Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Well,Canon Today Announced a D2Hs Killer

Top Story Today:
Eight "official sample" JPEGs are available here for downloading.

EOS 1D Mark III announced by Canon with the headline, "Twenty Years of the Canon EOS System Leads to This Moment: Canon Releases the EOS-1D Mark III."

As I wrote earlier,back in 2006, Canon HAS been working on a camera that offers expanded dynamic range,and the 1D Mark III will feature a highlight optimization tone curve option that will allow a wider range of highlights to be captured, as well as showing more gradation in the highlights. Check out the Mark III's amazing highlight retention capabilities at this URL

Just a few of the specifications of the new pro Canon include a 1.3x FOV factor 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, capable of up to 10 frames per second, a 3 inch LCD monitor with Live View option, and a new 45-point AF system with 19 cross-sensitive AF sensor points and some fancy grouping and tracking options that sound sort of similar to what the D2X offers. According to Canon, the camera can shoot ,"110 Large JPEGs or 30 RAW files because it employs the new Dual DIGIC III image processor engine..." which sounds good for sports/action use where opportunities sometimes exist for rather lengthy sequences where the key is covering ongoing action,be it mundane action, or rare once-a-season action,or even once-in-a-lifetime action. There is also a new "silent mode",designed to greatly minimize shutter sounds, which would be very,very nice at times. There is also a new focus adjustment/calibration system for each lens you have in your kit, which sounds nice on paper,and might really be nice. Being allowed to assign your own,repeatable,adjustable user input into lens AF behavior and such might be very welcome,right? I think so.

What intrigues me the most however is Canon's statement that they have re-evaluated everything in this camera from the ground up,and have incorporated some better camera and lens control methodologies, and have worked on improving the function of the camera. Canon has also made some very Nikon-like design choices with the Mark III. The addition of a small rocker-type switch or button on the back of the camera, a-la Nikon is welcome, to me at least. I have my 20D set up to adjust my AF points NOT in the normal Canon way,using the big wheel,but with the small ricker switch,so that it's "sort of" Like the way my D1,D1h,and D2x have worked since 2001. Canon copying Nikon on the battery metering down to 1% increments, and shaving 8 ounces off the weight by switching to a modern Lithium Ion battery (like Nikon) is a big plus.

ISO Range is 100 to 3200, with extensions to ISO 50 and to what Canon describes as, "a highly usable 6400." Canon claims the new sensor offers 50 percent lower shadow noise than the Mark II-N's sensor. Contrast the top official ISO of 3200 with the D2X's top ISO of 800...this new Canon is designed for low light proficiency; the Mk III actually makes the specification for 3200, which is nice. Currently the lowest-noise Nikon at ISO 1600 is the D40 and it's a very usable,very good ISO 1600 in my experience,but the D40's images lose color saturation and noise up very BADLY at 3200.

DUAL image processors, with eight channels reading data out, an automated sensor and shutter curtain cleaning system at startup (user-cancellable with a mere tap of the shutter button at startup) with automatic dust mapping of sensor debris and specs being stored with the images files, so that post-shoot automatic dust-removal can be done by Canon's supplied Digital Photo Pro RAW developer. Self cleaning sensor, self-cleaning shutter blades, and automatic mapping and removal of sensor debris...sounds good.

Nikon had better have something very,very impressive to counter this new competitor in the sports/PJ/wedding/generalist professional camera category; the Nikon D2Hs seems somewhat lame in comparison to the current EOS 1D Mark II-N, and totally lame compared with the design parameters of the EOS-1D Mark III as detailed in today's official Canon press release. While my title calls the new 1D Mark II a D2Hs killer, I also think it might be the final nail in the coffin for the D2Xs Nikon--many,many shooters would gladly trade away the D2x's nominal two megapixels' worth of on-paper resolution advantage for vastly,vastly superior High ISO performance and,well,maybe even more detail and greater acuity. My feeling is that above ISO 640, the D2X does not allow you to capture and show much more detail than a good 6MP camera can show when shot at ISO 200...look closely at mid-ISO and High-ISO D2X series captures you've made with your D2X series body...I have....I'm NOT impressed with the D2X in terms of the fine detail captured at the mid or upper ISO ranges.

Addendum, Feb 25, 2007: well, there's now more info and an ISO 6400 sample image from the 1D Mark III at the Imaging Resource web site. Unfortunately for Nikon and Fuji, it looks as if the EOS 1D Mark III is EVERY BIT AS GOOD in the real world,as a pre-production camera, as it does on paper. This camera has so many features it's not even funny. The Mark III is going to be a hugely successful camera. Nikon's D3 series will have its work cut out for it. The D2Xs looks almost dead in the water to me.

Addendum: dPreview got "scooped" on the 1D Mark III by Imaging Resource web site, which as of today, Feb 25, 2007 has the best hands-on comments from their actual use of and examination of a 1D Mark III prototype camera.

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