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Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS

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sigma 70-300The Sigma 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 DG OS telephoto zoom lens features Sigma’s original optical stabilizer (OS) function. The comapny says this allows the use of shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would otherwise be possible.

For Sony and Pentax cameras, the built-in OS function of the lens can be used, even with camera models equipped with an anti-shake function. The result is that the camera shake compensation is visible in the viewfinder, allowing the photographer to easily check for accurate focus and ensure there is no subject movement.

Sigma says the Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass element provides excellent correction for all types of aberrations, and its SuperMulti-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting and provides high contrast images throughout the focal range.

DG lenses offer a choice to those looking for a lens that will match the larger image circle of a full-frame SLR camera but is equally suited, says Sigma, to the optical requirements of a digital sensor. These lenses provide optimum correction of distortion and aberration common to digital cameras. The advanced optical design eliminates flare and ghosting from the image sensor and improves colour balance. The non-vignetting construction ensures consistent edge-to-edge brightness and sharpness.

This compact lens has an overall length of 126.5 mm, a maximum diameter of 76.5 mm, and weighs 610 grams.

Minimum focusing distance is 150 cm throughout the entire zoom range. Maximum magnification ratio is 1:3.9.

The suggested retail price of the lens in Canada is $599.95.

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Pentax K-x DSLR

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kx blackHere’s an interesting addition in the entry-level DSLR category, the Pentax K-x, based on the K-m, popular for its compact, lightweight body and simple, user-friendly operation. But, as Pentax notes, this is where the similarities end. The K-x, with a newly designed CMOS image sensor and an upgraded high-performance imaging engine, is said to deliver performance at nearly the same level as mid- to upper-class models, yet at a price comparable to most entry-level DSLRs.

The K-x offers high-resolution, fine-detailed images, super-high sensitivity, high-speed continuous shooting, Live View shooting and movie recording, as well as an upgraded digital filter function, and a new cross process mode to produce unexpected (!) finishing touches with unique, intriguing colours.

The K-x incorporates a newly-developed CMOS image sensor to assure high-speed image data readout and more flexible response to varying ISO sensitivity levels. With approximately 12.4 effective megapixels, this image sensor can faithfully and accurately reproduce true-to-life images with fine detail and rich colour depth, says the company. The K-x not only offers a wide sensitivity range between ISO 200 and ISO 6400, but also allows users to expand the sensitivity range between ISO 100 and ISO 12800 via a custom function.

The K-x features the Pentax Real Image Engine II, an upgrade of the original PRIME imaging engine. Thanks to new technologies supplied by Fujitsu Microelectronics, this new imaging engine offers greater data processing speed and enhanced capability to produce higher-quality images with richer, more accurate colour rendition, as well as faster transmission speed of movie data.

The camera features the Live View function, which allows the user to view the image on the LCD monitor during shooting. The K-x offers a choice of three different focusing modes during Live View shooting: Contrast AF, which optimizes the focus based on the subject’s contrast; Face Detection AF, which automatically detects up to 16 faces, selects the main subject’s face from multiple faces, then captures it in sharp focus; and Phase Difference AF, which uses the AF sensor positioned in the camera body to optimize focus on the subject.

Movies are recorded in 16:9 high-definition TV proportions (1280 x 720 pixels) at a frame rate of 24 frames per second.

The Pentax-developed SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism compensates for the adverse effect of camera shake by as much as approximately four shutter steps. This innovative mechanism works with almost all Pentax interchangeable lenses – even those designed for film-format cameras.

Pentax says the K-x’s high-speed continuous shooting mode records as many as 17 images (JPEG) at a maximum speed of approximately 4.7 images per second – the fastest of all entry-class models, the company says. The K-x also features a new shutter unit, delivering a top shutter speed of 1/6000 second.

The digital filter function allows the user to process recorded images in a variety of creative ways within the camera and produce highly creative visual expressions. With a choice of 16 different filters, the user can even apply different filters one after another to a single image to create more personalized visual effects. Here’s where things get a little wild. With the new cross process mode, the camera automatically and randomly shifts photographic
parameters for each exposure to create eye-catching images with unique colours. Pentax describes this as a “playful mode,” which adds the elements of surprise and unpredictability to digital photography as the user won’t know the outcome until the captured image is actually displayed on the camera’s LCD monitor.

