Monday, October 8, 2007
The Best D-SLRs Get Better
In this year's most significant camera announcements for professional photographers, Canon and Nikon both have announced a pair of new D-SLRs
By far the highest-resolution sensor in a 35mm camera-based D-SLR, the new single-plate, 21.1-megapixel, full-frame CMOS unit in the EOS-1Ds Mark III takes advantage of all Canon has learned in years of producing its own sensors. While the pixels are of necessity smaller than those of the EOS-1Ds Mark II (which placed 16.7 megapixels on the same-sized sensor), advances in microlens and noise-reduction technology and a new low-noise, high-speed output amp provide superb image quality, a wide ISO range (100-1600, plus 50 and 3200) and quick operation. The resulting 5632x3750-pixel images open to around 60 MB in Photoshop.
• Besides RAW, JPEG and RAW+JPEG, the Mark III can record images in the new sRAW (small RAW) format—5.2-megapixel (2784x1856-pixel) RAW images that offer all the benefits and control of full-sized RAW images, but at half the file size and one-quarter the resolution. This can be useful when you're running out of card space in the field or when extreme resolution isn't needed.
• Like the recently introduced EOS-1D Mark III action camera, the new EOS-1Ds Mark III features dual parallel-processing DIGIC III imaging engines, 14-bit A/D conversion and a superfast DDR SDRAM buffer. Besides improving image quality, the dual DIGIC IIIs speed up operation and improve energy consumption. The 14-bit A/D conversion can recognize four times as many colors/brightness steps as the Mark II's 12-bit conversion.
• While it has the resolution and image quality to shine at commercial studio work, the Mark III can shoot those huge images at five per second, in bursts of up to 56 Large/Fine JPEG or 12 RAW. Along with its rugged construction, weather and dust sealing and portable size, this makes it a terrific field camera, too.
• Featuring the new AF system introduced in the EOS-1D Mark III action camera a few months ago, the EOS-1Ds Mark III can easily keep up with the 5 fps shooting rate. The system features 45 AF points, including 19 high-precision cross-types and 26 Assist AF points. The 19 cross-type points can be divided into groups of 9 inner or 9 outer (plus center point) for quicker manual-point selection.
• The new 3.0-inch LCD monitor is much larger than the Mark II's 2.0-incher, and also provides Live-View capability. In Live-View mode, you can manually focus and compose using the LCD monitor when you wish (especially useful for close-up and product photography, and when using TS-E tilt/shift lenses), zooming a selected portion of the image 5x or 10x. You also can display the image on a computer via USB 2.0 Hi-Speed cable or wirelessly (with the optional new Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2A) for remote photography in the studio and the field.
• Canon has adapted its Self-Cleaning Sensor to the full-frame unit in the Mark III. A lightweight, infrared-absorption glass cover over the sensor vibrates for 3.5 seconds each time you switch the camera on or off to remove dust. But there's more to the EOS Integrated Cleaning System. The shutter and mirror generate less dust, the low-pass filter discharges static electricity to deter dust, and there's also a Dust Delete feature: The camera maps any dust on the sensor, appends this data to each image, and the mapped spots are removed by software during post-processing.
• The Mark III uses the same shutter as the EOS-1D Mark III, a rugged unit tested to 300,000 cycles (up from 200,000 for the EOS-1D Mark II). Shutter speeds range from 30 to 1⁄8000 sec., with flash sync up to 1⁄250 sec.
• Another item shared with the EOS-1D Mark III is a new 63-zone evaluative metering system linked to the AF points for optimum accuracy in a wide range of situations. There's also 8.5% partial, 2.4% spot, AF-point-linked spot, multi-spot and center-weighted average metering.
• Slots for both CF and SD/SDHC cards allow you to record an image to either or both, or a RAW image to one and a JPEG to the other. The Mark III is compatible with the new UDMA CompactFlash cards, which double transfer speeds. A new safety feature allows writing to continue even if you open the card cover or switch the camera off before it's finished writing an image to the card. The camera can also record to external USB hard drives (via the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E2A), and copy files between media.
• The same dedicated lithium-ion battery pack LP-E4 introduced with the EOS-1D Mark III action camera provides about 1,800 shots (300 in Live-View mode) per charge. There's also a remaining-capacity display.
• The body is extremely rugged, with a magnesium-alloy chassis, mirror box and exterior covers. With the new water-resistant 580EX II Speedlite flash unit and a dust- and water-resistant lens attached, the entire setup is resistant to dust and water.