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Canon EOS 5D to ship in October for US$3299
Monday, August 22, 2005 | by Rob Galbraith

Canon today has unveiled the EOS 5D, a digital SLR with a 12.72 million image pixel, 35mm-size CMOS sensor aimed at photographers who need double-digit megapixel resolution but don't necessarily have the funds for Canon's flagship EOS-1Ds Mark II or don't require all of that camera's top-end features (or weight).

In fact, after the sensor's size and resolution, perhaps the most interesting feature of the 5D's is its price tag: with a minimum advertised price (MAP) of US$3299 in the U.S., we reckon there will be more than a few Canon shooters - wedding and portrait photographers, affluent hobbyist photographers, EOS-1Ds Mark II owners looking for a second body and EOS-1Ds shooters looking to move to something newer - that will take a hard look at this new model when it ships in early October 2005.

Here's a quick glimpse at the EOS 5D:

  • It produces 12.72 million pixel photos from a 23.9mm x 35.8mm CMOS sensor; each pixel is 8.2µm square, the same as the EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1D Mark II N
  • The body is comprised of a polycarbonate and stainless steel chassis and magnesium alloy top, front and rear covers
  • Its control layout and overall visual appearance are similar to the EOS 20D
  • A 3 fps shooting rate for a Canon-specified 60 Large Fine JPEG, 17 RAW or 12 RAW+JPEG frames
  • An ISO range of 100-1600 in 1/3 step increments, plus ISO 50 and 3200
  • A 75ms shutter lag specification, 0.2 second camera startup and 145ms mirror blackout time
  • A 9-point (+ 6 Assist AF points) autofocus system similar to, but not the same as, the 20D
  • A top shutter speed of 1/8000; a standard top flash sync of 1/200
  • 35-zone metering and four metering modes: Evaluative, Center-weighted, Partial and Spot
  • E-TTL II flash exposure control
  • Connection ports include USB 2.0, an N3-type remote socket, PC sync and NTSC/PAL video out
  • 2.5 inch (diagonal), 230,000 pixel TFT rear LCD
  • Picture Style menu for setting Sharpness, Contrast, Color Saturation and Color Tone
  • Accepts CompactFlash Type I/II
  • Compatible with the WFT-E1/E1A transmitter and DVK-E2 Data Verification Kit

Canon EOS 5D (Photo courtesy Canon)

At first blush, it looks like what Canon has put together is a 20D with a larger sensor. But the camera really represent a hybrid of features, some unique to the 5D, some pulled from the 20D and others it shares with Canon's 1-series digital SLR models (and the EOS-1D Mark II N in particular).

For instance, the control layout of the camera closely mirrors that of the 20D (though the 5D is closer in size to the original EOS-1 without its power booster), the 35-zone metering component is the same, the AF system is an improved version of that found in the 20D, the viewfinder information is nearly identical and the new Battery Grip BG-E4 is similar in design to the 20D's BG-E2.

But the 5D operates at 3 fps rather than the 20D's 5 fps, it has longer shutter lag and mirror blackout specifications, a slower standard top flash sync of 1/200 (compared to 1/250 in the 20D) and lacks a built-in flash. Offsetting these apparent 20D advantages are a much roomier image buffer in the 5D, a 2.5 inch rear LCD with enhanced image review functionality, ISO settable in 1/3 step increments throughout the camera's standard ISO range, a larger viewfinder, interchangeable focusing screens, 21 Custom Functions (up from 18) with 57 settings and other more minor but still important differences including the fact the 5D will write 9999 photos to a folder before automatically creating a new folder, whereas the 20D is limited to 100 photos per folder.

It's possible, however, that the whole discussion of how the 5D is and is not like the 20D is misplaced. That's because the working photographers most likely to look seriously at this new camera either really want or really need a lot more pixels than the 20D offers. Therefore, they are more likely to have been pondering the purchase of a 16.61 million image pixel EOS-1Ds Mark II than an 8.19 million image pixel 20D. 

Here's one example of what we mean: Joey Terrill, a magazine photographer based in Los Angeles and the subject of a recent feature on this site, hasn't upgraded to the EOS-1Ds Mark II from his EOS-1Ds because he wanted to be completely sure first that the improvements in the Mark II warranted the significant expense. When he first saw the detailed information leaked on the EOS 5D earlier this month, he realized that he might have a much less costly upgrade path to a new camera that would suits his needs as well or better than the EOS-1Ds Mark II. Say Terrill:

"The Canon EOS 5D looks to be everything I’ve been waiting for in a DSLR camera. If the image quality is everything that I anticipate from Canon, then I will most likely acquire two as soon as they’re available. The pixel count, buffer size, feature list and weight are all very appealing and the price makes acquiring one seem more like a buying a camera and less like buying a car."

We suspect that there are many more Canon shooters thinking pretty much the same thing as Terrill right now.

The next section is an overview of the camera's features. As we haven't used the EOS 5D as yet, our comments will be limited to what we've gleaned from detailed technical information furnished by Canon and discussions with Canon staff.

Next Page: Major Features
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