Hot: Canon talks about his mirrorless future! (Will not go the same way of Nikon?)

Share (Click here to read the translation) interviewed MR. Tian Rong Jin, Managing Director Canon Image Communication Business Division. He unveiled a couple of interesting things about their mirrorless plan. I don’t speak japanese and the google translation tool is not really 100% reliable. I ask my japanese readers to check if everything I understood is correct:

1) Canon will release a mirrorless system within 2012

2) First comes the image quality and than the downsizing. There should be a perception that the new mirrorless camera is a clear step towards from a classic compact camera. That statement clearly goes against Nikon’s decision to offer a mirrorless system camera with a smaller than m43 sensor (Click here to see the nIkon 1 system).

3) The lenses for the new mirrorless system need to be small.

It’s quite a surprise to see Canon talk that openly about mirrorless. And there is definitely a reason why they are now talking about it. I guess they want to warn the market by saying: “Hey don’t buy Sony, m43 or Fuji…wait for us!“. TO me it sounds like they will launch a new APS-C mirrorless system with a bunch of nice compact lenses. Photokina could be the right place for that.

One thing is sure: 2012 will be the year of mirrorless cameras. And I am here to give you every small bits of news and rumors I can get! Starting from the next post when I will talk about the exact Fuji X Pro 1 launch date and hour 😉

  • youdidntdidyou

    The problem with the Nikon 1 and Pentax Q system is that in the eyes of their target consumer the cameras aren’t enough of a step up from point and shoots in looks and design but strangley are in price.
    Canon probably won’t launch a mirrorless system until towards the end of the year, it will interesting to see how they approach the market.


    Nikon decided to parasite on the new wave mirrorless technology.
    You could expect more from a name like Nikon.
    Lets hope Canon will bring something valuable to compete with Fuji and Sony, because Nikon as always failed to.

    • L.Coen

      Compete with Fuji? What does Fuji have that would scare Canon? In fact what did Fuji ever have besides the Nikon loaned dslr bodies and the old Fujinon slrs way back when? The x1 pro isn’t going to make a dent in dslr market share, not at 1700, and Canon knows this.The fact is the Fuji is also not even out and unproven. Fuji can’t even get the design right by making the mount square in the center of the camera body, leaving less room for the users right hand to grip on. The camera looks left heavy from the front, with the grip, the Vf switch, the top dials, the release lock all crammed in on that side. No other company including Leica would design a camera of that nature like way.. Fuji is unproven and one camera at 1700 does not make it a contender.

  • BornOptimist

    “Image quality comes first and then the downsizing…”
    This is a classical marketing statement. The thing is, image quality is always a compromise (if not they would have used larger than FF-sensors). You first establish the boudary for the design (system infrastructure), then you ALWAYS strive to get the best image quality within those boundaries. That is also what Nikon has done with the 1-system. They wanted speed, so they opted for a smaller sensor to achive higher readout speed, and 600MP/sec is exceptional compared to anything (it is 2x the bandwidth of a Canon 1DX!). Then the goal was to achive image quality as good as entry level DSLR (this is from a video interview with one of the 1-system engineers).

    If he by classical compact mean an old film-based compact, then m43/APC are also a smaller than most of those compacts. Personally I don’t see this statement in any contradiction with a CX-sized sensor. Contrary to admin, my gut feeling tells me Canons system will be closer to the 1-system than m43. Canon has exactly the same considerations to take as Nikon -how can they enter this segment and still protect their DSLRs? There are two ways, eigther a darn good “larger than compact, but smaller than DRLS”, or go larger than DSLR.
    One is a high volume reasonable price approach, the other is low volume-high price. Which one do you think Canon will approach?
    Olympus also had to take these considerations but they screewed their customers, not once but twice. Canon has done it once before, so who knows, but I don’t think they’ll do it again (“fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”).

    I can see that youdidntdidyou haven’t tried the 1-system. It is by far the most potent ML out there regarding focus system. It is the only ML system that can track moving subject reliably. It is even better than many DSLR. Image quality is also equal to or better than most m43. Price is mostly comparable to the competition, if you compare to an equal equipped system. The only area where it’s behind m43 today is the selection of lenses.

