Results tagged “SLR” from kwc blog

Canon 5D II vs. 50D



There's just been an avalanche of camera announces with Photokina and they've been trickling out week-by-week. It's amazing that I can stay surprised, but I am. Even when expected, announcements like Sony's 24MP, full-frame, 5fps A900 can still impress. Then there was the Nikon D90, which amazed me with it's HD video capabilities -- I've been holding off on an HD camera for awhile in the hopes of improvements, but this is just a huge leap towards my needs. Too bad I'm Canon.

Canon definitely didn't start off with the biggest bang. The Canon 50D shows some improvements: 15MP, Digic 4, 4x resolution on the LCD screen, 1-1.5x noise improvement, ISO 12800, AF microadjustments, and improved Live View with two new autofocus modes. But with a 40D and 30D already in my gear bag, this is probably a wait-for-the-60D decision. It also ends up being slower than my 40D due to the larger MP size: 6.3fps/60 jpeg burst vs. 6.5/75 for the 40D. (update: a commenter below notes that the 40D was actually 6.3fps in actual use, making the two equal)

But, of course, Canon came out with the announcement that everyone expected -- though, given that it's been expected for over a year now, is it really fair to say that it's still expected? Yes, the Canon 5D II is real!. Well, I definitely didn't expect 1080p video! Forget the Nikon D90. In addition to the better resolution, the 5D II one-ups the D90 by allowing longer clip lengths (12-30 minutes vs. 5 minutes), external mic jack, continuous auto white balance, simultaneous photo capture, and autofocus.

The rest of the camera specs are a little more bland. It mostly looks like the love child of the 50D and the previous 5D, with some niceties like ISO 25600 thrown in. Still, I've long wanted a full-frame body as carrying around a 30D and 40D is like having two of the same camera.

SLRs for everyone! Canon Rebel XS/1000D



Canon broke the $1000 price barrier when it introduced the Digital Rebel 300D for $899 in 2003. It was a pivotal moment for people like me, who saw it as an ideal time to jump into the digital SLR arena. I've since migrated up the line through the 30D and 40D, so I'm sure that Canon has been happy with my money. Later Rebel models -- XT, XTi, XSi -- have been introduced at the same $899 price point but with greater and greater performance. Nowadays you can get a new Rebel XT for $450, if you're willing to accept three-year-old entry-level performance.

This may soon change: a Japanese page for the oft-rumored Canon Rebel XS/1000D has emerged with promising expectations. There's no mention of pricing, but it's expected to come in around $700 to replace the Rebel XTi. While previously Canon was content to let lower price points be fulfilled by its older models, it now seems that they will creating new products to siphon in even more entry-level SLR users. Instead of getting two-year-old technology with reduced specs, these consumers can get new technology with reduced specs -- there is a difference. For example, while it has the same megapixel count as the Rebel XTi, the new Rebel XS uses the newer Digic III processor common across their SLR line. It also comes with Live View (shooting using the LCD screen instead of viewfinder), a lighter body, and image-stabilized lens. The autofocus drops from 9-point to 7-point, which is perhaps a simplification for entry-level users, and it also uses cheaper SD/SDHC instead of compact flash.


The Canon Rebel XSi was announced today, bringing Canon 40D features over to the Rebel line, such as a bigger LCD, highlight priority, 14-bit A/D, and live view. It also ups the megapixel count to 12.2 and switches over to SD/SDHC media. The latter seems a good prosumer move, given how much cheaper SD media is nowadays.

But I'm not sure I grok Canon's SLR strategy. This is the second time I can recall that Canon has one-upped their professional line. Six months after Canon 30D debuted at PMA, they announced the Rebel XTi. The 30D premium over the Rebel line became harder to justify when the XTi added automatic sensor cleaning, a superior megapixel count, and an equivalent autofocus sensor. Now, six months after the release of the Canon 40D, they've released the XSi, which again puts the Rebel line in the lead with megapixel count and matches some of the 40Ds biggest improvements: highlight priority and live view. The 40Ds advantages are mostly whittled down to build quality, viewfinder brightness, and +3 fps.

I understand the need to stagger their new products into the marketplace to keep the buzz alive; what I don't get is why they choose to let the Rebel line be the leader with new features and more megapixels. Perhaps they figure that consumers and semi-pros will stay in their camps and in my case they're right, but a 50% price premium hurts, Canon, it hurts. Or perhaps they are secretly using the Rebel line to debug the newer sensors so that they're rock-solid by the time they land them in the next xxD model :).

The 40D is coming


canon40d.jpg2008 has arrived (Happy New Years!) and soon my Canon 40D will as well. The $1149 price held and the Tour of California is only 45 days away, so its time to break in some 2008 gear.

I'm hoping that this is my main purchase for 2008 as 2007 was an expensive year: 70-200 f/2.8L with 1.4x extender, 580EX II, and 16-35 f/2.8 II. The 40D bumps my old Digital Rebel 300D out of the lineup and will mean that I no longer have to bug m every time I need to borrow camera equipment. I've heard recommendations for a 300mm lens to shoot finish lines, but I'm going to have to do a lot more pushups and earn a lot more cash before that becomes a reality. I still have a 35mm-70mm gap in my lens lineup, but with two camera bodies I'm happier going long and wide.

