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Full frame digital SLR photography has become more affordable. At $3,299, Canon's EOS-5D offers a full-frame, 12.8MP CMOS sensor and a combination of features borrowed from the EOS-1s Mark II (currently retailing for $7,995), unique new features, and a smaller, lighter body that bears many similarities to the consumer-level 20D.
Pro shooters who have already invested in one (or more) high-end bodies are likely to buy 5Ds as backup bodies (or even primary ones). But it remains to be seen if prosumers and enthusiats who have clamored for a full-frame model and higher resolution are willing to pay the higher price when the camera arrives in October.
Then there's film shooters, a large base of established users that Canon covets. "The Canon EOS 5D digital SLR is the camera that will make quality-minded 35mm and medium format film shooters switch to digital once and for all," said Yukiaki Hashimoto, senior vice president and general manager of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon U.S.A.. "Wedding and portrait photographers who need facial detail in their group shots require the large file sizes the EOS 5D model can provide. For landscape and nature photographers who want to enjoy the entire range of their wide angle lenses, the EOS 5D DSLR's full-frame sensor is a dream come true."
Improved image quality claimed
Canon claims the image sensor will produce enough resolution for "a double-page spread in a magazine." Because of the larger sensor real estate, each pixel measures 8.2 microns which Canon says lowers noise in shadows, and the photodiode construction is claimed to improve dynamic range. The sensor's low-power-consumption design is said to extend battery life and lower digital noise.
A new feature, called Picture Styles, offers parameters and settings that allows the user to control the color intensity, balance, contrast and other characteristics of images in a matter that Canon says is analogous to choosing a film to get a certain look.
Canon has added a new nine-point AF system with six "Supplemental AF" points, as well as new circuitry and algorithm. The new AF system is claimed to improve subject detection and focusing precision ant the center of the image, which Canon says is the most frequently used area. The focus points are in the same positions as those on the EOS-1Ds Mark II, making the transition between the two cameras seamless.
Durable shutter, solid body
An engineering challenge for Canon was to create a shutter that meets the durability requirements of a full-frame camera but fits comfortably in a smaller body. The EOS 5D incorporates a vertical-trael, focal plane-type shutter with two parallelogram link curtains, each with four blades. Three blades are made from Mylar, one from Duralumin. The shutter's durability rating is 100,000 shots, Canon claims.
The chassis is clad with durable magnesium alloy over a stainless steel chassis, and has a mirror-box pentaprism protected by high-strength engineering plastic.
LCD, automation, and controls
A 2.5-inch TFT LCD monitor is claimed to be viewable at with consistent brightness at up to a 170-degree angle. Menu text has been made larger. For those times when it's hard to tell if noise reduction should be turned on, the EOS 5D has an auto on option. In the C.Fn-02-1 setting, noise reduction is applied automatically when exposure is 1 second or longer.
Like the IDs Mark II, the 5D offers ISO 100-1600 in 1/3 step increments, and extended ISO to 50 and 3200. There are nine white balance settings, WB bracketing, 35-zone exposure metering, spot metering (3.5 percent of viewfinder), six JPEG modes, including RAW and RAW JPEG, interchangeable focusing screens, and PictBridge functionality.
The camera is expected to be in stock in October. Go here to place an advance order.