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The Canon 5D MKII

Posted by Scott

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Update:
Added some new images above via DPReview who have a very detailed write up of the new 5D on their site.

21-megapixel, full-frame, Digic 4, full HD video, 6400 ISO….Game over. The ridiculously anticipated Canon 5D MKII is now official and if this wasn’t worth the wait, I don’t know what is. Canon has hit each and every feature and performance threshold I was looking for in a new DSLR and then some. Expect it on store shelves by end of November with a sticker price of $2700 for the body or $3500 with the 24-105mm kit lens. Yes, that’s steep, but take a look at these features:

•14-bit conversion
•3.9FPS unlimited burst rate with JPEG using UDMA CF card, or 14 RAW (standard CF card is 78 JPEG, 13 RAW
•Four-channel readout that’s 2.2x faster than the 5D
•Lens peripheral illumination correction, like 50D, but better supposedly
•15-point auto-focus
•Creative auto mode, also like 50D
•Auto-lighting optimizer
•Three levels of noise reduction that kicks in above ISO800
•RAW, sRAW1 (10MP), sRAW2 (5MP)
•Three-inch, 920,000 dot-screen
•New and improved battery (incompatible with old one) that delivers 850 shots or 1.5 hours of video
•150,000 cycle shutter
•Magnesium alloy body
•NO built-in flash BTW

Jumping from my $2000 D80 kit to this price threshold will be a bit of a stretch, but if this new 5D lives up to it’s performance claims, it will be well worth it. I know nothing can truly be future-proof, but com’on, 21MP? That’s more than enough to make this my workhorse camera for the foreseeable technological future. I love it when a new piece of kit comes out that is so far superior to it’s rivals that it makes the decision easy for you; the 5D seems like one of those things. After my long deliberation over which DSLR to upgrade to it’s nice to see a logical conclusion. I had toyed with the idea of moving to the D90 for the HD video alone, but it’s other specs were so similar to my D80 that it just didn’t seem worth the upgrade.

In my book, the 5D MKII beats Nikon’s recently announced D700 for two reasons: HD video (which is inexplicably absent from the D700) and price (it’s $300 less than it’s Nikon counterpart). I don’t own any pricey Nikon glass, both my lenses are decidedly sub-par, but even if I did, I’d have to believe I’d still give this thing more than a passing glance. How about all you other Nikon users? Would any of you who are invested in Nikon lenses still consider moving to Canon for a camera like this?  Let us know

Via Gizmodo

Leica’s $11,000 Noctilux Lens

Posted by Scott

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That huge $11k price tag will buy you an equally huge f/0.95 opening for those low light shots that your $5k Nikon just wasn’t getting. A French magazine leaked shots of the new Leica Noctilux 50mm Lens (pictured above) which will enable you to take shots like this (apparently candle light only):

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Whether you intend to take suggestive shots of bare-chested men in dark rooms with it is your business, either way this thing is awesome. $11k awesome? No, but only because I don’t have $11k. By the way, that M8 it’s stuck to will run you another $5k. Start saving! Alternatively, just get this (called "One of the finest DSLRs ever produced") and spend the left over $12,000 traveling around the world and actually taking shots with it instead of leaving it sitting in a drawer which is what most people who can afford Leicas seem to do.

Via Gizmodo

Nikon D90 Video: Holy Smokes

Posted by Scott

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The above stills are taken from HD video shot with the forthcoming Nikon D90. Nikon has posted some video samples highlighting the video prowess of their new pro-sumer DSLR. Needless to say, they’re incredible; this opens a lot of doors into the world of professional quality video for everyone. I have to admit, at first I too was skeptical of the HD video feature as a mere gimmick. But after seeing these videos I am close to sold. Of course I’d have to reserve final judgement for after I’ve done some hands on testing, but these videos are strong supporting evidence.

