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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.

Metropolitan police apologize to teenage photographer

Awesome.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16131390

Original recording of a pretty brave kid:

http://boingboing.net/2010/06/29/london-cops-enforce.html

Cinema EOS

Interesting. Canon’s taking RED head-on with a new digital video camera that aims to output film-quality video. Two versions: one which takes EF (Canon EOS) lenses and one which takes PL movie lenses. Canon are also introducing a series of 4K lenses to go with it.

The Cinema EOS C300 camera is no prosumer model. It’s built specifically for professional work, and its UI and design reflects this. (and of course the price) But it’s also really compact, building on Canon’s extensive DSLR work, so it can be carried and placed in ways impossible with older heavier cameras. Combine that with high ISO (low light shooting without banks of lighting) and its wireless remote capabilities (stick the camera on a crane and control it from the ground) and you’ve got a lot of fascinating possibilities for stuff like TV production and documentary filmmaking.

Canon EOS 1D X

So after lots of breathless rumours, Canon have announced their new flagship - the EOS 1D X. Quite an interesting development.

For one thing, the previous 1D (fast, subframe) and 1Ds (slower, full frame) product categories have been merged into a single fast unit. And for another, Canon have deliberately bucked a multiyear trend in the camera business by rejecting the megapixel race. The button-bedecked 1D X is only an 18 megapixel body (fewer than the 21 megapixel 5D mark II) but with an emphasis on improved image quality and lowered noise. Very interesting indeed!

Magical deblurring

So a couple of years ago I did a very difficult photo shoot. I was photographing the ground from a moving airplane in the middle of the night. And since it was a plane, there was no way of hovering. The ground scrolled on by, the lights below glowed prettily, and my camera strained to get a usable image at f/1.8 and ISO 6400.
Once on the ground I thought to myself… surely there must be some software that can correct for this! Engine vibration of the plane would be difficult, but the linear motion of the plane relative to the ground should be correctable.
Well I wish I had the software that Adobe sneak previewed recently. Irritating hosts aside, the demonstration of deblurring software was very impressive. Hope it’s released soon.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Thank you, Steve.

Nikon drops the mirror

As all the rumours have suggested, Nikon today announced a new mirrorless camera system. Known as Nikon 1, the new cameras will feature a tiny CMOS sensor that’s much smaller than the type typically found in DSLRs, but bigger than your usual point and shoot. It also uses a new Nikon-only lens mount system, though traditional Nikon F lenses can be adapted if desired.

The announcement ushered in two new cameras - a low end “J1″ model and a higher end “V1″ model. The V1 contains an electronic viewfinder, and the J1 does not. Four different lenses were announced as well.

Interesting development. Nikon is directly aiming at people who are currently dissatisfied with their compact cameras, but want a performance upgrade without the bulk and complication of a DSLR.

More movie threat panic

This time from the chief of police of Long Beach, California. Who apparently has sadly fallen into the panic mode mindset that since terrorists are always shown using cameras in movies, real-life photographers must be treated as terrorists.