With the massive PMA 08 photo convention only days away, Canon has jumped the gun with the 450D, the latest consumer dSLR in the company's EOS range. In keeping with many of the EOS upgrades in recent years, the 450D is more evolution than revolution, but there are a few interesting departures for the camera system.
The 450D packs a 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. The chip is protected from harm by a three-stagethat vibrates dust off a filter at start-up, has an anti-static coating on the sensor itself, and maps out possible dust particles in the included image software.
It boasts a new nine-point AF system and a burst rate of 3.5 frames per second. This will keep motoring for 53 JPEG or six raw frames. A Highlight Tone Priority mode supercharges the dynamic range at the highlight end, so that skies and lighter areas of an image will retain detail when contrasted with darker areas such as buildings.
The 450D is the first consumer EOS to boast live view. This is showcased on a humungous 76mm (3-inch) LCD screen. Other newbie-friendly features include a lightweight body that weighs less than 475g, and a refined menu system with a simplified tab structure that apparently eliminates pesky scrolling. You can also access your favourite settings in a customisable My Menu tab.
Interestingly, the 450D is the first EOS to solely use SD and SDHC memory cards. With ever-increasing memory capacity announcements topping each other thick and fast at CES, this is a welcome shift. With other SLRs such as the Samsung GX-10 only accepting SD/SDHC cards, could this be the beginning of the end for CompactFlash?
Another major change is a new, higher-capacity battery. To cope with the demands of live view on that giant screen, the new battery shovels out 1,080mAh of juice, instead of 720mAh. This means that those of you with older EOS models or peripherals such as will no longer be able to swap batteries, but Canon's claim of 500 pictures on one charge should soften the blow.
The EOS 450D body will be available from March 2008 for £600. -Rich Trenholm
Update: A Canon EOS 450D review is now on the site