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Canon Interview – We Asked, Canon’s Go Tokura-san Answered

Canon Interview - We Asked, Canon's Go Tokura-san Answered

We continue with our round of “summer interviews” with executives from companies from our filming industry and in this Canon interview, Johnnie caught up with Go Tokura-san, Chief Executive of Image Communication Business Operations at Canon. Johnnie took the opportunity and asked some questions that were on his mind for quite some time.

A quick note before we begin: If you’re interested in more parts of this interview series, you can check out our in-depth interview with Panasonic’s Yamane-san about the GH5 II, GH6 & more. But since this part is all about Canon, let’s get right to it:

CineD: The video capabilities of the EOS DSLR and mirrorless cameras were abandoned by Canon for some time, but during last year’s introduction of the EOS R5 (CineD Lab Test) and EOS R6 (CineD Lab Test) you made a glorious comeback.

I’m interested in understanding why the decision was made in the first place to generally emphasize video capabilities only with the EOS Cinema line, and at present time, change the decision and allow high-quality video recording capabilities to the photo cameras, as well?

Canon EOS R5 / R6
Canon EOS R6 (left) and R5 (right). Image credit: CineD

Go Tokura-san: We have continuously advanced the video capture capabilities of our DSLR and mirrorless cameras. For example, the EOS 5D Mark III was made compatible with both ALL-I and IPB compression formats, as well as timecode recording. For the EOS 5D Mark IV, we included the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that provided natural and smooth autofocus when recording video and even made 4K video recording possible. And for lenses, we are developing STM/Nano STM lenses that are ideal for video capture.

Including the Cinema EOS System, it has always been our development goal to expand the market for video production professionals and expand the possibilities of visual expression.

Canon EOS C500 Mark II. Image credit: Canon

Furthermore, one thing that made possible the addition of high-performance video functionality was the evolution of our in-house technology. The sensors equipped by the EOS R5 and EOS R6 cameras enable a superb S/N ratio and dynamic range, enhanced drive, and significantly faster readout speeds. And with the addition of the newly developed DIGIC X image processor, massive quantities of data can now be processed nearly instantly. This has made possible 4K/8K support, RAW video capture, high-performance subject detection, and other advanced features.

CineD: In the past, the life circle of DSLR and mirrorless cameras were very defined. Now you get the feeling “everything is happening much too fast”… What is Canon doing in order to “combat” that phenomenon and how are you able to come up with new camera products even faster than before?

Go Tokura-san: In order to respond quickly to diversifying customer needs, we are striving to improve the efficiency of R&D and advance our manufacturing technology. In particular, we are focusing on accelerating the development speed of core devices produced in-house, such as CMOS sensors, image processors, and lenses.

CineD: At least from a video perspective, the just released EOS R3 looks similar to the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III. Is it some kind of indication that Canon will give up on its high-end DSLR line in the near future and fully concentrate on producing mirrorless cameras even for the most demanding user and segment?

Canon R3
Canon EOS R3. Image credit: CineD

Go Tokura-san: The EOS R3 features 6K RAW/60fps and 4K/120fps, 6K oversampled 4K/60fps, and other video features that further improve upon technologies of the EOS-1DX Mark III, and we believe the camera will satisfy the needs of the high-end user segment. Meanwhile, we also understand that there is a segment of our customers who place greater importance on such aspects as responsiveness when shooting stills via the optical viewfinder and battery life. Our current policy is to strengthen mirrorless product lineups and continue sales of DSLR products so that customers can choose according to their needs.

CineD: How was the Canon C70 received in the market? I’m asking because for me personally, it was a mixed bag of opportunities. A very capable camera from one hand, but on the other, a bit limited with no EVF and internal RAW video recording. Will Canon consider continuing and enhance this line of “bridging cameras”?

Go Tokura-san: I’m delighted to say that the EOS C70 has been very well-received by the market. In particular, the inclusion of a high-image-quality DGO sensor despite the C70’s compact and lightweight body made it notably well received.

Canon EOS C70
Canon EOS C70. Image credit: CineD

The EOS C70 is accepted as a workhorse camera because we included many features that are in demand by the market, such as ND filters, XLR connectors, and long recording times with batteries.

The C70, which is not designed to be a bridge camera, is intended to strengthen the Cinema EOS lineup alongside the EOS C500 Mark II (CineD Lab Test) and EOS C300 Mark III (CineD Lab Test).

