Nikon D3s Hands-On Review

The Nikon D3s is the successor to the Nikon D3. The camera is not much of a change from the previous model except for higher ISO settings and the addition of a new video mode. Nikon users will still appreciate that much of their beloved D3 has not been touched and that this camera is still meant for its intended audience. Sports shooters and photojournalists alike will very much so enjoy the capabilities offered to them on this camera.

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Hands-on: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 85mm F3.5G ED VR

The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 85mm F3.5G ED VR that was recently announced received some fondling by me at this year’s Photo Plus. If you’re a Nikon shooter, you will appreciate quite a bit of the design, weight and engineering that went into the lens. Seemingly targeted more towards the lower-end prosumer audience, Nikon D300s users especially will love this lens. [Read more...]

Leica X1 Hands-On Review

The Leica X1 is a compact camera with a fixed lens and an APS-C sized sensor. The camera has the largest sensor in it’s class, dwarfing Micro Four Thirds and the Sigma Foveon. I received some personal hands-on time with the camera. While I wasn’t able to put a card in to take samples (I handled a prototype) the short experience with the camera was overall quite positive and, in fact, it may very well be a camera that will put more pressure on other companies to start really developing their technology to do just the same thing.

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Nikon D300s Review

Nikon D300s

The Nikon D300s is a 12.3-megapixel DSLR that can also capture video at 720p resolution and 24 frames per second.  The D300s is a follow up to the D300 and serves as more of a refreshed version of the D300 as opposed to a totally new product.  It has most of same components and features as the D300 with a few new bells and whistles thrown in for good measure.

Since the recent announcement of the D3s, Nikon appears content in offering video capture at 720p for this generation of cameras.  All of the Nikon DSLRs that offer video only allow a maximum resolution capture of 720p at 24 fps.  Canon has stepped out of the box from its initial video limitations in the 5D Mark II by offering serious firmware updates to it (and promising more to come) and additional video options to its other new DSLRs like the Canon 7D, which offers 1080p HD video capture at 30fps, 25fps, and 24fps, as well as 720p HD video at 60fps and 50fps.  While Nikon has received much criticism on the video limitations of its recent DSLRs, it has shown no signs of stepping up the game in this generation of cameras.

That said, the Nikon D300s (and every other DSLR for that matter) is first and foremost a still image capture device.  Sure, video is relevant nowadays; however, performance for still image capture and quality is still our golden measuring stick.  With this in mind, let’s take a brief look at the key features and jump into the rest of this review. [Read more...]

Panasonic GH1 Review

Panasonic GH1

The Panasonic GH1 is a 12.1-megapixel camera built on the Micro Four Thirds platform.  The GH1 is Panasonic’s follow-up to the G1, which was the first Micro Four Thirds camera offered by the company.

What makes this platform unique is the camera body’s mirror-less design, which allow manufacturers to make smaller cameras while still using larger, DSLR-sized sensors.  Additionally, the GH1, like other Micro Four Thirds cameras, has a detachable lens and will accept other lenses with the same lens mount – or even different lens mounts if you use an appropriate adapter.

Another powerful feature for Micro Four Thirds cameras is the use of full time live view.  That is, the image that the lens sees passes directly to the image sensor rather than using a mirror to redirect it to the optical viewfinder.

The Panasonic GH1 adds 1080p video capture at 24fps to its predecessor’s spec list.  Additionally, the GH1 includes a new superzoom lens, specially designed for this camera – the 14-140mm f/4-5.8 HD MEGA O.I.S. lens.  The GH1 was met with a lot of fanfare due to its impressive spec list and overall potential.   While there is no doubt that the GH1 offers a lot of versatility and is fun to shoot with, it’s not without a few chinks in its armor. [Read more...]

Nikon D300s ISO Test and Sample Images

Nikon D300s

The Nikon D300s is a 12.3-megapixel DSLR with an equivalent sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400.  I have had the pleasure of testing the D300s for a few weeks now and wanted to share some sample images that demonstrate the image quality and low light potential from this camera.  The following images were captured at night using the Nikon D300s and AF-S 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Below you’ll find several handheld shots at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, followed by a series of shots from a tripod capturing the same scene from ISO 100 to ISO 6400 with one series using noise reduction and one series without noise reduction.  Additionally, you will find several charts showing a comparison of the sensitivity range at a variety of Noise Reduction settings. [Read more...]

Panasonic GH1 Sample Images

Panasonic GH1

The Panasonic LUMIX GH1 is a Micro Four Thirds camera that captures still images and 1080p HD video.  It is packaged as kit with a special lens designed for enhanced video capabilities.

While you can expect an ISO evaluation and a full review of the GH1 soon, below you will find some images that I’ve taken in my testing of the camera.  These images are from a production model.

The lens used was the 14-140mm kit lens, which offers optical image stabilization.  Unless otherwise noted, image stabilization was turned on, file format is JPEG large/fine, handheld, and using auto white balance. [Read more...]

Pentax K-x Hands-On

Pentax K-x

Editor’s note: Chris got some hands-on time with the Pentax K-x yesterday at the Pentax press event.  He passed along a number of photos to share; however, he’s busy at the Pepcom event today.  I wanted to get these hands-on images in front of you and highlight some of the key specs on the Pentax K-x.

The Pentax K-x headlines with a 12.4-megapixel CMOS sensor and video capture capability at 720p and 24fps.  It packs a lot into a very small package at a very affordable price point – $650 for the single lens kit.

One of the more subtle, yet serious shooter features, is an 11-point AF system with 9 of those points being cross-type sensors.  To put that specification into perspective, the much pricier Canon Rebel T1i offers a 9-point AF system with only cross-type sensor found at the center AF point.  Better yet, the Canon 5D Mark II also has 9 AF points with a single cross-type sensor on the center point.  So, Pentax is taking entry-level users seriously by spec’ing the K-x well above its price-point.

Pentax K-x

The Pentax K-x also matches the sensitivity of the Canon Rebel T1i with a range of ISO 100-12800 equivalent.  We don’t have any samples to share yet; however, this is a bold spec that’s raising eyebrows.

What the Canon Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000 can’t do is provide image stabilization for every lens attached.  The K-x has a sensor-based stabilization system, so no matter which lens is on the camera, the K-x will be working to reduce camera shake-induced blur.

As you can see from the photos here, the K-x is a rather compact DSLR, particularly when fitted with the wide angle smc-DA 15mm f/4 ED AL Limited lens shown above (top).  Compact DSLRs have been quite the trend lately – Sony downsized its entry-level shooters without much more of a change and Nikon just dropped the compact and simple D3000 on the scene.  The Pentax K-x fits rather nicely into the gamut of entry-level DSLRs with its compact size and feature set.

Hopefully, we’ll get our some time to take a closer look at the K-x soon and see if the performance and image quality are on par with the spec list.  For now, it looks like Pentax has a real winner on its hands.  If the K-x tastes as good as it looks (although the jury is still out on the red version), the K-x will definitely deserve some consideration on everyone’s entry-level DSLR shopping list.

More hands-on pics of the K-x below. [Read more...]

Olympus E-P1 Review Revisited [Featured Reader Comment]

Olympus E-P1

My recent critical review of the Olympus E-P1 sparked a few comments from those who disagreed with my opinion or my overall approach to the review.  While I still maintain my objections to the E-P1′s performance and functionality, one comment from reader “HD” stood out as a good, thought-out rebuttal to my take on the E-P1. [Read more...]