Saturday, 18 August 2007

A bunch of news

I've found this intriguing post on northlight images. I'll keep it short and get straight to the point:

* 40D - it's ready, but they did have a 40D ready in Feb/March, but it was regarded as just a bit to similar to everything else. It seems that Canon have put a lot into the 'new' 40D to get back market leadership in this segment from Nikon.
* Features include: 14 bit processing, highlight preservation, multiple custom functions, faster, half the noise level of the 30D, more weatherproofing. Lots of 'trickle down' features from their pro models.
* Their marketing campaign is really going to emphasise the semi-pro angle and the marketing will emphasise the 'pro' heritage.
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* 1Ds3 - it's ready and production of the 1Ds2 has stopped. To be announced fairly soon. Several studios in New York now have production versions (under strict NDA ;-) and it is supposed to be 'just amazing'
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* 5D replacement - Now 'feature complete'. Canon is working on the timing, most likely early 2008 [PMA is Jan 31 to Feb 2] Features include 16MP, Digic III and 14 bit.
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* 400D replacement - March 2008. 14 bit, Digic III, highlight preservation. IS lens as standard.
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* Sensor technology - Canon have mentioned that full frame sensor chips need two stepper passes. Sony now has the technology to do this in one pass and are preparing their own sensors and selling to them Nikon. However, Canon have a new 'one pass' technology too. What's more, it can do even larger than 35mm (36x24mm) in a single pass.
* Canon are very excited about a next generation CMOS sensors they are working on. Two full frame versions have 40M and 50M pixels at the -same- noise level as the current 1D series. Low power supply voltages give cooler chips and lower noise even with smaller pixels. Different circuit fabrication techniques also promise to make close to 100% of the sensor area active pixels. This technology won't make any of the upcoming models, but is expected in 2009/10.
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* The competition - Canon were somewhat shocked by the success of the Nikon D80, D40 and D40X. Hence the 'improved' 40D and the improved 400D replacement in the works. Canon know what Nikon have coming (D300 and D3) and have planned the 40D, 1Ds III and 1D III as their answers.
* However Nikon are moving to CMOS sensors to over the next couple of years. Sony are moving CMOS to a near full frame (1.25 or so) and full (35mm) FF, so Canon are getting serious and starting to plan some aggressive upgrades.
* Sony worries Canon somewhat, since with their manufacturing capabilities, they could move the whole price base down for SLRs. So far they haven’t and their lens prices and range are not a worry for Canon. The current Sony Alpha has been less than astounding in the market.
* Moreover, Nikon have the camera credibility and certainly won’t stop with the D3 and D300. Their plans for the lower end (D40-D80 as well) are to replace them in much shorter timeframes than their previous 3-4 years. Nikon have moved emphasis from the low end 'point and shoot' digital into R&D on the DLSRs. They've found this to be 3-4 times as profitable (note Nikon's record profits over last 12 months). Nikon are more than happy with trouncing Canon for the last 12 months in Japan (not so world wide). So the next 2-3 years will see a major DSLR feature 'war'.
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* IS Technology - This is being introduced in some of their consumer grade lenses. The technology has matured to the point that it can be added at only a small price premium. It gives product differentiation - a reaction to Sony and keeps them ahead of Nikon.
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* Digic IV - Digic III just won't cut it for the new high density sensors. Digic IV can deal with with the transfer rates for higher bit per pixel images. One Digic IV chip beats the two Digic III in the 1D3.
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* 16 bit RAW - Canon's target for their next generation of sensors is 16 bits per channel giving true HD quality. They are also looking at processing formats to retain that extra definition.
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* ISO sensitivity - Canon see their next generation lower voltage CMOS as easily doing ISO6400, with a boost to 12800.

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