Hailstones falling from the sky weren't enough to stop Canon launching its Spring Collection, 39 new products for consumer imaging. Sashaying down the catwalk in quick succession came one digital SLR, two lenses, nine compact cameras, eight camcorders, six projectors and a gaggle of printers.
There was something for everyone, ranging from the mini-skirted charm of the petite Digital IXUS 65 (accessorised with a revealing 76mm (3-inch) LCD) to the sober business suits of the multifunctional printer-scanner-fax combos (cut with flair to combine practicality with the 'in' colours for 2006, black and silver). For keen photographers, the highlight came midway through the show, when the EOS 30D checked its make-up, made a last adjustment to its hair, and stepped out into view.
Crave was temporarily blinded by the flash bulbs and caught only a brief impression of an 8.2-megapixel camera with a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD that makes the 46mm (1.8-inch) screen on its predecessor, the EOS 20D, look positively dowdy.
As we mixed and mingled after the unveiling, we found ourselves next to Canon's couturiers, who told us there's more to this outfit than meets the eye. It has a more durable shutter mechanism that's rated for 100,000 cycles and you can spot meter using 3.5 per cent of the viewfinder area (a significant improvement on the 9 per cent partial metering offered by the 20D).
It also has Picture Style presets -- first seen on the EOS 5D -- that enable you to customise the sharpness, contrast and colour for different shooting situations. Canon compares this to choosing different types of film in the dim-and-distant days of silver halide and platform boots.
If you aren't the type to count the buttons on the sleeves and check the finish on the hems, it's the larger LCD that'll catch your eye. Finally you can show your photos to your friends without anyone going, "Sheesh, my little cheapo compact has a better screen than that." If you aren't dressing to impress, you'll still enjoy the benefits: menus are easier to read, because the text is bigger, and it's much easier to see whether your photos are in focus and correctly composed.
The EOS 30D will cost £1,100 for the body only, or £1,180 with a Canon's EF-S 18-55mm lens, and should be on sale in March. -ML