At Last: Canon EOS 40D Shutter Count Retrieval! (Works on 40D, 50D, 450D, and 1000D)

At the time of this writing, this program should work on all DIGIC III and IV cameras EXCEPT for the 1D and 1Ds. The author, Astrojargon, believes it should work on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, but until someone actually receives one or tests this program, we wont know for sure.

Reading his FAQ #7, he says that most people believe this number to be correct. Well, you can add me to that list as well. My last image (a picture of Rhys Millen standing on the podium aftering winning $25,000 from his 1st place victory at the Red Bull Drifting World Championship) was numbered 9612. Astrojargon’s “40D Shutter Count Version 2” reported 9613. Its off by one, but he mentions that if you actuate the shutter without a CF card, then the IMG_XXXX would not incremement, obviously. This, I can confirm, is my case (I left the house once without a CF card and tried to take a picture before realizing I didn’t have a CF card in the camera).

So.. at last, a real way to obtain a shutter count on a Canon EOS 40D (or 50D or 450D or 1000D).

Anyway, enough BS.. you can find his program here:

40D Shutter Count

Thanks, Astrojargon!

Its Official! Canon EOS 5D Mark II!

Well, after months of speculation and (IMHO) a successful web campaign, the cat is out of the bag.. the long awaited successor to the 3-year old Canon EOS 5D is the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

http://www.canon.com/moon/en/index.html

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$2,699 MSRP!!
21 Megapixel Full-Frame 36x24mm Sensor
Integrated Cleaning System
DIGIC IV Image Processor
14 bit A/D Conversion
New sRAW1 AND sRAW2
9-point AF with 6 assist
All focus points cross-type for lenses f5.6 or faster!
AF MICRO ADJUSTMENT!!! WOO HOO!
ISO 50-25,600 Expanded
150,000 shot shutter life expectancy
1/200 flash sync (?!?!)
3″ LCD 920,000 pixels (finally!)
1920×1080 full 1080P H.264 38.6Mbit/s video capture up to 12 minutes!!
3.9 frames per second continuous (I could live with that)

Thats about it, folks.. I think this seals the deal.. this will be my next camera..

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CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER YOURS AT AMAZON!

Personal Storage Devices: Digimate III vs Hyperdrive Space

Prior to actually making a purchase, I did my research and one thing I noticed is how adamant that some people are against the concept of a personal storage device (PSD). They talk about how the price of CF cards (or SD/SDHC) have fallen to the point where it is cost-prohibitive to invest in a storage device. Then they go on to discuss the short-falls of a hard drive based storage device and how hard drives are more prone to failure.

What I think most of these haters don’t understand is the need for a backup solution, not a replacement for additional flash memory. It doesn’t do me any good to have multiple 8GB CF cards if I only have 8GBs worth of images. The idea, at least to me, is to backup your 8GB of images. If you’re spending a whole day in the blazing heat trying to capture images of racecars (or whatever), the last thing you want to happen is to lose those images. “Why not invest in quality CF cards so that you dont have to worry about losing your images?”, is usually the next response. Well, what about theft? What if you misplace your 8GB card? And contrary to popular belief, FLASH DOES FAIL. The mere fact that NAND flash chips HAVE a lifetime should give you an idea. So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let us move on to my comparison.

Here\'s what a Digimate III looks like..

Digimate III High-Speed

I originally bought the Digimate III, well, because it was cheap. It cost about $35 shipped from Dealextreme.com. You simply provide your own hard drive (2.5″ IDE), pop it in, charge up the “generic” Li-Ion battery (Fuji NP20 battery available all over eBay) and you’re ready to rock. Going with the Digimate III, I knew it was going to be slower than what some of the more expensive units claim (the manual says 5.5MB/second max), but $35 was music to my ears.

Feel: It doesnt feel like a quality piece of equipment. That’s not to say its a POS, but it just feels “thin”. The materials are thin and the whole unit is kind of lightweight. One thing that was nice was that the edges are “rubberized” plastic, so you can get a good grip on the unit.

Appearance: The color OLED screen is.. umm, crap. the viewing angle sucks. From some angles the whole screen looks lit up. There’s not much information on the screen, aside from the bare essentials (remaining hard drive space, card space, and progress in the form of a XXX%). My Digimate III was silver, but I’ve seen the black one. I think the black would look much better. The silver is kind of cheap looking, but the quality of the paint is OK I guess.

