Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Nature photographers now have six models from which to choose at widely varying prices. These cameras are about more than just a larger image sensor.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon’s original EOS 5D was the first “affordable” full-frame D-SLR, debuting in October 2005 at a price less than half that of the EOS-1Ds Mark II, the only other full-frame model in production at the time. The 12.8-megapixel 5D featured terrific image quality, thanks in part to its big 8.2-micron pixels, and was so popular that Canon didn’t replace it until three years later—an eternity, in D-SLR terms.
The new EOS 5D Mark II tops its predecessor in almost every way. The new camera features essentially the same 21.1-megapixel resolution as the top-of-the-line EOS-1Ds Mark III, a 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor (vs. a 2.5-inch, 230,000-dot LCD on the original 5D), Live View capability with three AF modes (no Live View on the original 5D, and no AF in Live View with the EOS-1Ds Mark III), a built-in sensor-dust remover and more—yet the Mark II still lists for less than any other full-frame D-SLR.
The EOS 5D Mark II also is the only full-frame D-SLR to provide video capability—and full-HD 1080p video, at that. While it doesn’t feature all the capabilities of a full-fledged HD camcorder, the Mark II can turn out high-quality video—up to 4 GB worth (about 12 minutes of HD, or 24 minutes of standard 640x480 video). A built-in mono microphone records sound, and you can get stereo sound by plugging a third-party stereo mic into the camera’s mic jack.
The EOS 5D Mark II has a new DIGIC 4 processor that’s more powerful than the dual DIGIC IIIs used in the EOS-1Ds Mark III, a much higher-resolution LCD monitor, Live View AF capability, even better image quality, a much higher ISO range (100-6400 normal vs. 100-1600 for the Mark III, extendable to ISO 25,600 on the 5D Mark II vs. 3200 for the Mark III) and, of course, that HD video capability. The EOS 5D Mark II has more useful small-RAW capability, adding a 9.9-megapixel option to the Mark III’s 5.2-megapixel sRAW resolution. Also, the Mark II uses the same AF and metering systems as the original EOS 5D. Estimated Street Price: $2,699. Contact: Canon USA, www.usa.canon.com.
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