Arrival of the Sixes

So, between Nikon’s new D600 and Canon’s new 6D, it seems that affordable full-frame (35mm equivalent) digital SLRs are finally coming of age!

Both cameras look like great bodies, with various advantages to each side. (Canon for high ISO, WiFi and GPS; Nikon for better AF and viewfinder) Pretty exciting stuff.

EF-M: Canon mirrorless

No, it’s not a resurrection of the strange manual-focus semi-EOS film body from 20 years ago… EF-M now refers to the new line of Canon mirrorless cameras that’s rumoured to debut this coming Monday.

Rumoured specs from this Japanese site.

Summary: APS-C size chip, 18 megapixels and touchscreen for the base model, EOS M as the marketing name, introductory lenses pancake 22mm and an 18-55mm.

The myth that flash damages art

Interesting piece on the ongoing myth that flash photography can damage artwork.

Personally I feel that museums should ban the use of flash, simply because it’s incredibly annoying to have bright bursts of light fired off while you’re trying to contemplate art. However, the way this tends to translate to blanket bans on photography altogether is frustrating.

EOS 7D firmware update

In a very unusual move, Canon have a new firmware update out for the EOS 7D. Very cool to see a whole set of new features implemented in a free download for a camera that’s been on the market for nearly 3 years.

The update bumps up the size of the buffer for continuous shots, adds auto ISO features, and adds audio record level control.

Roger Cicala examines the Canon 40mm pancake

Lensrentals’ Roger Cicala has a blog post detailing his thoughts on the new Canon 40mm “pancake” lens. Interesting reading.

Touchscreen arrives

I’ve been thinking for years now that it’s interesting that no DSLR maker has really implemented touchscreen technology. It seems such an obvious step, particularly given the resounding success of touchscreens on mobile phones.

So Canon have taken the first step, announcing the EOS 650D or Rebel T4i, which includes a complete touchscreen interface. It’s not a replacement for the usual buttons and knobs, but an optional way to use the camera.

They also introduced a new pair of lenses - STM or “stepper motor” lenses - which promise near-silent and smooth operation for video work.

Black tape solves everything

So the Canon EOS 5D mark III has an unusual problem - light can leak from the top deck LCD can throw off the light metering in early-model cameras under low-light conditions. Roger Cicala from LensRentals details the simple fix - Canon now cover the offending component with black tape.

Happy birthday, EOS!

According to Canon USA’s Chuck Westfall, the first Canon EOS camera was introduced 25 years ago. On 17 February 1987 the EOS 650 was announced by Canon USA.

50 million cameras and a transition to digital, and the EOS design is still doing pretty well! The features ushered in by the 650 - especially the autofocus motor and electric aperture control built into the lens - have gradually been adopted by most of the SLR industry since.

EOS was a hugely controversial system from the start, because Canon took the strategic decision of abandoning their old FD mount manual focus system with its introduction. They didn’t have to. They could’ve done what Pentax did with the introduction of the K-mount: keep compatibility with the older M42 screwmount by use of adapters. Or what Nikon did: adapt its existing lens mount to autofocus.

The move to EOS certainly angered a lot of old-time Canon FD users. But by taking this forward-looking gamble the company set a pretty impressive basis for years of future growth.

The D4 cometh

Nikon has announced that its new digital SLR flagship will be the Nikon D4. After a grim couple of years - Nikon was doubly hit by the Japanese earthquake and Thai flooding - let’s hope start looking up for the company!

It’s an interesting choice of numerals. 4 is often avoided by Japanese companies because it’s the 13 of Asia: traditionally considered to be bad luck.

Anyway. The new full-frame (FX) body has only 16 megapixels, but offers video, high ISO sensitivity, and a high framerate of 10 FPS. The improved ISO and autofocus capabilities are particularly interesting.

Eve Arnold

Anglo-American photographer and Magnum member Eve Arnold died recently, age 99. The BBC and the Guardian have published brief retrospectives.