Canon unveiled its latest digital still camera today, a 4.15Mp (megapixel) model intended for professional users, which features what the company claims is the world's fastest continuous shooting speed.

The EOS-1D, a SLR (single lens reflex) digital still camera with interchangeable lenses, allows photographers to shoot 8fps (frames per second) for up to 21 consecutive frames at the highest resolution large/fine mode.

In comparison, its predecessor the EOS-D2000 had a continuous shooting speed of just 3.5fps, according to Jun Misumi, a spokesman for Canon.

While a digital still camera takes longer to release a shutter than a film camera does, the new EOS model gets closer to the performance of a film SLR camera by narrowing the shutter release lag time to 0.55 seconds and also has a blackout time — the time nothing can be seen through the viewfinder while the picture is being taken — of 0.87 seconds, the company said in a statement.

Images are captured on a 4.15Mp CCD (charge-coupled device) and stored in Jpeg format. In the highest-resolution mode, the images are 2,464x1,648 pixels and are 2.4MB in size. A 128MB CompactFlash card can hold up to 53 images at this mode, according to Canon.

The camera is equipped with an FireWire interface to enable fast download of images to a PC.

Canon will roll out the EOS-1D in mid-December in Japan, priced at 750,000 yen (£4,400), and worldwide around the same time.