MANILA, Philippines?Canon has a very interesting world domination strategy: Make its entry-level digital SLRs enticing and everything else will fall into place.
?The buyers of our entry-level dSLRs are those who have, for so many years, enjoyed using their point-and-shoot cameras or even their camera phones. However, they will later realize that to be able to achieve superior images, they will definitely need to step up to a much better performing but still convenient ... type of digital imaging device,? said Masaya Maeda of Canon?s image communication products operations division.
Maeda added that, once these budding photographers got hooked on a particular brand, they would soon buy additional lenses and external flash for the same product.
Canon set its grand plan in motion during the recent CP+ photography trade fair in Yokohama, Japan, where it launched two new entry-level EOS cameras, two new external flash units for its dSLRs, as well as four dSLR lenses.
Both the EOS 600D and EOS 1100D emphasizes ease of use for shutterbugs.
The 600D, priced at around P45,000, is identical in many aspects with the current 550D. The 600D has the same 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, ISO range (100 to 12,800), continuous shooting rate of 3.9 frames per second, 63-zone metering system, and 9-point AF system.
New to the 600D, however, is the 3-inch 1.04 million dot/VGA resolution LCD that could be swiveled, the addition of creative filters, and the ?Movie Digital Zoom? feature that crops video straight from the sensor for 3x and 10x zoom while shooting HD video.
Canon also gave the 600D a new ?EOS Feature Guide? that provided detailed descriptions of camera settings and ?Basic+? feature, allowing users to make changes to settings via easier to understand options.
Then there is Canon?s smallest and lightest dSLR, the 12-megapixel EOS 1100D. The P32,000 entry-level dSLR sports a DIGIC 4 processing power, 9-AF points, 63-zone iFCL metering system, ISO speeds of up to 6400, and a 720p HD video recording capability.
To help budding photographers, the 1100D offers intuitive, on-screen feature guide that provides descriptions of many of the camera?s functions. Its easy to use Scene modes and Basic+ features automatically pick the most suitable exposure, focus and drive-mode settings for the subject being photographed. Its Creative Auto mode portrays adjustable functions in an easy to understand way.
With Canon?s Basic + technology, the look and feel of these basic auto modes can be fine-tuned according to ambience and lighting type.
For those who would like to venture into HD video recording, the 1100D allows shooters to take HD video at 25fps or 30fps, with automatic exposure control that lets the user free to concentrate on the action.
Also paired with these two new entry-level dSLRs is the new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens.
This affordable image stabilizing lens offers a general purpose focal length range ideal for those starting out in serious photography. The new lens, based on its tech spec, is identical to the original version with features like 4-stop image stabilization, circular aperture diaphragm, which offers smoother background blur, and an aspherical lens element with Super Spectra coating that promises to produce sharp high-contrast images with less ghosting and flaring. What is noticeable is the lens? body texture that looks like Canon?s more expensive L lenses.
Of course, Canon hasn?t forgotten those who would like to beef up their collection of lenses. The Japanese imaging giant also upgraded its existing super telephoto EF 500mm f/4L IS USM and EF 600mm f/4 IS USM, which now sport a ?II? appellation.
This means both updated lenses now feature redesigned optical elements with fluorite components designed to offer images that are sharper and with better contrast, improved Ultrasonic Motor autofocus performance, better image stabilizing system (that now offers a third mode, which activates IS only on exposure) that should aid photographers track fast-moving subjects more efficiently.
Both lenses are now weather-proofed. While Maeda stopped short of revealing what sort of tests were done, he assured the media that the new lenses now employed much lighter magnesium alloy and titanium components. They are made much tougher and equipped with better seals to resist water splashes and rain, as well as dust. This should be good news for wildlife and sports photographers who have to haul these rather huge lenses wherever they go, whatever the weather may be.
The most intriguing of Canon?s new lenses was the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x. This super telephoto lens is already excellent for the focal length range and maximum aperture it offers. But with a 1.4x teleconverter?which is usually sold separately?this turns the lens into a 280-560mm with a constant aperture of f/5.6.
Together with the cameras and lenses, Canon also introduced two new Speedlite external flash units for those who want to beef up their imaging arsenal. The 320EX is a complete package for still photography (Guide Number of 32 at ISO100) as it features a tilt and swivel head for bouncing light and a wireless control. It could also be controlled on one of four ?channels? to allow groups of flashes with different output level.
What is new is the built-in LED video light that offers continuous illumination when using a dSLR?s video capture mode during low-light condition.
Another Speedlite introduced is the 270EX II, which replaces the current 270EX. While it offers a slave mode function, just like the 320EX, ability to bounce flash shooting (using four position steps from 0 degrees to 90 degrees), the 270EX II however, does not allow users to work in channels.
Both models also feature a built-in infrared Remote Release function to trigger the shutter release of compatible EOS models, such as Canon?s 600D, 60D or 7D. This feature saves the shooter from going back to the camera after setting up the lighting.