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August 22, 2005 – Today, amid a slew of new releases, Canon put an end to countless rumors with the introduction of the full-frame EOS 5D. While not compatible with EF-S lenses, the full-frame sensor matches the size of a 35mm film frame, preserving the original focal perspective of all EF lenses. At an initial price of $3,299 (USD), Canon expects the camera’s full-frame nature, 12.8 megapixels, 60 JPEG and 17 RAW burst capacity, enhanced autofocus system, and relatively compact body to appeal to a wide array of photographers when it becomes available in early October.
Currently, the EOS 5D (spec sheet) is the most compact and affordable full-frame DSLR on the market. Borrowing from the design of the 20D, the internal configuration of 1D series models, and the Rebel XT’s marketing slant, the 5D will offer Canon EF optics to high-end amateur and professional photographers in need of a more portable option.
According to Chuck Westfall, Director of Media and Consumer Relations for the Camera and marketing Group at Canon U.S.A., the 5D is "the first full-frame digital SLR anywhere near the price, establishing a new category which we call ‘premium’ SLRs."
The camera’s chief noteworthy component, its 35.8mm x 23.9mm 12.8 megapixel full-frame single-plate CMOS sensor, contains enough surface area to house pixels roughly the same size as the 1D Mark II’s, at 8.2 micros. Canon expects the enlarged pixels to produce images with richer color tones and increased dynamic range from the EOS 20D, which had 22% smaller pixels at 6.4 microns. Considering the physical size of the 5D’s sensor, the camera’s relatively portable 6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0-inch (79.2 inch3), 28.6 oz. magnesium alloy frame should appeal to commercial photographers, as well as advanced enthusiasts, in search of a more physically manageable full-frame alternative.
"Wedding and portrait photographers who need facial detail in their group shots require the large file sizes the EOS 5D model can provide. For landscape and nature photographers who want to enjoy the entire range of their wide angle lenses, the EOS 5D DSLR’s full-frame sensor is a dream come true. And for those photographers who hesitate at carrying around EOS-1 Series heft, they will love the EOS 5D digital SLR’s lightweight feel," said Yukiaki Hashimoto, senior vice president and general manager of the consumer imaging group at Canon U.S.A., Inc., a subsidiary of Canon Inc.
To accommodate the camera’s full-frame sensor, Canon applied what they deem a rugged, "professional-quality," vertical travel focal plane type shutter, designed to sustain roughly 100,000 exposures. The available shutter range extends from 1/8000 to 30 seconds with a Bulb exposure setting included. The mirror box, formed out of "high-strength engineering plastic," was crafted to stay securely fastened to the chassis to minimize flange focal distance alteration, which can result from frequent lens application. The camera’s multi-function anti-aliasing filter consists of an infrared-blocking filter, primary low-pass filter, secondary low-pass filter, and phase plate, which also does double duty the sensor’s cover glass. The anti-aliasing filter’s unique design keeps down the camera’s price and size.
While the EOS 5D will not accept EF-S lenses, the full-frame sensor will make for seamless compatibility with the wide array of EF glass offerings currently on the market. In fact, Canon seems convinced that the full lens compatibility, coupled with the manageable body and increased tonal qualities, will lure remaining film loyalists who have an investment in Canon optics over to the digital realm. Hashimoto remarked, "the Canon EOS 5D digital SLR is the camera that will make quality-minded 35mm and medium format film shooters switch to digital once and for all."
**THE EOS 5D: AN IN-DEPTH LOOK
**While the 5D’s full-frame sensor is certainly the aspect most likely to draw attention, the camera boasts an extensive list of other updated features. They are discussed more in depth below, and concluded with a chart that summarizes how the new 5D compares with the EOS 20D, which it was loosely based off and a similarly priced, competing DLSR made by Nikon, the D2H, on a few critical specs.
The design of the 5D appears quite similar to the 20D, but slightly larger, physically fitting between the EOS 1D models and 20D. The camera is roughly 4 oz. heavier than the 20D, while 33 percent lighter and 35 percent smaller than the 1Ds Mark II. The control layout and basic interface remains consistent with the EOS 20D, but omits the pop-up flash and picture icons on the mode dial. The 5D also applies a Print and Share button, expediting communication with PictBridge-enabled printers. The camera accepts either NiMH or AA cells and has a selection of optional battery grips to choose from.
