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As I reported last week, Canon has just announced the launch of the new EOS 1D Mk IV. It's not going on sale until the end of December, but earlier this week I attended the Canon Pro Photo Solutions 09 show at the Business Design Centre in London, where I was able to try out a pre-production sample of the new camera.

From the launch of the original EOS-1D in 2001, the 1D series has been the camera of choice for many of the world's top professional photographers, particularly photojournalists, sports and wildlife photographers, for whom its high speed performance, reliability and robust weatherproof construction are just as important as its class-leading image quality. With the 1D Mk IV Canon has responded to feedback from its professional users and further developed and improved all of these qualities. I suspect that there may also have been some impetus to upstage the Nikon's specialist photojournalism camera the D3s, which is the EOS-1D Mk IV's only real competition.

Handling the 1D Mk IV for the first time it's impossible not to be impressed. It's a big, heavy camera weighing almost 1.2Kg even without a lens, and the immediate impression is a feeling of solid reliability and competence. Canon has put as much effort into the ergonomics of the body as into the performance of the internal components, and it shows. In both vertical and horizontal positions the handgrip is comfortable and secure, and the controls fall perfectly under the fingers for fast and efficient operation. The improved LCD monitor is also superb, a three-inch 920,000-dot screen with a viewing angle of 170 degrees. In order to cut down on glare and internal reflection the gap between the screen itself and the scratch-resistant glass cover has been filled in with a transparent plastic, which also has the effect of making the image on the screen appear closer to the surface. The result is a clear, bright and exceptionally sharp monitor that works well in all lighting conditions.

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