Operation: There are only two buttons on the unit. One that doubles as “power” and “confirmation”. The other button is “copy” and “select”. You basically turn it on, plug in a card, select a partition (if your drive is partitioned), then hit copy. Once the backup is done, the unit stays on for a bit then shuts off to conserve power. When it copies to the hard drive, it stores your card’s contents in a “serialized” folder, like XX0001, XX0002, etc, where ‘XX’ is the type of card you copied. So if you were copying CF cards to the Digimate, the folders would be ‘CF0001’, ‘CF0002’, etc. All in all, its quite simple to use but lacks pretty much anything “special”.

Sanho Hyperdrive Space

Sanho Hyperdrive Space

However, after using the Digimate for a few months, I wanted to see if I could find a Hyperdrive. I had orignally wanted a Hyperdrive Space, but couldn’t force myself to part with $149 (+tax+shipping) for the Space case only. So I started cruising the regular outlets to see if I could find a used one (Fredmiranda.com, Photography-on-the.net and eBay). I came across an old listing (1 month old) and decided to PM the original poster to see if he still had it. As luck would have it, he did and he offered to sell it to me at the same price, $100 shipped. I received it yesterday.

Feel: This thing feels much more solid. With the drive in it, it actually feels quite a bit heavier than the Digimate. If the Digimate didnt feel like a piece of quality equipment, the Hyperspace Space definitely does. It doesnt feel flimsy at all. However, being a painted black surface, it is much more slippery. Unlike the Digimate III with its rubberized sides, the Hyperspace Space does feel like it could slip out of your hand if you weren’t careful. If you’ve ever held an iPhone, its kind of like that, just all smooth and slick, no texture or anything to provide extra grip.

Appearance: Its kind of plain, but not as plain as the Digimate III. There are 5 buttons on the face that allow you to operate the many functions and features of the Hyperdrive Space. The buttons are the membrane-type, which I kind of like. That way its harder for dust to collect there or whatever. Its a bit longer than the Digimate III, but its a bit thinner and narrower. I’d take thinner over shorter anyday. The screen is a plain ol’ LCD (not color) with the Indiglo type illumination. The screen provides much more information. Although I originally didnt think I needed anymore info than the Digimate provided, having more information is nice.

Operation: Using the 5 buttons, you can be a lot of things, which I wont get into here. But things like formatting the drive, browsing the drive contents, copying from hard drive to memory card, etc are all built-in and accessible using the 5 buttons. For copying memory cards, its just as simple as the Digimate. In fact, you can set it up so that as soon as you stick in a memory card, it will turn on and begin to copy the card’s contents (so, basically, buttonless operation). The card’s contents are copied to the Hyperdrive into their own folders, just like the Digimate. However, on the Hyperspace, you can either use a date/time combo naming convention or create your own (serialized) name. The Time/Date folder names look like this “YYMMDDHH.MMS”. Or if you create your own name, you can use, I think 5 characters, and the rest would be the serial number, starting from 000″. Pretty cool, but the Digimate’s naming convention was fine too.

Transfer Speed Comparison

Now, here’s where the two begin to differ drastically and you’ll realize why a Hyperdrive Space is $149 and the Digimate III is only $35.

Although this is not scientific, it should give you an idea of what to expect. You should also know that copying speeds from memory card to PSD will differ drastically depending on the type of card and the brand/model of card. Additionally, how “full” or “empty” a memory card is could affect its speed as well (meaning, a full 4GB card may transfer slower than a 4GB card that only has 2GB worth of content). Oh, and one last thing, my tests were all done with a Seagate 2.5″ 160GB 5400RPM 8MB buffered IDE drive. The faster the drive and the more buffer you have, the faster the transfer from memory card to hard drive should be.. but I wouldn’t know. I do hope to test a SSD in the Hyperdrive case in the coming future, so check back for that.

I read an article that mentioned Compact Flash (CF) cards have a 16-bit data bus and SD/SDHC cards only have a 4-bit data bus. Now, how this factors into manufacturers’ claims of “150X” or “233X”, I don’t know. But I will find out once I speak to my flash engineering buddy (edit:: my buddy told me that a 233x SD card should be the same speed as a 233x CF card.. although the CF card uses 16-bit parallel processing versus the SD card’s 4-bit serial processing, the SD card controller is clocked higher so the resulting read speed should be the same). So keep that in mind. As a matter of fact, Hyperdrive advertises “1GB per minute” when used with Sandisk Extreme III CF cards (that’s 17MB/second for the math challenged).

