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Canon unveils entry-level pro digital SLR - Continued

canon_eos20d_flash.jpg

Canon EOS 20D major features include:

  • Magnesium alloy body with stainless steel and polycarbonate chassis; the camera is both slightly smaller and slightly lighter than the EOS 10D

  • 0.2 second camera startup time

  • A newly-developed shutter and mirror mechanism enable a 65ms shutter lag (we measured 71ms with a preproduction EOS 20D) and 115ms mirror blackout time. The improved performance is easy to hear, since the mechanical components of the new camera are noticeably noisier than the 10D too. Canon has not released a shutter duty cycle specification for the 20D, except to say that it offers double the reliability of the 10D's shutter

  • 5 fps firing rate (this rate isn't adjustable as it is in 1-series digital SLR cameras)

  • New-design 9-point AF. The centre AF point acts as a cross-type sensor with lenses whose maximum aperture are f/5.6 or faster. If an f/2.8 or faster lens is used, the centre AF point detects focus with 3x greater precision than with slower lenses, thanks to a new AF sensor design unique to the EOS 20D. The outer 8 AF sensors are vertically-oriented, though designed to operate with greater precision than the outer AF sensors in the EOS 10D. Focusing sensitivity is rated down to -0.5EV. The sum of these changes is intended to be faster, more accurate acquisition of focus on static subjects (our preproduction EOS 20D is impressively quick and precise in this regard with f/2.8 lenses), as well as improved AF prediction in sequence shooting, relative to the 10D

  • Top shutter speed of 1/8,000; standard top flash sync speed of 1/250 (plus full TTL flash at up to 1/8000 with a compatible EX-series Speedlite set to High Speed Sync). It's not possible to cheat the flash sync well above the standard top flash sync speed with non-dedicated strobes

  • ISO range of 100-1600 in 1 step increments, plus ISO 3200 when C. Fn 8-1 is set

  • 35-zone Evaluative metering of ambient light; centre-weighted metering and partial (not spot) metering is also available. The ambient metering sensor is the same as that found in the EOS 10D

  • Flash exposure metering using all 35 of the metering segments; the TTL flash calculation uses a revised algorithm introduced in the EOS-1D Mark II, called E-TTL II, for improved flash exposure consistency even when the scene is predominantly light or dark, and even when focusing and recomposing

  • Built-in popup flash with coverage to 17mm. The popup mechanism has been revamped to be both smoother in operation and to sit higher, when extended, than the 10D's built-in flash. The elevated viewpoint of the 20D's flash makes it possible, for example, to use the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L (without the hood) through much (but not all) of its zoom range without seeing a shadow from the end of the lens barrel intruding into the photo. When the new Speedlite 580EX (also announced today) is used on the EOS 20D, the flash head automatically zooms to cover the field of view of the attached lens on that camera (as opposed to the field of view of the attached lens if it were on a 35mm film camera)

  • Powered by the same battery as the EOS 10D: a removable, rechargeable 7.4V, 1390mAH BP-511A battery pack (the BP-511A is a higher-capacity version of the BP-511 that shipped with the 10D originally). Canon's battery life specification indicates that the 20D will be capable of 1000 frames per charge at room temperature when the built-in flash is kept off, and double that when two BP-511A's are used inside the new Battery Grip BG-E2

  • No built-in microphone for recording sound annotations; none present in the optional Battery Grip BG-E2 either

  • Newly-designed viewfinder shows approximately 95% of image captured, or about the same as the EOS 10D. A new, non-interchangeable focusing screen, dubbed the New Precision Matte Screen, is visibly superior to the somewhat cloudy and slightly soft New Laser Matte screen in the 10D, especially when the lens attached has a maximum aperture of f/4 or faster. The AF markings, however, are tiny - smaller, in fact, than the AF sensor areas they represent

canon_eos20d_back.jpg

  • The control layout on the back of the camera is similar to the EOS 10D, but not identical. The new 9-way multi-controller takes over the function of two buttons that have been eliminated, while a third has been moved to make way for the multi-controller


  • The EOS 20D accepts both EF and EF-S lenses, including the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM announced today

  • An orientation sensor indicates whether the camera is horizontal or vertical (90 left or 90 right) at the time the picture is taken; the image file is tagged with this information. Canon EOS Viewer Utility, Digital Photo Professional and other compatible software will automatically orient photos right way up

  • An 8.5 million pixel, Canon-designed and manufactured CMOS image sensor with a 6.4m pixel pitch, bayer pattern RGB filter array, high-efficiency microlenses and multi-layer optical low pass filter generates 8.2 million actual image pixel photos at full resolution. The sensor's data is read out in 4 channels, clearing it quickly enough to allow for the camera's 5 fps shooting rate. Canon is promising that, because of the newly-developed noise processing and other sensor design changes that 20D noise levels at ISO 1600 will roughly match the 10D at ISO 400

  • Sensor is 22.5mm x 15mm in size; focal length cropping factor is approximately 1.6x (relative to 35mm film)

  • 12 bits per colour image capture (converted to 8 or 16 bits per colour, depending on file format and processing)

  • The EOS 20D is the second Canon digital SLR to incorporate Canon's DIGIC II imaging processing engine; the EOS-1D Mark II was the first

  • eos20d_menu_05.jpgFile format options are JPEG (2 levels of compression and three different resolution settings), RAW .CR2 format and simultaneous RAW + JPEG (the RAW and JPEG versions of a photo are recorded as separate files on the CompactFlash card)

