Thursday, August 23, 2007

Canon Introduces 21-Megapixel Full-Frame DSLR

Canon this week introduced the first digital SLR to break the 20 megapixel mark, putting SLRs based on 35mm-size bodies into the range of resolution previously claimed only by medium format cameras with digital backs.

The new EOS-1Ds Mark III boats 21.1 megapixels on a full-frame chip, and Canon says the new offering is targeted at high-fashion and commercial studios where bulkier, medium-format cameras previously reigned but that the compact, lighter-weight magnesium alloy body is also rugged and versatile enough to take out of the studio and into the field.

The camera's five fps shooting rate allows bursts of up to 56 Large/Fine JPEGS or 12 RAW images. It is scheduled to begin shipping in November and will have an estimated selling price of $7,999, the same price as its predecessor, the 16.7 megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark II.

"The EOS-1Ds Mark III Digital SLR camera is a prime example of the EOS philosophy and Canon's ongoing commitment to providing photo professionals with the tools they need to create the finest quality images," said Yuichi Ishizuka, senior vice president and general manager of Canon USA’s Consumer Imaging Group. "To continue our legacy, we must provide not only the right professional tools, but also the finest photo tools for the job and do so consistently, whether we are presenting this exemplary EOS-1Ds Mark III SLR camera, or any one of the many fine specialty lenses, flashes and accessories that populate the EOS professional photo system."

Developed and manufactured by Canon specifically for the Mark III, the camera's new full-size 36 x 24 mm CMOS image sensor offers the highest resolution in its class, and is comprised of approximately 21.1 million effective pixels (5632 x 3750) set at a pitch of 6.4 microns. The user can select any one of six recording formats ranging from 21.0 megapixels in Large JPEG or RAW format, 16.6 or 11.0 megapixels in the two medium JPEG sizes, or 5.2 megapixels in the small JPEG or "sRAW" formats. In any JPEG format, the user can set one of 10 compression rates for each image size. In sRAW mode, the number of pixels is reduced to one-fourth that of a standard RAW image and the file size is cut in half, while retaining all of the flexibility of full-size, traditional RAW images.

To achieve low noise and high image quality while keeping up with the enormous signal processing requirements of the camera's 21-megapixel resolution and five fps shooting speed, Canon has incorporated two identical DIGIC III imaging engines into the camera for parallel (and hence, faster) signal processing. The CMOS sensor reads out to the dual DIGIC III processors simultaneously in eight channels. DIGIC III is the next generation of Canon's proprietary image processing engine. This technology ensures the fine details and natural colors of images are optimally recorded and, as an added bonus, is responsible for the Mark III's high-speed performance, faster signal processing and more efficient energy consumption.

Adding to that is a 4-bit Analog-to-Digital (A/D) conversion process. Able to recognize 16,384 colors per channel (four times the number of colors recognized by the EOS-1Ds Mark II's 12-bit conversion capability), this model is able to produce images with finer and more accurate gradations of tones and colors.

Additionally, given the significantly larger image file sizes created by the camera, Canon has provided compatibility with the new Ultra Direct Memory Access (UDMA) compact flash memory card specification, which enables ultra-high-speed data transfer to the card. Utilizing a UDMA compliant card doubles the data transfer speed compared to a conventional memory card, putting the EOS-1Ds Mark III on par with the 10.1-megapixel EOS-1D Mark III, even though the pixel count of the new model is more than twice as large.

The EOS-1Ds Mark III autofocus system - first introduced earlier this year on the EOS-1D Mark III Digital SLR - has 45 AF points including 19 high-precision cross-type points and 26 Assist AF points. This new array allows the 19 cross-type points to be divided into groups of nine inner and nine outer focusing points plus a center point, which makes picking an individual focusing point much faster and easier than going through all 45. During manual AF point selection, the AF point area is expandable in two stages via Custom Function control.

