Lacking the traditional Nikon screw-type autofocus this model requires newer AF-S of AF-I type lenses for autofocus but weighs less than other models. Note the type G and D lenses can still be used without autofocus.
I've owned this camera for nearly a year now without any major complaints. This was my 2nd SLR and 4th digital camera, first with the benefits of both worlds and I love it. I shoot jpeg high for snapshots or action, and always raw NEF for artwork. This allows me to fully utilize the 12bits of color for better results after processing in Photoshop, etc.
I've used this camera on the water for several days and in -40*F temps for short bouts without any issue other than the flash wouldn't pop up on it's own when it's that cold ;). I've taken over 600 photos in a row to get a couple lightning shots on one battery charge. So this baby is pretty durable.
Now, to the lenses. I got the 18-55 and 55-200 VR kit from Costco, and I'll tell you what, Vibration Reduction is awesome. I have taken 1/2 second exposures with clear results. No joke. It doesn't eliminate shake if you're jittery but it definitely helps. In tough situations I always take a couple extra shots and only a couple times have I not gotten a clear result. However, even with VR the 200mm telephoto has a VERY hard time getting clear/focused shots without bright light, but that's another story.
I do wish it had exposure bracketing, but it's easy enough (even in freezing temps) to change the exposure to bracket for HDR or other purposes. And the Active D-Lighting does a great job of preventing burn-out in the sky or highlights (although some vibrancy is lost - however this can be fixed later). It is NOT the same as post D-Lighting, because you can't add detail where there wasn't any to begin with. I don't always use it because it slows down the fps shooting speed, but for scenery and snapshots it's useful.
Seems like most everything has been said. Yale added "requires battery" as a con. It does a terrific job of passively cancelling ambient noise, of course the battery is required. I would say it's a pro that it's a small built in AAA and still gives you 40+ hours of operation.
Also, the noise quality is just fine with the active cancelling off. It's just quieter.
The bass is okay on these headphones, you can't expect much more considering they're noise cancelling (which can makes bass reproduction more difficult) and not that large.
Listening to music on these with my Cowon A3 on these is absolute heaven, I can tell you that. Way better than busting your hearing out on the airplane with a pre-amps and earbuds like I had to do before.
Raw format versus jpeg is personal preference. The quality difference will probably not be noticeable to most comparing side by side except with >100% zoom. However, raw saves 12bits of color, not 8, so you can post-process and enhance photos much more effectively with more options. With the downside of more steps to print and slower saving with a full buffer.
10MP versus 6MP offers slightly more cropping ability.
I could write a few pages on this player, but I'll keep it short. This is a portable video player for those who don't want to waste all their time transcoding to iPod/Zune/whatever format. Drag and drop. My personal use includes:
~playing divx/xvid movies: several hundred played, only a few with trouble. I usually keep 30+ movies on the A3 at a time to choose from.
~playing wma, mp4, m4v, mpg: a ton of youtube clips played
~playing mp3: If you want to play DRM files...nevermind. This is primarily a video player, but the sound quality is downright amazing. You shouldn't even touch the EQ or bass boost settings... don't need them.
~viewing/backing up jpg and NEF (raw Nikon images): great for backing up files on long trips from a memory card reader, or for checking the image quality (the screen is terrific).
~transferring files from USB thumbdrives on the go
~playing videos on standard and HD-TVs without setting up a laptop or spending hours transcoding.
~recording tv shows I would otherwise miss
~copying old VHS movies
~getting looks of amazement from people when I can do all this without a laptop.
Now it ain't perfect. But if you're like me and have hundreds of movies on your computer and want a high resolution video player/recorder on the go, it's getting close. I'm a little let down that Cowon didn't provide the strong firmware support they did for the A3. But I have never regretted buying this player. I waited a few months for it's arrival and got it in Fall '07. It's still playing fine now, with enough battery for 2 full movies. (3 when new, I've used this a TON though) I've even had water spilt on it, hasn't died.
~The audio quality on this tops everything else portable I have seen, and the EQ display is awesome. But it's slow to skip/play and navigation isn't the easiest. This is primarily a video player. (Although it's good enough I don't carry my iPod anymore).
~Slightly heavy - that power comes from somewhere though
~Has slight trouble viewing large images while playing music - has been improved on since previous reviews
~Doesn't open PDF files without conversion - but text files it does :D
~Still can't play all VOB or fullsize h264 video properly (if you don't know what this means, don't worry about it)
~"Also once you play a song, you get the music info screen which looks nice. But once you press 'back' you can't get back to that song info screen! Duh." Quartermass is incorrect, you press BACK twice more and it shuffles back to the now playing screen.
~"Proprietary USB file transfer cable." - No, it is not. Both the standard mini USB cable types works just fine.
~The usb transfer speed is 6-8mb/s. 2 minutes to transfer a CD's worth of data. This is slower than most memory cards and USB drives, but still acceptable.
~FM receiver can record with great quality if headphones are used to act as an antenna.
~If the video was encoded properly to begin with, this will play "real video" and cartoons as clear as crystal. I've had jittery frames while playing divx and mpeg videos that were poorly encoded however.
The price has dropped over $100 since I bought mine, and I know Archos has been working really hard to beat Cowon, so I can't say this is still the best player available. At the time though - You had to pay $150 for extras for the mid-range Archos players to do what the A3 could do out of the box, so consider that when researching.
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