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Breaking new ground


By Erick Lirios


Every Canon launch is always full of exciting new discoveries and it’s only a question of what new things will be coming out. No less than four cameras were recently launched with a rather interesting new flash unit making its debut.

Undoubtedly the most awaited announcement was the EOS M50, the first Canon mirrorless camera that can shoot 4K video. The filmmakers of the world have been lamenting the fact that all the Canon mirrorless offerings so far have been rather slow auto focusing machines and were all incapable of shooting 4K video. While all of them—up to the M5 and M6—could shoot at full HD, that was their upper limit. Not anymore. The EOS M50 not only focuses much faster now and shoots at 4K, it also closely resembles a DSLR without the DSLR heft and weight. This announcement was the decided star of the show in this launch event. The camera also comes with the new DIGIC 8 image processor promising much better rendering of images. Also, unlike the M3, M5, M6, M10, and M100 which all had a flipping LCD screen, the M50 is a portent of things to come. It has a fully articulating screen that allows so much more flexibility in shooting especially high- or low-angle shots. It also makes doing interviews all the more convenient. All this power plus access to all EOS-M and both the EF and EF-S lenses (via an adapter, of course) goes for less than R45,000.

Somewhat similar in look to the M50 is the also newly-launched Powershot G1X Mark III featuring rock-solid Canon construction complete with dust and water resistance and the biggest sensor the company has ever put into a compact camera. This means much better image quality especially in low-light situations. Couple that large sensor with the DIGIC 7 image processor and you’re in for some exciting shooting experiences. A bit of a letdown though is the fact that the lens, compact though it is, has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 while some competing products can shoot all the way up to f/1.8. Also, this camera shoots at full HD—not 4k. What is very obvious from the very beginning is its compactness. While there is a built-in flash, there is a hot shoe allowing the use of the more powerful and versatile Canon flash units like the 470EX-AI. (More on that later.) There is so much power here that easily slides into a pocket. For all those picture-taking opportunities when weight, portability, and image quality cannot be compromised, this is one sure option. The price for this baby? Less than R 65,000.

Not to be outdone, the entry-level market just got not one but two new options—the 1500D and the 3000D. The higher specified camera, as is with all Canon cameras, is the unit with the lower number. The 1500D shoots at 24 megapixels while the 3000D shoots at a more than decent 18 megapixels. Both do feature DIGIC 4+, not up to the level of the M50 but still impressive nonetheless. Both also shoot video at full HD but the 3000D has a smaller and lower resolution LCD screen. As can be expected, the 3000D is the lighter of the two by almost 40 grams. Lastly, while both have WiFi connectivity allowing easy interfacing with smart phones for quick uploads of photos and videos to social media, only the 1500D has NFC connectivity available. No price on these guys yet. Do wait for them to be announced.

Perhaps the surprising star of the launch, however, was not even a camera. It was an external flash unit, the 470EX AI. People used to the Canon naming conventions will be surprised with the last two letters. Is Canon now playing with artificial intelligence? Seems like it. It was amazing to see how the flash adjusted its head after it was “told” how the subject was oriented and where the photographer wanted to bounce the light coming from the flash. Instead of the photographer having to move the head using another hand using and losing a few precious moments, the 470EX-AI just makes the adjustment on its own, moving its motorized head on its own, allowing the photographer to focus on the subject to get a shot done resulting in a light that is flattering to the subject without looking fake. The trick even works if you bounce light on a wall or a reflector; it doesn’t have to be the ceiling all the time. What’s even better? Canon always thinks in terms of providing a whole system to photography enthusiasts and professionals. This is a mid-range Canon Speedlite as evidenced by its guide number of 47 and this obviously means an incredibly exciting future for Canon shooters especially when the more power and top-of-the-line flash unit is introduced.

All of these cameras and the exciting new flash unit show how Canon has not lost focus on its very varied customer base. While some have expressed concern that other brands seemed to have taken the lead from Canon especially in terms of mirrorless technology, this launch seems to be the announcement that Canon is still more than alive and that it has a lot in store for all its fans. The future is exciting indeed.

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