This is likely to throw a knuckle duster wearing kitty amongst some heavily tarred pigeons...
Today Canon has launched the 15.1 megapixel 'EOS 500D' (known as the 'Rebel T1i' in the US') and it causes such fuss primarily because of one thing: High Definition video recording.
Yes, picking up where the 5D Mark II left off - yet at a vastly reduced price - are Full HD 1080p recording at 20fps and 720p recording at an action friendly 30fps. VGA is also there for the less adventurous with all content stored in .mov using Mpeg4 compression. There's also mini HDMI for easy connection to your home TV or projector (though not as convenient as a using a full size port).
On the stills side of things the 500D (which is an additional product in the Canon line-up, not a replacement to any one model) is built around the DIGIC 4 Imaging processor. You'll get auto features such as the 'Auto Lighting Optimizer' and 'Creative Auto Mode' for noobs and a vast range of ISO settings for more advanced users to fiddle with. These span from ISO 100 to 3200 with two further settings with H1 providing a stonking ISO 6400 and 12800. Continuous shooting runs at 3.4fps up to a total of 170 photos or nine RAW images per second with three Live View modes: Quick, Live, and Face Detection. As for the LCD, this is a tasty three incher (920,000 dots), the same as the one used in the 5D Mark II.
Now the other reason that pussy cat is so brutally equipped: cost. On the one hand Canon is bringing HD video recording to a whole new price point with the 500D, shipping it in body only form from £869 or in a choice of two lens kits: an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS for £969 and an 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, for £1,399.
The contentious issue however is the mark up as our Yank cousins snag it with the unbelievable RRPs of $799.99 for the body kit or $899.99 with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens (18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS pricing unknown). That's a whopping £310 saving on the body kit and £350 with lens. I don't care what the exchange rate or import taxes are, that's criminal.
So the EOS 500D both delights and frustrates. It's a stunning camera but you need to overcome your jealousy at that geographical pricing when it launches in May.
In related news Canon has also released the 'Speedlite 270EX', the successor to the 220EX, a wonderfully compact, lightweight external flash which fits all its DSLRs and some PowerShot models. Fuelled by two AA batteries, it enables bounce flash shooting with four position steps from 0 to 90 degrees and cleverly lets users control functions and input settings from the camera's LCD display. At just £149.99 this is a must have piece of kit.