September 22, 2008 Only a few short weeks ago we heralded Nikon's HD video ready D90 as a landmark "first of many all-in-one imaging devices" that pack the combination of processing technology and quality lenses necessary for capturing BOTH still images and video of the highest standards... and we haven't needed to wait long for the next mouth-watering installment. Canon's EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera not only features a full frame (24 x 36mm), 21.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, low noise, extended sensitivity range, improved performance in tricky light conditions, two different file size options for shooting in RAW format and a host of other impressive specs, it also captures HD video at an unprecedented 1920 x 1080 resolution at 30 fps.*
Fan's of the previous EOS 5D have waited since 2005 for Mark II, and it appears to be well worth it. The unit's versatile video capture capabilities allow it to shoot 4:3 standard TV quality (SD) video at 640 x 480 pixels as well as 6:9 Full HD video. Video's of 4GB per clip can be recorded up to a maximum time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds - expect about 12 minutes of video at full HD resolution. Clips are recorded in .MOV format using an MPEG-4 video compression and sound is recorded using linear PCMii without compression. Connectivity options mean you can plug in an external stereo microphone (there's also a monaural microphone on-board) as well as play-back straight to your High-Definition TV via the HDMI output and the camera also works with the more than 60 Canon EF lenses on the market
The EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR offers a full-frame still shooting equivalent to a 35mm film camera via its 21.1 megapixel CMOS sensor with continuous shooting at 3.9 frames per second. It's 15-point Autofocus (AF) sensor includes nine selectable AF points plus six additional Assist AF points (three center AF points sensitive to f/2.8 lenses). The sensor boasts reduced noise and expanded sensitivity in combination with the new DIGIC 4 image processor - ISO speeds range from ISO 100 up to ISO 6400 in 1/3-stop increments and there's also two high-speed settings (ISO 12800 and ISO 25600) and a low-speed setting of ISO 50.
Canon's "Live View Shooting" modes apply to both still images and video, offering user enhancements like the ability to fine-tune the AF point while viewing the live image or use face detection to zero-in on human faces in the frame. Additional high-tech user assistance comes in the form of Peripheral Illumination Correction, which automatically ups peripheral illumination for JPEG images; Auto Lighting Optimizer, which brings out dark areas surrounding the subject; and a new "Creative Auto Mode" (introduced with the new EOS 50DLINK) which enables aperture or shutter speed to be tweaked using the navigation screen on the camera's LCD. For video capture the Live View function enables adjustments to image sharpness, contrast, color saturation and white balance apply to the movie image
The aforementioned choice of RAW formats gives added flexibility in balancing memory capacity with the shooting mode - sRAW1 provides a 25 percent smaller file size than the standard 21.1-megapixel RAW image and sRAW2 setting is less than half the file size.
Images are viewed through 3.0-inch Clear View LCD screen with 920,000 dot/VGA resolution (four times the pixel count of the EOS 5D) and the camera is equipped with a high-performance optical viewfinder providing 98 percent coverage. The integrated self-cleaning system has also been updated with the Sensor Unit now featuring a fluorine coating on the low-pass filter for better dust resistance.
A release date of late November has been set for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera which will cost USD$2,699 for the body only or bundled with Canon's EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens for USD$3,499.
* The Nikon D90 shoots HD but at 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels).
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