PSD: Digimate III
Memory Card: Kingston Ultimate 100x 2GB Compact Flash (this is an old card, hence 100x)
Card Contents: 695MB (as reported by Digimate)
Time to Copy: 124 seconds (2:04 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 730 seconds (12:10 minutes) (calculated based on actual transfer of 695MB)
Transfer Rate: 336.29 Megabytes per minute

PSD: Sanho Hyperdrive Space
Memory Card: Kingston Ultimate 100x 2GB Compact Flash (same card as above)
Card Contents: 1.62GB (as reported by Hyperdrive)
Time to Copy: 158 seconds (2:38 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 390 seconds (7:30 minutes) (calculated)
Transfer Rate: 629.95 Megabytes per minute

PSD: Digimate III
Memory Card: Kingston Ultimate 100x 2GB Compact Flash (same card as above)
Card Contents: 1.62GB (as reported by Digimate) (same contents as above)
Time to Copy: 300 seconds (5:00 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 740 seconds (12:20 minutes) (calculated)
Transfer Rate: 331.78 Megabytes per minute

PSD: Sanho Hyperdrive Space
Memory Card: Kingston Elite Pro 133x 8GB Compact Flash
Card Contents: 4.0GB (as reported by Hyperdrive)
Time to Copy: 358 seconds (6:58 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 358 seconds (6:58 minutes) (actual)
Transfer Rate: 686.48 Megabytes per minute

In testing my Kingston Class 6 8GB SDHC, you can see the Hyperdrive’s advantage diminishes greatly. So much so that I would even recommend against purchasing a Hyperdrive if you’re main use is going to be SD/SDHC. For $35 (or almost 1/5 the cost of a Hyperdrive), the Digimate III is only about 15% slower than the Hyperdrive Space when copying SDHC cards.

PSD: Digimate III
Memory Card: Kingston Class 6 8GB SDHC
Card Contents: 5.26GB (as reported by Digimate)
Time to Copy: 1224 seconds (20:24 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 931 seconds (15:31 minutes) (calculated)
Transfer Rate: 264.30 Megabytes per minute

PSD: Sanho Hyperdrive Space
Memory Card: Kingston Class 6 8GB SDHC
Card Contents: 7.17GB (as reported by Hyperdrive)
Time to Copy: 1388 seconds (23:08 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 775 seconds (12:55 minutes) (calculated)
Transfer Rate: 317.38 Megabytes per minute

PSD: Sanho Hyperdrive Space
Memory Card: Kingston Class 6 4GB miniSDHC
Card Contents: 435.2MB (as reported by Hyperdrive)
Time to Copy: 84 seconds (1:24 minutes)
Time to Copy 4GB: 791 seconds (13:11 minutes) (calculated)
Transfer Rate: 310.86 Megabytes per minute

Surprise: Canon EOS 50D and Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS

I wasnt planning on upgrading to another 1.6x crop body.. I figured I’d just keep my 40D as my 1.6x and get a full frame later on down the line. Even then, I didnt expect Canon to update the 40D so soon. Odd that when consumers demanded the 30D be upgraded, Canon stuck to an 18 month lifecycle back then. You can definitely give Nikon the credit for pushing Canon to update the XXD body so soon.

I think Canon is ready to play ball.. and what makes me say that? 15.1 megapixels. We’ve long known that megapixels is all for show (marketing).. but hey, thats what sells. With Nikon’s D90 coming in at 12+ megapixels, I think its a rather strong statement from Canon to “skip” that game altogether and move right on up to 15.1 megapixels. Think about that. Its 50% more pixels than the 40D. The largest jump in pixels ever, I’d guess. Also with the 50D comes the new Digic 4. That means the Digic 3 was rather short lived. Hell, the Digic 3 is in their 2 flagship models, the 1D Mark III and 1Ds Mark III. So its a pretty huge step to introduce the Digic 4 so soon. Also take a page from Nikon’s playbook, Canon will be stuffing a 3″ 920k pixel screen in the 50D.. its about freakin time. ISO 12,800 (also from Nikon’s playbook) is mostly marketing hype, but its the hype the sells.

I’ll admit I gave some thought to dumping my 40D.. I cant help it. But I dont think it’ll happen this time. Unless the 50D has MUCH better AF tracking, I dont think I need it.. thats mainly what I’d want at this point.