The various battery grips crafted to fit the EOS 5D body are all constructed out of the same magnesium alloy used to form the camera’s shell. This is to maintain a cohesive look and feel, while remaining lightweight and durable. Canon estimates the stamina of the BP-511A and BP-514 packs at 800 shots on a full charge, while the BP-E4 accessory grip contains a separate mode dial and shutter release to optimize vertical shooting. **Auto Focus
**To match the standards of top quality EF lenses, the EOS 5D will feature a modified variation of the 20D’s automatic focusing system. The revised AF design of the 5D is based off the 9-point horizontal diamond-shaped array found in the 20D, but adds 6 supplemental AF points to increase focusing capability. The supplemental AF points are not visible within the viewfinder or manually selectable by the user, but are distributed near the center of the frame. The increased coverage situates 7 total AF points within the spot metering circle; the high precision sensor in middle, and two rows of three supplemental AF points on the top and bottom. The additional coverage is designed to improve subject tracking capabilities and increase accuracy at the center of the composition. When using the camera’s continuous, predictive AI SERVO mode, the additional reference points help follow moving subjects. The supplemental points are also used to help determine proper exposure values in high contrast situations, as well as improve the camera’s focusing potential from a defocused state.
Along with the revised point configuration, the 5D’s AF system features new circuitry and a new AF algorithm that will reportedly track a moving subject up to 66 feet away, at 186 mph when using Predictive AF and an EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.
Canon ascribes different responsibilities to the various types of AF points. The 6 supplemental AF points are broken in 2 and 4 point groupings, with the 4 external supplemental AF points placed at the corners of the spot metering circle and sensitive to f/5.6. The 2 supplemental AF points are centered at the top and bottom of the spot circle and sensitive to f/2.8. The top and bottom supplemental points overlap core f/5.6-sensitive AF points to create the same cross-type "zigzag" pattern characteristic of the central AF point. The central AF point is dualistic in nature, taking on the duties of both core and supplemental AF points in certain situations. When shooting with an f/2.8 lens or faster, essentially two successive focusing processes take place; first, the cross-type sensor, sensitive to f/5.6 achieves focus. Shortly after, the horizontal line-sensitive AF sensor, sensitive to f/2.8 takes over and fine-tunes focus to increase accuracy. The center AF’s f/5.6-sensitive vertical and horizontal-line sensitive sensors each contain two lines, arranged in what Canon describes as a "zigzag pattern." The four lines intersect in the center to create a cross-type focusing pattern.
**The metering system on the EOS 5D falls between the EOS 20D and 1D models, blending the 20D’s 35-zone metering pattern with the functionality of the 1D cameras. The 5D also adds a spot metering mode to apply concentrated focus to the center of the composition when desired. Functionally, the 5D’s metering system is created to maximize communication between the AF points and metering zones.
**ISO / Noise Reduction
**The full-frame sensor brings high expectations for the EOS 5D’s ability to surpass noise and produce images with impressive clarity. The camera offers a general sensitivity range equivalent to ISO 100-1600 in 1/3-step increments, with ISO expansion of ISO 50 and ISO 3200. Canon does not expect a noticeable increase in noise between the 50 and 100 ISO settings, but rather includes it as a tool to grant studio photographers increased control of F-stop settings in flat studio lighting setups; however, shooting at the expanded ISO 50 option will likely truncate some of the camera’s dynamic range.
Beyond the general sensitivity controls, the 5D offers multiple measures for noise reduction. Along with the large light gathering microlenses enabled by the 8.2 micron pixels, the EOS 5D contains a second-generation on-chip noise reduction circuit to minimize "random and fixed pattern" noise. There is also a long exposure noise reduction mechanism that is controllable by the user through the manipulation of the C.Fn-2 custom function. Users can determine whether the long exposure noise reduction feature is On (active for all exposures exceeding 1 second), Off (not performed), or Automatically controlled. When set to Auto, the camera will engage the long exposure noise reduction function for all exposures over 1 second when noise resulting from the exposure duration or high temperatures is detected (Canon cites "spotty noise" and "reddish corners").
**Burst / Speed
**With 4-channel reading per line, the EOS 5D maintains its 3 frames per second max burst rate at full resolution and can shoot continuously while utilizing noise reduction. Paired with the DIGIC II processor, the EOS 5D displays a considerable burst capacity; extending to 60 consecutive JPEG captures and 17 subsequent RAW images at 3 fps, the 5D will record nearly three times the number of images attainable with the 20D (23 JPEGS). Canon also reports the 5D’s start-up time at 0.2 seconds.
**White balance might be the area in which the 5D bears the most resemblance to the EOS 20D. The 5D includes nine white balance modes in all: Daylight, Shade, Cloudy/Twilight/Sunset, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, Flash, Custom, and Color Temperature in degrees Kelvin (2,800K – 10,000K in 100 degree adjustments), with an automatic setting that utilizes the 1Ds Mark II’s AWB algorithm. Additionally, there is a white balance correction feature available in all white balance settings, adjustable in +/- 9 steps to increase or reduce the level of blue/amber or magenta/green color representation. The EOS 5D also provides a white balance bracketing option available up to +/- 3 stops in whole step increments that can be applied to RAW captures.
