Canon debuts EOS-1D Mark II digital camera

Canon USA Inc. on Thursday introduced a new professional digital SLR camera, its EOS-1D Mark II. The EOS-1D Mark II will hit retailer shelves in April for US$4,499.

At 6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 inches and 44.1 ounces, the new EOS-1D Mark II is identical in size and almost identical in weight to the original, but that's about where the similarity ends. The new camera sports an 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, twice the resolution of the original EOS-1D. Canon also doubled the amount of buffer memory from the EOS-1D, making the Mark II able to capture 8MP JPEG images at 8.5 frames per second in continuous bursts of 40 frames, or RAW images in continuous bursts of up to 20 frames.

Performance has also been improved thanks to the new DIGIC II image processor, which processes large files better with improved color rendering and detail -- twice as fast as the image processor in the EOS-1D and four times faster than the EOS 10D and EOS Digital Rebel.

The EOS-1D Mark II also sports a redesigned flash metering system that retains compatibility with Canon's EX-series Speedlites. The EOS-1D Mark II captures images better in low-light conditions with less noise; it has improved auto white balance control, new user-set white balance compensation and many other features. The camera tags images with EXIF 2.21-compatible metadata, including Adobe 1998 RGB color space profiles, so users don't have to manually tweak color space manually in Photoshop.

The EOS-1D Mark II's durability has been improved compared to its predecessor, with a shutter that's been durability-tested to 200,000 exposures (50,000 more than the EOS-1D, according to Canon). The shutter operates at speeds from 30 seconds to 1/8000, and has a lag time of 55ms (adjustable to 40ms). The lens mount is stainless steel and is compatible with all Canon EF, TS-E and MP-E lenses.

Also improved is the TFT color LCD monitor on the camera's back: It sports 230,000 pixels, compared to 120,000 pixels on the EOS-1D, and measures 2.0 inches diagonally.

The camera accepts CompactFlash Type I and Type II cards as well as MicroDrives; it also sports a second card slot that's compatible with SD cards. You can even customize the settings on the camera, save them on your card, and use that card on another camera with all of your custom settings intact.

Digital photographers frustrated by slow interfaces on their existing cameras will be happy to know that the EOS-1D Mark II includes both USB and FireWire interfaces, to help you download images to your Mac that much faster. The EOS-1D Mark II supports Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), so you don't need any drivers to make it talk with your Mac OS X system (or Windows XP).

The EOS-1D Mark II uses the same NP-E3 NiMH power pack seen on the EOS-1D and 1Ds models. Canon noted that power consumption and efficiency has been improved in the new camera, however, so the NP-E3 is good for about 1200 shots per charge at normal operating temperatures.

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