Canon has historically had two rebates programs per year for the last few years. Fall rebates typically run from mid-October to mid-January and are usually multiple (double or triple) schemes where the more different items you buy, the larger the rebate on each item becomes. Spring rebates typically run from April to July, but are single item schemes where there's a fixed rebate on each item no matter how many different items you buy.
The current rebate program ends on
January 13th February 19th 2007. If you intend to buy one of the lenses covered in the scheme, it would probably be a good idea to do so before January 13th February 19th, especially if you intend to buy two or more lenses. If you don't, the next rebate scheme probably won't go into effect until sometime in April, and odds are the rebates will be lower.
The last minute extension of the rebate program from January 13th to February 19th is unusual in that it hasn't happened before. While it's not a certain indication that Canon are trying to sell off existing stocks of the EOS 5D and 30D, it certainly lends a little extra credibility to rumors that we might see new or upgraded versions this spring.
If you're looking at cameras see the camera predictions below, but my guess is that with the double rebates currently being offered on the EOS 5D ($600) and EOS 30D ($200), the prices on these cameras are now at the lowest they will be for some time.
First a little history...
How long before Upgrade
How old by PMA
|EOS D30||5/17/2000||21 months|
|EOS 1D||9/25/2001||28 months|
|EOS D60||2/22/2002||12 months|
|EOS 1Ds||9/24/2002||24 months|
|EOS 10D||2/27/2003||18 months|
|EOS 300D||8/20/2003||18 months|
|EOS 1D MkII||1/29/2004||18 months|
|EOS 20D||8/19/2004||18 months
|EOS 1Ds MkII||9/21/2004||current||29 months|
|EOS 350D||2/17/2005||18 months
|EOS 1D MKII N||8/22/2005||current||18 months|
|EOS 5D||8/22/2005||current||18 months|
|EOS 30D||2/24/2006||current||12 months|
|EOS 400D||8/24/2006||current||6 months|
As you can see, they typical "lifetime" of a DSLR is around 18 months for consumer and prosumer models and maybe a little longer for more expensive pro models. The shortest "lifetime" was 12 months for the EOS D60 and the longest "lifetime" is 28 months for the EOS 1D.
New models are usually released in the Spring and Fall, with the Spring models being announced just before the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) trade show and the Fall models just before the Photokina trade show (even though Photokina takes place only every two years, it's still the usual time for new models even in the years between shows). This year PMA takes place between March 8-11, 2007 so if there are any new models, they will probably be announced sometime around the first week in March.
Something to bear in mind is that 2007 will be the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the EOS system (1987) and the 70th anniversery of the founding of the company now known as Canon (1937), though the actual origins of the company were a few years earlier. Maybe Canon are planning something special for 2007?
On the Canon USA website, the following DSLRs are still listed, so I presume that it means they are all regarded as "current" models.
Note that the 20D is missing even though it's still available new from some vendors. The Digital Rebel XT is listed though, which may indicate that Canon are keeping it on as a low cost entry level model and it is still pretty widely available
So what should be expect? Well, it's a lot easier to say what we should not expect and that's any sort of upgrade for the EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi). It's only 6 months old, it's pretty competitive and it's likely to be Canon's consumer level DSLR until at least the fall of 2007 and probably until the Spring of 2008.
Will Canon bring out a low end competitor for the Nikon D40? I doubt it. They still sell the EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) and they lowered the list price by $300 a few months ago. You can now get the 350D w/18-55 lensfor around $590 , and that's only $30 more than you'll pay for the Nikon D40 with a 18-55 kit lens. The 350D is 8MP while the D40 is only 6MP, so Canon really doesn't need another low end entry level DSLR to compete with Nikon. Maybe they'll tweak the 350D a little, but probably not.
Now things get harder...what about the EOS 30D.
There were some people (I wasn't one of them) who thought it would be replaced last fall after being out only for 6 months. Obviously that didn't happen. However with the new crop of 10MP consumer DSLRs from Nikon, Pentax and Sony, plus the 10MP prosumer Nikon D200, the 8MP of the 30D looks a little small. The D30 will only have been around for 12 months by the Spring of 2007, but the EOS D60 was replaced after 12 months and the 30D wasn't a big upgrade of the 20D (both cameras use the same 8MP digital sensor). I would not be at all surprised to see an upgrade of the EOS 30D (EOs 40D?) this Spring. Probably a 10+ MP sensor APS-C sensor (I do not see Canon moving from the 1.6x APS-C sensor), a larger image buffer, faster processing via the Digic III chip, tweaked firmware and perhaps a dust repelling sensor system. Probably a price around $1399.95, so the 30D with a $200 rebate at under $1000 could save you some cash if you buy it before the rebates end on
January 13th February 19th 2007.
