After several weeks of rumours, speculation and leaks, Yesterday Canon finally unveiled its two new digital SLRs, the advanced hobbyist-orienated EOS 40D and the mind-boggling professional workhorse EOS 1Ds Mk III. I went along to be amazed and impressed.
EOS 40D and EF-S lenses
Launched in early 2006, the Canon EOS 30D has been the benchmark by which all other mid-range digital SLR cameras have been judged. It has been an enormously popular camera with professionals and advanced amateurs alike, thanks to its high performance, exemplary build quality and fantastic image quality, but its 8MP sensor was beginning to show its age in a market now dominated by 10MP DSLRs, not least Canon's own EOS 400D. Not surprisingly then the main improvement for its replacement, the newly announced EOS 40D, is a 10.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with redesigned pixels that are supposed to keep noise to a minimum, which scotches some rumours that it would feature a larger or even full-frame sensor.
Other major new features include a big high resolution 3in LCD monitor with live view, a vibrating-filter-and-sticky-pad sensor dust removal system, and a new 9-point cross-type AF system, giving even faster and more accurate focusing than the EOS 30D's already very fast system.
The 40D also has the DIGIC III image processor and a huge image buffer, allowing it to shoot at a very fast 6.5 frames per second, for 75 shots in JPEG mode or 17 shots in RAW mode. In an important advance or image quality, images are processed at 14-bits for a greatly expanded colour depth, providing smoother gradations and exceptionally accurate colour reproduction, even in JPEG mode.
The EOS 40D can shoot at up to ISO 1600, expandable to 3200 for situations where flash use is not permitted or desired. Highlight Tone Priority mode gives wedding and landscape photographers the option to boost dynamic range for highlights when shooting above ISO 200 - reproducing more tonal detail from wedding dresses, clouds and other light coloured objects.
The EOS 40D is fully customisable to the photographer's shooting preferences. The mode dial contains space for three sets of user-defined settings, allowing the photographer to switch instantly between several shooting setups. A new My Menu tab provides quick access to frequently used settings, while 24 custom functions allow photographers to fine-tune camera operation and controls. The ability to change the focusing screen - with two additional screens available - adds further versatility.
The EOS 40D will be available from September 2007 at recommended retail prices of £899.99 body only or £1199.99 bundled with an EF-S 17-85 IS USM lens.
New EF-S lenses
Two new lightweight EF-S lenses are launched today in conjunction with the EOS 40D:
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - a high quality, affordable standard zoom lens incorporating a 4-stop Image Stabilizer
EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS - a versatile telephoto zoom offering the longest focal range in the EF-S range to date as well as a 4-stop Image Stabilizer