“Canon Q&A @ CP+ 2017: Canonu2019s enthusiast mirrorless aspirations, the future of 4K and more
Photography giant Canon is always big news at the a
ual CP+ tradeshow in its native Japan. Our founder and publisher Dave Etchells is at the show, and had the opportunity to discuss a number of topics with Canon executives at CP+ 2017. Representing Canon were Go Tokura, Executive Officer and Chief Executive of the company’s Image Communication Business Operations; Yoshiyuki Mizoguchi, group executive within the ICB Products Group, Image Communication Business Operations; and Goshi Nakamura, Manager; Marketing, Camera and Video Business Pla
ing Div., Imaging Technology & Communication Group, Canon U.S.A. Inc. And while they couldn’t discuss the company’s future products — something that’s par for the course in executive interviews like these — both gentlemen nevertheless had plenty of insights to share, especially regarding Canon’s view of the mirrorless camera market and its place within it.
The recent Canon EOS M5 and newly-a
ounced EOS M6 both include Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus systems, and Canon enlightened us as to the challenges associated with bringing this technology to new cameras while still maintaining the desired price point. And there are similar challenges regarding the implementation of 4K video, particularly in more affordable cameras, an area in which the company again provided some very interesting insights.
Additional topics of discussion included the dedicated video camera market and the future of the PowerShot line. We even learned which advanced PowerShot cameras are number one and number two in sales in the United States! Will the answer surprise you? Read on to find out…
Dave Etchells/Imaging Resource: Some analysts have noted Canon’s relatively slow entry into the mirrorless market and felt that it was over a concern about ca
ibalizing or reducing existing DSLR sales, but on the other hand there are many competitors moving very strongly in that space. How do you see mirrorless fitting into Canon’s overall strategy generally? And are we likely to see more emphasis going forward, or do you view mirrorless as continuing to be more of a niche market rather than DSLR sales?
ICB Products Group
Image Communication Business Operations
Yoshiyuki Mizoguchi/Canon Inc.: So in terms of how we look at the mirrorless market, I think there’s a regional variance that we can actually point out at the moment. Different regions have different penetrations in mirrorless market share. For example, if you look at Japan, it’s a 50/50 [share between DSLR and mirrorless]. And we actually saw the penetration growing, but having said that, in the last couple of years that has sort of settled down into just a 50/50 [split]. So we’re looking [at] this as rather than mirrorless taking over or maybe there’s a great shift back to SLR, we see that there’s a nice sort of a coexistence of the markets, and that’s how we see it. And the different markets will have a different breakdown in ratios.
DE: Ah, yes.
YM: As you know, Canon offers both mirrorless and SLR products, and we will continue to do this. We will position those categories in that regard, and we would like to look at the ILC market as a whole to respond to the wide range of demands that are coming in with these two prongs.
But having said that, out of all of our lineup at the moment, I think that the EOS [Kiss] X-series [aka the EOS Rebel series in US markets), it’s about really offering a light, small camera, and we’re answering that demand. I think that was a broad play for for a number of years, but in the last couple of years with the introduction of the M5 and M6, we are seeing that the EOS series will have more of a role to play, in addition to being small [and] lightweight. There’s a greater demand for the mirrorless market, as you can see that Japan is 50/50 at the moment. Other regions are seeing more demand as well. So it’s [up to] us to respond to this diversifying demand for the mirrorless market.
DE: As you mentioned the mirrorless market is broadening, and with the EOS M5 Canon is now finally offering a true enthusiast-level mirrorless camera with many features those users demand. But looking at the EF-M lens lineup, there are a wide range of focal lengths available, but they feel much more consumer-focused. We’re wondering whether you see higher-end — if not professional — more enthusiast-level lenses on the roadmap for the EOS M family?
YM: I won’t be able to disclose any sort of future products, so there’s not much details that I can provide at the moment, but obviously there’s a growing demand for the enthusiast-level cameras. That’s why we’re seeing this progression of our camera series, and in a similar way we will start to see the strong demand for the lenses as well, for the enthusiast. We are looking at the market demand and seeing what sort of levels that we’re seeing, and we will probably be introducing products along with that.
The Canon EOS M6 mirrorless camera, shown here in its silver variant.
DE: Moving to Dual Pixel autofocus, we were very excited to see that Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology has been implemented in the EOS M5. (And we say that with an exclamation point!)
DE: It’s taken a while for this feature to make its way to the EOS M system. Were there any technical challenges or limitations that prevented you from including Dual Pixel on earlier EOS M cameras like the M2 and M3, or was it more a matter of the technology needing to mature to bring costs down?
YM: Dual Pixel CMOS AF was introduced [in the] 70D, but at the time we did have both the points that you mentioned. We had a technical challenge that we had to overcome, as well as the cost implications that it would incur as well. So it was two things that forbade us from introducing the EOS, but luckily we were able to evolve and we were able to advance, and so that’s why we were able to introduce it in the M5.”