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PMA 2008 DSLR & Glass Round-Up | B&H Photo Video Pro Audio
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PMA 2008 Round-Up

New DSLRs & Glass To Go Along With Them

By Allan Weitz

Around mid-afternoon of the first day of the Photo Marketing Association 2008 show, a.k.a. PMA, I received an email from the home office asking about a rumor of a medium-format camera from Fuji. Knowing Fuji's parent company in Japan designed and released a medium-format digital back for the Asian market about 4 or 5 years ago that never made it to our shores, I thought Fuji might be pulling a showstopper!

As it turns out the new camera was a 6x7 folding film camera, or at least a prototype of one. Welcome to PMA 2008. And that pretty much wraps up the film side of the story. A bit more on Fuji's 'folder' later.

Canon EF 800/5.6L IS USM
Canon EF 800/5.6L IS USM

If the Canon EF 1200/5.6L we have in our Used Department is over the top for you, but you still want to play at the extreme end of the lens chart Canon's EF 800/5.6L IS USM should prove to be a far more practical option for you. At 9.9lbs, this IS-enabled (3-4 stops) telephoto should also prove to be hand-holdable for times you'd rather not be saddled with a tripod.

With an angle-of-view of about 3-degrees, this lens should prove to be invaluable for sports shooters and anyone else needing a long-range lens that crushes and flattens any illusion of three-dimensionality within your photographs. And yes, the new lens is compatible with Canon's 1.4x and 2x converters, which turn this hefty tele into an 1120/8 and 1600/11 respectively.

The only sample at the show was locked inside a Plexiglas box, but even under house arrest, it looks like it should be manageable to work with, and unlike the 1200/5.6L shouldn't require a pack mule to haul around.

As for the rest of the numbers, the Canon EF 800/5.6L IS USM has a minimum focus of 19.7', accepts 58mm drop-in filters, contains 18 elements in 14 groups, including 2 fluorite elements and 1 Super UD element. A built-in, center-balanced tripod collar, weatherproof, magnesium-alloy construction, and an increased level of 'Oooooh'-factor in your photographs round things out. Price? Stay tuned. Available real soon.

Canon EF 200/2L IS USM
Canon EF 200/2L IS USM

Short (8.2"), hefty (5.6lbs), and fast describes the new Canon EF 200/2L IS USM. Consisting of 17 elements in 12 groups, the new 200 incorporates fluorite & UD elements to keep aberrations under control. Add into the equation dust and solid, weatherproof construction, up to 4-stops of IS-assisted handhold-ability, a 12-degree AOV with lots of room for selective focus. The EF 200/2L can focus down to 6.2" and accepts 58mm drop-in filters.

Canon EOS Rebel XSi

News of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi was barely an hour old when one of our web writers asked me if I noticed that the word 'digital' was missing from the new camera's official name. I hadn't, but I quickly got his point. The times they are a changin' for sure.

Measuring in at 12.2 effective pixels, Canon's latest Rebel adds 14-bit (RAW) image processing into the mix for more robust, beefier image files. Images can be captured in JPEG, RAW, or a combination of both, at a maximum burst-rate of 3.5fps (53 Fine JPEG, 6@ RAW, and 4fps @ JPEG/RAW). Live View Function using the Rebel's 3" LCD, a quick-return half-mirror that eliminates image cut-off when using lenses up to 600mm, 35-zone TTL full-aperture metering, and spot-metering are among the improvements over earlier Rebels. Other features include an ISO range of 100-800 with a 'creative zone to 1600', Auto Optimization for balancing highlight/shadow details/balance, contrast/brightness optimizer, and a shutter range of 30-seconds to 1/4000th (1/200 sync) with on-screen highlight warning.

A new LP-E5 battery (upped to 1080mAh from 720mAh) reportedly delivers 400-600 flashes per charge depending on ambient temperature and how often you pop the flash. Dust is kept in check via ultra-sonic sensor vibration each time you power up or down. Adhesive materials surrounding the image sensor catch stray particles, and any remaining dust can be removed electronically in Canon's Digital Photo Professionals software. As for memory, the Rebel XSi uses SD/SDHC cards. The Rebel XSi can be purchased as a body only or with an image-stabilized EF-S 18-55/3.5~5.6 IS kit lens.