At the request of sports and wildlife photographers, a new micro-adjustment feature allows for very fine changes in the AF point of focus for each lens type in use, along with the addition of adjustable focus-tracking sensitivity as another sophisticated new AF feature. Other new components in the AF system include a reconfigured concave submirror and the secondary image formation lens. Finally, the low-light sensitivity of the new AF sensor has been doubled to EV-1 for improved performance compared with earlier EOS digital SLRs.

The Mark III also features Canon's Live View shooting mode for shooting options beyond the conventional SLR through-the-lens viewing. Framing and shooting subjects using the camera's LCD screen affords the shooter the same 100 percent field of view provided by the optical viewfinder but Live View allows the image to be composed on the camera's bright and brilliant 230,000-pixel, three-inch LED screen. Additionally, the LCD-viewed image can be magnified by five or ten times in order to ensure that the shot is optimally focused.

Live View is at its best during tripod shooting, particularly for close-up photography where precise focusing is imperative. As a side benefit, the Live View shooting mode helps to reduce vibration by lifting the reflex mirror out of the optical path well in advance of the exposure, improving image quality at slow shutter speeds. Additionally, as the release time lag is miniscule, even instantaneous movements like a bird taking flight can be readily captured. The shutter charge sound can be delayed and made quieter than normal in Live View mode to avoid spooking wildlife or disturbing people nearby with unwanted camera sounds.

If a user is going to be several feet away from the camera, such as in some studio settings, the EOS-1Ds Mark III can be connected by cable to a computer via its USB 2.0 High-Speed interface. The camera can also be operated remotely at distances up to almost 500 feet with the assistance of the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2A, which allows users to view images directly off the camera's sensor in virtually real-time, with the ability to adjust many camera settings quickly and easily.

The Mark III features a three-inch, 230,000-pixel wide angle LCD display screen. The TFT color liquid-crystal monitor features seven user-settable brightness levels and a wide, 140-degree viewing angle, both horizontally and vertically. An added advantage of the large, three-inch display size is the ability to utilize a larger font size for text, making it easier to read setting and menu options on the screen. The optical viewfinder features 100 percent picture coverage and a magnification factor of 0.75x.

Another first is Canon's dust management solution, called the EOS Integrated Cleaning System. The new CMOS image sensor is designed with a lightweight infrared absorption glass cover that vibrates for 3.5 seconds when the camera is turned on or off. This brief delay can be cancelled immediately upon start-up by pressing the shutter button half way. Dust that has been shaken or blown loose of the sensor is trapped by adhesive surfaces surrounding the sensor unit housing, preventing the problematic particles from reattaching themselves to the filter when the camera moves.

Like its sibling, the EOS-1D Mark III, the shutter of the EOS-1Ds Mark III Digital SLR camera carries a durability rating of 300,000 cycles and, though it generates less dust, it still charges itself three times during the manual cleaning process so that dust is shaken off the shutter curtains as well. This cleaning system uses very little battery power and can be turned off in the custom function menu.The second part of the dust management system is software that maps the location of any spots that may remain on the sensor. The mapped information is saved as Dust Delete Data and attached to the image file. Subsequently, the offending dust information is subtracted from the final image during post processing, using the supplied Digital Photo Professional software.The entire body of the EOS-1Ds Mark III, including its internal chassis and mirror box, is made of an advanced magnesium alloy for strength and rigidity, and features comprehensive weatherproofing at 76 locations on the camera body ensures superior reliability, even when shooting in harsh environments.

The Mark III is compatible with Canon's new Picture Style Editor 1.0 software. With PSE, photographers can personalize the look of their photographs by inputting their own preferred image processing parameters, including custom tone curves. The Mark III also ships with the latest versions of Canon's software applications, including Digital Photo Professional 3.2 and EOS Utility 2.2, which support the camera's Remote Live View and Dust Delete Data functions, as well as incorporating a broad range of additional improvements designed to improve image quality and speed up workflow.

