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Canon EOS-10D

Canon revamps their hugely popular D60 SLR, with ahost of improvements and a dramatic price cut!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 02/27/2003

Executive Overview
Canon's EOS-D60 digital SLR was arguably one of the most in-demand digital cameras throughout all of 2002. Consequently, it was great surprise to many of us (myself included) when dealers began running out of them in early 2003, and word came down that it was no longer being manufactured. Now, just prior to the Spring 2003 PMA show, the reason becomes clear: Not content to rest on their laurels, Canon had something even better up their corporate sleeve. What's most impressive about the EOS-10D though (apart from the astonishing $700 drop in retail price relative to the D60) is the sheer number and scope of the improvements that Canon has made in it. Apart from the specifications of pixel count and sensor size, shutter speed and basic metering system, there's hardly an aspect of camera operation that hasn't been significantly improved. The new model offers the same excellent exposure control and image quality (actually, better image quality), but with an improved, seven-point autofocus system, updated electronics, a faster processing chip, improved signal processing algorithms to reduce noise and improve color fidelity, improved autofocus performance, multiple color space capability, direct printing capability, and much more. The camera body itself looks much the same as that of the D60, but now sports magnesium-alloy body panels and an enhanced control layout. The camera's 6.3-megapixel CMOS sensor captures the same maximum resolution of 3,072 x 2,048 pixels, with two JPEG compression levels and a RAW format, but image quality appears to have been stepped up another notch. Exposure control is very similar to the previous D60, with the addition of a new "Flash Off" shooting mode, and the EOS 10D continues to operate and feel much like its 35mm EOS cousins.

Like the D30 and D60, the EOS 10D features Canon's standard EF lens mount, which accommodates a host of lenses. Aperture and focal ranges will vary with the lens in use, but the camera itself has an improved autofocus system that uses a seven-point array for more accurate focus (as opposed to the D60's three-point AF system). Seven AF points are laid out in a cross pattern in the viewfinder display, and the camera assesses all seven points to determine the proximity of the subject and consequently the best point to use in determining focus. The same One-Shot and AI Servo AF modes are available, the latter adjusting focus continuously for moving subjects, and the 10D's AF system is considerably more nimble than that in the D60 and the D30 before it. The EOS 10D offers what Canon terms "Predictive AF," which basically tracks the rate at which a subject is approaching or receding from the camera, and accurately focuses based on the subject's predicted position. (A features that sports photographers will no doubt appreciate.) An AI Focus AF mode switches back and forth between One Shot and AI Servo AF modes, depending on whether or not the subject is moving. Additionally, you have the ability to manually select one of the seven AF points as the controlling focus point, or leave the area selection under automatic control. The EOS 10D offers a TTL optical viewfinder, which displays an impressive amount of exposure information. The 1.8-inch, rear-panel, color LCD monitor is for image review and menu display only. The EOS 10D also features a small status display panel on its top panel, which reports a large number of camera settings as well.

Exposure control on the EOS 10D is exceptional, with a full range of exposure modes to choose from. Basic exposure modes include full Auto, Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Auto Depth of Field modes. Auto Depth of Field mode is quite useful, in that it intelligently uses the seven AF points to determine the nearest and most distant points of the subject. It uses that information to get the best depth of field while using the fastest shutter speed possible. Within what Canon calls the "Image Zone," are a handful of preset scene modes, including Portrait, Landscape, Close-up (Macro), Sports, Night Portrait, and Flash Off. The newest addition here is the Flash Off mode, which essentially disables the flash but leaves exposure under automatic control. With these scene modes, the 10D becomes approachable for even rank amateurs. Shutter speeds on the EOS 10D range from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, with a Bulb mode available in Manual mode that allows shutter times as long as 999 seconds. Metering modes include Evaluative (can link to any AF point), Partial, and Center-Weighted. The camera's Exposure Compensation function increases or decreases the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in either 1/2 or 1/3-step increments. The EOS 10D also features Auto Exposure Bracketing, ISO values from 100 to 3,200, and AE lock. White balance options include six presets, an Auto setting, Custom setting (manual adjustment), and a Kelvin temperature setting with a range from 2,800 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin. You can also bracket white balance through an LCD menu option. Color space options include sRGB and Adobe RGB, and the Parameters setting lets you adjust contrast, saturation, sharpness, and color tone.

The EOS 10D has a Self-Timer mode, which provides a (fixed) 10-second delay after the Shutter button is pressed before the shutter actually opens. You can also trip the shutter remotely with the optional wired remote control, which plugs directly into the camera body. A Continuous Shooting mode captures a maximum of nine frames at approximately three frames per second, while the Shutter button is held down. In addition to the top-mounted external flash hot shoe and PC sync terminal, the EOS 10D has a built-in, pop-up flash with Redeye Reduction and Slow Sync settings. A Flash Exposure Compensation function controls the flash exposure, and a Flash Exposure Bracketing option works similarly to the normal Auto Exposure Bracketing.

Images are stored on CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards, and the EOS 10D is compatible with the IBM MicroDrives. (The 10D also supports FAT 32 directory structures, allowing it to use memory cards more than 2GB in size.) The camera doesn't come with memory card, so I highly recommend picking up at least a 128MB card for starters (really though, plan on at least a 512MB), given the camera's high resolution and handy RAW+JPEG file format. A USB cable connects the camera to a computer, and accompanying software CDs feature Canon's EOS DIGITAL Solution Disk software and a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. The Canon software is required for processing the camera's RAW files, including those saved with an embedded JPEG image. The EOS 10D also features a Video Out jack, and comes with a cable for connecting to a television set. For power, the EOS 10D uses a Canon BP-511 battery pack, and comes with one battery and a charger. (I highly recommend picking up a spare and keeping it charged and ready.)

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