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PMA 07 Initial Impressions
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by Rob Williams on March 8, 2007 in Trade Shows

PMA is just getting underway, but there are a slew of products that have already been announced. I am taking a look at the first eight to really catch my attention including the Nikon D40x, Canon Mark III, Olympus E-510, Lenbabies Creative Aperture kit and more.

Nikon P5000, Lensbabies, Lexar & Software


Nikon P5000 – ($399)

Official Site

I hate to include two major releases from the same company, but this has got to be talked about! Finally, Nikon has listened to consumers and put out another high-end Coolpix model, the P5000. The reason this is significant is because recently, all of their Coolpix cameras have been simple point and shoot models that fit in a pocket or bra. Even though some of those models are nice, such as the S10 with it’s swivel lens, the P5000 finally implements both an LCD screen and viewfinder… something that is becoming increasingly rare on a point-and-shoot.

Yes, I am looking forward to getting my hands on one of these, as it might very well be the compact answer Nikonians have been looking for. Sometimes packing a DSLR in your bag is out of the question, whereas this is much more manageable. One immediate downside, if any, is that it does not include a huge optical zoom like some of the competition, such as the Canon S3 IS. Instead, Nikon has the goal of quality > quantity in mind, so they include a 7.5-26.3mm f/2.7-5.3 Nikkor lens, which is equivalent to a 3.5x zoom and 36-126mm in 35mm format.

The rest of the stats give the fact that this is a DSLR without the ability to swap lenses. You will have full control over aperture and shutter speed, with M/A/S/P modes in addition to the other scene modes. ISO sensitivity ranges from 64 all the way up to 3200.

Aside from what’s been mentioned so far, the P5000 includes a whopping 10.0MP sensor and a 2.5" 230,000-dot LCD screen, similar to the ones found on their DSLRs. As a whole, the camera looks promising… I like almost everything about it. The design, the style, the fact that they FINALLY released it. Stay tuned for our review in the coming months.

Lensbabies Creative Aperture – ($9.95)

Official Site

Lensbabies products have quickly grown to become must-have accessories for those DSLR users who like to have fun with their creativity. This product release is a simple one, but a great idea at the same time. When purchasing a Creative Aperture kit, you will receive a total of seven discs, two which already have shapes punched into them, a heart and star. Sound interesting?

What these discs do is filter light in your out of focus areas to take the shape of the design you have on the disc. Picture for example a portrait of a beautiful woman, with her face completely focused but having hearts formed out of the light in the rest of the photo. Click on the link above to view that exact example, along with many others.

As you’d imagine, these discs are only compatible with Lenbabies products, the 2.0 and 3G. It’s a matter of dropping the disc into the lens (secured by a magnet) and then go shooting! At $9.95, it’s hard to go wrong. If you want other shapes, the other five included discs are for that purpose. You can buy a shape punch at a local craft store, they suggest. If you are steady, a sharp knife can also get the job done.

Lexar CF 300x and SDHC 133x Flash Memory

Official Site

It’s not too often flash memory gets anyone excited. Or does it? Regardless, there are two issues that photographers face when it comes to flash memory: Speed and Density. This is more of a problem with SD cards however, as CF has been hitting higher capacities without a huge performance hit for a while now. When the SDHC specification became available, I about cringed. 4GB cards that have a write speed of 6MB/s? Yeah write, watch me! As we found out in our SD card roundup though, there do exist 4GB non-SDHC cards that are fast… up to 150x compared to 2MB/s – 6MB/s.

However, a few companies have been breaking the mold and producing official SDHC cards that write faster than the normal spec. In that above mentioned card roundup, we evaluated the Sandisk Extreme II 4GB SDHC card which had a write speed of 9MB/s. Even that is slow though, compared to 150x. This is where Lexars recent announcements can help people breathe easier. Their latest 4GB SDHC card is capable of handling a write speed of 133x, or 20MB/s. I’m not sure how a card that breaks the SDHC specification still warrants certification, but it doesn’t matter! More storage and more speed means more happy.

That’s not all though. They also announced a 300x CF card in capacities of between 2GB – 8GB. This equates to a write speed of 45MB/s, so no longer should your flash memory be the bottleneck in a continuous shooting scenario. Sadly, pricing is not yet available, but will be later this month.

Software

123diAdobe Lightroom

There’s not too much out of the software camp at this PMA it seems, although two notable applications have surfaced. First up is 123di version 4.0. If you’ve never heard of 123di, then you must not pay much attention! Vincent Bockaert is a master of explanation, and gives advice on how to shoot, settings and post processing. 123di is a CD-Rom that includes tutorials covering all major image applications including Photoshop CS2 and Elements 4.0… even Nikon Capture NX. Whether or not you are new to photography, it’s worth every penny to check it out. I received an older copy with my last camera purchase and found it to be impressive. I just need to sit down and devote more time to it :-)

The long awaited Adobe Lightroom has finally been released as well. This has been touted as a “Photoshop Killer” but I wouldn’t go that far. I have used Lightroom lately and have been -very- impressed, I must admit. I still use Photoshop to finalize any PP though. If you have superb Lightroom skills, you may very well not need PS. LR is designed more for the professional and includes support for all the popular RAW formats. Before you commit to a purchase, download the trial and experiment. If you don’t have a Mac, it’s the next best thing (if not better) to Aperture.

Final Thoughts

Whew, that was a lot of rambling, but I hope you enjoyed the quick looks as much as I did writing them. It looks to be a very promising PMA so far. I’d be happy just with the announcements already thrown our way.. my drool tank is running low. As mentioned in the intro, if a slew of new product announcements surface, I will continue with a part two.

Discuss in our forums!

If you have a comment you wish to make on this review, feel free to head on into our forums! There is no need to register in order to reply to such threads.


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1. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Hasselblad
2. Nikon P5000, Lensbabies, Lexar & Software


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