Another surprise is Canon has FINALLY made the 18-200mm lens. It’ll be an EF-S, but thats probably where its needed the most anyhow. I was actually looking at the Sigma version of this range as a “Disneyworld” lens (as much as I’d like to pack my 24-70 and 70-200, its just not worth it). At $699 MSRP, I’m not so sure I’d bite. But if Canon’s last few offerings are any indication, the 18-200 EF-S will probably sell for around $500 (or less) on the street. That might be do-able.

In the meantime, here’s what B&H had to say about the 50D:

Canon’s newest entry into the fall season Olympics is the EOS 50D, which sports an impressive 15.1-megapixel APS-C format CMOS sensor that takes full advantage of Canon’s new DIGIC 4 image processor.

The EOS 50D can knock out up to 90 Large/Fine JPEGS or 16 RAW images at burst-rates of up to 6.3 f/p/s. If you often find yourself shooting under low-light conditions, the new camera can be set for ISO ratings up to 12800, which means you can not only photograph people standing in near darkness, you can also photograph what they’re thinking about. (Just joking folks… don’t get alarmed)

To keep noise under control and maintain optimum image quality at higher ISO ratings the EOS 50D allows you to choose from four levels of noise reduction – Standard, Weak, Strong, and None. The camera’s DIGIC 4 image processor also features in-camera peripheral illumination correction, which can automatically smooth-over uneven blue skies and other large areas within an image that can benefit from smoother tonality. This feature, along with other image enhancing tools such as Auto Lighting Optimizer can also be performed post-exposure using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DDP) software, which is included with every camera.

Image viewing has also been improved via a greatly enhanced 3″ LCD that employs 920,000 pixels for breathtaking clarity. Canon also tweaked the Live View function by incorporating a ‘Quick Mode AF’, ‘Live Mode AF’, and ‘Face Detection Live Mode AF’ that can detect up to 35 individual faces within the camera’s frame.

Other features of the Canon EOS 50D include an Integrated Cleaning System for preventing dust and other forms of airborne schmutz from gathering on the sensor’s low-pass filter and a choice of two smaller RAW formats (sRAW1 and sRAW2) in addition to the 50D’s standard RAW mode.

The Canon EOS 50D will be available in October as a body only, or in kit form with a Canon EF 28-135/3.5~5.6 IS USM zoom lens, which covers the field of view of a 44.8-216mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera.

Check out some Canon 50D sample pics here

Latest Round of Canon EOS 3D, 5D Mark II, 6D, 7D, etc Rumors!

Its been a while since I followed the “scene”. Thats probably because I went ahead and bought a Canon 40D even though I said I wouldnt. After reading all the anecdotal evidence about the increase in AF performance, I figured I should go for it. That, plus I sold my Canon 30D for $600 to a friend, so it was a short jump to the 40D.

But enough about me.. lets get on with the rumors.. the reason why you’re really here. I think we, me plus most of the photography gear rumor whores, are pretty confident there will be a Canon EOS 5D Mark II come Photokina in August 2008. What is unknown still are the specs. Although as we get closer to August, there’s no doubt that the rumors will get closer and closer to the truth. Here’s the latest rumor I’ve heard:

Canon EOS 5D Mark II (or possibly Canon EOS 3D? baby brother to the 1D?)
Resolution: 20 megapixel, full-frame sensor
FPS: 5fps
LCD: 3″ 640×480
AF: 19 point
ISO: 50-6400
Memory Card/Storage: CF & SD
Sealing: 1D-style, true weather sealing
Price: $2999 USD