Canon EF-S 55-250/4-5.6 IS
Canon EF-S 55-250/4-5.6 IS

If you're looking for a reasonably priced tele-zoom to compliment the kit lens that came with your camera, have a look-see at the Canon EF-S 55-250/4-5.6 IS. An 88-400mm equivalent in a 35mm world, this rather light (13.8 oz) and compact (4.3") zoom can extend your low-light hand-holding abilities by up to 4-stops, and contains 12 lead-free elements (including one UD element) in 10 groups, which are coated with Super Spectra Coatings to reduce digitally-related ghosting and flaring. The minimum focus is 3.6', and according to Canon the diaphragm blades are curved for that 'natural' look.

The Nikon D60 is the successor to Nikon's very successful D40-series cameras. Though not radically different from its predecessors, the D60 contains a 10.2Mp CCD that capture RAW (NEF), JPEG, or a combination of the two, to SD/SDHC memory cards in 12-bit color.

Much of the magic of the new camera's imaging abilities is courtesy of Nikon's EXPEED imaging technology and Active D-Lighting technology. Other features of the Nikon D60 include an Airflow Control System that works within the camera's dust-removal system in keeping dust away from the imaging sensor. Electronic dust removal for more stubborn particles can be found in Nikon's Capture NX software.

Nikon D60

The kit version of the D60 includes an image-stabilized Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55/3.5-5.6G VR zoom lens. The Nikon D60 is also compatible with AF-S, AF-I, G, and D AF Nikkor lenses.

There's nothing better than taking something that's already terrific and improving upon it. Nikon's AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60/2.8G ED is a proven lens that now benefits from the incorporation of dual aspheric lens elements, ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, Nano Crystal Coating for optimum color fidelity, and curved aperture blades for that 'natural' look. As with previous 60mm Nikon Micros the new gets you 1:1 with your subject from a distance of 0.6 feet.

Nikons AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60/2.8G ED
Nikons AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60/2.8G ED

If you shoot with a DX-format Nikon DSLR the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85/3.5-5.6 ED VR might be of interest to you. With an angle of view equivalent to a 24 -127.5mm lens on a 35mm camera, the new lens features a Silent Wave Motor for speedy auto focus, two ED glass elements, and Nikon VR II image stabilization technology to help smooth any bumps you may encounter along the way.

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85/3.5-5.6 ED VR
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85/3.5-5.6 ED VR

And if the thought of being able to perform view camera-style image adjustments in a 35mm format makes you go “Ooooohh" – and you're a Nikon shooter - the Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24/3.5D ED is big news indeed. Coupled to a Nikon D3 (or any Nikon film camera), the 84-degree angle of view afforded by this new tilt-shift lens sets the stage for dramatic imaging possibilities.

While standard perspective control, i.e. taking the 'tilt' out of a photograph of a tall building, can be easily performed in Photoshop, the options afforded by being able to tilt and shift the various planes and angles of focus in-camera is far better from both a creative and technical point-of-view. This also means Nikon's 85/2.8 Micro-Nikkor PC won't be lonely anymore.

Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24/3.5D ED
Nikon PC-E Nikkor 24/3.5D ED

Late breaking news!!! Also displayed under glass at the show was a prototype of a Nikkor PC-E 45/2.6 ED and a Micro-Nikkor PC-E 85/2.8 ED. It sure looks like somebody at Nikon's been burning the midnight oil as of late.

Pentax has been equally busy updating their product line-up. The Pentax K200D and Pentax K20D are the new kids from Pentax. Both models feature compatibility – and image stabilization - with most all K-mount lenses as well as the current DA-series Pentax optics. Other common features include advanced picture modes, enhanced noise reduction and dust removal system, including electronic mapping to locate the positioning of peskier dust particles. Live image preview, advanced weatherproofing, and a clever one-touch RAW capture button for times you want more than a JPEG and you don't feel like scrolling through the menus to change the settings.

Pentax K20D

The Pentax K20D packs a 14.6Mp CMOS chip that utilizes ultra-thin (0.13 micrometers) circuitry boards to enable more area for image capture. A PC sync is available for shooting with studio lights, and a large (2.7") LCD enables clear viewing and editing of captured images.

The Pentax K200D has most all of the features found on the K20D, albeit with a very capable 10.2 Mp CCD.

