Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Road to PMA: Week 2

While not nearly as product-heavy as last week, the second week of February saw some truly heavy-hitters coming to market in the second week lead up to PMA 2010.

Canon Rebel T2i/550D. The successor to last year's Rebel T1i, the T2 may look the same on the outside, but sports some new improvements internally, which include: 18Mp sensor (vs. 15), +/- EV compensation (vs. 3), full 1080p HD video at up to 30fps (vs. 20), a 63 zone metering system (vs. 35). Other improvements include a 3:2 width:height ratio LCD screen (which is the same as the sensor) and a dedicated video button. An interesting, but not image improving feature is a photographer/copyright information function. Price: $800 body only, $900 with 18-55 IS lens.

Canon also launched four new Powershot compacts, none of which is Earth-shaking in innovation.

Nikon 24mm f1.4 ED lens. One of my predictions has come true: While it was not the 35 f1.4 predicted, and which I once referred to as "very likely" to come true, on the now infamous Nikon roadmap, it still is an ultra wide, ultra fast prime lens, which still plugs the only major hole in the Nikon lineup. launching this lens made perfect sense for Nikon, as the company has not produced such a lens since ceasing production of its 28mm f1.4 AF-D model in 2006, meanwhile, Canon has three such lenses, the 24mm f1.4L Mark I and II and the 35mm f1.4L. Wide fast primes were a real incentive to shoot Canon, until Nikon wisely got back in the game this past week. This lens is also weather resistant. Price: $2,200.

Nikon 16-35mm f4 ED VR lens. Another prediction on the roadmap that I called "possible" was a slower ultra-wide zoom, then predicted to be a 14-28mm f3.5-4.5 without VR. Nikon currently makes two ultra-wide f2.8 zooms, a 14-24 and 17-35. The major difference here is that the 14-24 cannot use protective front filters while the 17-35 can. Unfortunately, both of these lenses are expensive and not everyone wants/needs f2.8. Now all those people can be celebrate. True, the lens is "only" 16mm to start and it loses a f-stop of light, but it gains VR (said to be 4 stops effective) and costs about a third less than the non-stabilized f2.8 models. This is as good of a compromise as one can get. Price: $1,260.

Leaf Imaging Aptus II 8 digital back. There is a new record holder in the speed department for medium format digital backs. While not fast when compared to digital SLRs, the fact that this 40Mp, 44x33mm monster can take, and process 240MB images every .8 second is quite an achievement. Besides the speed record, the Aptus II 8 (it's just the sensor back)can also be connected to over 80 different camera platforms, making for top of the line versatility. Price? Grab onto your chair: about $19,000.

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