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Digital SLRs Share Spotlight

While galloping megapixels continue to define the race in the consumer digital camera market, a mini price war is being waged by vendors looking to bring advanced digital SLRs to mainstream price points. Simultaneously, high-end vendors will continue to court the pros with premium-priced, high performance models.

Canon announced the successor to its EOS-1D, the EOS-1D Mark II. According to Canon’s director of technical information, Chuck Westfall, the EOS-1D brand had accrued so much equity in the market that the company decided to retain the “1D” brand and distinguish model upgrades by appending the Mark II.

The 8-megapixel Mark II will ship in April with an estimated selling price of $4,499.

The model features a number of improvements from the original 1D, including a new, proprietary 8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and a next-generation DIGIC II image processor. The processor gives the Mark II the ability to capture 8-megapixel JPEG images at 8.5 fps in continuous bursts of up to 40 frames and RAW images in continuous bursts of up to 20 frames.

Fujifilm will add the S3 Pro to its lineup of higher-end cameras, joining the S2 which will stay on the market. The S3 will sport a new Super CCD-SR sensor that produces a 12-megapixel image. The S3 is compatible with interchangeable Nikon lenses and features dual horizontal and vertical shutter release, a new 235,000-pixel 2-inch LCD screen, and compatibility with xD-Picture Card and MicroDrive memory. Pricing and ship date were not set at press time.

Nikon formally unveiled its answer to Canon’s Digital Rebel (the first digital SLR to break the $1,000 price point barrier). The D70, previewed in November (see TWICE, Nov. 26, p. 66) will ship in the spring in two configurations: as an Outfit or a Set. The D70 Outfit will include the camera body, rechargeable battery, charger, Nikon Picture Project software, neck strap and the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED lens, for an estimated street price of $1,299.

The D70 Set will ship with all the above minus the lens for an estimated street price of $999.

Nikon’s new Dynamic Buffer technology allows the D70 to continuously take up to 144 pictures, at a speed of three pictures per second (when shooting with a SanDisk 256MB Ultra II CompactFlash card in JPEG normal/large mode).

Other features include new Digital Vari-Program modes, simultaneous RAW and JPEG writing capabilities, 25 custom settings and new i-TTL flash compatibility with a sync speed of 1/500 second. o

2003 Digital SLR Market Share