The number three is a lucky one for camera enthusiasts, as these new high-end models from Nikon and Olympus show, writes Toby Shapshak.
With a legend like David Bailey proclaiming its new E-3 camera, Olympus can certainly feel satisfied it has done enough to be compared with Nikon and Canon. Its sturdier and larger build has prompted some reviewers to put it up against Canon and Nikon – certainly in terms of looks. But inside it appears to have muscle. Olympus claims it has the world’s fastest autofocus for quick and precise image capturing, using its fully-biaxial high-speed 11-point AF system. The 10 megapixel sensor is enhanced by the 1/8000th second high-speed and high-precision shutter control; while it can run 5fps sequential shooting with a 16 image RAW buffer. The E-3 has borrowed from Olympus’ success with easy-to-use compact mick-en-druks, the 2.5in (6.4cm) Live View LCD allows you to frame a shot via the screen at the back, instead of the viewfinder if that takes your fancy. It also has a superb built-in image stabilizer. “A professional all-rounder,” is how Olympus describes its new E-3; or as David Bailey reportedly told fellow photographic legend Barry Lategan at Olympus’ E-3 press preview in London: “Seen the new camera, Barry? It’s good, innit?”.
Nikon’s reliability and build quality are legendary, as the new D3 demonstrates. The D3 is a thing of wonder, with Nikon’s first full-frame sensor. Its FX-format CMOS is 36 x 23.9mm, about the same size as a 35mm negative, with 12.1 megapixels. Of course, it can also capture the 5:4 (30 x 24mm) FX format and DX format (24 x 16mm). With a sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 6400, it’ll grab exceptionally low-light images. With 51-point autofocus and 9fps burst shooting, it also provides superb speed, but its autofocus system features 15 cross-type sensors that maximise the potential of lenses with apertures as small as f/5.6. Indeed, it has greatly improves autofocus, auto exposure and auto white balance. A large and bight 3in (7.6cm) LCD screen lets you see your images immediately, while you can transmit the images with its HDMI output or an optional wireless transmitter.