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September 13th, 2012

Photokina 2012: Nikon Debuts Smaller, 24.3MP Full-Frame D600 DSLR for Photo Enthusiasts

Nikon unveiled a small, full-frame digital SLR for photo enthusiasts and prosumers tonight: the 24.3-megapixel Nikon D600. At 26.8 ounces, the Nikon D600 is 16% lighter than the 36.3MP Nikon D800, which is Nikon’s professional studio, commercial, and landscape photography camera.

The D600 is also slightly smaller physically, than the D800. Dimensions (w x h x d) of the Nikon D600 are 5.6 x 4.4 x 3.2 inches, making it just a hair more svelte all around than its stablemate, and more in line with the size of the Nikon D7000, which uses a smaller, APS-C-size image sensor.

The D600 will also be nearly $1,000 cheaper than the D800, when it goes on sale on September 18th for $2,099.95, body only. The DSLR will also be sold as a kit with the AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens for $2,699. (It’s worth noting that tonight’s announcement and next week’s ship date mark one of the quickest product availability turnarounds for a DSLR we have seen in quite some time.)

The Full-Frame Flood
Until earlier this year, no new full-frame, aka 35mm-size image sensor-based digital SLR had been released since 2008. Since the beginning of this year, however, the floodgates have opened for full-frame DSLRs but the Nikon D600 is the first model to be unveiled that does not seem to be aimed directly at a professional photography audience.

Instead, the company is gearing the D600 towards emerging photographers and consumers who want to graduate up from their entry-level DSLRs with APS-C size chips.

The Nikon D600 also appears to use a 24.3MP full-frame (35.9 x 24mm), CMOS image sensor that’s very similar to Sony-manufactured chips in the recently announced Sony A99 DSLR and the Sony RX1 compact camera. Both those models also use 24.3MP full-frame sensors.

At a press preview of the camera earlier today, Nikon officials would not say that the Nikon D600 uses the same chips as the pair of Sonys.

“It’s an original design by Nikon,” Lindsay Silverman, Nikon’s Senior Product Manager for Pro DSLRs said of the full-frame sensor in the D600. “Even though the resolution of one (sensor) to another might be the same, the performance is very different.”

During our hands-on time with a prototype of the D600 today, we were struck by how closely it resembles other recent DSLRs in Nikon’s lineup. (Just.. ya know… slightly smaller and less expensive.) Some of our photos of the camera are included in this story.

The D600 offers an expanded ISO range of 50-25,600; 2,016 pixel, 3D Color Matrix Metering; full 1080p HD video recording at 30p with 20 level audio control and uncompressed output via HDMI; a 39-point AF system with the new MultiCAM 4800FX AF module; Nikon’s Scene Recognition System, and the EXPEED 3 image processor.

The camera offers cropping flexibility, letting photographers shoot in either full-frame FX mode or the smaller, cropped APS-C size DX mode, both for still images or movies. The D600 has a similar control layout to the D800 though a new dial on top of the D600 also features two programmable user settings.

Read the rest of this story here.


September 12th, 2012

Sony Intros New Pro-Level 24.3MP Full-Frame A99 Digital SLR

Sony introduced the 24.3-megapixel A99 tonight, the company’s first pro-level, full frame DSLR after a long hiatus. The A99 will go on sale in October for $2,800, body only.

Sony debuted its previous full-frame camera, the A900, way back in 2008 and a lot has changed in four years. What hasn’t changed, though, is resolution. While the A99’s 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS Exmor sensor has just a tick less resolving power than its predecessor, the chip itself has been totally redesigned to produce less noise at high ISOs. (ISO range on the new camera is 100-25,000.)

Like other recent cameras in Sony’s SLT lineup, the A99 uses the company’s Translucent Mirror Technology, which simultaneously directs light to both the image sensor and the Phase Detection AF sensor for faster speeds. On the downside, the technology prevents placing an actual optical viewfinder in the camera but there is Sony’s crisp 2359K-dot, XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, which is clear and accurate.

You can also compose shots using the tilting, 3-inch vari-angle, 912K-dot LCD screen. The A99 boasts a dual autofocus system with 19 points (11 cross points) plus an additional 102 points if you need them. It can shoot at 10fps with a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000ths of second.  Other still features include 14-bit RAW output and a new multi-segment low pass filter.

For movies, the A99 can capture full 1080p HD at super smooth 60p and record sound via a built-in stereo microphone. Images and videos can be recorded to two memory slots for SD and/or SD+MS cards. All these features are housed in an extremely light, weather sealed magnesium alloy body.

We got to check out the A99 in person recently. At the top of this story is shot we captured of the new flagship, full-frame DSLR from Sony.

Read more of this story here.


September 11th, 2012

Sony Officially Takes Wraps Off Full-Frame RX1 Compact Camera (We Get a Hands-on Preview)

Sony took a big step toward making point-and-shoot-style cameras appealing to pros tonight by introducing the 24.3-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, the first compact camera to use a 35mm-size, full-frame CMOS image sensor.

The camera, which has been leaked on to Internet rumor blogs and websites the last few days, has to be seen to be believed. We got some hands-on time with a prototype RX1 last week and it’s impressive, to say the least. (Images from our time with the prototype RX1 are included in this story.)

Along with the full-frame sensor, the Sony RX1 sports a Carl Zeiss-branded, 35mm f/2.0 fixed lens. (No, the Sony RX1 does not uses interchangeable lenses and no, it does not optically zoom.)

While the RX1, itself, is a smaller camera: approximately 4.5 inches wide and three inches tall and weighing at just over a pound, the fixed lens is a hunk of glass, metal and polycarbonate, extending about an inch from the camera body.

The RX1 does create a rather portable package though and during our time playing with a prototype camera, it was quick on the draw both during start up and shut down and while locking in focus and snapping off pictures.

While the fixed 35mm lens is somewhat limiting, we could see street photographers really enjoying this camera. (It does not, however, have an optical viewfinder though an optional accessory will be available.) The Sony RX1 shoots five frames per second and can capture images at ISO 50 to 102,400 in expanded mode.

The Sony RX1 will not be cheap. It will go on sale in November for $2,799. Ouch.

The 24.3MP sensor is the same one used in the full-frame, flagship Sony A99 digital SLR also unveiled tonight by Sony. The Sony RX1 has a fairly robust build for a compact camera: it’s made from a single chunk of magnesium alloy and has a front focus mode dial.

Like some classic rangefinder cameras, it also has an aperture ring on its lens as well as a macro switching ring, and a focusing ring.

Though we only got to shoot with the RX1 prototype for a short while, we came away impressed. While it’s as expensive as some top-line DSLRs, the RX1 presents a whole new picture-taking opportunity for serious photographers: small, compact, fast, and with the beautiful, low-light shooting chops from a full-frame sensor.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bar has just been raised for compact cameras.

Read more of this story and see more photos here.


September 11th, 2012

Photokina 2012: Hasselblad Set to Launch New H5D Medium Format Camera System

Hasselblad just announced it will launch its new H5D series of medium format cameras at the photokina show in Germany next week. The medium format camera system will include models with 40, 50 and 60 megapixel image sensors as well as 50 and 200 megapixel multi-shot versions.

According to a press release just issued by the Swedish-based company, the H5D system will feature “a modernized design” and “a new electronic engine.” The camera system will have larger, “more ergonomic buttons,” and new sealing for improved weather proofing.

There will also be a new H System lens: an HCD 4.8/24mm lens, which is equivalent to a 17mm lens on a full-frame 35-mm format DSLR.

A new Macro Converter for close-up photography will also be available, and the cameras will feature a RAW+JPEG image capture mode, and a new True Focus II autofocus system.

Read more of this story here.