The high-precision, wide-frame SAFOX VIII autofocus system features 11 sensor points (with nine cross-type sensors positioned in the middle) to automatically capture even off-centered subjects. The user can also select from auto focusing point selection from 11 or 5 points or manually select any one of the sensors as the focusing point to accommodate specialized applications.

Other features include: Custom Image function to create unique finishing touches, including the exclusive B&W Infrared Mode; 2.7-inch LCD; HDR (high dynamic range) function to create one composite image with an extra-wide dynamic range from three different exposures; 10 scene modes, with selection via simple icons; In camera RAW processing of single or multiple images with adjustment of the image parameters.

Along with the K-x, Pentax also launched the smc Pentax-DA L 55-300 mm f/4-5.8 ED super-telephoto zoom lens (84.5-460 mm in full frame format) as part of the K-x Twin Lens Kit package. The lens offers ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass optical elements for faithful colour renditions through effective compensation of chromatic aberrations over the entire zoom range.

The K-x Single Lens Kit, including the K-x body and the 18-55 mm lens will be available in October at an anticipated retail price of $699.99. The K-x Twin Lens Kit including the K-x body, 18-55 mm and 55-300 mm lenses have an anticipated retail price of $999.99.

The camera will be made in four colours (black, white, red, blue), although it appears only the black version will be sold in Canada.

Update: Pentax Canada says while it’s primarily black for us, a limited quantity of the white also will be available. No blue. No red. The red’s a limited edition in the U.S.kx redkx white

Panasonic GF1

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gf1What looks like a compact digital camera yet has interchangeable lenses? The Panasonic Lumix GF1. (If you’d answered Olympus E-P1, you’ve obviously been paying attention in class, because it, too, answers to the same description. See here.)

Panasonic gets to say the new Micro System camera (which the E-P1 is, too) is the world’s smallest and lightest system digital camera with built-in flash. And it has HD video capabilities.

The camera is small, making it more convenient to carry than a DSLR, yet, as Panasonic notes, you don’t sacrifice performance or creative flexibility. It’s made small by lopping off the pentaprism found in DSLRs.

The GF1 can record 1280 x 720 High Definition video in AVCHD Lite, a format that enables longer recording times. There’s a dedicated video record button. It can also record HD Motion JPEG in 1280 x 720 and other video recording formats, including QVGA, VGA and WVGA.

Its unique Movie Program Mode allows you to adjust the depth-of-field while shooting in HD video, so background and foreground can be blurred to give creative effects – something typically only possible with expensive professional camcorders.

The GF1 offers the new My Color mode, which includes seven preset effects: Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, Silhouette and Custom (which allows you to manually set the colour, brightness and saturation levels). With the Live View function, you can see how these settings will effect the photo before they shoot, making it easier to capture the exact mood or atmosphere desired. For even more elaborate effects there are a total of nine Film modes to choose from – settings for the contrast, sharpness and saturation levels can be personalized for each mode and stored to memory using a custom save function. Furthermore, the exposure meter can be displayed in other shooting modes and the correlation between shutter speed and aperture is shown with a colour-coded warning that alerts you when the settings are not in the proper range.

For those not quite comfortable with extensive manual and creative controls, the GF1 provides a user-friendly setting that can address a beginner’s comfort level, while helping them evolve their photography skills. For instance, Panasonic’s new Scene mode, Peripheral Defocus, lets you take a photo where the foreground is in focus and background is blurred, or vice versa. This effect can be intimidating for a beginner, but in the Peripheral Defocus mode, by simply selecting the objects to be blurred and focused using the camera’s keypad, it is simple for photographers of any level.

The Lumix GF1 also features Panasonic’s iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, a system of user-friendly technologies that engage automatically. While shooting video, iA activates Panasonic’s O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization), which helps reduce video-blurring due to handshake. In addition, Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion so it always turns out beautifully.

Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. For still photos, the iA system encompasses Face Recognition (up to six faces can be registered); Auto Focus (AF) Tracking; Mega O.I.S.; Intelligent ISO; Intelligent Exposure; and Intelligent Scene Selector.

The Lumix GF1 also comes fully-equipped with a built-in flash and a 3-inch LCD with a wide viewing angle. The Intelligent LCD offers automatic backlight control which, when combined with its high-resolution, helps improve visibility in all light environments. New for the Lumix G Series, the GF1 is compatible with an optional Live View Finder (DMW-LVF1), which provides the full-time live view function boasting 100 percent field of view regardless of the attached lens, and has the ability to tilt vertically from 0 to 90 degrees. To further expand the Lumix G Series system, Panasonic Micro Four Thirds digital cameras can be used with Four Thirds System interchangeable lenses via an optional mount adaptor and with Leica M/R lenses using another adaptor.

