Sunday, February 13, 2011

Digital DNA

Unless you’re already committed to a specific brand through years of lens and accessory purchases, buying a new DSLR today may mean comparing a dozen models.
By Mike Stensvold Published in SLRs
Digital DNA

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The original 5D was the first "affordable" full-frame DSLR, and its successor, the 5D Mark II, was the first full-frame DSLR to offer video capability. The Mark II was quickly adopted by many video shooters as well as still photographers.

Originally, the 5D Mark II offered limited video capability by today's standards, but firmware upgrades have raised it to match the video features of Canon's newer video DSLRs. The reasons for its popularity as a video device are its huge image sensor (by video standards) and the "cinematic" depth of field it creates, its high-ISO/low-light shooting capability, its ability to do video with the full range of EOS EF lenses, and its small size and low price for a pro video device.

As a still camera, the 5D Mark II offers a 21.1-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor with even better image quality than that of Canon's flagship EOS-1Ds Mark III (thanks in large part to the DIGIC 4 image processor introduced a few months earlier in the 50D, plus technological improvements in the sensor). It can shoot those huge images at 3.9 fps and, while not as rugged as the EOS-1D series, features a stainless-steel chassis with magnesium-alloy covers and a shutter tested to 150,000 cycles.

Canon EOS 7D

Canon's top APS-C model, the 7D features two DIGIC 4 processors like the EOS-1D Mark IV, and even more pixels, with an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor. It can shoot those big images at up to 8 per second and, with what's probably the company's most versatile AF system, it's a fine action camera.

Besides the new 19-point AF system with several new AF-point configurations, the 7D introduced Canon's new 63-zone dual-layer metering system, now also employed by the 60D and Rebel T2i.

As one would expect of a mid-level EOS DSLR, the 7D features a rugged, yet lightweight magnesium-alloy chassis with good sealing against dust and moisture.

Canon EOS 60D

Although its name suggests that it's the successor to the 50D, the 60D is probably best thought of as a "super" Rebel. The first EOS to offer a tilting/swiveling LCD monitor, the 60D has a polycarbonate shell over an aluminum-alloy body versus the magnesium-alloy bodies of the 50D and its predecessors.

The 60D inherits the new 63-zone, dual-layer metering system introduced in the 7D and the 9-point all-cross-type AF system of the 50D (but with a new AI Servo AF II algorithm for improved performance). The camera accepts the same interchangeable focusing screens as the 50D. The exposure-compensation range has been increased to +/-5 stops, a valuable improvement.
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