Canon 40D: It keeps getting cheaper


canon40d.jpgI've been following the price of the Canon 40D on Amazon closely over the past week, trying to avoid the temptation of buying new camera equipment. I told myself that I would at least wait until January 1st so that I could claim it as a business expense in 2008, seeing as my lack of restraint gave me more than enough expenses in 2007. The main features that are enticing me are better dynamic range + highlight protection (important for shooting in the noon sun), live view (important for when you just have to hold the camera over your head to get a shot), and dust reduction (I hate swabbing the sensor). 10MP is a plus, but not a huge improvement over the 8MP I'm used to.

Anyway, in the past week, it seems that the 40D has been plummeting in price. When it was $1299.99, I was considering getting the $1424 40D + 28-135 IS USM kit, seeing as you get a $400 lens for only $130 or so. Then the price dropped to $1219 and I was thrown into indecision. Now it's dropped to $1149 -- who cares about the package deal at that price? The closest reputable dealer I could find selling at that price was B&H, which has it for the same price, used. BuyDig has it for $1199. I'm hoping that these price reductions last after Christmas.

Side note: Canon hit the 30 millionth EOS SLR this week -- I'm doing my best to contribute.

New Canon SLRs, Want!


The Canon 40D is officially out and brings a whole lot of upgrades to the table:

  • 10.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 6.5 fps continuous shooting, max. burst 75 JPEGs
  • New AF system with 9 cross-type sensors
  • DIGIC III processor
  • 3.0” LCD with Live View mode
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • Clear and bright viewfinder
  • Customizable Picture Style processing parameters

Notable is the 2MP increase over the 30D and 20D, as well as 'LiveView' for the LCD screen, which makes it possible to hold your camera above the crowd and snap away. The greater fps (6.5 vs 5 for the 30D) and improved autofocus are also big wins for people like me that have to snap at sporting events, and they've added a dedicated "AF On" button that gives independent control of autofocus.

Of course, for only 7x the cost ($7999), you could have the new Canon 1Ds Mark III:

  • 21 Megapixel full frame (35mm) CMOS sensor
  • 5 fps continuous shooting for up to 56 frames
  • Dual “DIGIC III” processors
  • Highlight Tone Priority
  • Auto focus system with 19 cross type sensors and 26 focus assist points
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • ISO 100-1600 (expandable to L:50 H:3200)
  • 3.0” 230K pixel LCD with Live View mode
  • Redesigned viewfinder now wider and brighter

Canon 1D Mark III Machine Gun


I giggled like a girl when I first pressed the shutter on my 5fps Canon 30D. The Canon representative has a much more respectable hehehe for the 10fps Canon 1D Mark III.

Canon is now offering double rebates until January 13th. Double rebates means that your rebate doubles if you buy two items, e.g. if the 5D is $300 off, you get $600 if you buy another eligible Canon item. This isn't quite as good as the triple rebates that they sometimes do, but it is catchy enough to make me want to hide my credit cards until the rebate is over. Must... resist... more... lenses.... and... speedlite...

You can view the rebate details on Amazon -- the rebate applies wherever you buy the equipment.

The 30D is here


But I didn't bring a lens to work so I have to sit and stare at it all day. How cruel. Help! GadgetGuy! Save Me!

Update: As parakkum, honeyfields, d, and m can attest, I giggled the first time I pressed the shutter button on the 30D. The frame rate is so fast in comparison to my Rebel. The Rebel is like "click. click. click." The 30D is "clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick." The camera still awaits its in-the-field test with fast-moving objects, but I think me and 30D are going to be good friends.

Well, there goes my bank account


I just ordered a Canon 30d -- I'm hoping it's worth every penny because it's quite a mound of them. I'm trying to take my cycling photography to the next level and -- even though I'm not quite ready for it -- the 30d should alleviate some of my gripes with the Rebel 300D (hard to tell if things are in focus with viewfinder, can't activate AI servo independently, slow startup, low fps, etc...). Although I was jealous to see one of my co-workers with the Canon 5d, the 30d should actually be a better for action photography.

In other action photography news, as of Tuesday that wonderful blow-up-stuff show now has the rights to some of my photos for their Web site. Irony is delicious.

Canon Camera Upgrade Lust


Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 2006 is over and a couple Canon cameras caught my eye*. Both have me thinking, "Upgrade! ... at a much later time when I have more money... which of course means that there will be even newer cameras to catch my eye."

The first is the SD700 IS Digital ELPH. I've used ELPHs since the S400, which I replaced with the smaller SD300 after I wore the S400 into the ground with constant abuse. I didn't see the SD300 as much of an upgrade as a replacement, but it did add faster startup times and a much smaller body. If I hadn't broken the S400 I would probably still be using the older ELPH today.

