Friday, May 26, 2006

Pentax Now Offers In-Body Stabilization System

Pentax just announced a new camera, the K100D, with a built-in CCD shifting mechanism that seems to be very similar to the type of mechanism Konica-Minolta has built into d-slr bodies. Why not? It seems to me that the value of a body-based anti-shake system would be very high. With Canon and Nikon, you get an anti-shake boost only with a select few lenses, where with the K-M and Pentax body-based anti-shake systems, a whole host of wide angle lenses, normals, telephotos, and zoom lenses will ALL gain the ability to be used with anti-shake technology. How does anti-shake technology served up with a manual focusing Pentax K or KA lens sound? How does anti-shake technology with Pentax 645 lenses used with an adapter sound to you? Or anti shake with say a medium format to 35mm adapter using a 165mm leaf shutter lens from the Pentax 6x7 system....howzat sound? I bet if one is a Pentax shooter, it sounds pretty good.

I demo'd the K-M Maxxum 7D autofocus d-slr a couple of times, and made some VERY good low-light shots in the 1/6th and 1/8th second ranges using an inexpensive 28-90mm autofocus zoom lens. I was actually very pleased with the degree of stabilizing effect the K-M 7D could achieve. I was pretty thoroughly convinced that the body-based stabilizing system in the Konica-Minolta 7D was very,very adequate for the 28mm to 90mm focal length range,and I was left with absolutely no reservations about how well the system worked for ME. And while some experts maintain that body-based anti-shake systems are not as good as lens-based stabilizing systems at longer focal lengths, I really think that a practiced shooter gains a HELL of a lot from anti-shake/VR/IS systems.

One of the most difficult things to do is to actually test out anti-shake systems. How much shake must there be, at what frequency and magnitude, etc. One thing I do know from some of the Pop Photo multi-tester experiments is that from within a group, there can be an _ individual_ who can use a VR-equipped system to pull off extraordinarily good results compared with the entire rest of his group. My conclusion from that rather odd finding is that the truly steadiest shooter is the person who achieves results that are, to put it mildly, wayyy better than what the rest of the group can hope to achieve. My personal feeling is that the very-steadiest shooters are the ones who are getting the best gains in hand-holding performance, while the "rest of the pack" get two, two and a half, or, or three stops' worth of benefit,while Mr. Steady Hands or Ms. Supa Solid really cleans up.

I'm all for another body-integral anti-shake D-SLR. I think vibration reduction is a very,very cool thing,no matter how it is achieved. I personally have had very good luck with the VR Nikkor lenses 80-400 and 70-200 and 200,and find that VR is a very,very valuable tool. Pentax has a decent lineup of lenses,and the list of legacy lenses which can be fitted is very broad and fairly deep. I bet the price is reasonable too! I can see a built-in anti-shake body being a VERY GOOD THING for many users of the camera. I am anxious to see how the new camera does.

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