I’ve been wanting a new DSLR and want to get my first video camera soon too. The D90 just might kill those 2 birds with one relatively inexpensive stone. The only problem with this whole scenario is that by adding such an alluring feature to the D90 exclusively, Nikon has made it really hard to justify buying their new pro offering, the D700, which lacks the D-Movie feature. I want the added performance of the D700, but getting this level of HD video quality in the significantly cheaper package of the D90 is just about enough reason to ditch any delusions of pro-level-gear-grandeur and make due with the lesser of the Nikon DSLR range, spending the surplus afforded by it on a high end lens.

Head on over to Nikon to view the full videos or Gizmodo for a third party take on the action. The Gizmodo article does make a good point about the sound quality, but for my purposes sound would be irrelevant as most of the stuff I’d be shooting would be set to music with no original live audio. Looks like the race for next-gen DSLR superiority just got a lot more interesting.

Nikon D90 & Canon 50D Now Official

Posted by Scott

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Update: Some more D90 specifics can be found here

The long rumored Nikon D90 is now official and is the first DSLR with HD video recording capabilities. The $999 (body only) 12.3MP camera sports a new image sensor with similar high ISO performance to it’s bigger brothers the D700 and the D3, but at a considerably lower price point. Sounds like a winning package; I currently use a D80 and a lot of the features described would be welcome upgrades to my current rig. But at this point, it wouldn’t be worth it to move over to a camera with such marginal performance increases, I am thinking the recently announced D700 will be my next upgrade (or whichever is their latest at that level when I do take the plunge).

This new Nikon release comes in the wake of Canon’s recent 50D announcement. The 50D is the first pro-sumer level camera with the lauded Digic 4 processor. With the 15.2MP sensor on board, it’s a nice entry point for people not willing to fork over the dough for the 5D. At $1400 (body only) the 50D is considerably cheaper than it’s more robust sibling, but will at least get you in the same performance ballpark as the 5D.

I think these two cameras are a great sign of things to come for us graphic designers. Having a high performance camera in your kit is essential for any serious designer, but it’s hard to justify spending so much on one when photography isn’t your primary occupation. I think the D90 and 50D fill a nice little gap in the DSLR price range, and although the 50D carries a larger price tag (a $400 bump over the D90) it sounds like the extra features make a compelling case for the extra expense. I just don’t know if I can make the move to Canon just yet, I’ll have to see how this plays out.

Kirk Hansen: Photography

Posted by Scott

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My brother Kirk is a sophomore at San Francisco State University. He’s planning to study design but has been experimenting with photography a lot over the past couple years. He showed me some of his recent stuff recently and it was really impressive so I thought I’d share. All of these shots were all taken with a Lomo LCA and cross-processed, bringing out all those nice colors. My favorite is the top one, it’s like a book about growing up in Sacramento boiled down into a single image. You can see more of his work at his Flickr page.

Nikon D700

Posted by Scott

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In case you haven’t heard, the long rumored full-frame 12.1MP Nikon D700 is now official. It’s sports it’s older brother the D3′s vaunted CMOS FX/DX sensor but in a smaller form factor and with a smaller price tag. In regards to the price, however, the word "smaller" is a relative term. In the case of the D700 it equates to roughly $3000 USD (as opposed to $5000 for a D3). As a hobbyist that’s a pretty had price point to justify so I don’t think I’ll be ditching my D80 just yet (as much as I’d like to).

When I was in Bangkok I had the chance to try out a D3 with a fixed focus 50mm lens and it was pure bliss. The thing had almost no noise even at ridiculously high ISO’s and it could acquire focus and blast off frames faster than I could comprehend; it sounded like a silenced machine gun when you held down the shutter release. The knowledge that I can have that kind of performance for $2000 less and won’t have to lug around the nearly 3lb. weight of the D3 body makes the 700 pretty hard to resist. It’s supposedly available but none of the usual online outlets have it in stock. Has anyone managed to use / buy one? If so, what do you think?