PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Fun with Canon's interview

DpReview just posted an interview with Canon Camera’s head honcho. It was… unenlightening really, just spin. So I’m going to spice it up by replacing Mr Maeda’s answers with my own decryption of what he said each time.

Disclaimer: what follows is sarcastic humor, spiked with a tinge of truth. The questions are all real, but the answers make up my satire.

It's me, FakeMasaya.
I'm older and Japanified.

DPR: Let's start with DSC and the announcement of the G10. We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand for a better quality compact, perhaps with lower megapixels / bigger pixels or bigger sensors. What our readers want to know - and what we want to know - is this; is there any chance of Canon making high-end compacts that don't have more pixels, but have better pixels, to fill the big gap between DSC and DSLR?

FakeMasaya: Phil – can I call you Phil? – it’s simple, no. We looked at our brand power and we determined we could continue to grind Olympus into dust without listening to customers’ demands. That’s called branding, and our plan is to stick to it.

DPR: Which leads on to our next question. What benefits can we expect to see from the use of CMOS sensors in compact cameras?

FakeMasaya: Hmmm, smell that branding. So good.

DPR: Is this (CMOS sensor compacts) something we're going to see more of in future models?

FakeMasaya: For sure, Phil. We’ll use these “CMOS inside” stickers, here, to indicate to the customer which products have the best margins for us. It’s our way to provide feedback to the customers.

DPR: So at the moment is there still an image quality disadvantage to CMOS in a small sensor?

FakeMasaya: Look – I’ve got this 1Ds Mk-III on the left, and a small-sensor compact on the right. By putting my “CMOS inside” sticker on the compact, here, I’m saying it’s on the level of the 1Ds Mk-III. If it makes no sense to you, it’s because you’re not in the target market for this, it makes perfect sense to them.

DPR: We ask because the standard set by EOS cameras using CMOS - in noise terms - is very high, and there's an expectation - realistic or not - that this will be reflected in compact cameras using CMOS sensors.

FakeMasaya: Exactly! You can expect us to build our marketing campaign around this expectation. We’re calling it “Canon MOS”, that’s what CMOS stands for really, we’re getting the trademark as we speak so nobody else can make this claim.

DPR: Do the compact camera systems use the same proprietary on-chip noise reduction systems as the EOS sensors?

FakeMasaya: That’s none of your business Phil.

DPR: Now we have tiny compact camera sensors with over 14 million pixels are we getting to the point where resolution is being limited by the lens?

FakeMasaya: Not at all Phil, not at all. Our JPEGs always contain 14 million pixels in them, irrespective of the lens quality, so we’ve got quite a bit of headroom still in the G-series lens.

DPR: So our point is, why keep going? If you're already at the point where adding megapixels brings no benefits why do it? As a market leader could Canon not take a stand on this issue…

FakeMasaya: See I’m standing right here, and the issue is over there. That’s how I stand on the issue, well I don’t actually stand on the issue as you can see. Does that answer your question?

DPR: Moving on to SLRs, cameras such as the EOS 50D and 5D Mark II are stretching the capabilities of lenses harder than ever. What are your priorities for lens development?

FakeMasaya: Excellent question Phil, but I find your lack of faith in the “L”s is disturbing. I can reveal that we are working very hard on a new firmware that will deliver more resolution on all our shipping cameras, by increasing the default sharpening from “high” to “crispy crunch”. We’ve been looking at the 5D and D700 reviews out there and we’ve determined that default sharpening is really the biggest advantage of using Canon L lenses instead of Nikkors. Upcoming “L” lenses will communicate to the body to make sure sharpening is applied even to RAW files, and can’t be disabled. That’s a genuine innovation from Canon you won’t see anywhere else.

DPR: Are we likely to see EF-S - and APS-C cameras in general - moving to the entry level, with full frame moving towards the mid-range / EOS 40D/50D sector of the market? Is there any danger that EF-S will be pushed out of the market altogether long term?

FakeMasaya: Phil, as you know, there will always be women and children to which we can market APS-C. (Editorial: I kid you not, he said this) It’s true that Real Men™ as a market resonnate with the larger, bulkier cameras that offer more hubris and higher margins. Our plan is to not disturb this pricing structure too much for as long as possible, basically we’re going to wait for competitors to stick their necks out first.

DPR: Some professional users have expressed concern about the fact that the 5D Mark II offers the same resolution and a more modern processor than the EOS-1Ds Mark III, making the 1Ds Mark III seem a little dated. What are your thoughts on the relative positioning of the two products?

FakeMasaya: Whiners.

DPR: One of the most common complaints we've seen about the 5D Mark II is that it still has the same AF system as the original 5D. Why is this?

FakeMasaya: It’s simple really, I fired the entire auto-focus team last year. Not only did this lower R&D costs overall, but the old technology is cheap to make too. It’s part of my plan to turn the 5D Mk-II into a pricing weapon, a zweihander made of cash, should any competitors stick their necks out like I said earlier.

DPR: Would you ever consider removing the anti alias (low pass) filter - or using a lighter one - on high end, high resolution models such as the EOS 1Ds Mark III, to improve pixel level sharpness, removing any moiré in software (like medium format cameras)?

FakeMasaya: That’s just stupid. No.

DPR: Currently the contrast-detect AF on Canon SLRs is very slow; given that video and live view are now part of the DSLR landscape are you planning to do anything to improve contrast detect AF?

FakeMasaya: I’m glad you asked. After I fired the auto-focus team I decided that in the future, all focusing will be contrast-detect. We hired a bunch of interns and they’re working on it.

DPR: At the moment in live view on the EOS 50D you offer a silent shooting mode that uses an electronic 'f
irst curtain', starting with the mechanical shutter open. Is it technically feasible to offer a fully silent mode that uses a totally electronic shutter - using the sensor alone to produce the exposure?

FakeMasaya: Oh yes. In fact, that will be the key feature of the 60D that will differentiate it from the 50D. That and a video mode built in such a way that it doesn’t threaten the 5D Mk-II at all.

DPR: Will movie capture be working its way down into models further down the range? Is there a reason that the EOS 50D, for example, doesn't have video capture?

FakeMasaya: We are planning to bring this capability to each market segment when we feel we’ve successively extracted all the profit we could from the higher segments. It was important to include it in the 5D Mk-II first because otherwise it would have been easily challenged in the market – whereas now it’s easy to deflect criticism just by mentioning the video. That worked out great and our plan is to do the same with the 60D.

DPR: Are there any issues with the sensor 'heating up' when shooting extended movie clips?

FakeMasaya: I don’t know, I haven’t used it. Vincent tells me his private helicopter’s rotor cooled the camera sufficiently.

DPR: All the buzz at this year's Photokina has been around the concept of the 'mirrorless' interchangeable lens camera following the launch of Micro Four Thirds. Is this an area Canon is interested in?

FakeMasaya: It’s cool. We enjoy it when our competitors take big risks like this, so we don’t have to. If Olympus manages to make money from this, you can be sure we’ll be right there to crush them into the dust.

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