Canon has quietly begun shipping a special EOS 7D kit aimed at high volume shooters that includes support for barcode scanners and has the ability to embed barcode data directly into the picture's metadata.
The camera also includes a menu and setting lockout feature not currently found in stock 7D bodies. The kit, comprised of an EOS 7D body and Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E5A, is arriving at dealers now in the U.S.
Though it is already available for purchase, the kit has not been formally announced. We've been able to pull together the following details about it with the help of David Sparer, Senior Manager in Research and Engineering at Canon USA, as well as Moishe Appelbaum, Vice President at Midwest Photo Exchange in Columbus, Ohio (Midwest is among the first dealers to carry the product):
- The 7D body in the kit is not the same as a regular 7D. While it has all the same features as a regular 7D, looks the same and has identical hardware components on the inside, its read-only memory (ROM) circuitry is running modified code that brings the barcode reading functionality to life.
- The barcode 7D's firmware is not different from that of a regular 7D. If/when future firmware updates are issued by Canon for this camera, they can be loaded into both the regular and barcode versions.
- The WFT-E5A in the U.S. version of the kit is loaded with special firmware, but retains the features of a stock transmitter. This firmware will not be made available for download and installation by existing transmitter owners (and wouldn't be of any use anyway without the 7D barcode body). This probably also applies to the non-A version of this transmitter sold in most locales outside North America, but this would only be relevant if the 7D barcode camera is to be sold outside the U.S. too. As of this writing we don't know if it's to be a U.S.-only product.
- Both USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners are compatible. The latter types requires an additional accessory not included with the kit, the Canon Bluetooth Unit BU-30 adapter. Both one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) scanners are supported. The barcode scanners connect through the transmitter's USB port (or wirelessly to the USB-dongle style BU-30 in the case of Bluetooth scanners).
- A variety of barcode scanners should work with the kit, and three specific Honeywell models have been certified for use:
- 3820 Cordless Linear Image Scanner (1D, wireless Bluetooth)
- 3800g General Purpose Linear Imager (1D, wired USB)
- 4600g General Purpose Area Imager (2D, wired USB)
- The barcode scanner will beep to indicate the barcode ticket has been successfully scanned and sent through to the transmitter/camera. There is no indication on the camera itself that the barcode data has arrived, at least not prior to a photo being taken.
- The barcode data is embedded directly into the EXIF metadata of picture files captured subsequent to a successful scan. The barcode data can be seen when reviewing pictures, on the small picture + histogram + shooting info screen.
- The barcode version of the 7D also provides password-protected lockdown of camera settings, to prevent accidental or misguided changes to those settings by the camera's operator. There are four lockdown modes to choose from; the most restrictive allows the shutter button to be pressed, photos to be reviewed and deleted and gives access to My Menu.
Any menu items previously added to My Menu are fully accessible while in this lockdown mode, but other menu items cannot be added. In other words, My Menu can be used to provide a pathway to settings that the operator is to be allowed to change, but does not provide a backdoor to all other camera settings.
- The barcode data inside the picture file can be read by a variety of software used by the sports, youth, event and school photographers likely to adopt the 7D barcode kit.
- The 7D barcode kit enables the data to be embedded directly into picture files right inside the camera, at the moment of capture, and is the first time Canon has offered something that could do this. Existing third-party barcode solutions require the barcode data to be married up with the picture files after the fact, usually at the computer stage or with a system like Wi-Pics.