[Update - 1/22/07] For a brief time the Canon Hong Kong Website had a page with an "EOS 40D" header. It's gone now but below is a screen shot of the page. No picture, no details, just the "EOS 40D" headline.
Getting harder still is the future of the EOS 5D. By the Spring of 2007 it will have been around for 18 months, which is the typical lifespan of the prosumer models. The 5D is a prosumer/pro hybrid to some extent so it might be expected to have a slightly longer life and as a full frame digital camera it has no competitors from any other manufacturer, so a major upgrade probably isn't needed from a competitive marketing viewpoint. I really don't know if it will be replaced this Spring. If it is I suppose a logical upgrade might be the change from a Digic II processor to the new Digic III which might speed up image processing somewhat and allow faster frame rates and/or a larger buffer capacity. I doubt there would be a significant increase in pixel count unless the EOS 1Ds Mk III has a simultaneous release with 20MP or so. I don't think it would make sense for Canon to have a 5D Mk II with 16MP otherwise and there really wouldn't be much point in going from 12MP to 14MP other than as a marketing ploy. Even going to 16MP is only the same relative jump as from 6MP to 8MP, which isn't huge.
I don't really expect much of a drop in price for any upgraded model, so the current EOS 5D at under $2200 (after a $600 double rebate) is likely to be the cheapest full frame DSLR you'll find for a while (at least before the rebate ends on January 15th 2007). Actually, right now, I think more potential 5D buyers would probably rather have a lower price than added features, but I'm not sure they'll be given that choice.
There's a question of whether the current $600 rebate is evidence that the 5D is about to be replaced. Well, maybe, maybe not. There have been rebates in the past on the 5D and there are rebates on a whole bunch of lenses that aren't about to be replaced, so just because Canon offers a rebate doesn't mean that they are trying to get rid of a stock of items about to be replaced. There was a $300 rebate on the EOS 5D last Spring in the US and a similar rebate in Europe, but that didn't signal a replacement of the 5D in the fall. Rebates are marketing incentives to increase sales and increase profits and sometimes they may indicate a camera is due for replacement, but sometimes they don't. The fact that Canon extended the rebate program from January 13th to February 19th certainly does little to quiet speculation that the 5D may be upgraded though. If a new model was coming, Canon might well try to sell off existing stocks of the 5D at a bargain price by extending the rebate.
If there is a 1D Mk III I suspect we will still see a 1.3x sensor in it. Again the logical upgrade would be faster operation via the Digic III chip and a larger buffer. The 1D is built for speed so I wouldn't expect a large increase in pixel count if that compromised the ability to shoot at at least 8fps. If they can get that speed with a 10MP sensor, we might see a pixel increase.
The EOS 1Ds Mk II will be one of the longest running DSLRs by Spring 2007. It's still unmatched in pixel count (16MP) and frame size (full frame) so again there's no real competitive marketing need for a significant upgrade. However it is Canon's flagship camera and it is the 70th anniversary of Canon and the 20th anniversary of the EOS system, so it's quite possible that this would be a good opportunity to move up a notch. Whether Canon would chose to do that in the Spring at PMA or in the fall is a good question. 2007 is an "off year" for Photokina, which is the world's largest photo trade show, so that might be a factor favoring PMA. Again, a larger pixel count (20MP?), faster operation via Digic III and an increased buffer would be reasonable expectations. What else Canon might include probably come more under the heading of "wishful thinking" than "market analysis"!
So here's my current thinking on the likelihood of updating the current DSLRs by PMA 2007:
I think Canon will stick with the 1.6x APS-C sensor in the 10D/20D/30D/(40D?) line and with the 1.3x sensor in the 1D Mk II/N line. It would be quite unusual if Canon introduced more than two new DSLRs at any one show, but nothing is impossible.
Time will tell and over the next few months I'm sure we'll see some new leaks and rumors. I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open and I'll report anything that I think sounds like it might be more than pure speculation or wishful thinking!
Irwin Puts (A well known Leica pundit) published information on his website last week about new 1D and 1Ds cameras. The new 1Ds was supposed to be a 22MP camera with ISO 6400 and the new 1D was supposed to be a 12MP full frame camera using the 5D sensor, but in a fully "professional level" body (in fact essentially the EOS 1v body)and retailing for around $4500. He also made a statement that Canon would drop the 1.3x sensors. No source was cited for any of this information or even whether it was supposed to be fact or speculation, though it was written as though it was a fact and had been announced by Canon. Yesterday the information was pulled, which probably signals one of two things. Either he thought better of his speculation, or he had inside knowledge from Canon that he's under a non-disclosure agreement not to release and Canon told him to remove it.
