible items during the rebate period, and tripled for those who purchase three eligible items. That means someone buying the 300mm or 400mm and two other items would receive a rebate of $300 instead of $100. The rebate program covers 15 lenses, the SB-800 AF Speedlight and a number of other accessories.

Purchases of a Nikon D2Xs, D2Hs, D200 or D80 – including D200 and D80 bodies sold in kit packages – don’t qualify for rebates but do count toward the multiple-item feature of the rebates. In other words, someone buying one of those cameras plus the 300mm or 400mm lens would receive a $200 rebate instead of $100.

Click here for details.

Copyright 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nikon D40 Video on YouTube

There’s a great little video showing off the new Nikon D40 on YouTube.

The three-minute introduction to Nikon’s newest digital SLR was produced by in Hungary. It’s in Hungarian with English subtitles, but offers a very intelligent description of the camera and a good number of close-ups to show how the camera fits into the hand and how it functions.

The video goes into some interesting details, including the absence of the normal coupling pin for autofocus lenses. It also offers a good look at the LCD displays, and shows just how small the SD memory cards appear to those of us accustomed to CF cards.

Click here to see the video.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nikon Introduces D40 Digital SLR

Nikon today officially introduced the D40 that has been the subject of the rumor mill in recent weeks, billing the 6.1 megapixel camera as the smallest and easiest to use in its lineup of digital SLRs and clearly aiming the new model at the low end of the amateur market.

“Digital SLR cameras have gained substantial interest among consumers looking for higher-quality pictures and faster handling response," said Edward Fasano, general manager for marketing of SLR System Products at Nikon Inc. "But perceived complexity and bulkiness of some models has discouraged some customers. With the D40, Nikon addresses these challenges with incredible ease of use, compactness and a remarkable range of features and technologies.”

The D40 will come packaged with a new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens with ED glass and aspherical elements, with suggested street price of $599.95. The model is intended to replace the current D50, which sells for about $650 street. Nikon did not say how soon the new camera will be available.

The camera features a 6.1 megapixel Nikon DX Format CCD image sensor and Nikon’s 3D Color Matrix Metering II with spot metering, center-weighted metering and exposure compensation along with Program Auto, Shutter-priority Auto, Aperture-priority Auto and Manual (P/S/A/M) exposure modes. “Digital Vari-Program” modes include Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, Night Landscape or Night Portrait.

The D40 powers up in 0.18 seconds and shoots 2.5 frames per second up to 100 consecutive shots in JPEG Normal mode, stored on an SD card and viewed on a 2.5-inch color LCD monitor. The new model uses a three-area auto-focus system based around Nikon's Multi-CAM 530 AF Sensor Module with central cross-type sensor operation.

The ISO range is 200-1600 with an "additional" setting of 3200. Shutter speeds are 30 seconds to 1/4000 with flash sync to 1/500.

The D40 also features an Image Retouch menu, with extensive in-camera editing functions. Options include:

• D-Lighting: Automatically balances underexposed portions of an image to enhance detail without affecting highlights.
• In-camera Red-eye Correction.
• Trim: Images can be trimmed to produce smaller cropped versions of any file on the SD card.
• Image Overlay: Merges a pair of selected RAW files to create a composite image within the camera as a RAW or JPEG file.
• Monochrome settings: Convert any color image to black-and-white, sepia or cyanotype.
• Filter Effects: Emulate and apply the effects of a skylight or a warming filter to any image stored on the SD card. A Color Balance menu within filter effects can also be used to make subtle shifts in color.
• Small Picture: Create a smaller version of any image in the camera for easy sharing and faster download.

The D40 ships with Nikon’s PictureProject software and a 30-day trial version of Capture NX software.

Dimensions are 5x2.5x3.7 inches and weight is 17 ounches.

