Sunday, August 29, 2010

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Pre-Photokina: Canon Announcements

Canon has announced a slew of cameras, lenses and one DSLR in advance of the Photokina trade show as follows...

Canon EOS-60D  ($1149 - Canon Press Release)

In a nutshell, the 60D is an 18MP DSLR that is a combination of features found in the 7D and 5D Mark II, in a less expensive and more consumer oriented plastic body.  I would look at the 60D as more of a “Pro Rebel”, so maybe that will give you an idea where Canon is going with it and, like the Rebel series, it also takes SD and SDHC cards, not CompactFlash. However it will also support the upcoming larger and faster SDXC standard.  It does look as though the EOS-7D is indeed the “true” successor to the 20D/30D/40D/50D series.  The 60D has also lost the wonderful “focus point joystick” that all the previous cameras in the series had, and now relies on a more awkwardly positioned and conventional “D-pad” controller that happens to be inside the rear control wheel.  Until I have a chance to handle a 60D, I won't know how good (or bad) this arrangement really is, but to me it definitely seems to be a step backward from an ergonomic standpoint.

The good news is that it has Canon's excellent 18 MP sensor, which is also found in the Rebel T2i and all the video resolution and frame-rate options that the EOS-7D has.  Plus is has manual mic-input gain control from the 5D Mark II, as well as an articulated rear LCD screen for more effective video use when shooting at awkward angles.  I remains to be seen if there is some way of attaching a stick-on Zacuto frame and then having the entire assembly tilt and swivel.  Based on the features it does have and the anticipated price-point, I am sure the 60D will be good value and a popular seller, but for those wanting a more pro-oriented body at a reasonable price point, it looks as thought the EOS-7D will be the one to get now. Canon has some info on a few of the 60D's new features: details here...

Lenses, lenses, lenses...  (Canon Press Release)

Canon has also announced a slew of new lenses.  We also do not yet have any pricing info from Canon on these, although you'll be able to find estimates (or at least MSRPs) online. First up is the surprising new EF 8-15mm f/4L  USM Zoom Fisheye! On a  full-frame body like a 5D Mark II you can go from 8mm, which gives a circular 180 degree FOV, to 15mm which gives a full-frame 180 degree diagonal FOV like the current 15mm fisheye prime. If that wasn't interesting enough already, there are also two zoom lockout positions so that if you are shooting with an APS-C body like a 7D or an APS-H body like a 1D Mark IV, you can prevent the lens from zooming past the perfect 180 degree diagonal position where it would otherwise give ugly corner vignetting rather that the perfect circular fisheye effect that you can get on a full-frame body.  Blessed with Canon's excellent SWC coatings, this new lens should also be relatively flare-free (important in any lens with a really wide FOV) and being an 'L' lens means solid construction and in this case, also weather sealing. Canon has more info here...

Next up is the new EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Zoom. Rare for an 'L' grade lens, it is a variable f-stop design allowing it to be smaller and lighter, as well as being less expensive than what a fixed f-stop version would be. Based on Canon's published MTF charts, this looks like it will be an exceptionally sharp lens! Finally, being an 'L' grade lens means solid construction and weather sealing as well.  The only fly in the ointment is that Canon has decided to make the tripod mounting ring optional, like their 70-200 f/4L series, so remember to order the tripod ring along with the lens if you want one.

Also upgraded are some tele lenses, so coming are the new EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II and the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II. Not just warmed over, these are all new optical designs with lighter weight magnesium and titanium alloy construction, SWC coatings, a “power-focus” mode for video shooting, re-positionable AF-stop buttons and more! Along the same lines, Canon has also announced that updates to the 500mm f/4L and 600mm f/4L lenses will be available some time in the future, but no time-line has been given for those yet.

Upgraded versions of both the 2.0x and 1.4x teleconverters are also available in version III guise. They apparently offer more complete electronic communication with lenses, allowed for more accurate AF. In addition, they are optimized to work with the new version II super-tele lenses, apparently showing a huge improvement in sharpness when compared to the previous generation.

Lastly, all these new lenses feature fluorine coatings on the outside lens elements, similar to what is being used on Canon's CMOS sensors, meaning that they should be much easier to clean and will repel dirt and moisture more effectively. We have not yet received pricing on these new lenses either and as with all new popular Canon products, it may be that stock will initially be hard to come by, so call us if you want to be put on a pre-order list!

Detailed info from Canon on the new tele-lenses and converters: check out this article... 

Point & Shoot  (Canon Press Release)

Canon has also announced is a bunch of new P&S cameras, where one particular one of interest is the PowerShot S95 (expected to be $429).  The S95 is a subtle update to the already excellent PowerShot S90. It is equipped with a fast, image stabilized 28-105mm f/2.0-4.9 zoom, has a high sensitivity 10 MP sensor and, rare in pocket-sized P&S cameras, it has a raw capture mode too.  As far as P&S cameras goes, it is one of the cleanest around at high ISO (presuming it is as good as its predecessor, the S90), focuses well in low light and is responsive to use.  The enhancements over the S90 that the S95 brings are HD video (720p at 24 fps with stereo sound) a new Hybrid-IS system (similar to the new 100mm macro L), a rear control wheel with slight click stops to prevent accidental setting (some users complained the S90 wheel was too loose although I never had a problem with it) and lastly, the new S95 is ever so slightly slimmer than the S90.

The second camera of interest, which Canon has not announced yet is the PowerShot G12. It seems there was a “genuine” leak on CNET Asia which photos of the presumably upcoming G12, but as yet, nothing from Canon yet.  Expect it to have similar improvements over the G11 as the S95 has over the S90, plus the addition of a convenient looking index-finger-controlled settings wheel. I'm sure we'll know more soon, officially, about the G12.  No pricing info as yet of course since it hasn't even been announced!

There are some other P&S cameras as well, but since they don't shoot raw, I'm not going to bother going through them.  The Canon press release will cover the others in detail.


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