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October 26, 2010 - Dave Hecei
Digital SLR cameras (DSLRs) have come a long way in a short time. One of the first professional level DSLRs came out about eleven years ago – the Nikon D1. This was a pro level DSLR built tough and only had a 2.7 megapixel sensor. Today you can get a mid-line DSLR from several different makers that have 14 to 24 megapixels for stills plus can shoot full HD video.

Most of the major camera makers offer HD video as an option. Canon and Nikon are the most popular lines, at the moment, but Sony, Pentax, and Olympus also offer HD video recording. Right now, Canon seems to offer the best of both worlds for stills and full HD video recording.

Canon currently has four DSLRs the T2i, the new 60D, the 7D, and the top-of-the-line 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II (5DmII) is the camera that really started all this HD hoopla. It was the first pro-level DSLR to offer very high quality full HD video. The quality of this video is amazing. Professionals in film and broadcast video have used the 5DmII in their productions. The season 6 finale-episode of the hit TV show House was shot entirely with Canon 5DmII cameras.

The best deal is the T2i. This is part of Canon’s Digital Rebel line, which is their consumer line of cameras. It is small, lightweight, and under $800. It has an 18 megapixel APS-C sized sensor. At this price you will not be getting a heavy-duty camera body. As long as you treat it nice it will last for many years.

The newest model is the 60D, which only just started to arrive in stores. This is Canon’s mid-line model geared towards the more serious photographer. It replaces the excellent 50D, which replaced the 40D, 30D, 20D, and 10D. The 60D has some features that will give the more advanced photographer extra tools. A big change on the 60D is a new articulating LCD screen. This screen allows the photographer to shoot angles not normally possible when looking through the viewfinder or even using ‘live-view’ shooting on a flat LCD preview screen. Having this type of screen is even better when you are shooting video. The 60D body has a street price of $1100.

If you need a more robust camera body, for professionals who shoot almost everyday, or those who don’t want to worry about babying their camera, the 7D is built just for you. It has many of the same features as the 5DmII and 60D. It has a very fast and accurate focusing system (19 points compared to 9) and two Digic-4 processors (the brains of the camera) instead of just one. The 7D is also ideal for sports photographers. It can fire up to 8 frames per second (fps) and has a maximum burst of 94 frames. This is almost double that of the 60D. The 7D has a street price of $1600.

The granddaddy HD DSLR is the Canon 5D Mark II. It is the oldest of these four Canon models and of the four, the only one with a full-sized sensor. This 21.1 megapixel sensor is ideal for photographers who like shooting with wide-angle lenses. Shooting wide with an APS-C based camera is made more difficult because of the 1.6x cropping factor (1.5x on Nikons). An 18mm lens on the 5DmII will show much more of a scene. To get the same angle of view on an APS-C based camera it would take a 12mm lens. The full-sized sensor can also produce a more detailed image. The pixels on a full-sized sensor are larger than those on a smaller sensor. In theory, bigger pixels gather more light, have lower noise, and greater dynamic range.

Which one is best for you:

T2i – Anyone starting out with a DSLRs – On a budget – Backup camera for either of the other model here.

60D – Want more advanced features but doesn’t need the 7D’s price or speed or durability – Video is as important as stills.

7D – You want a fast heavy-duty camera with excellent ISO range but don’t need a full-sized sensor.

5D Mark II – For the professional photographer or prosumer – You want a full sized-sensor DSLR – You want the best HD video quality and video accessories.


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