  • Maximum file resolution, when the camera is set to RAW .CR2 or Large JPEG, is 3504 x 2336 pixels (about 8.2MP). Two reduced resolution JPEG settings are also included: Medium is 2544 x 1696 pixels (about 4.3MP); Small is 1728 x 1152 pixels (about 2MP). Full resolution image data is resampled down to achieve the reduced resolution settings. Two different amounts of JPEG compression can be selected for each resolution setting

  • 23 frame JPEG buffer (that's Canon's spec; we've been able to squeeze off 44 Large Fine frames in a row of a detailed scene at ISO 100 with a Sandisk Extreme 2GB card inserted); 6 frame maximum RAW .CR2 or RAW+JPEG buffer (6 frames is both the official spec and our experience in testing)

  • eos20d_menu_18.jpgSimilar to the EOS 10D, the 20D offers Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation and Color Tone processing parameters. Each of the four processing parameters can be adjusted by the user, in 5 increments. Four combinations of processing parameters, called Parameter Sets, may be configured by the user (one is dedicated to black and white). There are also two canned processing parameter sets, called Parameter 1 and Parameter 2. These sets are carried over from the EOS Digital Rebel/300D, where Parameter 1 is a combination that boosts Contrast, Sharpness and Saturation up one notch from the default. Parameter 2 is equivalent to the Standard processing parameter set in the EOS 10D, where all four parameters are at their defaults. It's not possible to turn sharpening off completely in the 20D, though it is possible when processing RAW CR2 files through Canon's bundled EOS Viewer Utility software

  • Auto White Balance (AWB) range is 3000K to 7000K; AWB is calculated exclusively based on data from the image sensor. The camera also includes 6 manual White Balance settings for standard light sources, plus Kelvin (2800 to 10,000K in 100K steps) and Custom. White Balance Compensation allows for adjustment of blue/amber bias and magenta/green bias, in +/-9 steps. A new menu option enables the setting of White Balance Compensation and White Balance Bracketing using a cool and useful grid-style interface

  • The EOS 20D will optionally convert photos to black and white in the camera, and provides a useful range of filter- and darkroom-simulation options in the B/W Parameter Set

  • eos20d_menu_19.jpgNew in the 20D is the ability to choose the output colour space - Adobe RGB or sRGB - separate from the parameter settings, making it possible to choose the colour look separate from the colour space (yeah!).

  • The camera includes a single CompactFlash Type I/II slot; cards load from the side as they do in the 10D. Throughput to the card slot is several times faster than the 10D. The camera is FAT12/16/32 compatible, and will therefore accepts cards whose capacities exceed 2GB (in addition to lower capacities). Opening the card door while the camera is writing to the card results in the loss of any photos still in the image buffer

  • A USB 2.0 port (operating at USB 2.0 speeds) with a mini-B connector for tethered operation. Direct printing without a computer is possible (CP Direct, Direct Photo and PictBridge protocols supported)

  • Video out supports NTSC or PAL

  • GPS is not an option

  • eos20d_menu_12.jpgPlayback is via a 1.8", 118,000-dot TFT LCD with white LED backlighting; brightness is adjustable in 5 increments. Though the 20D's rear LCD utilizes the same monitor component as found in the 10D, it has been tuned to give truer brightness and colour rendition compared to the 10D.  It's possible to zoom or scroll through photos while those same or other photos are being written to the card (a first for a Canon digital SLR); all review operations, except perhaps zooming, feel more responsive than the 10D

  • Playback modes include a 15-step, 1.5x to 10x zoom and an information display that includes a brightness histogram and overexposed highlights indicator

  • Menus on the rear LCD monitor have been revamped slightly. While it's still possible to scroll through all the menu entries in one long list, Canon has made more prominent the fact that pressing the Jump button will highlight the topmost entry in the next menu section (this works in the 10D and Digital Rebel/300D also, though this trick isn't as prominently highlighted in those models) 

  • Optional DVK-E2 Data Verification Kit can confirm that EOS 20D (as well as EOS-1D MKII and EOS-1Ds) image files have not been altered

  • EXIF 2.2.1 and DCF 2.0 file specifications are supported. This enables photos processed either into the supported sRGB or Adobe RGB colour spaces to be marked accordingly (through a clunky method that does not use ICC profiles and requires viewing software that also supports EXIF 2.2.1 and DCF 2.0, such as Photoshop CS)

  • eos20d_menu_08.jpg18 Custom Functions are included, but no Personal Functions or Personal White Balance options. It's also not possible to store and load a camera settings file (a feature so far unique to the EOS-1D Mark II in Canon's lineup)

  • Canon EOS Viewer Utility, EOS Capture and Digital Photo Professional software are to be bundled with the camera

  • The optional Battery Grip BG-E2 (not the same grip accessory as fits the 10D) accepts up to two Canon BP-511 (1100mAH) or BP-511A (1390mAH) batteries; included is a AA battery clip that allows the camera to be powered by standard alkaline, NIMH or Lithium Ion cells

  • A wireless photo transmitter for the 20D and EOS-1D Mark II is planned, is expected to connect through the USB 2.0 port on the EOS 20D (and the FireWire port on the EOS-1D Mark II), but no information on the wireless protocol(s) it will support or when it will ship have been released
Next Page: Feature Highlights - Part 1
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