Canon has confirmed that its 10.1-million-pixel EOS-1D Mark III digital SLR will be launched in April. It will be launched alongside a new EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, due to cost £1319.99.

Also due for release is a new ‘weather resistant’ 580EX II flashgun which, claims Canon, has a recycling time up to 20% faster than the unit it replaces, the 580EX. A UK price for the flash has yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, key features on board the EOS-1D Mark III ? which is mainly aimed at photojournalists – include a 10 frames per second (fps) burst rate for up to 110 (JPEG) shots.

Canon UK has confirmed that it will carry a body only price of £3049.99.

Set to replace its 18-month-old EOS-1D Mark II N (which carries a burst speed of around 8.5fps) Canon claims that the ‘world’s fastest’ DSLR will set a ?new benchmark?.

Speaking at the UK press launch today in central London, the company said that the extra burst speed could make the difference between a ?great image and a missed opportunity?.

In raw format mode the camera can continuously record a series of 30 images at 10fps, according to Canon.

The faster burst rate is among a number of billed improvements. ?In building this camera, we started with a blank canvas,? said Tsunemasa Ohara, senior general manager at Canon?s Camera Development Centre. ?Every facet of the photographic process has been redefined,? he claimed.

Features include a 3in LCD (compared to the 2.5in screen on the EOS-1D Mark II N), a new AF system with 19 cross type sensors and 26 ?Assist AF points?, plus an equivalent ISO sensitivity range of between 100-3200 (expandable to ISO 6400, says Canon).

Canon says that the camera is chiefly aimed at sports and wildlife photographers.

Speaking at the UK launch, Vic Solomon from Canon UK?s ?Product Intelligence? unit claimed that the improved AF system should help focus on fast moving subjects in low light, low contrast situations.

He said that the LCD screen is designed to deliver ?better colour reproduction? than its older sibling.

And – for the first time – Canon has built a ‘Live view’ capability into the screen of an EOS camera, allowing users to frame shots without having to look through the viewfinder.

Canon has listened to photographers demands for a ?smaller and lighter? camera than its predecessor but has not compromised on build quality, Solomon claimed.

The camera is slightly smaller than its predecessor, weighing around 70g lighter than the EOS-1D Mark II N and with a lighter battery.

The magnesium-alloy bodied model includes ?dust and moisture resistant seals?. Accessories include a wireless transmitter (WFT-E2).

Features also include a 63-zone exposure metering system (compared to the 21-zone system on the EOS-1D Mark II N).

The camera includes a ?3rd generation? Canon-made CMOS sensor measuring 28.1×18.7mm.

Also featured is what Canon describes as a ?beefed-up? version of the EOS Integrated Cleaning System first used on Canon?s consumer DSLR the EOS 400D.

To deliver the power that ?professionals wanted? it boasts two Digic III image processors which aim to deliver ?unprecedented levels of speed, responsiveness and image quality?, says Canon.

Claimed benefits include a 0.2 start-up time. The camera?s maximum flash sync speed is 1/300sec.

Canon points out that the camera would be ideal to record, for example, a 100m sprint using the maximum burst rate of 10fps for 110 JPEG shots. Such a race at top level typically takes around 10 seconds to complete.

Further details will appear in an upcoming issue of AP.

? The full UK specification as supplied by Canon: