Originally created 12/03/01

New digital cameras offer professional quality



Recently, I attended the PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. This annual show is designed to give professional and advanced amateur photographers a look at the latest products in the ever-changing field of imaging.

This year, digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras were a "hot" topic. Ranging in price from $3,000 to $7,000, these cameras are not designed for the snapshooter. Rather, they are geared for professionals who demand high-quality images, and for advanced amateurs who like to play professional photographer on weekends and when they travel.

In addition to image quality, professional digital SLRs accept a wide range of lenses, from wide-angle to telephoto, to meet the needs of photographers involved in many aspects of photography. They also accept more powerful add-on flash units, which are useful when photographing subjects from a distance. What's more, they feature either a high-resolution viewing screen on the camera back or a magnifying feature for enlarging part of the displayed picture. So, users can see immediately whether they have the shot.

Here's a look at the pro SLRs that were shown.

Canon unveiled its EOS-1D, a 4 megapixel camera capable of shooting eight frames per second. Fuji demonstrated its FinePix S1 Pro, a 3.4 megapixel camera that has a 1.1 inch Super CCD sensor for high-resolution files. Kodak showed its new DCS 760, a 6 million pixel camera based on the Nikon F5 camera body. Nikon had its two top models on display - the D1H for high-speed photography and the D1X, a 5.4 megapixel camera that's an updated version of the company's D1.

Along with high-image quality comes high-file size. Some of these cameras can produce a per-image file of around 18 megabytes, which is why the quality is so high. (Smaller files, at lower quality settings, can also be produced.) So, if you were to take 36 pictures at the 18 MB setting, they would take up about 648 megabytes of file space. To solve the picture storage challenge, IBM offers a 1GB (gigabyte) micro drive (actually a tiny hard drive that spins around) and SanDisk offers a 1GB CompactFlash Type-1 memory card - each of which fits into the CompactFlash Type-1 memory card slot in a digital camera (not all digital cameras have this size slot). The IBM micro drive sells for about $500, and the SanDisk memory card sells for less than $800.

If you don't need a professional SLR but still want some of the benefits that digital SLR photography offers, Minolta has its 5 megapixel Dimage-7 and Olympus offers its 4 megapixel D-40. These cameras sell for less than $1,000 and feature a built-in zoom lens.

No matter which camera you use, remember the old photo adage: "Cameras don't take pictures, people do."

You can learn more about the digital SLR cameras and other prodcuts that were shown at the PhotoPlus Expo by checking out the PhotoPlus Expo Web site: www.photoplusexpo.com. If you are interested in learning about many of the digital cameras that are available, check out www.photoalley.com.

Rick Sammon is the host of the Digital Photography Workshop on the Do It Yourself (DIY) cable network.