  • Parci

    this doesn’t contradict the Nikon 1 CX sensor, which is also a clear and visible step up from compact cameras. also, the lenses that need to be small are a clue, just look at the NEX/NX zooms.

  • Andrea

    I will not wait. As a professional I mainly shoot with Nikon D700 and finest Lenses. For travel I used to take my beloved GF-1 and now the latest addition is the GX-1 (which I absolutely adore).

    If Fuji should produce a winner and I mean from a professional point of view, I am willing to sell my whole Nikon Equipment. I was always tempted by Leica and their small package, but the manual focusing couldn’t convince me (despite I learned to take pictures manually and analog a long time ago), as I am so used to the fast AF-S Lenses. And lets not even start talking about the price for a complete set of Lenses.

    No, what I learned with the m4/3 is lightweight, fast, discreet (albeit shutter noise is a pain in the bottom) and absolutely useful image quality for doublespreads in print magazines, where I make most of my income. And if Fuji is to believed that the IQ is as good as FF, the handling and speed as good as my GX-1, I’m really in for the change.

    For Stilllife work I would still rent H4D.

    • Giulio Sciorio

      You’re not alone Andrea. I’ve talked at lengths with my friends that are also professionals and we’re all excited to see how the new Fuji performs. I have a 5DMKII system that I rarely use for my own personal photography ever since getting a EPM1. I would not say the picture quality is better with the 5D rather I’d say the quality is different.

      I get perfectly usable images with my EPM1 and love shooting it for my own personal work but it would be nice to get a bit more resolution, dynamic range and less noise from a small camera.

      If the Fuji fits the bill then I’ll strongly consider selling my Canon system for the Fuji….still not sold on the NEX7.

  • Agent00soul

    Yeah, I think this sounds like they’re going to use a CX sized sensor.

    • Documensony

      Fully agreed.

  • Anonymous

    Canon is a he? What gender is Sony then?

  • Vivek

    Canon can talk all they want. No one is holding their breaths for them to move their A$$’ to come up with something. 😉

    The mirrorless arena is already rich with Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung, Sony and now (belatedly), Ricoh-Pentax and Fuji.

    It was Canon’s loss that they did not do anything but, IMO, it is better that way than obliterating their own feet as Nikon have done with their toys. :-)

  • fh

    Just briefly read through the interview.

    1) The Canon spokesman does NOT confirm (or deny) that they will release a mirrorless system in 2012. Any suggestion of such is due to the interviewer/website (eg: “We asked Canon about rumors of releasing a mirrorless in 2012”).

    2) The spokesman does not say image quality comes before downsizing. He says that image quality AND small size are two essential (non-negotiable) considerations for developing a new system. The rest of the interview, he continually dodges making any hard statements about which (large sensor or small system size) would come first. A couple interesting QAs from the interview:

    –What sort of unique features do you [Canon] have in mind, if you were to create a new lens mount?
    “There are already many mirrorless interchangeable lens systems, but the rate of changing lenses is surprisingly low. I don’t have any specific numbers, but when you consider the number of lenses being sold, you can sense that relatively few people are using interchangable lenses.* So, what should we do to increase the usage of interchangable lenses? In order to heighten the appeal of interchangable lens format, it is necessary to also take into account the needs of making the system more compact.”
    [* Note: he probably means in comparison to lens usage across traditional SLR formats.]

    –After introducing a new system, when you think about the time it takes to establish a lens system, it’s possible that image sensor performance will improve. If having a compact system overall is the first priority, wouldn’t it be better to focus on the size [of the system] that you want to end up with a few years from now?
    “Yes, sensor performance will probably continue to improve. But at this point in time, it would be great if we could improve [light receiving] sensitivity of APS-C size sensors. In doing so, the breadth of photographic capability will greatly increase.

    “In saying that, it’s possible that a time will come when we can downsize the image sensor size. In making the entire system more compact, we next have to deal with the lens constraints (eg: resolution, chromatic abberation, etc). Of course we have to worry about timing when it comes to developing a comprehensive small system, but that’s still far away.”

    Interestingly enough, it’s not really a direct shot against Nikon’s new 1 system. Canon says that if people want a compact system, and sensor technology continues to improve, then hypothetically it would make more sense to decide on a small size now — in some way an admission that Nikon might have the right idea.

