Breaking news: Canon 5D Mark II

I don’t usually republish press releases, but this is so fresh that I’m taking liberties:

Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today introduced the EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera, the long-awaited successor to Canon’s highly popular EOS 5D, introduced in 2005. Building upon the qualities that made the EOS 5D camera so successful, Canon has coupled the creative power of a full- frame CMOS sensor in a relatively compact and affordable camera body, together with groundbreaking HD video capture that opens the door to a much wider range of imaging possibilities for photographers. Along with the ability to capture full HD video clips at 1920 x 1080 resolution, Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

There’s more, of course, but let me summarize the highlights as I see them:

Price? Body-only retail price is announced at $2699, available by the end of November. They also announced a 24mm f/1.4L lens at the same time.

One other feature that Canon called out that I thought was interesting was the availability of “small RAW” modes. Anyone who has shot with a higher-megapixel body knows how they can bring even newer computers to their knees when processing the RAWs. You can always shoot small JPEG, of course, but then you lose some flexibility. So the 5D Mark II has, in addition to its standard 21.1 megapixel RAW format a 10 megapixel and a 5.2 megapixel mode: smaller file sizes, but retaining all the advantages of RAW; perfect for when you don’t need a full size file but still want to retain maximal flexibility in dealing with white balance and exposure. I think this is a great idea.

Here’s a picture of the new camera (Photo courtesy Canon USA):

5dmark2

I’d say this exceeds the expectations people have had for the 5D Mark II, and is an exciting answer to Nikon’s D700. Nikon has been on fire lately, and some commentators have wondered if Canon had anything interesting to offer in reply. I think that this combination of features, and especially including HD video recording, qualifies as extremely interesting.

We’ll have to wait until we can get our hands on one to see how it performs compared to the Nikons, but at least on paper this is a very credible contender.