The resolution seems somewhat high to me. With the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III being 21, I really doubt the successor to the Canon EOS 5D is going to be 20. I’m still thinking 16-18 megapixels (as I’ve said mentioned earlier). I’m a little mixed about the frame-rate. On one hand, 5fps is kind of the “minimum” for a pro-level or prosumer-level body, especially considering the Canon 40D is at 6.5fps and the Canon 450D/XSi is at 3.5fps. So in that sense, 5fps is believable. But the Canon 1Ds Mark III is also 5 fps. But I suspect the successor to the Canon 5D will come in at 5fps based on the first reason. They’re not going to let the 5D Mark II encroach on the 1D Mark III territory (or even anywhere near 8.5fps since that has long been Canon’s standard for sports photography, Canon 1D, 1D Mk II, 1D MkIIn). The LCD screen is a no brainer since Nikon has brought that into the game. Take a quick peek at DP Review or POTN and you’ll see daily posts complaining about Canon LCDs being crappy. Can’t say I disagree. The 19 point AF, I’ve heard before also. I think this would really help push the 5D Mark II (3D) into its rightful place in the Canon line-up (and the competitive landscape, even). ISO 50-6400 was introduced in the Mark IIIs (1D and 1Ds), so it wouldnt be unreasonable to believe they’re going to include this, especially considering ISO 50 was present in the 5D. Although Canon could skimp and just make it ISO 50-3200 and still make it an “upgrade” (over the 5D). So don’t be surprised if that does indeed happen.. somewhere.. read on 🙂 . Weather sealing would be nice and would really make it more of a pro-body. Left up to Canon, I’m positive they would’ve left this out. However, since Nikon has made it a “standard” feature in their lower bodies, Canon can’t ignore this one, not for the #3 camera in their lineup. The price is also what I would suspect. The Canon 5D MSRP’ed at $2,599 when it was introduced. This price, $2999 USD, would represent the upgrade to the existing Canon 5D. Recall that when the 30D was released, the MSRP was slightly below the 20D. When the 40D was announced, it was slightly below that of the 30D. So I’d almost be willing to bet on the $2,999 USD MSRP of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II considering its an upgrade. So what would fill the gap between $2999 and the 40D at $1000??? Read on.. 😎

Now, whats more interesting is, the rumor of a more inexpensive “5D successor” has once again surfaced. I’ve mentioned this in the past.. and I really do believe this is the best bet for Canon. But here are the rumored specs of the Canon EOS “7D” (or 6D, but a higher number than the 5D, for sure):

Canon EOS 7D (or possibly Canon EOS 6D? baby brother to the 3D?)
Resolution: 14 megapixel, full-frame sensor
FPS: 3fps
LCD: 3″ (rez?)
AF: 9 point
ISO: 100-3200
Memory Card/Storage: CF & SD
Sealing: 40D-style, wanna-be weather sealing
Price: $1999 USD

This camera would basically be the “30D” of the 5D line.. basically, an incremental upgrade and an incremental price increase (over street prices in this case). With a small bump to 14 megapixels, the full-frame sensor could very well be the cousin to the existing 5D sensor with some tweaking to give it 2 more megapixels (just like how the Canon 20D to 30D gained 2 megapixels). FPS would basically be the small upgrade from the 5D’s current 2.5fps. I think the screen would still be a 3″ 640×480 (aka Nikon style) screen. Nikon is basically playing out the screen so if Canon doesnt follow suit, they’d just look like they’re skimping here. AF would probably be borrowed from the 40D, although I would think it could just use the existing 5D focusing system (9 point with 6 points for assist). At $1,999 USD, it would be the prosumer full-frame body.

So Canon’s line up would look like this:

EOS Rebel XS/1000D (~$500)
EOS Rebel XSi/450D(~$600)
EOS 40D (~$1000)
EOS 6D/7D (~$2000)
EOS 3D/5D Mark II (~$3000)
EOS 1D Mark III (~$4000)
EOS 1Ds Mark III (~$8000)

This would basically allow Canon to compete with Nikon at different levels. I’ve said this before, but why would a company want to compete with another company.. if they don’t have to? Anyone that believes a company likes competition is an idiot. So think about this.. where does the Nikon D300 fall in against Canon’s line up at $1800? Way above the Canon 40D (which people erroneously believe competes with the D300) or slightly below a 14 megapixel full-frame Canon body with decent specs. Is the D300 faster? Hell yeah. Does it have more bells and whistles? Hell yeah. But if I want comparable speed and features, I’d be looking at the 40D for $800 less (MSRP). But hell, for $200 more, I have MORE MEGAPIXELS (probably the biggest selling point in retail) and its full-framed (something that would appeal to people who know what they are looking for).

I’ve said it before, Canon can’t ignore that gaping hole in their line up (currently being ~$1300 for a 40D, MSRP, up to the Canon 5D’s MSRP for $3299). Its a gap no one has been able to fill.

So with all that crap I just wrote above. I’m gonna have to say I’m kind of believing these rumors. Some are a little wacky, but in general, I think these are going to be pretty close to the real deal.

So with that said, I’ll say it again.. my next body will be the Canon EOS 3D/5D Mark II..

Keeping score?

Canon 3D, 5D Mark II, 6D, 7D Rumors from December 2007
Canon 3D, 5D Mark II, 6D, 7D Rumors from February 2008