Panasonic says the camera’s sensor technology offers the best of both worlds, the superior image quality of a CCD sensor and the low-power consumption of a CMOS sensor. Advanced technology makes it possible to read four channels of data simultaneously, helping the GF1 deliver 60 frames-per-second full-time Live View images while maintaining fine detail and rich gradation. The Venus Engine HD records high-resolution 12-megagapixel images using its advanced Live MOS Sensor. This sophisticated LSI circuit separates chromatic noise from luminance noise and applies the optimal noise reduction to each, helping to capture clear and beautiful images even when shooting at high ISO levels.

The contrast AF system adopted in the GF1 is not only accurate, says Panasonic, but also fast. You can choose from a wide range of AF modes, including multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas; 1-area AF with a selectable focus area; Face Detection; and AF Tracking.

The GF1 also has a Quick AF function that begins focusing as soon as you aim the camera – without pressing the shutter button halfway.

As with all Panasonic Lumix G Series digital cameras, the GF1 is equipped with a highly effective dust reduction system. If dust gets inside the camera (when changing lenses), the supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor vertically vibrates around 50,000  times per second, thus repelling the dust.

The camera uses SD/SDCH memory cards.

The GF1 will be available in early October with two options. The kit option includes the newly-announced Lumix G 20 mm f/1.7 ASPH, a compact and lightweight “pancake” lens with a manufacturer’s suggested price of $1,099.99. The GF1 also will be sold as a body-only option with an MSP of $849.99.  Available in November is a new macro lens, the Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45 mm f/2.8 ASPH (35 mm camera equivalent: 90mm). The first Leica lens developed for the Micro Four Thirds System standard, this lens will have an MSP of $1,199.99. The 20 mm pancake lens will also be sold separately at $499.99 MSP. The Lumix G Vario 14-45 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens will be available at $349.99.

Canon EOS 7D DSLR

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eos7dCanon is saying its new EOS 7D is “revolutionary,” redefining the highly competitive mid-range DSLR product category. Professional photographers and advanced amateurs have been demanding higher performance and more diverse functions in their cameras, says the company. So, far more than a slight improvement from a previous model, the EOS 7D is “a brand new product that stands on its own” with new features never before seen in any Canon camera. To that end, there’s shooting at eight frames per second (fps), focusing with the new Zone AF mode or recording 24p Full HD video, and customizable controls. It’s a step-up camera for serious photographers or a second camera for professionals.

The EOS 7D boasts significant EOS advancements including a completely new 19-point autofocus system, a new Canon iFCL Metering System (Intelligent Focus, Colour, Luminance) and a new Intelligent Viewfinder. An 18-megapixel Canon CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 4 image processors fuel the EOS 7D’s 14-bit A/D data conversion and its ability to freeze fast motion in high-resolution with eight fps continuous shooting up to 126 Large JPEGS using a UDMA CF card.

The EOS 7D offers a wide range of ISO speed settings from 100 to 6400 (expandable to 12,800). The camera features full HD video capture at 1920 x 1080 resolution with selectable frame rates of 24p, 25p or 30p. Native 24p recording helps videographers achieve a more cinema-style look for their footage without the need for post-processing.

The completely re-designed autofocus system includes a new multi-axis cross-type 19-point AF grid, where the focusing points are evenly spread out across the image plane and clearly displayed through Canon’s new Intelligent Viewfinder. All 19 points are f/5.6-sensitive for both horizontal and vertical cross-type focusing, while the centre AF point adds high-precision diagonal cross-type sensitivity for f/2.8 and larger aperture lenses. The EOS 7D is the first EOS SLR to feature 19 cross-type focusing points that remain fully functional with maximum apertures as small as f/5.6, which brings the performance of the AF system to unprecedented levels for assignments as varied as fast-moving sports action or low-light wedding ceremonies.

The 7D adds new AF area selection modes: Spot AF mode reduces the size of a single AF point to focus on small subjects like an animal in a cage; AF Point Expansion mode uses a cluster of AF points adjacent to the selected AF point to automatically assist focusing on moving subjects, such as an athlete on the run; Zone AF divides the 19 AF points into five selectable focusing zones and makes it easier to achieve focus with subjects that are difficult to track with Single Point AF or AF point expansion, such as birds in flight.