A 22MP 1Ds would come as no surprise. In fact it's been speculated on for over a year now and was expected by some to be announced last fall (obviously it wasn't!). A 12MP digital version of the 1v with the 5D sensor for $4500 I'm not quite so sure about. It's certainly possible, though getting it to shoot at 8fps like the current 1D Mk II N would need some significant improvement in the speed of the electronics. Sports shooters need 8fps, so either the current 1D Mk II N would have to be kept on (meaning Canon will still support 1.3x sensors), or the new full frame 12MP 1D must be pretty fast. The new Digic III might make that possible, I just don't know (and neither does anyone else outside Canon right now!).
Take these rumors for what they are worth. At this point it's "entertainment value only"! I'm just reporting and commenting on them because they did stir up some interest. My guess is that within the next 3 weeks we'll probably know for sure exactly what Canon is up to! A 22MP full frame 1Ds and a high speed 12MP full frame 1D would make a nice camera set for the professional market. I'm not quite sure what it does to the 5D though. The logical path for that would be towards a lower price - but not so low that it would eat into sales of a 12MP 1D. Time will tell.
There's really no logical rhyme or reason to what Canon do with lenses. New models appear and old models are upgraded, but there's no real pattern to it. People predicated (= wished for) an IS version of the 70-200/4L for years before it finally arrived. Back in the old days there was a prediction of a USM version of the 100-300/5.6L zoom every year. It never happended. They just dropped the lens.
So what's on the cards now? Well, there's the usual possibility of an IS version of the 400/5.6L USM. There's absolutely no reason to think it's coming this spring, but it is the only long telephoto without IS so I guess it's due sometime. I'm sure some would also like to see an IS version of the 200/2.8L or even the 135/2. In shorter lenses I'm sure an IS version of the 24-70/2.8L would be welcomed. The only problem with adding IS is that if it adds $600 to the price of the lens (like it did with the 70-200/4), it can turn a bargain lens (like the $650 200/2.8L) into a good lens that's not quite so much of a bargain anymore. If there are IS versions I hope Canon don't take the road that they did with the 300/4L and drop the non-IS version when the IS version was released.
As for new lenses, the 20/2.8 often gets targeted by critics as a lens that could stand some improvements. It's not as good as the old manual focus Contax mount Zeiss 21/2.8, but the Zeiss costs over $2000 and the Canon costs under $500, so that's not particularly surprising. Still even a small tweak might be welcomed by some. There is some demand for a "normal" fast EF-S lens, such as a 30/1.4 or 30/1.8. I'm not personally sure such a lens in is needed since there is a very good Canon EF 35/2 for around $225, and a very good Canon EF 28/1.8 for around $400, both of which work well as fast "normal" lenses on an APS-C DSLR. I don't expect to see a $75 EF-S 30/1.8 from Canon as an analog of the $75 EF 50/1.8. I suspect an EF-S 30/1.8 would be over $250 and a EF-S 30/1.4 might be well over $600 (the EF 35/1.4L is around $1125).
It's also not impossible that Canon might bring back the old EF 200/1.8L, but with IS added. I've never quite understood why the old lens was dropped in 2003. It was one of the most highly praised Canon lenses, with a reputation for outstanding sharpness. Nikon have a 200mm f2 VR lens and Canon currently lack a really fast 200mm lens, so a new EF 200/1.8L IS USM would make some sense. Back in 2003 Chuck Westfall of Canon was quoted as saying "...This lens [EF200/1.8L USM] is most definitely not coming back into production, period. End of case". Of course that statement was in reference to the original EF200/1.8L and wouldn't apply to a new IS design.
[Update 1/23/07] - There a screen shot posted on a chinese website (http://forum.xitek.com/showthread.php?threadid=422166) which claims to show an EF 800/5.6DO IS USM on the Canon UK website. Of course the page no longer exists on the Canon UK website so the question is whether or not the posted image is a fake. There are quite a few problems with the page including URL inconsistencies, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. While those may not prove it's a fake they certainly cast some doubt on the veracity of the image. While an 800/5.6 DO is probably possible, for most of us it would be of academic interest anyway since the cost of such a lens would likely be in the $8000+ region! The problem with 800/5.6 lenses has always been their size and weight, plus the fact that you can get an 840/5.6 by adding a 1.4x TC to a 600/4L. A DO version of an 800/5.6 would presumably be lighter and shorter then one using conventional optics and possibly lighter and shorter than even a 600/4 (or maybe even a 500/4), so it would certainly be an appropriate place for the application of DO technology.
