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Canon's EOS-20Da digital SLR. Courtesy of Canon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Canon EOS 20Da coming, but not for infrared (UPDATED)
(Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 13:48 EDT)

Canon Europe has announced that the Canon EOS 20Da, released in the Japanese market earlier this year, will soon be available to the rest of the world. Canon USA is expected to make the same announcement soon.

The camera is a special release intended for use by astronomers, including a modified filter and a special "live view" mode via the LCD, an unusual feature in a digital SLR.

There is some confusion, however, about the specific light gathering capabilities of this special edition of the EOS 20D. Some news sources are saying that it has infrared capabilities, and would thus be suitable as an infrared camera. This confusion is likely due to the fact that the low pass filter has been modified to allow light in the 656 nanometer band through.

However, 656 nanometer is within the spectrum of visible light, and that is the key modification in the 20Da. Most infrared photographers are interested in exploiting wavelengths longer than 700 nanometers, and Canon's infrared filter is still in place to block wavelengths from 700 and longer, according to Canon.

This is not really news, as it was covered by Rob Galbraith when the 20Da was originally announced for the Japanese market in February.

From that article: "The camera will be about 250% more sensitive to light in the 656 nanometer band than the standard 20D, says Chuck Westfall, Canon USA's Director of Technical Marketing."

We got hold of Chuck today, and he reiterated, "...according to my understanding, the so-called 'Hydrogen Alpha' wavelength of 656 nm is considered to be the optimum frequency for observation of various astronomical phenomena including solar flares as well as 'hydrogen-rich reddish diffuse nebulae.'"

He was careful to add, "Of course, for safety reasons, Canon is not recommending users to view the sun directly with the EOS 20Da or any other Canon product. However, it is safe to observe and photograph stars other than the sun with this camera."

According to Westfall, Canon is in no way claiming any enhanced IR sensitivity in the EOS 20Da.

We'll add the US release when it is available. The Canon Europe site does not appear to have the release posted at this time.

Thanks to Peter Burian for the tip.

2005-06-02 10:29EST
Added USA press release

Original Source Press Release:


Newest Canon Digital SLR Helps Address The Needs Of Astrophotography Enthusiasts

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., June 2, 2005 -Now that Canon digital SLRs are proven performers on this planet, Canon U.S.A. Inc. is reaching for the stars with the much anticipated EOS 20Da digital SLR. Based on the popular EOS 20D camera and joining it as a companion model in Canon's product line, the new EOS 20Da digital SLR helps address the specific requirements of astrophotography with features such as a live preview LCD and a modified low-pass filter optimized to help photograph the clear night sky in brilliant detail. The EOS 20Da digital SLR will be available in July at an estimated selling price of $2199*

The low-pass filter positioned in front of the EOS 20Da's 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor has been modified from the EOS 20D to yield sharper and higher contrast images of various astronomical phenomena such as diffuse reddish nebulae. The modification increases the transmission of light at the specific wavelength of 656nm, known as the Hydrogen Alpha line, or H wavelength, by a factor of 2.5x compared to the standard EOS 20D digital SLR. Although optimized for astrophotography, the EOS 20Da can also be used for most conventional photography by mounting an optional filter on the lens in use. **

"The EOS 20Da digital SLR is a direct result of Canon addressing the specialized needs of the astrophotography market," 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. (NYSE:CAJ). "By offering the EOS 20Da, we hope to make it both easier and more cost effective for astronomy enthusiasts to photograph the heavens, as well as events here on earth."

While traditional digital SLRs lack a live preview due to the blocking of the image sensor by a reflex mirror and shutter, the EOS 20Da digital SLR addresses this issue by locking up the mirror and opening the shutter to display a magnified live view of the subject on the 1.8" LCD monitor. (This feature is effective for clear night viewing conditions only.) To help ensure a sharp focus, the central portion of the image can be magnified on the LCD by 5x (4% of the picture area) or 10x (1% of the picture area). The live view mode can also be viewed through most TV monitors while connected to the EOS 20Da camera's video OUT terminal.

Photographers can also attach the EOS 20Da digital SLR to a telescope through the use of widely available optional T-mounts. The EOS 20Da is also compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses***, the world's largest selection of interchangeable autofocus lenses, including select image stabilized telephoto lenses.

The EOS 20Da digital SLR features enhanced noise reduction for long exposures, achieved by incorporating an optimized CMOS control system. A custom function is also available for noise reduction, so users can enjoy the wide array of ISO settings ranging from 50-3200.

The EOS 20Da retains the same features that have made the EOS 20D digital SLR a favorite among discerning photographers, such as Canon's own DIGIC II processor for low noise, high speed, and excellent image quality. Other features include a nine point autofocus system, full manual controls, up to five frames per second burst mode, and a choice between RAW, JPEG, and RAW+JPEG image recording capabilities. To reduce vibration at the start of the exposure, self-timer and mirror lock-up functions are integrated into the camera. The camera also features a backlit LCD display on top for easy adjustments of camera settings in the dark.

To support the needs of astrophotography, Canon provides a full line of EOS system accessories compatible with the EOS 20Da digital SLR. For better control over shutter release timing and to reduce vibration, Canon offers remote control solutions like Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3, as well as Remote Switch RS-80N3. When the camera is attached to a telescope, low angles make composing shots through the viewfinder difficult. Canon's response is the Angle Finder C**** which attaches to the camera's eyepiece. To increase battery life for even longer exposures, Battery Grip BG-E2 is available. It accepts two rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries or widely available AA-size batteries.

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc. delivers consumer, business-to-business, and industrial imaging solutions. The Company is listed as one of Fortune's Most Admired Companies in America and is rated #35 on the BusinessWeek list of "Top 100 Brands." Its parent company Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ) is a top patent holder of technology, ranking third overall in the U.S. in 2004, with global revenues of $33.3 billion. For more information, visit www.usa.canon.com.


All referenced product names, and other marks, are trademarks of their respective owners.
Specifications are subject to change with notice.
*Pricing is subject to change without notice at any time. All prices are set by the individual dealer and may vary.
**Note that when photographing normal subjects with a high infrared reflectivity, an infrared cut filter on the lens will allow the camera to perform similar to the EOS 20D digital SLR.
***Select EF lenses with electronic manual focusing cannot be used for manual focusing in the live view mode.
****Requires the use of supplied adapter Ec-C.

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