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We Pick our
favorite Ne W
a raNge of
By DaN havlik
after a year marked by disaster in Japan, flooding in Thailand and a still ailing economy, the photography industry rebounded in 2012 with the release of several significant new cameras including four professional full-frame digital SLRs. Though we usually wait until the end of the year to pick our favorites in our annual “Gear of the
Year” roundup, here’s a midseason report on eight cameras we’ve really enjoyed
shooting with so far.
Editor’s note: For this story, we stuck with models we actually had a chance to
shoot with at press time, which is why the Nikon D800 and Canon 1D X did not
make the cut.
Canon eoS 5D Mark iii
We’re still working on our full review of the 22.3-megapxiel Canon 5D Mark III—
look for it in the July issue of PDN—but from what we’ve seen of this much anticipated successor to the 5D Mark II so far, we’re impressed. Not necessarily the
game changer its predecessor was, the Mark III improves and refines an already
excellent portrait and HD video shooter. The 6 frames-per-second (fps) shooting 5D Mark III excels in both natural and studio light, and is more durable and
weatherized to offer added protection in dicey outdoor conditions. In low light,
it’s an absolute killer. We got attractive color and lush but realistic skin tones
even while shooting at ISO 12800. As a 1080p video camera, the 5D III’s Digic 5+
processor helped make our clips crisp and nearly artifact free.
Talk about a gunslinger. The 16.2-megapixel Nikon D4 (also featured in “Product
Reviews,” starting on page 172) offers blazing 11 fps bursts and a heavy-duty,
fully gasketed and sealed camera body that’s tough enough to withstand dust,
moisture and competing photographers on the sidelines of the big game. With a
full-frame CMOS sensor, the D4 is another great high ISO/low noise shooter that
offers excellent versatility whether you’re photographing a winning touchdown
in dodgy stadium light or a bride and groom’s first dance under a disco ball at
a wedding reception. We found the D4’s 51-point autofocus system to be tack
sharp while photographing dancers in the shadowy depths of New York City’s
Grand Central Terminal. It’s 1080p HD video capability is a bonus for photographers who want to try their hand at cinematography.