Additional AF improvements include a revised Automatic AF point selection sequence that allows a user to pick any one of the 19 AF points as a starting point for tracking moving subjects in AI Servo mode. (Previous EOS models required the subject to first be acquired by the centre focusing point.) If the subject moves away, the camera will continue to track the movement with the remaining points and display the active focusing point in the viewfinder.

Also, a time-saving feature is AF Point Switching, which allows photographers to select and register one AF point for horizontal compositions and a second AF point for vertical shooting, ideal for studio and portrait photographers.

To complement the new AF system, the exposure metering system for the EOS 7D has been completely re-designed to take colour information into account, another first for an EOS system. Canon’s iFCL metering includes a 63-zone dual-layer metering sensor that reads both illumination and colour for consistent results in all lighting conditions, keeping exposure levels stable from shot to shot, even as the light source changes.

Canon’s new Intelligent Viewfinder uses a liquid crystal overlay to provide clear and precise displays of focusing points and zones, on-demand grid lines and a spot metering circle. The LCD overlay can also be illuminated in extreme low-light situations or turned off completely. The EOS 7D’s viewfinder includes a large all-glass pentaprism with an antireflective coating to maximize clarity and provide a brighter display. The Intelligent Viewfinder features 1.0x magnification with 100 percent coverage. 

The EOS 7D offers Full HD video capture featuring fully manual exposure control, and selectable cinematic frame rates for both NTSC and PAL standards. Canon says Dual DIGIC 4 Imaging Processors and a large APS-C–sized CMOS sensor help to render stunning colour reproduction, amazing depth of field and fine detail, even in low-light conditions. The 7D allows for three video recording modes: Full HD and HD in a 16:9 aspect ratio and Standard Definition (SD) in a 4:3 aspect ratio, all at selectable frame rates. The EOS 7D will record Full HD at 1920 x 1080 pixels in selectable frame rates of 24p, 25p, or 30p; 720p HD recording at 50p or 60p and SD video at frame rates of 50p or 60p. The EOS 7D features a new dedicated button to initiate live view for both video and still shooting. Once engaged, the same dedicated button will start and stop video recording.

Like the EOS 5D Mark II, the Canon EOS 7D provides users with the capability to use an external stereo microphone for professional audio effects or a built-in monaural microphone for convenience. 

A helpful new tool for architectural and landscape photography where angles and perspective are critical is Canon’s new built-in Dual Axis Electronic Level, featuring an artificial horizon over the image on the rear LCD in Live View or in the viewfinder using illuminated AF points for easy leveling while shooting. The dual axis electronic level shows both horizontal roll and vertical pitch, making it easy to identify when the camera is in a fixed level shooting position and ready to take the shot.

The EOS 7D’s pop-up flash features a built-in Integrated Speedlite  transmitter for control of multiple off-camera EOS Speedlites without the need for an external transmitter.

A new Intelligent Macro Tracking function helps reduce blur during macro shooting by recognizing when a macro lens is attached and automatically adjusting the AI Servo sampling frequency. This AI Servo adjustment accounts for camera movement forward and back, a typical occurrence when moving in close for a macro shot as photographers rock back and forth, or a flower blows in the wind.

The camera has a new Quick Control Button, which opens an easy-to-navigate menu on the camera’s LCD. From this menu, users can adjust all camera settings including AF modes as well as set custom button functions, a new feature that can easily customize each button’s function to the photographer’s preference. Another new feature is the RAW/JPEG toggle button providing quick dual-format shooting, allowing photographers to quickly add large JPEG or RAW file formats to their already selected shooting mode at the touch of a button.

The EOS 7D also features a large Clear View II LCD. The camera’s nine internal seals enhance weather resistance, and its 150,000-cycle shutter durability positions the EOS 7D as a “workhorse” for professionals in any photography discipline.

The Canon EOS 7D DSLR is scheduled to be delivered to Canadian dealers at the end of September, and will be sold in a body-only configuration at an estimated retail price of $2,099.99 . It will also be offered in two kit versions with Canon’s EF 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens at an estimated retail price of $2,599, and Canon’s EF-S 15-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM at an estimated retail price of $2,899.99.

