Canon – what where you thinking – a disastrous marketing campaign of excuses?

Written by Gary on October 8th, 2014

For those who may have missed it, Canon has just disappointed its fan base big time with a mysterious ad campaign “See Impossible” which appeared to suggest that they were about to announce long awaited new technology to make the impossible possible – only for the ad campaign to count down to a reality of it being nothing but an attempt to convince the world that their technology already does this.

There has been a massive back-lash to this marketing campaign which risks driving even their staunchest fans to the fantastic new technologies of Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, Fuji and even Samsung which ARE changing how we use cameras.

Cropped sensor dSLR development:

To be fair, Canon have recently announced perhaps the best sports dSLR for enthusiasts, their long awaited Canon 7D Mark II which took 5 years to replace the initial version – 5 years is a VERY LONG TIME in the digital camera world – and as good as the 7D Mark II is for sports, it just doesn’t cut it with the mirrorless cameras for every day use, and even for sports, disappoints in not giving 4K video quality which other cameras such as the Panasonic GH-4 is able to do – heck even the new Panasonic LX-100 compact camera can do!

Further, the Canon 7D Mark II is a crop sensor dSLR, yet unlike Olympus and Panasonic, Canon still staunchly refuses to create great lenses to maximise the smaller sensor and give smaller, lighter lenses – if you want a pro level lens for this camera, you really need to buy a big, heavy, expensive, full frame lens – very disappointing indeed Canon!

Lack of full frame development:

The other main stay of Canon leadership – the full frame dSLR has failed to demonstrate leading technologies of late, and Canon appears to be being beaten by Nikon on almost every front (although Nikon too appears to have lost its way in the mirrorless camera market which is rapidly eating into the dSLR market).

Nikon produced a 36mp full frame dSLR 2 years ago, and even Sony have produced a compact 36mp full frame mirrorless camera in that time, but Canon’s full frame dSLRs max out at 22mp and are themselves 2 years old, and it would appear there is no new version on the horizon this year – now I must admit that 22mp is probably all one needs, but there will be many pro and enthusiast photographers who want more.

And again, none of their full frame dSLRs can compete with the 4K video capabilities mentioned above.

Perhaps the only note worthy dSLR development in the past few years by Canon is their unique radio wireless flash TTL technology.

Lack of sensor-based image stabilisation:

Neither Canon nor Nikon have been prepared to add sensor based image stabilisation as Olympus and Sony and now Panasonic are doing – sensor based image stabilisation is really a no brainer – it IMPROVES image quality with every lens you put on it, and when you don’t want it, you turn it off. What’s more it means photographers don’t need to be updating their lenses to get the latest IS capability, they can just update their camera, and there is no need for image degrading, heavier, more expensive optical IS elements (astrophotographers do not like OIS lenses as they degrade star images).

Olympus 1st introduced sensor based IS 7 years ago, and it has been used on all their interchangeable lens cameras since and has proven to be amazing technology, with their latest flagship, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 allowing hand held exposures with wide angle lenses down to an unprecedented 1 second!

Not only that, but the sensor based IS is indispensible when trying to manually focus a lens at high magnification – it is simply awesome technology – yet Canon and Nikon have failed big time in this arena.

If Canon were to introduce a full frame dSLR with sensor-based IS, even I would be tempted to buy it so I can better use my many full frame pro lenses given that my aging Canon 1D Mark III is no longer worth its weight carrying now that we have the Olympus OM-D’s to give similar or better image quality, accurate eye-detection AF for portaiture and far more fun without the burden of weight and size.

In the interim, you have got to ask yourself – why buy a Canon or Nikon over an Olympus OM-D?

There are still some valid reasons (fastest AF for sports via the 7D Mark II, and, shallowest DOF via full frame are the two main ones) but these are diminishing each year.

Lost in the wilderness of very capable compact and mirrorless cameras:

Canon and Nikon have totally lost their way in the last few years of rapid onslaught of amazing new compact and mirrorless cameras by Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and Sony.

Once upon a time the Canon G series ruled the enthusiast “compact” camera world – Canon’s latest iterations, their Canon G1 X Mark II and G7 X – both released this year, just cannot compete with the likes of compact larger sensor cameras such as the Panasonic LX-100, Panasonic GM-5, Fuji FinePix x100T, or the smaller sensor super zooms such as the Panasonic FZ1000, Sony RX10 and Olympus Stylus 1.

But even more telling is their pathetic attempt at a mirrorless camera – the Canon EOS M which was introduced 2 years ago, far too late and with such pathetic capabilities including poor AF, that it was a doomed camera from the start with no chance of competing with the brilliant Olympus OM-D Micro Four Thirds cameras, or even the compact Panasonic or Sony mirrorless cameras.

And where the other manufacturers (except Nikon) have been producing fantastic new cameras every few months since then, each with even better features and technologies such as full remote control via smartphones using WiFi, 4K video, fantastic IS capability, fun jpeg rendering features, the fastest AF of all camera types for static subjects, introduction of phase detect AF for moving subjects and for use of legacy phase detect AF lenses – Canon is yet to announce a single new model.

Canon and Nikon users are sitting on a bucket load of “legacy” expensive lenses with a compromised future:

Micro Four Thirds is really showing the photography world where the future of most photography lies – mirrorless cameras with CDAF-capable lenses.

Very few Canon or Nikon lenses are optimised for CDAF – making them severely compromised in functionality with whatever mirrorless cameras these manufacturers end up bringing to the table.

Sure the new cameras are likely to offer sensor based phase detect AF as does the Olympus OM-D E-M1 – but they are just not as fast nor accurate at AF in mirrorless cameras as are lenses specifically designed for CDAF.

This must be a major concern to both Canon and Nikon – and their millions of users – no one likes to think of their prize collection of lenses becoming redundant.

Canon has started making consumer-level lenses with CDAF capability – their “STM” lenses but these are few and there does not appear to be any direction being given for existing users.

Not to mention their users must really love it when Canon or Nikon announce a new version of their $2000+ pro lens which offers better image stabilisation and immediately devalues their lens further.

I stopped buying Canon lenses years ago for just these reasons – unfortunately pro photographers won’t have this choice – they need their 24mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.2, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lenses NOW.

Here is a list of MY BUCKET of Canon lenses – fortunately 3 are manual focus anyway:

  • Canon TSE 17mm f/4L tilt-shift
  • Canon TSE 45mm f/2.8L tilt shift
  • Canon TSE 90mm f/2.8L tilt shift
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2L
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

In the meantime, Olympus and Panasonic in particular, have been rolling out new cameras, and just as importantly, fantastic new lenses so users can make the most of this system – just take a look at the great new lenses from Olympus of late – the 75mm f/1.8, 60mm f/2.8 macro, 25mm f/1.8, 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, and the absolutely awesome 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO and its matching 1.4x teleconverter – plus those from Panasonic such as their 42mm f/1.2 and yet there are more great lenses in the pipeline – the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and the 300mm f/4 PRO just to name two from Olympus.

There is enthusiasm and a bright future for those in the Micro Four Thirds camp while it seems Canon and Nikon seems stymied by their lack of progress and technological advances – much of the possibilities are actually the result of the presence of a SLR mirror which limits the use of electronic technologies which are driving the fun of using Micro Four Thirds cameras.

Khen Lim has written a very detailed treatise on the end of the dSLR – see here.




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