SD700 front SD700 back

The SD700 is the first new ELPH since the S400 to really get my attention. First off, the Canon engineers have finally figured out how to stick 4x zoom into the tiny ELPH form factor. Then they added Image Stabilization (IS) and ISO 800 on top of that. There are other features to admire in the SD700, but it's these three that set it apart for me against previous ELPHs. My ELPH is the camera I always have on me and it's the camera that I rely on to get the shot regardless of the conditions. The IS and ISO 800 capabilities would give me additional flexibility in darker situations (e.g. restaurants) without having to resort to picture-ruining flash and the 4x zoom would get me that extra step closer to my subject.

30dThe second camera to catch my eye is the EOS 30D, which is a new addition to Canon's Digital SLR line. I'm currently using a Digital Rebel 300D that's excellent for it's price tag, but has plenty of shortcomings for cycling photography. The EOS 5D has given my camera cravings since it's announcement, but it's $3,000 price tag keeps it out of my reach. The full frame sensor is also an argument against me buying it for sports photography as my 70-200mm f/4 lens would no longer be the 112-320mm f/4 lens it is with the Rebel 1.6x crop factor. I probably couldn't afford the extra $1000 to upgrade the 70-200mm and a 1.4x extender might slow down the lens too much**.

The EOS 30D is an attractive compromise. At $1400 it's less than half the price of a 5D but can shoot 5 frame per second (fps) -- that's 2 fps faster than the 5D. It doesn't have the full frame sweetness and big viewfinder of the 5D, but the 1.6x crop factor provides that economical zoom. Another compromise is the smaller 8MP sensor versus the 12MP 5D. Some of the other niceties:

  • RGB histograms
  • Improved AutoFocus (the bane of my Digital Rebel)
  • Simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording
  • 30 JPEG/11 RAW photo buffer
  • 0.15s startup time -- I've lost far too many photos due to the slow startup time.

Don't get me wrong -- if offered to buy me either the 5D or the 30D I would choose the 5D without hesitation. But part of the gadget-buying-lust fantasy is the small, minute possibility that one might actually someday have enough expendable income and the 30D looks like you get a lot for what you pay for.

* Some non-Canon equipment caught my eye as well, but I committed on the D-SLR line and I like my ELPHs
** One could always crop the 12MP photo of the EOS 5D down to 8MP or 6MP and come up with the same 'zoomed' photos, but that's yet another extra step of processing.

EF versus EF-S


One of the most confusing things I dealt with first buying a Digital Rebel were the terms EF, EF-S, full frame, and crop factor. It's hard to get through any Canon SLR review without encountering them, so I thought I'd try to clarify them in terms that I at least understand.

The "film" in a Digital Rebel, i.e. the sensor, is smaller than that of actual (35mm film) film cameras (22.2mm wide versus 36mm wide). Imagine taking a photo and trimming a third of it off around the edges. This is what your Digital Rebel is doing and it's what is referred to when people discuss 1.6x crop factor.

Crop factor has it's upsides and downsides:

  • pro: you get extra "zoom."
  • con: it's a lot harder to shoot wide-angle images because you're throwing away the edges of the image.
  • pro: it can improve photos taken with cheaper lenses, which tend to be worse towards the edges.
  • con: the viewfinder for Digital Rebels is smaller because of the smaller sensor size.

Crop factor is also referred to as focal length multiplier, which describes a useful rule of thumb even if it is a bit of a misnomer. A 100mm lens on a Digital Rebel has the same field of view as a 160mm lens on a film camera (100 x 1.6 = 160). It's not the same thing as actually shooting with a 160mm lens on a film camera: as you are just trimming off the edges of the photo, the depth of field is still the same.

How does this relate to EF and EF-S lenses? EF lenses were designed for film. They are built assuming that they are going to focus your image on an area the size of 35mm film. For Digital Rebel owners, this is great if you're trying to shoot telephoto images because you get all that extra artificial zoom for free. This is very bad, though, if you're trying to shoot wide angle. A 16mm lens suddenly acts like a 26mm lens.

Canon's solution to this problem was to design a new type of lens for the smaller digital sensor size and they've called these lenses EF-S lenses. EF-S lenses try to get rid of the major downside of the crop factor: reduced wideangle. They accomplish this by positioning the lens closer to the digital sensor.

Important things you need to know about EF-S lenses:

  • You still use the 1.6x multiplier when evaluating the field of view for EF-S lenses. The 10-22mm EF-S lens gets zoomed up to a 16-35mm lens. You may think it's a bit confusing at first that a lens designed specifically for the crop factor still has to have the multiplier used, but it's consistent: always use the multipler.
  • You (currently) can only use EF-S lenses on Digital Rebels, EOS 20D, EOS 30D, and EOS 40D. You can't use them on Canon's top-of-the-line Digital SLRs, which have different sensor sizes.
  • There is always the possibility that Canon could stop making cameras that support EF-S. However, EF-S lenses tend to be cheaper, as lenses go, and you would only really buy them for wide-angle uses, so it's unlikely that you would ever have many EF-S lenses.

Some other terms:

  • APS-C size sensor: the Digital Rebels (300D and 350D) use a APS-C size sensor, which is 22.2mm wide. This gives a 1.6x crop factor.
  • full frame: A full frame digital camera has a sensor the same size as 35mm film, so there is no crop factor. It's just as if you're shooting with film.