Three Canon lenses

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Canon Canada has introduced three new EF and EF-S lenses: EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM; EF-S 15-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM; EF-S 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. The EF 100 mm lens is the world’s first camera lens featuring Canon’s new Hybrid Image Stabilization (Hybrid IS) technology, compensating for both angle camera shake and shift camera shake, up to four shutter speed steps, says the company. The EF 100 mm lens is compatible with all EOS cameras, while the EF-S 15-85 mm and EF-S 18-135 mm zoom lenses are designed specifically for Canon digital cameras that are compatible with EF-S lenses.

EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
This lens could be the essential multipurpose lens due to its ability to capture sharp close-up images of small objects as well as beautiful portrait-length telephoto shots. The incorporation of Canon’s new Hybrid IS in this L-series macro lens allows it to compensate more effectively for camera shake during close-up shooting and marks a significant improvement for professionals and advanced amateurs utilizing macro photography for portrait, nature or wedding shoots.

Here’s what Canon has to say about the Hybrid IS technology: “Conventional image stabilization technology is useful for reducing the effects of camera shake in non-macro shooting situations. When shooting handheld close-ups at 1x, however, camera shake makes it difficult to achieve acceptable results even with lenses incorporating conventional image stabilizers. . . [T]o combat the effects of camera shake in a macro lens, the IS system must be able to compensate for both angular camera shake and shift camera shake — problems that become more apparent as magnification increases. The effects of shift camera shake are rarely noticeable when shooting outside the macro realm, such as in landscape photography. But when shooting extreme close-ups, even the slightest amount of camera shake, either of the angular or shift variety, can adversely affect image quality. In macro photography, shift camera shake and angular camera shake affect both the image formed on the sensor and the image shown in the viewfinder. This is especially relevant to handheld shooting at 1x, since the inability to properly compose and focus due to a shaky image in the viewfinder makes it extremely difficult to record sharp images. Conventional image stabilizers of the type found in Canon IS lenses incorporate an angular velocity sensor (vibration gyro) to compensate for angular camera shake. Based on the amount of camera shake detected by the sensor, the IS system calculates the amount of blur on the image plane, after which lens elements in the IS are positioned to compensate for the shake. However, this type of image stabilizer can neither detect nor correct shift camera shake common to handheld macro photography. The Hybrid IS includes an acceleration sensor in addition to the conventional angular velocity sensor (vibration gyro). Based on the amount of camera shake detected by the two sensors, a newly developed algorithm calculates the amount of blur on the image plane, after which lens elements in the IS are positioned to compensate for the two types of shake . . .”

EF-S 15-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Canon says this lens delivers “stunning” image quality, making it the ideal multipurpose wide-angle zoom lens for the photographer shooting a wedding or exotic vacation. Featuring three aspherical elements and one UD glass element for outstanding image quality, the zoom range of this lens is equivalent to 24-136 mm on a full-frame camera.

EF-S 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Canon says this lens is the perfect image stabilized lens for advanced photographers looking for a wide-angle zoom lens with telephoto capabilities. Featuring a compact IS unit with shake correction up to four shutter speed steps, the zoom range of this lens is equivalent to 29-216 mm on a full-frame camera.

The EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and EF-S 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lenses are scheduled to be available at the end of September, selling at estimated retail prices of $1,299 and $599.99, respectively. The EF-S 15-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is scheduled to be available in late October at an estimated retail price of $999.99.

Tamron SP AF17-50 mm lens

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tamron 17-50Here’s an interesting general purpose lens from Tamron, the SP AF17-50 mm f/2.8 XR Di II* VC LD Aspherical [IF]. This is a high speed wide-to-moderate-telephoto zoom lens designed exclusively for Nikon-mount DSLRs with smaller sensors, although Tamron plans to introduce the lens in a Canon mount version shortly.

Tamron’s tri-axial Vibration Compensation (VC) mechanism minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake. 

The lens covers a focal length range equivalent to 26-78 mm (in the 35 mm format), has a filter thread of 72 mm, and includes a zoom lock mechanism to prevent the lens barrel from extending by its own weight when lens is being carried on the camera pointing downward.

Tamron says the new lens delivers impressive sharpness and striking contrast over its entire focal-length and aperture range, and at its maximum aperture of f/2.8 produces beautiful images enhanced by shallow depth of- field, and smooth, natural transitions in out-of-focus areas of the image.

The lens uses XR (Extra Refractive Index) glass, three compound aspheric elements and two LD (low dispersion) lens elements to correct for axial chromatic aberrations and chromatic aberrations due to magnification.

Minimum focusing distance is 11.4 inches over the entire zoom range.

