Best D-SLR Entry Level: Nikon D50
Little sister of the popular Nikon D70, the 6.1 megapixel D50 gives amateurs the chance to shoot high-resolution images at a very low cost. The ergonomics are well thought out and no major feature or function is missing. In the field, the Nikon D50 gives a performance beyond that expected at this price point. The automatic exposure system compensates for highlights and shadows in difficult lighting conditions, the 5-point autofocus system locks on quickly to the subject, and continuous shooting is possible at up to 2.5 frames per second. When necessary, the seven Digital Vari-Program Modes help optimise the settings for the best results. The D50 is compatible with all the AF Nikkor lenses and accessories, which makes this model a serious starting point for digital SLR photography.
Best D-SLR Expert: Nikon D200
Though it’s less than 2000 euros, the Nikon D200 offers a resolution of 10 million pixels (3872 x 2592) with files of 32.78 x 21.95cm at 300 dpi. You can shoot with a sensitivity of up to ISO 400 and even 800 without too much concern about noise or colour shifts, while the camera’s 3D Color Matrix Metering II measures exposure superbly without blowing highlight detail. However, it’s the D200’s handling speed which really impresses: it’s up-and-running in just 0.15 seconds, and has a shutter lag of a mere 50 milliseconds. It offers 5 frames-persecond for at least 37 consecutive shots in Fine JPEG, and this stunning performance is supported by a new 11-area AF system that the photographer can select at will.
Best D-SLR Professional: Canon EOS 5D
The EOS 5D is the first digital camera that offers a full-frame, 24x36mm sensor at a realistic price, and there’s no compromise on image quality. With 12.8 million pixels available, there’s plenty of resolution for huge prints, and they’re big pixels, too, which means lower noise and higher quality in the final image. Picture sharpness is excellent, and the high resolution and superb image processing means artefacts are rendered invisible. Moreover, the size of the sensor means that the actual focal lengths of Canon EF lenses are used, and with no ‘crop factor’ to swing the results, this gives the angleof- view and the large viewfinder image that 35mm film photographers know and love.
Best Medium Format Digital System: Hasselblad H2D-39
Among the professional community, Hasselblad’s H body and lenses already have a reputation in line with the sumptuous quality of the classic film Hasselblads. The new H2D-39 however, is equipped with a digital back that boasts a massive 39 megapixels, and that sets an entirely new standard in the digital world. The increase in resolution was achieved by reducing of the size of the individual pixels from 9 to 6.8 microns, and the resulting loss of speed is compensated for by improved digital signal processing within the body. Make sure you’ve got plenty of storage space though, as the rise in pixel count means the file-size of a 16-bit TIFF from the H2D- 39 is now up to an incredible 224 MB!
Best Hi-end Professional Camera System: Sinar m System
The Sinar m System is a modular concept camera adopting digital backs. As a medium format camera it uses the newly developed high-end Sinaron Digital AF lenses built by Zeiss, a prism viewfinder and the Sinaron Digital AF Mirror Module. The Sinar m has several exposure metering modes and automatic exposure features, as well as TTL flash control. Shutter speed range is from 1/2000sec to 68 minutes. It can be used as a modern shutter system for the Sinar p3 view camera. Equipped with the Nikon mirror Module, it accepts a large number of Nikkor lenses.
Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera: Canon Digital Ixus 65
Featuring a high resolution 3 inch LCD screen, the steel-bodied Digital IXUS 65 draws on the original IXUS design concept to achieve a classically elegant styling. This innovative camera sports a unique Touch Control Dial, which can also be used to scroll through images during playback, while the useful Image Inspection Tool displays a newly-shot image and a magnified section at the same time. This allows you to check for sharpness quickly and easily. The Digital IXUS 65 incorporates ISO 800 to facilitate flash-free shooting indoors and minimise the effects of camera shake.