    You can also gather that Canon is still very tight-lipped regarding their position on the issue, and that there’s a possibility that they will continue to delay introducing any mirrorless system, while they continue to watch 1) sensor technology improve, and 2) the mirrorless market change.

    3) See above.

    Also, the spokesman’s name is actually Mr. Masaya Maeda. Google Translate is garbage and attempted to translate his name using Chinese reading.

  • Agent00soul

    It sounds to me he’s justifying their coming fixed lens mirrorless, as a stopgap until a smaller than aps sensor will have the required image quality.

    • Steve

      Yes, I think that is exactly Canon’s plan. That is why the 1.5″ sensor mentioned in the leaked press release is accurate. Some are trying to translate this to a 1/1.5″ sensor but are missing the point of Canon’s direction with the new G series. The G Series is now competing with NEX, M43 and Nikon 1.

      • BornOptimist

        The problem with this is that there has never been a sensor-size (or film size) that has been called 1.5″. 1/1.5″ (or 2/3″) is a knows size.
        Also with the rumored spec of the lens, this will be a huge lens.
        So my guess is that this G-serie camera has indeed a 2/3″ sensor. Slightly larger than what they use today.

    • Andy

      I pray you are right! A large sensor, fixed zoom lens compact camera is the only system missing from the market today. This rumored camera is exactly what I need and I would happily pay for each reasonably upgraded successor.

  • drj

    funniest thing is that this just mimics the SONY DSC-R1 that dates back to 2005. By the way, that camera was indeed well in advance of its time and Sony was nonsense in giving up the whole project after having bought Minolta.

    • Vivek

      They did not dare putting a prime lens, did they? It was Ricoh and Sigma that loosened up the mindset when it comes to compact P&S cams.

  • Miroslav

    “Hey don’t buy Sony, m43 or Fuji…wait for us!”

    Judging by those leaked specs, I’d leave Fuji out of that list. Although going for the opposite end of the market, they’re going to end up as relevant as Nikon 1 if they don’t expand their system with smaller bodies and zoom lenses.

  • Zetton

    I’m Japanese.
    I’ve read the article.
    Canon says “YES”.
    (at first, his name is not “ron jin”, funny enough that why Google can translate his name into such.
    His name is Maeda)
    But from his saying, I feel Canon has still some ambiguity for the release date. or thinking of stake holders (share holders)? So, he still used some vague expression, but definitely he said “yes, in ’12” in this talk. This talk is different expression than ever. I think Canon was excited by NIKON’s release.
    If not happen in ’12, some very serious trouble should be raised in Canon (I don’t know it, of course! but Thai flood influence will expand so wide supply companies, etc. Yen rate….)

    second. “image quality first” is what he said for the ordinary DSLR (=EOS). And “small can be pursue with KISS, too”, but extreme smallness can be archived with mirroless system, he said,too. And “customer still want smaller system than KISS” (he is not so convinced about this. that means he think KISS is enough small, but market think it’s still heavy) in these talk, he is slightly vague. his responses are not logically consistent to the series of questions. I suspect the interviewer required so straight answer or so “bingo” questions, that he wants to hide the key features of the “unveiled” mirror less camera. So this part is highly difficult to automatic translation.

  • James

    “APS-C with lots of small lenses”? Really? That’s a stupid fantasy. The NEX lenses are as small as you’re going to get APS-C lenses. It’s physics. Any smaller and you can’t get enough light to hit that huge sensor. I can’t believe people complain about the smallest thing and expect everything to go their way. You want small lenses? Go for MFT. Still not small enough for you? Get a frikin point and shoot.

    • Giulio Sciorio

      How did companies make small 35mm film cameras like the Olympus Stylus? The lens looked pretty small to me.

    • Gabriel

      Pentax cameras are APS-C and there is some nice small primes like the 21, 40 and 70mm limited. In the mirrorless segment, Samsung make small lenses for it’s nx system. Only fast zoom remains bulky. I guess something like the small m4/3 14-42x zoom is possible for aps-c.

  • Jon Petersen

    Any chance Canon will join m43?? Seems totally idiotic for every camera company to come out with a new proprietary lens. It would certainly put the pressure on Panasonic & olympus..

    • BornOptimist

      Never gona happen. Canon does not want to share lenses with other. AFAIK 3rd part lenses for EF mount are also based on reversed engineering of protocol, and not by getting access to specification from Canon.