Sony Alpha 850 DSLR

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Sony’s really going for it. The company set a goal of being a dominant player in the DSLR camera field, and here’s another step along the way: the Alpha 850. This is a full-frame DSLR, meaning its imaging sensor is the same size as a 35 mm film frame.a850

The a850 model shares the same 24.6 megapixel sensor and most features of the flagship a900 camera, introduced last year, but will be available for about $2500 (body only).

The a850 camera is designed to deliver ultra-fine picture quality out of the Exmor CMOS sensor and fast image processing with dual Bionz processing engines. Sony says the high pixel count and large size of the Exmor CMOS sensor provide enhanced image detail and a wider dynamic range for natural colour reproduction and subtle tonal gradations. The dual processors apply advanced noise reduction algorithms producing images of exceptional quality and detail, especially at high ISO sensitivities, says Sony.

The camera also offers high-speed continuous shooting of 24.6 megapixel images at up to three frames per second.

After pressing the depth of field preview button, the camera “grabs” a RAW preview image which is processed and displayed on the LCD screen. You can then fine tune white balance, determine the best level and effect of dynamic range optimization, adjust exposure compensation and check histogram data, all before you actually take the picture. Preview images are not recorded on the camera’s memory card, thus saving capacity.

The camera’s autofocus system features nine sensors with 10 assist points for improved tracking of moving subjects. A centre dual cross sensor comprised of two horizontal and two vertical line sensors as well as a dedicated f/2.8 sensor are included to achieve greater precision, especially when using fast-aperture lenses.

The ultra-bright viewfinder delivers 98 percent field of view coverage.

A mirror box features a parallel-link mirror mechanism that moves on two horizontal axes to accommodate both the large full frame mirror and the body-integrated image stabilization system without increasing the camera’s size.

With its body-integrated SteadyShot Inside image stabilization, the camera achieves an anti-shake effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops, says Sony. The anti-shake system stabilizes all Sony, Minolta and Konica-Minolta compatible lenses – even wide angle or large aperture lenses.

Other key features aimed to expand creative options include the Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) with five levels of user-selectable correction as well as DRO bracketing for enhanced scene analysis and graduation optimization. EV bracketing with ±2EV range makes it easy to create high dynamic range composite images.

With the camera’s HDMI output and Photo TV HD mode, output can be enjoyed on a compatible HD television.

The a850 has a 3-inch, Xtra Fine LCD screen. It incorporates an easy-to-see display with a quick navigation menu to easily access common functions without interrupting the creative flow. A backlit LCD panel sits on top of the camera and displays key settings.

The camera includes dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, HX series and CompactFlash media.

The a850 is due in stores this month. All a900 accessories are compatible with it.

Sony 28-75 mm lens 
Sony has a new full-frame lens for both the new a850 and a900 DSLRs, the 28-75 mm f/2.8 SAM lens. It’s a compact, general purpose zoom that Sony says delivers excellent imaging quality. The lens will be available in November for about $1,000.

Two Sony Alpha cameras

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Sony of Canada has two new alpha DSLR cameras, both sporting a new generation of Exmor CMOS sensors and Bionz image processors. The A550 (14.2-megapixels) and A500 (12.3-megapixels) are said to provide excellent picture quality, particularly in low-light situations. The new generation of Exmor CMOS image sensors use new low-noise processing for high-quality pictures. The Bionz image processor has colour-noise reduction that helps achieve low noise up to ISO 12800, without sacrificing fine detail, says Sony.

550The Alpha 550 is the first DSLR in its class with 7 fps shooting speed, contends the company. Using the optical viewfinder on both models, you can shoot up to 5 fps and up to 4 frames per second with Quick Auto Focus Live View.
 
These are Sony’s first DSLRs that offer an in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature for capturing highlights and shadows, which processes the image within two seconds. Here’s the really neat trick: Sony’s positional interpolation technology can overcome slight changes in camera position and align individual shots so that a tripod is not required. The feature handles severe backlighting and other high-contrast scenes like looking out a window into bright daylight. The in-camera auto HDR technology combines the highlight and shadow detail of two separate captures into one remarkably natural looking image.

Sony has equipped these cameras with two Live View functions and a 3-inch LCD screen that tilts 90 degrees up or down. The Alpha 500 has a 230,000 pixel Clear Photo LCD Plus screen, and the Alpha 550 has a 921,000 pixel Xtra Fine LCD display.

