35mm SLR Cameras

35mm SLR Cameras

Although SLR camera sales have increased substantially since 1997, most manufacturers have devoted the past six months to designing new lens/shutter models and digital cameras with high-resolution capabilities. Consequently, we did not find many new 35mm SLR cameras at the PMA 2000 show. Since the biannual photokina show will be held in Cologne, Germany, this fall, I'm convinced that all manufacturers are working on new models to be announced at that time. Nonetheless, the models that were announced or shown in Las Vegas offered meaningful upgrades or newsworthy capabilities and technology.

Canon. During the show, Canon gave us a demo of their new flagship camera, the EOS-1 V. This pro model is a significant upgrade over the previous EOS-1N with substantial new capabilities. The most noteworthy include the following: 10 fps motor drive (with optional Power Booster PB-E2 and Ni-MH battery pack); autofocus at a full 9 fps in predictive AF; 20 Custom Functions; optional EOS Link software for downloading up to 30 additional Personal Functions to the camera; 100 percent viewfinder; 1/250 sec flash synch (plus high-speed synch with EX flash units); new sprocketless film detection system; 45-point autofocus sensor and 21 zone Evaluative metering, both with improved algorithms; exposure data recording without accessories (data is retrieved with a PC Link cable hooked up to a PC); superior flash capabilities with EX Speedlites (including wireless remote TTL control); and more.

The primary appeal of the EOS-1 V lies in three areas: incredible durability, maximum speed, and superior customization ability. The camera offers the fastest continuous shooting speed of any SLR, with short mirror blackout time; it's nearly impervious to pro-level abuse and weather; 72 different parts are either gasketed or weatherproofed; O-ring seals surround the lens mount, back cover, and control buttons; the new carbon-fiber shutter is tested to 150,000 cycles instead of the 100,000 for the EOS-3; the Custom Functions allow for a choice of 63 settings while the additional Personal Functions (with PC Link and a PC) further increase the owner's options. Fortunately, the EOS-1 V inherits the familiar control layout of the EOS-1N--and the EOS-3-- making the transition from either of those models highly convenient.

Minolta. The Maxxum system already includes a full line of SLR cameras, so Minolta was emphasizing their latest model, the very compact Maxxum STsi. Locked in a glass case, the new Maxxum 9Ti enticed attendees with the most futuristic look of any current SLR camera. This limited edition model offers notable advantages: titanium and magnesium alloy body (reducing weight by 4 oz), metal-covered dials, refined ergonomics, extra custom functions, and an improved rubberized grip. Because only 2000 will be manufactured, do not delay if you want to buy this camera. Naturally, the Millen-nium Edition Ti includes all Maxxum 9 capabilities, including a top shutter speed of 1/12,000 sec, 4.5 fps motor drive and advanced three-point autofocus, incredibly versatile metering and flash control system, high-speed flash synch and wireless remote TTL flash with accessories, to name but a few.

Nikon. During a demo of the Nikon N80, I began thinking of this new camera as an "affordable F100" because of some features reminiscent of that pro model. The autofocus system is especially impressive, with the five sensor Multi CAM 900 module, designed for reliability in all types of lighting conditions and subject types. Focus Tracking with Lock-On operates when shooting at 2.5 fps, while Dynamic AF with Closest Subject Priority should produce a high success ratio in action photography. (Yes, the N80 has a rear touch pad for selecting AF sensors, like the F100.) The 10 segment 3D Matrix Metering system, center weighted and five spot meters should assure excellent exposures with or without flash (using five sensor 3D Balanced Fill Flash).

The N80 includes all capabilities demanded by most hobbyists: all-mode depth of field preview, threaded socket for conventional cable release, six operating modes and overrides, 18 Custom Settings, 30-1/14,000 sec shutter, and built-in Speedlight with numerous modes plus all the overrides including Flash Exposure Comp-ensation, and a lot more. I was impressed with the logic and simplicity of the new dual command dials and two significant viewfinder features: the variable brightness focus points on the screen and "On Demand Composition Assist." Simply touch a button and a grid pattern appears on the viewing screen to facilitate pleasing composition and straight subject lines. Because the N80 accepts all AF Nikkor lenses--and most AI lenses--it will be a suitable choice for all Nikon owners who want to upgrade their systems with highly advanced technology at a price they can afford.

Pentax. Expanding its line of autofocus SLR cameras with silver components, Pentax showed us the new ZX-30 an entry-level model that includes all the necessary automatic modes and overrides. The specifications list is long but includes multi (six) segment metering with AE Lock and Exposure Compensation control, six Program modes plus semiautomatic and Manual mode, multifunction auto pop-up smart flash with manual override, eyepiece diopter adjustment, reliable wide area autofocus with predictive AF for moving subjects plus various other amenities. In spite of all these options, the ZX-30 is very user-friendly; most functions are selected by turning a single command dial, well marked with logical symbols.

We have provided you with a detailed list of every distributor and manufacturer of all the products mentioned in our PMA reports. Manufacturers/Distributors