  • MJr

    @ Admin
    “a clear step towards from a classic compact camera”

    Would a better translation be:
    “a clear step AWAY from conventional compacts” ?

    Because that would make sense with what you(they) are saying. Not slightly better than a compact, but a clear step away from it >>> ‘Much’ better. Meaning m4/3 or APS-C.

  • Charles

    The Rebel line is far too successful for Canon to seriously consider producing another system which would cost about the same to the consumer. I could see them going mirrorless with their APS-C cameras so they can keep selling Rebels and EF-S lenses. If they were really adventurous they would revive their Canonet line to compete with Fuji. But I don’t see them departing too much from their current systems even while incorporating mirrorless. Not while Rebels are still the number one selling DSLR.

  • Jonathan

    A 1,5 inch sensor means a sensor with a diagonal length of 1 inch.
    It gives a 25mm diagonal length (=> 1.73 crop factor) , slightly larger than m43 but not that much.
    Remember that previous generation of Foveon sensor from Sigma were x1.73 crop factor sensor and 3:2 aspect ratio.
    If canon keeps the 3:2 aspect ration and retain this sensor format( approx 21mm(width)*14mm(height) that would be too close to their APS-C 1.6x crop factor IMHO.
    I think the easiest choice for canon, is to split the EF-S line from the EF Full Frame, making a new (mirrorless?) EF-S mount with a smaller Flange back (perhaps something like a 30mm flange back it would be enough reduction in size and even keep room to (re)install a mirrorbox if required ).

    If EF-S body were slightly smaller (just as samsung nx does) with small pancake (wide and normal primes just as samsung nx)
    plus the full compatibility with all existing EF & EF-S lenses via an adapter (it also require a balanced body, so it doesn’t have to be too small), and the choice between EVF body, OVF with mirrorbox or even hybrid OVF body (copycat of the new rangefinder style fuji x pro) i think everybody would be happy to have such an important choice of body and lenses.

  • E

    They said alot:
    – Image first, then size … = A punch towards Nikon.
    – Small lenses. = A punch towards Sony, for lack of pancakes.

    A step forward from classical camera. = A strong hint how they will differentiate the CX based camera from the Rebel line-up.

    Basically they said: “Wait for us, it will be worth it.”

  • L.Coen

    As much as i like m43, it will be destined for destruction. The CSC m43 cameras have a small market only because the ps cameras Iq isnt good because of the small sensor.the dlrs have IQ but theyre much bigger because of the mirror. But that is NOW..what will happen in 10-20 years when apc or full frame sensors are cheap? You think by then one can argue that m43 is better at IQ? Not at all. Remember the film ps cameras at the end of their line before digital came out? they were quite compact, may with mega zoom lenses, some with fixed large aperture primes. They were the same size as many m43 cameras today. The ONLY difference if anyone has forgotten is that ps digital sensors are puny because of the cost. But someday it won’t be a factor, and when that happens..and it will, what would be the selling of point of m43 when PS cameras have a larger sensor? The sad fact is that m43 is heading towards a dead end, because of the natural progression that will come.Someday ppl will have forgotten m43 when all the point shoot digital cameras have aps c sensors. If they could make ps film cameras back then at their small size and that takes 35mm film [full frame sensors], is there a doubt that Canikon can;t make a digital ps camera with a ff sensor? To sadly sum up..m43 is living on borrowed time. Enjoy it while it lasts..because it will end someday sooner than most would like to think. the Canon gx1 is the dawn of such ps cameras. Someday, when all ps digital cameras have a large sensor, we will all remember its god father, the Canon Gx1

  • Vivek

    It, of course!

  • Miroslav

    Don’t know about Italian, but in south Slavic languages, all major camera manufacturers are “he” except Sigma and Leica, which are “she” – because their names end in “a”, which is typical for female names / nouns. In the same fashion, Konica, Minolta and Yashica also were “she”.