Click here to read the Nikon press release

Click here for full technical specifications

Copyright 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Canon Digital SLRs Top Prizes in Trains Magazine Contest

Photographers specializing in railroad photos have a chance to win Canon digital SLRs in a contest sponsored by Trains magazine.

The theme for the magazine’s annual contest is “Against the Elements.” Photos taken between November 1, 2005, and October 31, 2006, are eligible. Judges will be looking for “intriguing composition, effective use of light, and inspiring and creative images.” Winners will be announced in the April 2007 issue.

The grand prize is a choice of a six-day Canadian rail trip from Montreal to Halifax or a steam locomotive trip to be determined, plus a Canon EOS 30D with 24-85mm lens.

First prize is a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT with 18-55mm lens. Second prize is $300, and five runners up will receive a Canon gadget bag.

Trains isn’t a photography magazine as such, but is a very photographer-friendly publication for photographers who like to shoot trains and related railroad scenes. The magazine publishes dozens of photos in each issue, most if not all from freelancers, and welcomes submissions from readers. Unlike some hobby magazines, photographers are paid for their work.

Click here for contest details.

Copyright 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nikon Reportedly Planning D40 Digital SLR

Rumors have been flying round the Internet recently that Nikon is about to introduce a new D40 digital SLR aimed at the low end of the consumer market, and two French photo publications now have the details. and Chasseur d’images both report that the D40 will be a 6.1 megapixel camera sold as a kit with a new AF-X DX ED 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 GII zoom lens for about 599 Euros, or about $760 in U.S. dollars. That compares with about $650 for the D50 with AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Zoom-Nikkor, so the price is unclear at this point.

The D40 would be about 3.5x5x2.5 inches, or about a third of an inch smaller in each dimension than the D50. It weighs about a pound, or five ounces less than a D50.

The new camera would save images in jpg or RAW on SD memory cards. ISO would range up to 1600 in normal mode and 3200 in “push” mode. Flash sync would go to 1/500. The LCD is 2.5 inches diagonally.

Reports indicate that older Nikon autofocus lenses without built-in focusing motors will not autofocus on the D40 and could only be used for manual focusing. The camera appears to have only three autofocus points, although the automatic French-English translations available on the web are unclear.

Nikon reportedly showed the camera to major distributors and photo retailers behind closed doors at Photokina while pushing the D80 for photo show attendees and the news media. Those who saw it weren’t supposed to talk before December, but a German store prematurely showed specs and photos on its web site before quickly withdrawing the pages. An official announcement could come as early as November 16 in Japan.

Details are available in the following reports:
--Chasseur d’images

Copyright 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New York Times Highlights Affordable Nikon, Canon DSLRs

Nikon and Canon’s more affordable models were highlighted today in a New York Times article on “Digital SLRs That Won’t Break Your Budget.”

“The success of the Digital Rebel has led to a rush by every camera maker, as well as newcomers like Sony and Samsung, to introduce digital SLRs priced and designed with consumers in mind,” the Times wrote, referring to the Canon model that broke the $1,000 price barrier in 2003 and was updated this summer as the Digital Rebel XTi.

The “In Focus” column also cited the Nikon D80 and D200, praising them for their backward compatibility with older Nikon lenses but criticizing the D200 for a focusing screen “designed with the assumption that it will be used with autofocus lenses” because it sacrifices the ability to distinguish fine changes in focus in favor of improved brightness. (Other users have said this is a problem in the D70 but has been considerably improved in the D200.)

One amateur photographer quoted praised the Digital Rebel for its improved shutter lag compared with his previous point-and-shoot, but complained that it was too small for his hands and required its accessory battery grip for a good fit.

The premise of the article was largely that many serious photographers have recognized the advantages of an SLR over a point-and-shoot but couldn’t afford a digital SLR before the series of price drops that have come since the introduction of the original Digital Rebel. It called the Rebel the first DSLR “at a price that a middle-class father of two could consider.”

Click here to read the Times article. (Free registration may be required.)

Copyright 2006