The folks at Sigma have also been quite busy and brought the fruits of their labors to the show. The highlight of the show would have to be the Jules Verne-ish APO 200-500/2.8 EXDG zoom they had on display. Resembling something Captain Nemo would have brandished to ward off approaching enemies, this rather fast zoom is in the same weight and size class as the proverbial Canon 1200/5.6L.

Included with each lens is a matched 2x converter that transforms the beast into a 400-1000/5.6 zoom. A serious tripod is recommended if you anticipate using this beast. The lens on display was mounted on a Bogen / Manfrotto 3263 Geared Tripod Head, which made tilting and panning smooth and effortless.

Sigma APO 200-500/2.8 EX DG posing for a close-up
Sigma APO 200-500/2.8 EX DG posing for a close-up

Other significant offerings from Sigma include an APO 150-500/5.6-6.3 DG OS HSM, and an APO 120-400/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, both of which incorporate three SLD elements and a rear-focus system designed to insure optimum performance throughout these rather long focal ranges. Image stabilization, power-assist zoom motors, and advanced lens coatings insure consistency throughout the optical range.

Sigma APO 150-500/5.6-6.3 DG OS HSM
Sigma APO 150-500/5.6-6.3 DG OS HSM

If you're currently shooting with a compact DSLR and you're looking for an extended 'day-tripping' zoom take a look at the Sigma 18-125/3.8-5.6 DC OS HSM, a 28-ish to 200-ish millimeter equivalent zoom that features image stabilization down to 4-stops, and fits Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony compact DSLRs.

Sigma 70-200/2.8 II EX DG Macro HSM
Sigma 70-200/2.8 II EX DG Macro HSM

For those shooting 4/3-format cameras, Sigma also introduced the Sigma 10-20/4-5.6 EX DC HSM (20-40 equivalent) and a longer 70-200/2.8 II EX DG Macro HSM (140-400 equivalent).

Olympus has also introduced a trio of new 4/3-format zoom lenses starting with a relatively fast all-around zoom - the ED 12-60/2.8-4 SWD (24-120mm equivalent), a truly fast Olympus ED 14-35/2 SWD (28-70mm equivalent), and the ED 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD (100-400mm equivalent) zoom lens.

Olympus ED 14-35/2 SWD
Olympus ED 14-35/2 SWD

Tamron's contribution to the party included a line up of 'Di'-series optic's including the SP AF 10-24/3.5-4.5 Di II wide angle zoom, the SP 70-200/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro, the SP AF 17-50/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspheric IF for use with Pentax-mount DSLRs, and the AF 70-300/4-5.6 Di LD Macro (1:2) w/ built-in motor-assist (Silent Wave) for Nikon D/SLRs.

Tamron SP AF 70-300/2.8 Di LD
Tamron SP AF 70-200/2.8 Di LD
Tamron SP AF 17-50/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspheric IF

The folks at Sony had two new cameras to show along with a prototype full-frame teaser. On the reality front, Sony introduced the Alpha DSLR-A350 as an update to the Alpha A100. Improvements include a new 14.2 Super HAD CCD sensor with advanced noise reduction and ISO expandability, a tilt-able 2.7" Clear Photo LCD, Dynamic Rage Optimizer, ISO expansion from 100 to 3200, Super SteadyShot In-Camera Image Stabilization, a 1200 zone Evaluative metering system, and Creative Styles for optimized imaging.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350

If a 10.2Mp Super HAD CCD fits the bill for you, Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 shares most all of the attributes of the A700 for a few hundred dollars less. Two new lenses from Sony for Alpha-series DSLRs include a 70-200/4.5-5.6G, and a Zeiss T* 24-70/2.8 zoom.

Sony's 24.8Mp Full-Frame teaser
Sony's 24.8Mp Full-Frame teaser

And last from Sony, is their big teaser in the form of a prototype full-frame (24x36mm) CMOS-based DSLR. Though not ready for prime time, the facts so far indicate Sony is serious about hitting the pro market with a full-frame 24.8Mp (5.94 micron) imaging sensor that utilizes a 'Column-Parallel A/D Conversion method' to achieve a high signal-to-noise ratio and higher-speed image capture. Sony expects the new camera to make its debut later this year.

And for those who hark back to the good old days of film, FujiFilm displayed a prototype of a folding 6x7 film-based rangefinder camera similar to the once-and-still-popular medium-format folding cameras made by Fuji not all that long ago. The new camera features a clean design and an 80mm lens. Time will tell….

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