Regarding the EVF, we made the decision not to include it due to prioritizing the compact size of the body. However, internal RAW recording and other features will be decided after listening to user opinion and feedback and holding discussions in-house.

Canon EOS C300 Mark III. Image credit: CineD

CineD: A bit of a “long shot”… How is Canon preparing itself for the day when large sensor mobile phones will be able to take (even) higher quality videos and photos? Can you see a further impact on your market with such a development?

Go Tokura-san: The technological development regarding the miniaturization of smartphone cameras is indeed remarkable. But in terms of physics, when you increase the size of the sensor, you must also increase the size of the lens accordingly. In addition, we believe it is still true that in order for users to comfortably shoot at different focal lengths ranging from ultra-wide-angle to super-telephoto, interchangeable-lens cameras remain the most suitable tools.

Ease-of-use is a key selling point for smartphones, which imposes a limit on the sizes they can reach. Considering all this, then, we believe DILCs will continue to differentiate themselves from smartphones.

CineD: Developing a new camera and a line of lenses is a time-consuming and expensive task.

Despite that, Canon has 3 major lines: DSLRs with EF lens mount, and 2 mirrorless lines, one with M mount and the other with RF mount. Why do you think it is necessary to produce three cameras and lens lines?

Go Tokura-san: Presently, our reasoning for maintaining three mount lines is as follows: The EF mount provides users with a vast selection of lenses for both still and video image capture. Therefore, we will continue this mount as long as there is demand from customers. Meanwhile, the EF-M mount’s advantage lies in compact and lightweight designs, making them popular among entry-level users.

Canon RF 16mm
The new Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 prime lens. Image credit: Canon

With the RF mount, we have looked 30 years ahead to the future when designing what we believe to be the ideal mount. For both cameras and lenses, we will devote the majority of our R&D efforts toward this mount.

CineD: “Fighting” established camera brands on the higher-end cinema market is a very challenging task. What was the motivation behind creating the EOS C700 and should we as customers anticipate a new high-end model soon?

Go Tokura-san: Unfortunately, we cannot disclose our future plans, but we feel that our mission is to contribute to the imaging industry and develop products that will help creators capture the images they want. After the release of the EOS C700, we received a lot of feedback from customers, and so we continued to respond to market demands. The “modular” concept of the EOS C500 II and EOS C300 Mark III to suit different recording styles was born based on the user feedback from C700.

EOS C700
Canon EOS C700 (s35). Image credit: CineD

After the release of the EOS C700 FF, full-frame sensor technology was included in the successor model, the EOS C500 Mark II, and color science features including Log/Gamut are present throughout our lineup.

Going forward, we will continue to listen to customers and implement it in our R&D for new products.

CineD: A word about lenses. Here is a question that I ask various manufacturers as I’m very curious to hear their answer. Is there any consideration by Canon to introduce a line of budget-friendly RF anamorphic lenses or at least some type of front or rear anamorphic adapter? I’m asking as this can attract additional customers to consider your cameras.

Go Tokura-san: Thank you for your suggestion. Indeed, anamorphic lenses enable a unique form of visual expression and have long been popular choices when filming such content as film, TV dramas, and commercials. We have also received a lot of requests from customers. The concept of an RF anamorphic lens is intriguing, and we would definitely like to consider it as we expand our lineup.

CineD: We are witnessing delays in delivering cameras to the market and also shortages of some components. What is your perspective on the situation and do you anticipate an increase in camera prices soon?

Canon EOS R3. Image credit: CineD

Go Tokura-san: Due to shortages of semiconductors and other components, circumstances are still quite difficult and we expect this to continue for the foreseeable future. We sincerely apologize to our customers who have been affected by these shortages.

Going forward, we’ll work with our suppliers to ensure a stable flow of components so that customers can purchase products at reasonable prices.

CineD: Last but not least. Recently Canon revised its financial forecast for 2021 for the better. One of the reasons is due to good sales of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Do you have any type of solid statistics where you can estimate if customers are buying your cameras because of good photo capabilities only, or if high-quality videos are also an important factor?

Go Tokura-san: We don’t have any reliable statistical data on that topic, but from our own surveys, we’ve found that the main reason our customers enjoy our full-frame mirrorless cameras is that they provide significantly improved stills and video capture capability in a single package that appeals to photographers with high-level needs.

What do you think guys? Do have any burning questions left? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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