Flood of new SLRs

If anyone had any doubts about the continued success of digital SLRs just take a look at what happened at the recent PMA-Photography Marketing Associations annual show in Las Vegas this year. Yes it was a flood of new digital cameras – marked by the new Sony line-up which we have covered already here. But lets take a look at what was up for grabs before and after at the PMA 2008 show.

First, we have the the new Pentax K20D succesor to the K10D. This is camera features 14.6Mpixel, 2.7″ LCD viewer, the latest noise-reduction technology for better quality images, more reliable SR-Shake Reduction for shooting at lower speeds, a comprehensive Dust Removal system from the camera lense plus a multi-mode exposure system for faithful reproduction of the photographer’s creative intentions; all packaged in a dependable dust-proof, water-resistant encased body.

Given that the K10D already earned very good reviews – the K20D improves all systems yet remains competitively priced at $1300 starting in April 2008.

Canon continued to up the ante for its Digital Rebel line with the new Canon 450D/XSi model. This camera sports 12.2MPixels, 9-point fast focus system, image stabilizer in the lens support, EOS integrated sensor cleaning systems and 3.5 FPS for up to 53 images in burst mode. Canon also joins the the Live View parade with a bright 3″ LCD for doing your image taking from backpanel rather than through the viewfinder.

Unique to the Canon 450 is an auto-light optimizer which Canon promises will dispense with murky, muddy shots in ambivalent lighting conditions. This photo-finisher is from Missouri on this feature – I would prefer to get a sharp, color rich image and then I will do the color corrections on my computer. Also i am concerned that the Canon 450D has a brand new internal menuing syste – this sounds like the people ready Microsoft Vista and Office that changed the layout of buttons and menus whose only “benefit” seemed to be an exercise in relearning fo current Canon DSLR users.

Nonetheless, at $800 for body only this will be a popular SLR come the Fall and lower prices.

Nikon was not far behind Canon with the 10Mpixel D60 as a successor to the heavily promoted D40. With a 2.5 ” view finder and 3fps-frame per second burst mode shooting speed, the Nikon d60 appears to be aa step behind the Canon 450D in 3 major features.

True the Canon D60 sports a comparable image sensor cleaning system, has lighter weight and size, matches the multiple metering modes of the Canon, and has its claimed superior auto-focusing speed plus camera start up(but the comparative reviews are still not in on this). But the kicker, is that the Nikon D60 will be selling for around $700 with an Nikon 18-55mm VR (image stabilized)lens. This is about $200-250 less than the Canon 450D with a similar lens. No wonder Canon’s stock is taking a beating.

However, the D60 marks a dangerous precedent from this photo-finishers point of view. Here is how Nikon announces its new ‘features’ – “The camera also offers creative features that are designed to allow the optimisation and adjustment of images without the need for a computer. Image optimisation is achieved through functions like Active D-Lighting (which compensates for strong shadows), and the automatic correction of false eye colour when using the built-in flash. Creative features include the automated creation of stop-motion animation files from a sequence of images, and effects that simulate the use of optical filters to produce colour shading and sparkling highlights.” The last thing this photographer wants to do is fumble over a bunch of tiny buttons and small screen trying to do photo edits.

Samsung appears to be following in the footsteps of Pentax with a revision to its DSLR. to the GX-20. The Samsung camera share the original Pentax K100 design but now they are supposedly going there separate design ways. Well, not exactly. The Pentax and Samsung cameras share the same 14.6Mpixel image sensor made by Samsung. But after this common start, the two camera seem to indeed part ways. Samsung has its own image processor with user controlled image conversion (drat them!).

As well the Samsung GX-20 sports water and dust sealing throughout the camera. Samsung has also elaborated on the dust removal system and has also added to its menuing control. But then the GX-20 converges on the Pentax K20D with same 2.7″ 230,000 pixel LCD monitor with Live view capability. No comparison on whether LiveView software differs. However, they do differ in one other major respect – the Samsung unit will cost about $950 body only versus $1300 for the Pentax.

Finally Sony announced three SLR at the show plus the new top of the line – and we have just not been able to digest all the implications of the new cameras. Here is the line-up plus the details at DPReview:
Sony A200 -10Mpixel, image stabilized, dust reducing, fast focus for $700 with 18-70mm lens
Sony A300 – 10Mpixel that adds Live View and better image processing
Sony A350 – 14Mpixel that also has Live View and improved image processing and $900 with a 18-70mm lens
This is an impressive lineup of new cameras assuming the image quality stays the sameas the firts two Alphas. I shall follow up with reviews when the camera become available.

In sum, it looks like the run for the Digital SLR Money is reaching the home stretch and though some camera dealers are saying enough already – let Nikon or Cano lead the way, this viewer thinks there is plenty of feature and price stretch left to make the running interesting.

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