Just a few comments on upgrades and maybe what I'd like (but don't expect..) to see.
First is a recognition that although cameras are often judged in terms of their megapixel count, that's not always the best metric. In the past when pixel count jumped from 1MP to 3MP and then from 3MP to 6MP, the difference was pretty significant. For example 1MP to 3MP is a 200% increase. 3MP to 6MP is a 100% increase. Now however we're getting into a region of diminishing returns. 6MP to 8MP is only a 33% increase and 8MP to 10MP is only a 25% increase. If we went from 10MP to 12 MP it would only be a 20% increase. The changes are getting relatively smaller.
Also remember that these are increases in pixel count, not in resolution. If you double the pixel count you actually only get a 40% increase in resolution (or a 40% increase in print size). If you increase the pixel count from 8MP to 10 MP you only get a 12% increase in resolution (or print size). The table below shows the effect of increasing the number of pixels on the size of a print which can be made at 300 dpi (the prints will be equally sharp, assuming the lens isn't the limiting factor on image quality).
|Pixel Count||Image Size||Print Size
(at 300 ppi)
|1MP||1225 x 816||4.1" x 2.7"|
|3MP||2121 x 1414||7.1" x 4.7"|
|6MP||3000 x 2000||10" x 6.7"|
|8MP||3464 x 2309||11.5" x 7.7"|
|10MP||3872 x 2581||12.9" x 8.6"|
|12 MP||4243 x 2828||14.1" x 9.4"|
|14 MP||4583 x 3055||15.3" x 10.2"|
|16 MP||4898 x 3266||16.3" x 10.9"|
|18 MP||5196 x 3464||17.3" x 11.5"|
|20 MP||5477 x 3651||18.25" x 12.2"|
So although more pixels is usually desirable, small changes don't make a huge amount of difference and each additional 2MP jump makes less difference then the last one did.
To me there are probably a few features that would be more important than pixel count. First is the noise at high ISO settings. I'd rather have 1/2 the noise at ISO 3200 than 20% more pixels. In fact increasing the number of pixels (by making them smaller) actually tends to increase noise, and it's only by constantly making technical advances in noise control that pixel count scan go up without spoiling image quality.
The second thing I'd like to have would be an increased dynamic range, i.e. increased shadow and highlight detail in images with both very dark and very bright areas. This is tricky and might need new sensor technology.
The third thing I'd like is increased ability to shoot IR images. This is very tricky since increased IR sensitivity can lead to color problems with visible light images (just ask the designers of the Leica M8 about that one!). Still, if it were possible, I'd regard it as a very nice feature. You can shoot IR now with an R72 filter, but sensitivity is very low, exposures are very long and noise is high.
In the area of features (and remember that this is just wishful thinking), I'd like to see an auto ISO mode on EOS cameras, where you could set both shutter speed and aperture and the camera would chose the best ISO for correct exposure. There's a similar but limited function in some cameras "auto mode", but the ISO range is usually limited to ISO 100-400 and you don't have full control of both aperture and shutter speed. I'd also like to see both ISO and White Balance settings displayed constantly in the viewfinder, so dummies like me don't go out in bright sunlight and shoot at ISO 3200 with tungsten white balance without noticing the camera settings! An interchangable viewfinder screen on the 30D/40D level body would also be a plus for those who shoot manual focus lenses and would like a split image rangefinder circle. You can do this via 3rd parties now, but it would be nice (and probably cheaper) if Canon offered it themselves.
Finally I'd like to see Canon offer image stabilization in the camera body. While image stabilization in the lens is probably more effective, and is certainly more effective for telephoto lenses, there's no denying that in-body stabilization is attractive since it's effective with all lenses, including wide and normal primes which are not available in IS versions. Technically it's possible and there could be checks to make sure that both body and lens IS were not used at the same time (which could cause problems). However I think that it's highly unlikely that Canon will offer such a feature anytime soon (if ever). The only thing that could make Canon consider it would be if they started losing a lot of sales to Pentax and Sony models with in-body IS or if Nikon brought out an image stabilzed body. I don't see any of those as being very likely possibilities at the moment.
We'll know about all this for sure by the time PMA happens, which this year is March 8-11th 2007.