Best Compact Digital Camera: Fujifilm FinePix F30
The Fujifilm FinePix F30 Zoom is the world’s first digital compact camera to deliver ISO 3200 sensitivity at full resolution. This means that it can give sharp images, even at night-time, or with fast-moving subjects. Users are able to produce sharp images with minimal noise, no subject blurring and atmospheric lighting in dark conditions. In addition, the FinePix F30 Zoom has 15 new scene modes from underwater, beach and snow, to sunset, party and fireworks. These make it easier than ever for users to experiment with photography in a range of different lighting conditions.
Best Superzoom Digital Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 is the world’s smallest digital still camera with a 10x optical zoom, and this is made possible by the world’s first integrated retractable lens system with folded optics technology. The TZ1 allows unlimited consecutive shooting up to the capacity of the 13.4 MB built-in memory or the SD memory card. Panasonic has also equipped the TZ1 with its globally recognised Optical Image Stabiliser feature. O.I.S minimises the jitter from shaky hands that causes many photos to look blurred. Offering high quality image output, the TZ1’s new Venus Engine III also dramatically reduces noise levels even at increased ISO settings.
Best Multimedia Digital Camera: Samsung Digimax i6 PMP
The Samsung Digimax i6 is more than a digital camera; it’s a multimedia product. The Digimax i6 is only 18.5mm thick, and has an enhanced grip, using a unique curved design ensuring a steady shot when taking pictures. It has multimedia capabilities such as MP3 playback and the addition of a personal media player function. The user can even take pictures whilst listening to music. The i6 also has ASR (Advanced Shake Reduction). This unique algorithm reduces the effects of camera shake and helps the user take clear and natural pictures indoors or in dark conditions without using flash.
Best Consumer Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC
With a versatile range of wide-angle focal lengths, a good optical performance and a budget price, the Sigma 10-20mm is an excellent investment for owners of DSLRs with APS-C format sensors. On a Nikon or a Canon D-SLR, it corresponds to around 15-30mm in 35mm film terms – a perfect wide-angle complement to the typical standard zoom which starts at an equivalent of 28mm. Its sharpness remains constant throughout the zoom range, and its compact size of 83x81mm and light weight of 470g makes it an ideal companion for shooting travel, landscapes or architectural photography.
Best Professional Lens: AF-S VR Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
This lens is the first-ever macro model with an integrated optical stabilizer. This 105mm f/2.8 reaches a life-size reproduction ratio of 1:1 with an ambitious optical construction of 14 elements in 12 groups. It sports an ED lens and features new Nano Crystal coating technology, which is designed to further minimize flare. With internal focusing and a gyroscope for the optical stabilization, this Micro Nikkor lens shows nearly a 4-stop gain in speed if compared to the same lens without the Vibration Reduction feature. The lens is large and robust, but its filter thread is a mere 62mm. With an attractive price, it comes complete with a soft case and lens hood, and will be the lens of choice for discerning macro photographers.
Best Prestige Camera: Ricoh GR Digital
Ricoh has a reputation of producing cameras that stand out from the crowd, and the Ricoh GR Digital is no exception. The Ricoh GR Digital has a very high quality 28mm (35mm film equivalent) lens, which can be used with an optional converter to cover an angle as wide as 21mm. The new GR Digital inherits the superb image quality that made the awardwinning GR Series of 35mm film cameras so popular, and the style and performance is distilled into a compact body just 25mm thick. With a high-quality feel and superb expandability, this is the perfect lightweight tool for professional photographers and advanced amateurs.
Best Digital Camera Back: Leaf Aptus 75
The Leaf Aptus 75 represents the most recent digital camera back for high-end, professional photography. It offers a resolution of approximately 34 megapixels (6726x5040), resulting in a file size of around 200MB at 16-bit. The sensor features a 7.2-micron pixel size, and offers a sensitivity range from 50-800 ISO. The outputted RAW images can be compressed to reduce the file-size by half, and because the compression is lossless, there’s no reduction in quality in the 16-bit data that’s captured. Exclusive to the Aptus 75 is the big 6x7cm touch-screen LCD for displaying and controlling the final image quality. Leaf offers a range of storage options: CF card, 20 or 30 GB Digital Magazine, Firewire disk or computer hard disk.
