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2007.03.19

In Part 1 of Digital Camera Trends @ PMA 2007, the shift from megapixels to high-ISO was discussed, in Part 2, the evolution of optical zoom and the push for high-density zoom was discussed.

Within any market, there are two balancing trends: what the customer wants and what the manufacturer produces. This is commonly known as supply and demand. Just before PMA 2007, rumors and speculations swirled. Even though some rumors and speculation arise from anticipation of manufacturer strategy, most are fueled by what customers want.

There were lots of speculation about high-end Canon offerings. One speculation regarded the arrival of a follow-up to the Canon EOS 30D, presumably the 40D, and another with the follow up to Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, presumably the 1Ds Mark III. Neither speculation was revealed to be true as Canon released the EOS 1D Mark III.

Red Bench and Snow

In hindsight, Canon’s PMA 2007 announcement is the most logical. The speculation was driven by consumers who wish for an even higher-end full-frame DSLR, the 1Ds Mark II, and by those who wish for a higher-resolution high-speed cropped-sensor DSLR, the Canon EOS 40D. It is certain that eventually both of these will come. However, Canon needed to produce neither now.

In terms of the 1Ds, which is the highest-end DSLR currently available. It has absolutely no competition. There are no higher resolution DSLR cameras. As such, the best is for Canon to continue sales of the 1Ds Mark II to maximize its profit from the R&D for that camera. In the meantime, Canon is probably developing a 1DsMark III for when it will be required due to competition. Technological evolution dictates that the longer they wait to produce one, the more capable it will be.

As for the 40D, there is some anxiety due to the fact that the lower-end Canon Digital Rebel XTi has a 10 megapixels sensor while the higher-end 30D has only an 8 megapixels sensor. Nevertheless the 30D is a higher-end digital SLR due to its 5 FPS continuous drive, larger viewfinder, more durable body and a larger feature set. The Rebel XTi also features a well-needed dust-reduction system which is absent from the 30D. No matter this apparent unfairness, the 30D’s only competition is the 10 megapixels Nikon D200 which costs substantially more but adds weather-sealing. As such, the 30D does not have any direct competition and is the lowest cost DSLR with 5 FPS continuous drive.

The Canon 1D Mark II, on the other hand, has competition in the form of the Nikon D2Xs. The Nikon D2Xs is a 12 megapixels 1.5X-crop DSLR with a 5 FPS continuous drive in 12 megapixels mode and a 8 FPS continuous drive in 8 megapixels 2X-crop mode. This made it the highest resolution 5 FPS digital camera and the only 8 FPS DSLR. To surpass this, Canon has to produce a faster DSLR. That is why they needed the 1D Mark III. Higher resolution was secondary since they already have a 12 megapixels DSLR, the Canon EOS 5D with its 3 FPS drive and they have the 16 megapixels 1Ds Mark II with its 4 FPS drive.

With the 1D Mark III, Canon can reclaim the spot for the fastest DSLR available. The 10 FPS drive is even faster than the D2Xs’ crop mode and the 10 megapixels resolution is not far from the Nikon’s full-resolution, but runs twice as fast. With the push for a higher-speed camera, Canon also produced the first DSLR with ISO 6400 capability. This feature is probably quite attractive to its target market which definitely includes most action photographers. Indoor action photographers are probably rejoicing the most.


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