  • fh

    PS: It’s interesting to read how people try to interpret these interviews to say what they want to hear (eg: no Nikon 1, Canon will save us with a big sensor and tiny system, etc), when all the answers in the interview are rhetorical and nothing substantive. 😉

    The interviewer was right about one thing: in 2011, Canon was the ONLY company that did not introduce a mirrorless format. Every other company has their take, and despite a great number of choices, people are still complaining. [Nikon: system interoperability, but tiny sensor; MFT: great lenses, but middle-of-the-road sensors; NEX: great sensors, but no pancakes; Pentax Q: ????; etc]

    So in some way, I think many of us are looking to Canon as the last chance of a holy-grail camera. But Canon can’t defy the laws of physics (with a giant sensor and fast tiny lenses that fits in your pocket). Really, at this point Canon might as well continue holding off on any mirrorless system (and pursue the G1X high-end compact segment). It will be interesting to see how well the Fuji X-Pro1 does, and if Canon responds to that.

  • Miroslav

    Thanks fh!

    “So, what should we do to increase the usage of interchangable lenses?”

    Make even worse kit lenses ;).

  • youdidntdidyou

    don’t need to try the Nikon 1 because of it’s focus system,
    reasons why:
    1.the focus systems on my cameras are fast enough, just like my reaction times.
    2. don’t need high frame rates – I can pick the moment using a single shot (6+ frames per second is considered video with you just picking out stills ,hardly an art form).
    3. with micro four thirds I can auto focus or manual focus anywhere in the frame (without framing and recomposing) not just in the central portion, the newly announced D4 is the same!
    4. “Price is mostly comparable to the competition” that’s a joke right?
    5. I have not seen any focus tests in low light of moving subjects yet from any reviewers of the Nikon 1 system, strange eh?

    “Nikon are great at making cameras that do everything for you …making you just another lazy photographer/bystander.” Ansel Adams – 1924

  • Miroslav

    Just did a little research and found out that not only Nikon 1 10-30mm lens is bigger than Panasonic’s 14-42mm X lens, but their 10-100mm F4.5-5.6 10x zoom is bigger and heavier than Tamron 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 lens for APS-C NEX!!! That’s darker lens with smaller range for three times smaller sensor!

    Well, good luck to Nikon 1 users with their AF speed, I prefer smaller size and better image quality of m4/3 and NEX systems.

  • Atlasman

    Well said and thanks for clarification.

    At this point in time, for me at least, the holy-grail in mirrorless, is a full-frame—and it’s not just because of image quality.

    I don’t like the idea of using sensor size to reduce the system. I like what Leica and Kodak have done. Now someone has to move it out of rangefinderland deliver a system “for the rest of us.”

    Canon seems to be the last hope.

  • quidam

    I would have to agree – i was hoping the Fuji would be fullframe (after I saw the leaked price) even though I am perfectly happy with Nex 7. But I think Sony’s rumored hybrid mount could be closer to the holy grail than what canon can or can’t come up with. Judging by the remarks about lens size, canon’s system will be subframe.

  • Atlasman

    The way I see it, camera makers have been on a march to deliver “one ring to rule them all,” when they introduced zoom lenses. And that’s what most would prefer.

    Interchangeable lenses appeal to the connoisseurs of photography, not the soccer moms. I can’t see that ever changing. That’s why the mirrorless movement hasn’t “moved” forward as much as it could have—the makers have been targeting the point & shoot crowd.

    Sony has taken a significant step with the NEX system. I think the others are also on the verge of shifting directions—Fujifilm is definitely targeting the connoisseurs.

  • rishio

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Upcoming technologies such as organic sensors point to a future where digital sensors accept light at sharper angles which will allow the rear element of a lens to be closer to the sensor. This, in turn, will allow APS-C mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony Nex systems, to have smaller lenses than they currently have.

  • Fan

    You are probably right, but it’s a shame. I would be in heaven if that happened.

    4/3 sensors are big enough. If you put a NEX-7 sensor in a MFT camera, you will get awesome quality with 14.9 MP. I will mention this as often as I can over here, because it is more precise than saying you lose a certain amount of EVs. You lose some pixels, not light.

  • ronin

    Not sure why this opinion is relevant here, but I’m calling nonsense on that alleged Ansel Adams quote.

    Firstly, Nikon wasn’t even a player in 1924. Secondly, no one in 1924 used the nonsensical form “photographer/bystander.” Third, what sort of everything would Nikon possibly deliver in 1924.

    Fake quotes do not bolster a random opinion. To the contrary.

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