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1D Mark II n Unveiled

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August 22, 2005 - Canon U.S.A. will start shipping the Canon 1D Mark II n (spec sheet) in mid-September, the company announced today. With a minimum advertised price of $3,999, the camera is the successor to the 1D Mark II, and lists for $500 less than the earlier camera did when it was introduced.

According to Chuck Westfall, Director of media and customer relations for the camera marketing group at Canon U.S.A., "What you will see is a set of minor, but usable type upgrades that professional photographers have requested. That’s the main reason that the 1D Mark II n was brought out." The new camera uses the same 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor as its predecessor, and offers the same industry-topping 8.5 frames per second burst speed. The APS-H format sensor measures 28.7 x 19.1 mm.

The body of Canon 1D Mark II n now includes a 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel LCD screen, for a 50 percent increase in area over the 2-inch LCD on the previous model. The 1D Mark II n will also start up in 0.2 seconds, which is faster than the old model.

The new camera has a more efficient burst mode, which allows for sequences of up to 22 RAW images at 8.5 frames per second. While the frame rate remains the same, the new camera's 22-image capacity is 10 percent larger than the old one’s. The modified 1D Mark II n will enable users to set the frame rates for High and Low continuous shooting modes over a wide range of speeds: Low can be set for any rate from 1 to 7 fps, and High can be set from 2 to 8.5 fps.

Canon has reorganized its settings for image adjustments, grouping Sharpness, Contrast, Color Saturation and Color Tone under a "Picture Style" heading in the camera menu. The camera ships with six preset picture styles, including Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome. Canon reports that Standard matches the Digital Rebel series Parameter 1, while Portrait and Landscape do the obvious. Both Neutral and Faithful are designed to preserve as much data as possible for post-processing, though Faithful produces the closest possible colorimetric match with the original.

Several interface tweaks are likely to please users who shoot in fast-paced environments. Although some of the changes appear subtle, Canon says the alterations stem from feedback they received from many professional photographers.

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The revisions will now make it easier to switch between CompactFlash and Smart Digital media on the new camera, and it's possible, when shooting RAW + JPEG, to save the two formats to separate memory cards. The camera can also save the same image to both cards, or save to one card and then automatically switch to the second when the first card is full.

Reviewing images on the 1D Series II n has gotten more efficient as well. When magnifying images displayed on the LCD, you can zoom in directly on any of the autofocus points, not just the center of the screen. The camera also remembers the last-displayed image and jumps to it, not the last image shot. The new camera will also enlarge images in Quick Review mode, which should speed up focus checks.

The 1D Mark II n will also automatically create a new folder when it records file number 9999, and the user can set the first four characters of the images' filenames. Both features are new for the 1D series. The Mark II n will also allow users to set various menu options while the camera is writing images to memory.

In terms of visibility, users of the 1D Mark II n will now be able to view ISO settings and ISO bracketing without taking their eye away from the viewfinder. On the older camera, users would have to look at the LCD on the top of the camera to change the settings.

The 1D Mark II n also contains a new focusing screen, which facilitates manual focus. The Ec-S screen makes focus more pronounced onscreen, but is only usable with f/2.8 or faster lenses. The Ec-S is not compatible with older cameras, something Canon may address with future firmware updates.

For improved print capabilities, Canon enhanced the PictBridge options on the 1D Series II n, offering a faux-contact sheet layout, and two other layouts that print Exif data next to thumbnails on new, compatible Canon PIXMA printers.

However, with all the interface revisions, Canon left the camera’s core components untouched; the CMOS imager is unchanged, as is the DIGIC II image processor, the all-metal body, and of course its compatibility with EF lenses and the accessories for the 1D and 1D Series II cameras.

The 1D Series II n is marketed as Canon's mainstay professional camera. It's popular with photojournalists, along with portrait and wedding photographers. The $7,250, 16.6 megapixel Canon 1Ds Series II tops out the Canon line, but applies more to studio photographers less concerned with speed.

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