Best Flatbed Photo Scanner: Epson Perfection V750 Pro
The new Epson Perfection V750 Pro is an excellent flatbed scanner for professional photographers and photo enthusiasts alike. It features a Dual Lens System for film scanning at a high resolution of 6400 dpi and also allows reflective scanning at 4800 dpi. An optical density value of 4.0 fulfils the needs of professionals, and captures detail in the darkest of shadows. An anti-reflection coating applied to the lenses eliminates reflection and ghosting, while a high reflection mirror improves the quality of the scanned light to the sensor, resulting in faster scanning speeds. Offering all film formats up to 8x10 inch, it’s supplied with four film holders for 35mm film strips and slides, medium and large format film. Connections are built in for either USB 2.0 or Firewire interfaces, to ensuring a rapid data transfer.
Best Small Format Photo Pinter: Panasonic KX-PX1/PX10
Small format printers are rapidly gaining recognition as the ideal companion to digital cameras. Their portability enables users to always print their photos, wherever they are. Panasonic has recognised the convergence of digital imaging and HDTV, and has introduced the first 16:9 format small photo printer. The Panasonic KX-PX1/PX10 series deliver outstanding quality prints that rival the best silver halide systems, and sport a stylish and compact design. Furthermore, thanks to a new over-coating process performed by this printer, prints can now keep their quality for up to 100 years.
Best A4 Multifunction Photo Printer: Epson Stylus Photo RX640
The Epson Stylus Photo RX640 is a combination of photo quality printer and a 3200 dpi scanner with built-in transparency unit. Scanning is enhanced with Epson’s Easy Photo Fix technology, which automatically restores colour to faded photos and film. Easy Photo Fix also includes a dust and scratches removal function for negative and positive film scanning. To make printing easier than ever, Epson’s PhotoEnhance technology automatically detects the image type and adjusts image brightness and contrast accordingly. The high definition 2.5 inch PhotoFine LCD monitor also ensures easy direct-printing from memory cards and PictBridge-enabled cameras.
Best A3 Photo Printer: HP Photosmart Pro B9180
The HP Photosmart Pro B9180 is an A3+ Photo Printer designed for professional photographers. With 8 individual pigmentbased HP Vivera Inks it achieves a high print capacity. Four HP 70 dual-colour printheads feature 8448 nozzles for precise, consistent drop placement and enhanced colour accuracy. According to HP, some prints resist fading for up to 200 years, which is a new benchmark in photography. The HP Pro print plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and ICC profiles in the printer software allow predictable and consistent colour quality. A dedicated raster image processor (RIP) software for professional colour management is also on offer for the B9180 as an optional extra.
Best Independent Inkjet Paper: Innova Art FibaPrint Gloss
While inkjet colour photo printing has reached or even surpassed the quality of traditional silver halide photo prints in the last few years, black & white inkjet photo printing remained a challenge. Fibrebased silver halide B&W prints are still considered to be superior in quality by many, but this may change with the introduction of Innova Art FibaGloss paper. When used with the latest matt black pigment inks, this paper shows an incredibly high DMax of 2.7; greater than traditional fibre-based silver halide papers. This allows for for extremely smooth tonal gradations and deep, rich shadows full of detail..
Best Printing Technology: Epson UltraChrome K3(TM)
The Epson UltraChrome K3 ink technology is a breakthrough in professional printing. It incorporates 8 new colour pigments improving the quality and durability of both colour and black & white printing. Epson printers using the K3 system can utilise two different black ink modes – Photo Black or Matte Black, and these allow the usage of a variety of media types from colour proofing stock to fine art textures. The Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink is a resin-coated pigment ink that achieves a high level of longevity and durability, and the characteristics reduce metamerism effects. To support these impressive inksets, Epson offers a full range of UltraChrome K3 Printers from 13 inch to 44 inch printing width.