**Custom Settings / Options **
The 5D provides 21 custom options for 57 settings. Three additions have been made that were not available on the EOS 20D: a custom option to match the utilized focusing screen; a setting to control how users return to shooting (i.e. shutter control, etc.); and a performance addition when selecting the central focusing point in AI SERVO AF mode. Users can also store one customized set of frequently used settings (Shooting and Menu) to adapt functionality and control accessibility to their personal style and shooting preferences.
**Canon capitalized on the additional space available on the EOS 5D’s frame by applying a 2.5" 230,000 pixel polysilicon TFT LCD – the same monitor fixed to the back of the new 1D Mark II n. Along with the increased screen dimensions, the improved LCD display will offer visibility of up to 170 degrees in all directions. This is a significant improvement from the EOS 20D, providing twice the viewing area and more than two times the screen visibility. Like the EOS 20D, the 5D’s screen will be adjustable in 5 brightness levels; also, the display will be illuminated by six LEDs, rather than the three used on the 20D.
With the enlarged screen, Canon is naturally implementing a larger font face to make menu options easier to discern. According to Canon, the informational display is now "full featured" with file size information and AF display visible, while also adding a RGB histogram. Playback accessed with the quick review function will also be enlargeable on the 5D.
**In terms of viewfinder functionality, the EOS 5D falls directly in-between the EOS 20D and 1D series models. The viewfinder contains 0.71x magnification, a 20mm eyepoint, and offers dioptric adjustment from -3 to +1. Like the 1D models, the viewfinder on the EOS 5D is functional with multiple focusing screens. There are three interchangeable Ee series focusing screens offered, however, the Ec series screens available for the 1D cameras are not compatible. All three Ee series screens offer 96 percent frame coverage, which is far closer to the 95 percent coverage of the 20D, rather than the 100 percent coverage available on the 1Ds Mark II. The three precision matte screens all contain random micro lens construction with varying elements.
The three Ee series focusing screens offered for the EOS 5D are customized to various lenses and shooting situations. The Ee-A standard screen and Ee-D grid-type focusing screen are both optimized for f/5.6 EF lenses and slower, while the Ee-S screen is designed to facilitate manual focusing with high-speed lenses (f/2.8 or faster). The Ee-S screen has finer microlenses than the Ee-A or Ee-D options, along with a steeper parabola of focus to make the image pop in and out of focus more vividly in the viewfinder; however, the Ee-S focusing screen is not recommended for slower lenses because it’s not very bright. Canon approximates the difference in illumination to be roughly the same brightness with fast lenses (f/2.8 or faster) as the normal screen with slower lenses (f/5.6 and slower).
Below the focusing screen, the informational display on the 5D is roughly parallel to the EOS 20D, but adds an FE lock indication. Canon reports viewfinder blackout to be roughly 145 ms at shutter speeds of 1/60 and faster.
**Along with the larger LCD display, the 5D will also bring with it some formidable interface alterations. Like the 1D Mark II n, the EOS 5D will group image parameters into the new standardized Picture Styles format. According to Westfall, the concept behind the modified image options is to "create a central place on the menu to control sharpening, contrast, saturation, and color tone; key elements that control the ‘look’ of the image." Picture Styles options are designed to process the image and shape the look and feel of the photo in much the same way that various films have distinguishable colors, looks, and emotive qualities. On previous EOS digital models, the various default settings differed from EOS model to model. Westfall explained that the 5D's interface is designed to "create a unified, mid-scale type approach to standard default settings." Future EOS models will be set to mid-tone out of the box, with options to revert back to the default look of previous models available. Access to Picture Style parameters will be available in all modes, including presets.
Canon’s new release also emphasizes increased image organization by reconfiguring means of folder creation and image accessibility. Users can manually create folders and manipulate file numbering. The 20D was structured to store 100 images per folder, while the 5D increases that capacity to 9999 images per folder. Once 9999 images are recorded, the camera will automatically create a new folder.
To help make reviewing large numbers of images more palatable, the 5D also implements an improved Jump function. On the 5D, users will be able to "jump" forward or back by 10 images, 100 images, by date, or by folder. The jump feature will also function in thumbnail and magnified views.
**The EOS 5D seems to have been made with some notion of cross-media compatibility. Along with the addition of a Print and Share button, the 5D uses the same high-speed USB interface as the 20D, contains a PC port for non-dedicated flash units, an N3 socket for Canon remote controls, and a video out port for interaction with analogue-based applications. Users can also purchase a WFT-E1/E1A, to make the 5D compatible with wireless/wired LAN image transmission.
The camera ships with EOS Digital Solutions Disk v.11, which includes ZoomBrowser EX 5.5, ImageBrowser 5.5, EOS Capture 1.5 (for both Windows and Mac platforms), PhotoStitch 3.1 (Windows and Mac), Digital Photo Professional v. 2.0, and a set of PTP, WIA, and TWAIN drivers. **(EOS 5D Spec Sheet)**
Canon EOS 5D vs. Canon EOS 20D vs. Nikon D2Hs