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Canon Debuts Mark III SLR, HD Point & Shoot

Canon will ship the successor to its high-end EOS-ID Mark II digital SLR this spring, along with its first consumer point-and-shoot still camera to record high-definition video.

The EOS-1D Mark III Digital SLR boasts a number of enhancements, including faster burst speeds, better low light shooting, a live view mode, improved autofocus, more file saving and customization options, dust reduction and a new CMOS sensor.

The 10-megapixel Mark III can capture up to 110 large JPEG or 30 RAW files at 10 fps. The speed boost is courtesy of a new dual DIGIC III processing engine, which performs parallel processing to juice the camera’s performance when saving to CompactFlash or SD memory cards (including SDHC cards).

The SLR sports a new, APS-H size CMOS sensor with a new design that Canon says will improve low-light shooting to ISO 6,400. It also offers a live-view mode on its 3-inch LCD screen, which can be activated for close up shooting or remotely via an accessory wireless controller (WFT- E2A ) or when the camera is tethered to a PC running Canon’s included software.

The Mark III will employ a dust-reduction system that Canon dubbed the “EOS Integrated Cleaning System.” It includes a vibrating glass cover on the sensor to shake off dust. It also employs a software solution that records the location of any spots that may remain on the sensor which can later be purged from the image using Canon’s software.

The camera takes a new LC-E4 lithium-ion battery pack capable of 2,200 shots per charge.

Canon did not officially announce pricing on the Mark III but said it would be similar to the Mark II, which sold for $7,999 when it was introduced in 2004.

Canon also introduced a digital camera capable of recording 720p video. The 7.1-megapixel PowerShot TX1 sports a new industrial design for Canon, capable of being held either vertically (for video shooting) or horizontally (for stills). An intelligent orientation sensor and rotating LCD screen allow the users to switch between positions.

The camera can record 720p video at 30 fps in the 16:9 aspect ratio. It also comes with component video outputs for connecting to an HDTV. In addition to HD video, the TX1 can record “CD quality” sound in 44 KHz, Canon said.

The unit can also capture VGA/30 fps or QVGA video at 60 fps and features a “MovieSnap” feature for simultaneously snapping still images while recording video.

It features a 10x optical zoom lens with optical stabilization. The zoom functions during movie recording as well as when shooting stills. It also incorporates a new face detection autofocus/autoexposure system that lets the camera track and focus on multiple human faces in both still and video mode. The face detection technology can also work in tandem with a new red-eye correction mode to detect and fix red eye when playing back images on the camera’s LCD screen.

Another new feature found on the TX1 is auto ISO shift, which is used to automatically bump up the camera’s light sensitivity up to ISO 800 when shooting in low light conditions. The camera has a maximum ISO of 1,600.

The TX1 also offers 14 shooting modes including manual and is compatible with SDHC memory cards and Microsoft Vista.

It will retail for an estimated $499 when it hits store shelves in March.

Canon’s pre-PMA volley also consisted of a pair of digital Elphs and A-series cameras, all shipping in March.

The two new Elphs will be 7.1 megapixel models and will share several features with the newly announced TX1, including face-detection AF/AE, red eye correction, auto ISO shift and maximum sensitivity to ISO 1,600.

The cameras will also feature a new LCD technology that Canon dubbed “PureColor.” The 230,000-pixel screens are built with a multilevel coating for glare reduction and for scratch and fingerprint resistance.

The PowerShot SD750 sports a 3-inch LCD screen, and a new “Touch Control Dial” for quickly accessing camera controls. It is 0.75 inches thick and will retail for an estimated $349.

The PowerShot SD1000 features a 2.5-inch LCD screen. It loses the touch control dial and adds an optical viewfinder. It will retail for an estimated $299 and will be available in matte black or silver.

In the company’s A-series of entry-level cameras Canon added the A570 IS and A560.

They offer face detection with red-eye removal, a 2.5-inch LCD, DIGIC III and a maximum ISO of 1,600.

The A570 IS features a 4x optical zoom with optical image stabilization. It ships in March for an estimated $279. The A560 also offers a 4x optical zoom, but no stabilization, for an estimated $229.