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|| News Item: Posted 2004-03-30

Canon EOS-1D Mark II: A Brief Encounter
By Peter Read Miller, Sports Illustrated

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot with a preproduction EOS-1D Mark II camera for two days at the Pacific Life Tennis in Indian Wells, California. What follows are my totally non-empirical impressions from those two days.

Look and Feel
Physically the camera is essentially the same as the EOS-1D. There is no longer an external window for the Auto White Balance-AWB is done completely inside the camera now. One of my favorite changes is the enlarged CF card door latch. Now you can open it even if you just trimmed your fingernails.

The zoom on the LCD screen is great…logical, simple and very effective. The screen is also brighter that the 1D or 1Ds-making it more important to check the histogram for proper exposure. You can also break the histogram into Red, Green and Blue. There were a number of other changes in the menu system including the option to adjust JPEG compression more precisely.

Auto Focus seemed definitely faster with improved tracking-the result, I am told, of a new processor and improved software. Canon has also worked on improving the on camera flash metering. I just tested it in my hotel room, but again I saw improvement.

The camera has a bigger buffer, and shoots bigger files. Sports Illustrated shoots Raw plus JPEG's so we tend to see rather long buffer write times. The Mark II seemed to take about the same time as the 1D to write the buffer once it was full; however I was getting around 20-8MP files instead of 14-4MP files as on the ID, big difference. Also, I was using a 1gig 32X card. I'm sure things will speed up when the faster cards are available as the camera is designed to take advantage of the higher speeds. In addition, it seemed that you could squeeze off the first few frames as the buffer emptied a lot sooner.

Battery life was much improved-probably double the 1D, and with the same battery and charger. Since I did not have an SD memory card I wasn't able to explore the second card slot feature.

I sent my cards directly to Sports Illustrated in New York, so I really haven't seen the files from the Mark II. My boss Steve Fine, SI's Director of Photography, did look at them. His comments, as we await our shipment of Mark II's, were that "we will be very happy" when the production cameras arrive. The Mark II "will help make the photos in SI look even better". Enough said.

Canon has taken a great camera and made it even better…

(Peter Read Miller is a staff photographer with Sports Illustrated. He is a frequent contributor to the Sports Shooter Newsletter.)

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