Particularly noteworthy in DPP 3.2 is a new Lens Aberration Correction Function that corrects various image defects such as chromatic aberration, color blur, vignetting and distortion. Initially, the Lens Aberration Correction Function will support images captured by the Mark III and 11 other EOS digital SLRs using any of 29 individual EF and EF-S lenses. Also included are ZoomBrowser EX 6.0 and ImageBrowser 6.0 for easy browsing, viewing, printing and archiving with compatible computer operating systems, including Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows XP, as well as Mac OS X.

Copyright 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nikon Introduces Affordable 55-200 with Vibration Reduction

Nikon has introduced the new 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor, a compact telephoto zoom Nikon says will offer vibration reduction technology and “outstanding” optical performance at an affordable price.

The $250 zoom is the equivalent of an 82.5-300mm but is engineered for digital cameras only and does not provide sufficient coverage for use on full-frame film cameras.

Nikon is marketing the lens as “ideal for sports, action, wildlife, travel, and portrait photography, among many other telephoto applications” – such a catch-all description they’d might as well as admit the copywriter has obviously never tried to shoot sports with a 200mm 5.6 in anything other than full mid-day sun.

“Nikon’s range of Nikkor lenses with Vibration Reduction technology has grown substantially and the new 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor lens is another excellent addition, offering Nikon digital SLR photographers an advanced high-powered zoom lens in a remarkably compact, lightweight design,” Nikon SLR Systems Products General Manager for Marketing Edward Fasano said. “High quality lens design requires a challenging blend of art, science and, of course, photographic experience. With this new 55-200mm lens, Nikon engineers have again met that challenge, producing a lens whose optical performance delivers clarity and contrast typically found only in lenses costing substantially more."

Nikon says the Vibration Reduction system enables photographers to take substantially sharper handheld pictures at slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible. Nikon claims the system allow users to shoot at shutter speeds as many as three stops slower than they ordinarily could shoot without blur closed by camera shake.

Nikon says the lens includes an Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass element that provides for high resolution, high-contrast images while minimizing chromatic aberration, astigmatism and other forms of distortion. It also features Nikon’s compact Silent Wave Motor technology (SWM), which combines fast and precise auto-focusing with super-quiet operation, as well as Internal Focusing (IF) construction that allows the lens to focus without changing its external size, improving balance and handling characteristics.

The lens features 15 elements in 11 groups (including the one ED element) with a seven-blade rounded diaphragm. The minimum aperture is f/22-32 and minimum focus 3.6 feet throughout the entire zoom range. Maximum reproduction ratio is 1:4.35 and angle of view ranges from 8 degrees to 28 degrees. Filter size is 52mm and the lens comes with the HB-37 bayonet hood, front and rear caps and a flexible pouch. Weight 11.8 ounces.

The 55-200mm should already be available in camera stores, with an estimated selling price of $249.95.

Click here for the Nikon news release. Click here for additional specifications.

Copyright 2007

Canon Shuts Out Nikon 7-0 in August Photo Mag Contests

Nikon suffered its worst month in the history of as Canon scored a 7-0 shutout in August’s reader photo contests in the two largest U.S. photo magazines.

Canon beat Nikon 5-0 in Shutterbug’s “Picture This!” feature and 2-0 in Popular Photography and Imaging’s “Your Best Shot” contest.

Nikon not only lost to Canon, but was outscored by other brands, which accounted for an unusually high five winning photos in Shutterbug and one in Pop. (The winning “other” photo in Pop was made with a Yashicamat 124-G, one of our favorite non-Nikon/Canon cameras.)

Nikon also lost its previous 41-38 year-to-date lead, slipping behind to 45-41 as Canon took the lead. Others now total 25 for the year. Nikon and Canon combined still outnumber all others combined three to one.

Canon won 2006 89-83 with all other brands combined accounting for 43 photos.

Popular Photography and Imaging and Shutterbug run photo contests for readers each month. The majority of winning photos are shot with either Nikon or Canon cameras, and tracks the winners as a means of keeping score in the perennial argument among photographers of which brand is better.

The analysis by is not intended to take sides or to indicate that either magazine favors either camera brand. In fact, the winning brand fluctuates frequently from month to month in both magazines.

Copyright 2007