Best Imaging Storage Media: Lexar LockTight System
The Lexar LockTight System is a flashcard-based security system for handling critical image data. It means that once a CompactFlash card is dedicated to a certain camera and user, it simply cannot be accessed by others. The system uses Lexar LockTight CF Cards and CF card-readers plus software for administrators. The Nikon D200 and D2x cameras support LockTight to close the security chain from capture to transfer, and this utilizes 160-bit encryption technology, using the SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) – a standard approved by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). Lexar LockTight is useful not only for commercial applications, but also in forensic, governmental, military and insurance areas of photography.
Best Storage Back-up: Jobo Giga Vu Pro evolution
The JOBO GIGA Vu Pro evolution is a unique multi-media, picture storage and image viewing system. This high-quality digital album with integral hard drive and a built-in memory card slot for CompactFlash was designed for digital camera users that want the most advanced digital storage and display features. The JOBO GIGA Vu PRO evolution offers professional photo functions including real RAW file decoding, super Hi-Speed downloading of files, and high resolution image viewing capability. With storage options up to 120 GB, this compact digital accessory is a must for serious enthusiasts and discerning photographers.
Best Photo Software: DxO Optics Pro 3.5
DxO Optics Pro 3.5 automatically enhances images produced by D-SLRs or compacts. The software is camera-lens specific with 200 modules available. DxO Optics Pro v3.5 incorporates DxO Optics Engine, extending the capabilities for automatically removing unwanted colour fringes in digital images.The DxO Labs demosaicing algorithm reduces artefacts while keeping manufacturer's choice and settings for colour rendering. The DxO Raw Engine enables the full DxO Optics Pro corrections to operate in 16-bit, providing high image quality while preserving the potential to retouch images.
Best Imaging Peripheral: Pantone huey
Developed in partnership with GretagMacbeth and brought to market by Pantone, huey is an entry-level colour management solution based on GretagMacbeth’s technology for pro-spec products. The huey is designed for calibrating and profiling all types of monitors, and the device is a colorimeter with ambient measurement capabilities. Compact and light in weight, huey works with LCD, laptop and CRT displays without requiring users to have in-depth knowledge of colour management. In addition, huey is the first monitor calibration device to continually adjust the monitor as room lighting changes. With an affordable price tag, huey delivers accurate on-screen colour and importantly, opens the field of colour management to a wider, non-specialist audience.
Best Imaging Innovation: Olympus E-330 Live View
Olympus reinforces its heritage as an innovative manufacturer with the E-330. It’s the first digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses to offer a tilting LCD monitor on the back along with an optical viewfinder. Thanks to its Live View technology, this monitor allows different viewing angles so that macro, overhead or waist-level photography can be accomplished with ease and comfort. Moreover, the E-330 boasts the new 7.5 megapixel NMOS sensor and delivers crisp, vibrant images that make you question its amateur D-SLR status. Last but not least, the E-330 is compatible with a growing range of FourThirds lenses, which sport high quality optics specifically designed for digital sensors.
Best Camcorder: JVC Everio G GZ-MC505
The JVC Everio G GZ-MC505 Digital Media Camera is the flagship member of the JVC Everio family. The GZ-MC505 records DVD-quality video or thousands of photo-quality stills to a 30 GB hard disk. JVC combines this with 3-CCD/5- megapixel performance.The JVC GZMC505 creates sharp and vivid images by dedicating a 1.33 (1.23 effective) megapixel CCD to each colour – red, green and blue. To fully capitalize on the camera’s inherent picture performance, JVC’s Megabrid Imaging Engine separately processes video and still signals, providing optimal processing for each. Megabrid technology assures high sensitivity and a high signal-to-noise ratio for moving pictures, and clear, high resolution progressive still images.