After Hiatus, Nikon and Canon War Resumes - Customers Benefit

Aug 27, 2008
David Schloss, Technology Editor

This week saw the launch of two new consumer photographic kits, even though the trade shows are right around the corner. That in itself isn't unusual, but what is unusual is that both Nikon and Canon have released new models, with important new features, in the same week.

Canon's D50 was certainly designed to be a shot across the bow for Nikon—it's a consumer camera packed with several new technologies that haven't even made it yet to the professional models, such as the new DIGIC 4 processor and the D50's ability to perform in-camera vignette removal for specific Canon models.

Many people were expecting a replacement for the 5D, but instead Canon dropped a new camera aimed at a huge part of the market, with some huge new features.

For example, the LCD screen on the 50D is the nicest on any of the company's cameras and the new DIGIC 4 processor in the system allows it to shoot at up to ISO 12,800. It has live view with three different AF modes and it has a massively beautiful new LCD screen. The system includes a sophisticated face-recognition system, a new cleaning and dust repelling system, huge buffer, color temperature analysis and more.

In the previous generations of Canon systems, the DIGIC processor and some cosmetic items were changed in advance to the professional models being released, so once again this is a clear message from Canon to Nikon, "our new professional bodies are coming, and they've got technology in them that puts them on par, or above the D3 system. Get ready."

In the last few years that challenge might have gone unmet for some time, but today Nikon announced a new D90, a follow up to the very popular D80 with some of the new features introduced in the D3, D300 and D700 cameras, including active D-lighting, face focusing, scene recognition and a live focus mode that also features three focusing systems.

It's not so important that the two systems are so closely spec'd as it is that both companies managed to announce two systems that are so closely spec'd. It's a huge issue that both Canon and Nikon are pumping out new camera models at such a fast rate, as it means that both are aware that the other company is trying to gain market-share and that Nikon is finally back in a position to get out new systems at their previous rates.

The megapixel wars are likely over—the race for more and more pixels in a camera seems to be at a relative plateau for consumer cameras at least—but the drive for more features in a shorter turn around time is new and is hopefully here to stay.

The latest addition to the PDN family, the PDN Gear Guide in print, has a total circulation of 30,000, and covers the latest and greatest in photographic equipment. Initially created in 2006 to be the official guide to PDN's annual flagship photography event, PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo, the PDN Gear Guide is now also available online for gear news and updates 365 days a year.
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