My relationship with Canon can be likened to that of a lion and his cubs. Hatred one moment and pure love the next second.
Some may recall few of my earlier posts directed at Canon, asking them to get their game into order and appreciating their efforts. If you havent guessed already, this one falls into the latter category.
Earlier this month, I received an email from 1000Heads, a company who I’ve worked with before on BBC Blast, asking me if I’d like to attend a round table discussion with Canon. Being the massive Canon fanboy that I am, it would taken a pack of hunting wolves to make me say no. After confirming my attendance, I got more details about the event and it was finally D-Day yesterday.
After getting to the 1000Heads office in London, I was introduced to the other photographers who had been invited to this session and the Canon Rep, Mark Burnhill. There were 7 photographers in all and as I’ve got used to now, I was the youngest one there. We kicked off on time with the Canon Rep explaining why we were here and we’re going to do during the next couple of hours.
After some brief ‘rambling’ about Canon, he started off by introducing the Canon dSLR line up from the beginner 1000D, working his way up to the flagship 1Ds Mk-III. He had a few lines to say about each camera and patiently answered all of our questions. I’ll mention some of the highlights below.
The Canon 1000D was designed as a beginner/starter camera for students who cannot afford a fully fledged dSLR but would still a reasonable number of features. It does the job perfectly, and is very compact and even used by some professionals as a casual backup camera.
The Canon 450D was initially planned to be phased out with the introduction of the Canon 500D but due to high demand and popularity, they decided to keep it in their line up. It is still very popular and considered as a benchmark camera for the low end of dSLRs.
The Canon 500D received a bit of negative feedback on launch due to its high price but it has gained some support with its high-res screen and video mode.
The Canon 50D is supposed to have much better weather resistance than originally advertised due to different standards of weather testing between Japan and Europe. In my hand, it felt very similar to my own 40D, albeit with a better screen.
The Canon 7D is an absolute beaut of a camera to use. Mark told us that it was one of the few Canon dSLRs to be redesigned from ground up with constant feedback throughout the design process. As the slogan says ‘Designed by you, made by Canon’, and after having used it, I must say it is very true. The handling is very different from the 50D and it fits my hand perfectly. Button placement is great, the screen is gorgeous, the viewfinder is much bigger, full weather sealing and the autofocus system has been completely reworked much to my pleasure. I can sing praises about the 7D all day long but we have to move along. (PS – Christmas present for me, anyone?)
The Canon 5D Mk II, much to noone’s surprise is a magnificent gadget. I think I still like the 7D more than it simply due to the fact that it fits better into my hands but the 5D Mk II does win when compared technically with its full frame sensor vs. the 7D’s 1.6x crop sensor. Every shot I took with the 5D Mk II looked perfect straight out of camera, without any post processing. We were also informed that a new firmware would be out soon to enable 24/25 & 30fps recording at 1080p & a few other surprises. However, 720p would still be missing.
The next camera was the pièce de résistance, the Canon 1D Mk IV. Built like a tank, it weighed like one as well and was a beast to use. The 102,400 ISO is ridiculously high and I cant say it has great quality but it definitely makes 6400 ISO virtually noiseless. Probably a bit too big for my hands, it was still a splendid camera to try out and the shutter click was very satisfying. We were told that sales would start this weekend.
The Canon 1Ds Mk III had quite possibly the most spectacular viewfinder I have ever used. Full frame was really something else and it also weighed a ton! The screen seemed relatively bland after having used all the other high-res screens but I suppose it still does its job. Mark remained tight lipped about its successor but I think we can expect one for mid next year.
Other information we discussed included the famed “Eye Control Focus” which was ditched after using it in very few cameras, and not because of the technology but rather because it violated some patents in America. I thought that was a shame because I really do like that feature in my EOS 5 and would have loved to see it move on dSLRs and be perfected. We talked in detail about the reason for pricing difference in the US and UK/Europe which we were told was due to translation costs for manuals and EU licensing and certification but I still doubt they make the same profit in both markets.
Mark briefly talked about how full frame edge-to-edge autofocusing is something that would a significant leap in innovation simply due to the technological constraints of today. He also mentioned that due to cultural differences between Japan and Europe, it takes a lot of time and effort to convey the requirements of the European customer to them. About new lenses, he said that there were plans to rehaul the full range of lenses over the course of the next few years since a majority of current line up was never designed to work with resolutions beyond 21Megapixels. However, due to technical limitations, they can only redesign a maximum of 8 lenses a year, given that no new lenses were being made.
He said that Canon had no immediate plans to venture into the Medium Format industry and would continue to innovate and excel in dSLRs.
The 2 hours had flown by faster than we thought and it was soon time to wrap up. We were taken to dinner afterwards to a fancy French restaurant, Chez Gerard where we got to know each other better. The food was delicious (I had the Salmon) but the portions were a bit small for my liking. Nevertheless, it was nice to meet other similar minded people, and we exchanged contact details before we departed at around 11pm after a great evening.
My sincere thanks to Nicola & Aaron at 1000Heads for organizing the evening, Mark Burnhill for personally interacting with his customers, Canon for being the best camera manufacturers in my books, and everyone who came along and made the evening pleasant and eventful!
See the full set of photos from the evening over here!