Monday, October 02, 2006

Still Engaged In the Megapixel Wars

Back in March when Canon introduced the EOS 30D digital SLR, the update of its wildly popular EOS 20D "prosumer" body, many reviewers and photographers alike noted with some dismay that it retained the 20D's 8-Megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC II processing chip. This was especially troublesome to Canon fans because Nikon immediately released a 10-Megapixel competitor, its by-all-accounts-very-excellent D200, at only $300 more than the 30D.

Why, it was asked, did Canon not raise the MP bar with the 30D? Apparently, Canon was caught off-guard by Nikon, because the company's PR department quickly went into Damage Control Mode:

The 8-MP CMOS was retained, Canon argued, because of image quality concerns. A 10-MP 1.6 crop sensor would produce too much "noise" (the digital photo world equivalent of film grain) at the higher ISO settings. Therefore, Canon had decided that it would not put such a questionable 1.6 crop sensor in its D-SLR's.

Or so they said, and most of us bought that explanation and declared the megapixel war over and done: After all, the leading D-SLR maker had declared image quality rather than marketing its main focus.

Well, that was then and this is now. Canon, it seems, is still engaged in the megapixel war after all: Before Photokina 2006 began on Sept. 26, Canon announced its own 10-MP D-SLR --the Digital Rebel XTi, aka 400D in Europe and Kiss Digital XTi in Japan.

Does this mean that owners of the 20D and 30D can look forward to a 40D sporting a 10-MP 1.6 crop sensor (and the new DIGIC III chip) yet retains the same very high/low noise ISO image quality of their current cameras?

Maybe we'll know in the Spring.


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