Archive for Sunday, October 20, 2002

New digital SLRs expensive

October 20, 2002


Every other September one of the world's top photography conventions, Photokina, is held in Cologne, Germany. So important is the show to manufacturers that they often hold off new product introduction until it opens.

At this year's Photokina, some of the biggest news was in the digital-SLR (single-lens-reflex) camera arena. Two cameras were introduced that surprised many journalists, including yours truly.

Both Canon and Kodak introduced cameras with a staggering number of pixels. The new Canon EOS 1Ds has 11.1 megapixels (millions of pixels or picture elements) and the new Kodak DCS Pro 14n has 13.8 pixels. All those pixels are big news because previous Canon and Kodak top-of-the-line SLRs had fewer than half as many pixels.

But perhaps the biggest news is that both cameras, designed for professional and advanced amateur photographers, have full-frame image sensors; that is, the image sensors are the size of a 35mm film frame. That is something professionals and amateurs have only dreamt about until now.

In previous digital SLR models, the image sensors were smaller, about the size of an Advanced Photo System (APS) film frame. A smaller image sensor means that the effective focal length of a lens become longer. Therefore, wide-angle lenses are not as wide, which is a disadvantage for professional photographers and advanced amateur ones. The advantage to a smaller image sensor is that telephoto lenses become longer.

It's also interesting that both new digital SLRs have CMOS sensors as opposed to CCD sensors. Previously, top-of-the-line SLRs from Canon and Kodak (as well as Nikon) had CCD sensors, which are more costly to produce. Besides a lower production cost, CMOS sensors use less battery power, which is important to all digital photographers.

All those megapixels don't come cheaply. The Canon EOS 1Ds is expected to sell for around $7,500, and the Kodak DCS Pro 14n will cost approximately $4,000.

The Canon EOS 1Ds accepts Canon SLR lenses, as well as off-brand lenses with Canon lens mounts. The Kodak DCS Pro 14n accepts Nikon SLR lenses, as well as off-brand SLR lenses with Nikon lens mounts.

Sigma, Tamron and Tokina offer lenses with Canon and Nikon lens mounts.

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