The big news this morning is the official rollout of three cameras and a lens from Canon, and I'm sure interested parties will be burrowing into the features lists and happily parsing the changes and improvements. The 40D and 1DsMk3 both occupy prominent places of honor in Canon's line. The 40D is a revision of the 30D, which was a revision of the 20D, which was a revision of the 10D. Each in its turn has been Canon's mainstream beyond-entry-level DSLR for mainstream amateurs and certain types of workaday pros. The 1DsMk3 is one of the company's two flagships—the one for ultimate image quality. (Ultimate speed and pro performance for action photography is left to the 1D series.)
This conceptual line between the 1DsMk3 and the 1DMk3 blurs considerably because the 1DMk3 has superb image quality and the 1DsMk3 has superb performance. The new 1dsMk3 ups the megapixel ante over the Mk2 by quite a bit, however (26%), to 21, and that, along with its full-sized (i.e., 35mm-sized) sensor, separates it nicely from the 1DMk3. I'm sure Canon sells relatively few of these top-end cameras, but for those whose needs it fits and whose businesses can amortize the cost—and who for one reason or another don't care to get into the product universe of medium-format digital backs—it's big news. It's going to be especially tempting to art and landscape photographers who make very large prints.
So is either one for you? To help to with your thinking about that, Jeff Ascough has written a nice little piece about the three questions he asks himself to determine if he needs a new camera. Here's a brief taste:
For me, I firmly believe the purchase of all my cameras has made me a better photographer, simply because they've all been completely different from the last one. The experience that I’ve gained from using different cameras has improved my work overall. I bought an Xpan and immediately saw the world panoramically. I bought a Leica and saw the world sharp front to back. These cameras have come and gone but they've all left their mark on my style and approach, even though I now shoot with DSLRs. The trouble is my cameras now do everything I want them to do, and this makes the decision to upgrade so much harder when the latest models come along.
Easily overlooked in the shadow of the two eagerly-awaited updates is a new camera, the evolution of the G series, called the G9. Although a digicam, this one's interesting because it restores RAW capability to Canon's top-of-the-line digicam—which also proves that Canon listens to its customers, since the lack of RAW in the G7 has gathered a lot of criticism since that camera came out. (Unfortunately, they don't listen to everything—wide angle capability is still limited.)
Elsewhere on the web, J. Andrzej Wrotniak has designed experiments to help quantify how good the in-body image stabilization in the Olympus E-510 actually is. TOP readers, being highly intelligent and principled, won't just take his results out of context and repeat them mindlessly elsewhere on the web—they'll read the whole article in context and accept Andrzej's caveats and the boundaries of his experiment.
Antonio D. is right—I really don't like this. Considering that photographs are a basic way of conveying real information, this sort of travesty is a good way to render them suspect, or useless, or worse. The authors' next project is probably going to be to a computer program whereby written text can be re-written to change its meaning and bring it into line with the reader's own opinions and pre-existing biases. Want to read a Robert Novak column with all his opinions changed to those of a left-leaning liberal? No problem. "Seam carving" for content-aware opinion modification will take care of it....er, hold on. Bad example.
On the home front, here in Wisconsin it's monsoon season. We don't actually have a monsoon season, or at least not usually, but that hasn't stopped it from raining for three days straight. We spent a marvelous evening last night at the home of our friends Witold and Maria in Glencoe, Illinois. Real Polish hospitality is truly magnificent—Witold (who arrived from Poland in 1975 with $20 in his pocket and the clothes on his back) sent us home with a steak of grass-fed organic beef tenderloin for the dog (I cheated and fed it to the kid, despite the fact that he'd already eaten three of them at the party), and I think I can stop eating desserts now—Maria served an enormous pear tort that has to be the pinnacle of the category. I took only three pictures, and all three of them turned out pretty nicely. Here's one. The woman in the light is my cool sister-in-law, Basia.
Mike (Thanks to Albano Garcia, Stefan Zemp, and Antonio Dias)