Best Enthusiast Digital SLRs

Sections: Cameras for Beginners, Digital SLR, DSLR Cameras, Professional Cameras

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Nikon-D7100-Review   Nikon D7100

The flagship D7100 HD DSLR is a DX-format imaging machine for the experienced shooter and photo enthusiast. The lightweight camera (1.5 pounds) boasts a specially designed 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor so you can enjoy speed and precision during your photo endeavors—from shooting fast action at six frames per sec in full resolution to instantly sharing your shots with the optional WU-1a wireless mobile adapter. Plus, you can create Full HD 1080p video masterpieces with ultra-smooth slow-motion and time-lapse sequences.

“Solidifying Nikon’s ongoing commitment to the DX-format DSLR customer, the innovative D7100 provides new ways for photographers to capture their creative vision with incredible detail and precision, whether through still images or HD videos,” said Bo Kajiwara , vice president, Marketing, Planning and Customer Experience, Nikon Inc. “The D7100 blends the best creative features with advanced-level functionality to give the enthusiast exactly what they want—and that’s a great shooting experience before, during, and after capture, from shooting to sharing.”

Married to the 24.1MP sensor is Nikon’s Expeed 3 image-processing engine and a 51-point fast autofocus system. Together they provide a wide dynamic range in a variety of lighting and ISOs from 100–6400 (expandable to 25,600), so you can capture challenging conditions, such as nature at twilight or sports under less-than-ideal lighting. Even at higher ISOs, noise is minimized for both photos and HD video.

For the experienced shooter, the moisture- and dust-resistant D7100 also features: Nikon’s 3D color matrix II metering with a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor and a scene recognition system that identifies the scene to adjust AF, AE, AWB, and other parameters; seven-fps shooting when using the 1.3x crop mode at slightly reduced resolution; a release time lag of 0.052 second; a dedicated video record button to capture Full HD 1080/30p or 60i/50i (in 1.3x crop mode) movies; and playback on HDTVs via HDMI. There’s also an internal microphone for recording stereo sound, or you can opt to use an optional external microphone attached to the microphone terminal.

You’ll also appreciate the camera’s 1,229k-dot, 3.2-inch LCD screen as well as a bright, high-contrast OLED data display within the optical viewfinder, which makes it easier to read and see shooting data. When composing through the viewfinder, you’ll enjoy 100% frame coverage.

Other features include: full manual controls; artistic effects and Nikon’s creative picture controls, for both photos and video; a built-in HDR function; dual SD card slots, which accept the latest high-speed UHS-1 and SDXC cards; and a new feature for Nikon cameras, a spot white balance function that enables quick, precise white balance adjustment while shooting in live view. By selecting a desired point on the screen, you can set a custom white balance from a distance, even while using a super-telephoto lens. This is helpful for shooting video or when you’re shooting under unfamiliar lighting and no gray card is available. Plus, to make it easier to access frequently used functions, an “i” button was added to the enthusiast-oriented control layout on the camera.

And to share your photographic prowess, you can transfer your photos and video wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet using the optional WU-1a wireless mobile adapter. The adapter also permits you to shoot remotely from the smartphone and transfer photos from 49 feet away. The Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility application is available free of charge on Google Play for Android devices or from the App Store.

Nikon’s D7100 has an SRP of $1,599.95 with the AF-S DX Nikkor 18–105mm f/3.5–5.6 VR lens, or $1,199.95 body only. The WU-1a wireless mobile adapter retails for $59.95.


Pentax-K-30-CrystalBluePentax K-30

This weather-resistant DSLR is the perfect creative companion for travel and outdoor photographers. Whether it’s a sandy day at the beach or a trek into the wet rainforests, the K-30 is the ideal DSLR to capture your memories regardless of the elements you face. Its weather-sealed body and intuitive operation give you the flexibility and comfort to shoot what you want, where you want. And now it comes in a choice of a shiny crystal or matte silky finish in 15 new body colors to match your personal style.

The K-30 combines a compact, lightweight body with features found in higher end DSLRs, like fast autofocusing and a glass prism optical viewfinder with 100% field of view and .92x magnification. It records Full HD 1080p video at a choice of frame rates (30, 25, or 24 frames per sec) or 720p HD video at 60 fps—all with shake reduction compensation so you get smooth, pro-quality movies.

“The K-30 already offers great features, such as dust and weather sealing, the 100% field-of-view viewfinder, and dual control dials that are only found in more expensive cameras,” said John Carlson, senior marketing manager at Pentax. “By adding additional color choices, the K-30 now appeals to an even wider array of customers who are looking for exciting, personalized options in their digital camera.”

Also notable are a 16-megapixel, large APS-C-size CMOS sensor; a 3.0-inch, high-res LCD; high-speed burst shooting at six images per second; a 1/6,000-sec high-speed shutter; live view at 60 fps with three grid display patterns; dual electronic dials for fingertip access to exposure control and auto picture and scene modes; and a RAW/Fx multifunction button for on-the-fly switching of image file formats.

To capture all of your outdoor adventures, the camera boasts 81 seals with proven functionality in subfreezing temperatures of 14°F. Its exterior was designed to be sporty and functional: a large grip provides a firm hold; its low-profile pentaprism housing reduces height; and a rounded, soft-rubber casing provides a grip for vertical shooting.

Other features include: artistic effects you can add to photos and video; the ability to record subjects in a series of video clips with the interval movie-shooting mode; ISO 100–12,800 (expandable to ISO 25,600) so you can capture the best low-light images; auto picture mode, which analyzes a scene then automatically selects the best mode from portrait, landscape, macro, and others; 19 creative scene modes—including night scene portrait, pet, and backlight silhouette, to simplify photographing scenes that often require uncommon settings; 19 creative filters; and 11 custom settings, like bleach bypass that creates a visual effect similar to the one used in motion pictures, and cross process to add dramatic colors. The K-30 is also compatible with all Pentax K-mount lenses.

The Pentax K-30 retails for $699.95 body only and $749.95 in a kit with the DA L 18–55mm zoom lens.

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