500Sony’s Quick AF Live View uses two sensors to maintain the same focusing speed as with the optical viewfinder. While the speed of Quick AF Live View is ideal for every day shooting, Manual Focus Check Live View enables critical framing and magnification for setting precise manual focus in macro and tripod shooting. Temporary 7x and 14x zoom views enable the shooter to focus on extremely fine detail while the 1x view shows 100 percent framing in the LCD.

The Quick Auto Focus Live View has been developed with Face Detection technology to help deliver the best shot by recognizing and adjusting for faces. Sony says it’s the world’s first face detection system to work with fast, high-precision “phase detection” auto focus. By tracking up to eight faces, this system can prioritize auto focus points on a face, and optimize exposure and white balance for portraits.

These are Sony’s first DSLRs that include Smile Shutter technology in Live View, which takes the shot when the subject smiles.
 
SteadyShot Inside image stabilization is built into the camera body itself.

For higher capacity storage with greater connectivity and faster transfer speeds, the new DSLRs are compatible with Sony’s newest 32GB Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX media. With the Alpha 550 model, explains Sony, approximately 1500 14-megapixel photos shot in JPEG+RAW mode can be transferred to a PC in approximately 26 minutes. The new cameras also can use SD/SDHC media.

The Alpha 550, camera body only, will cost about $1,000. The Alpha 550L and Alpha 500L, including 18-55 mm lens, will cost about $1,100  and $900, respectively.

Six Canon PowerShot cameras

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Canon has unveiled six new PowerShot cameras aimed at everyone from the aspiring pro photographer to the snap-shooter.

g11The PowerShot G11 offers a variety of shooting modes and compatible EOS accessories, Canon says this is a pocket-sized camera with DSLR functionality. It has a 10-megapixel sensor; 5x optical Zoom lens (28-140 mm equivalent) with optical image stabilization; vari-angle PureColor System LCD, new to the G-series, allowing for easier on-camera previewing and reviewing of images from nearly every angle, while still incorporating the optical viewfinder found on previous models.

s90For the professional photographer or advanced amateur interested in a versatile point and shoot camera, Canon says the PowerShot S90 provides a wealth of advanced technologies: a 10-megapixel sensor; 3.8x optical zoom and optical image stabilization; a customizable control ring for easy access and operation of manual or other creative shooting settings.

sx20isThe PowerShot SX20 IS features a 12.1-megapixel sensor with 20x wide-angle optical zoom lens and optical image stabilizer; 720p (30 fps) HD video with HDMI output; a vari-angle PureColor System LCD plus a viewfinder; AA batteries for power.

sx120isThe SX120 IS offers a 10-megapixel sensor with a 10x optical zoom lens and optical image dtabilization, and Easy Mode, which Canon says makes picture taking a snap.

The PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH has a largesd980is touch panel PureColor System LCD with a cutting-edge interface for easy navigating through images and menus; 720p HD video shooting capabilities plus HDMI output connector; a 5x optical zoom lens beginning at the equivalent of 24 mm; optical image stabilization; 12.1-megapixel sensor; and availability in four colours: silver, blue, purple and gold.

sd940isFinally, the PowerShot SD940 IS Digital ELPH offers a 12.1-megapixel sensor, 28 mm (equivalent) wide-angle lens with 4x optical zoom lens and optical image stabilization; 720p HD movie shooting plus HDMI output connector; a large PureColor System LCD with a wide viewing angle; available in metallic blue, black, silver and brown.

The Gentlemen’s Club

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Forgive this digression: Once upon a time, many decades ago, there was this small group of guys who worked together. Irv Brace, Allen Jones, Rod MacTaggart and myself. Rod’s in the U.S. and couldn’t make this second meeting of The Gentlemen’s Club, but Irv, Allen and I met for a get-together today at lunch to talk about . . . well, cameras and kids and computers and blogs and health issues and probably a few other things.

gentlemenIn the picture, Allen, right, makes a point while Irv tests out his cataract-free eyes.

We were all connected in some way, shape or form, with the magazines Canadian Photography and Photo Canada. We’re all journalists and three of the four are also photographers.

And it’s called The Gentlemen’s Club as something of a joke, sparked by a salutation in an email.

We dispensed with the reading of the minutes of the first meeting, seeing as no one took minutes at the first meeting. And since no one took minutes at this meeting, I suspect the reading of the minutes will be dispensed with the next time we meet.

Next spring, gentlemen?