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How do you solve a problem like Canon?

After the rumours earlier this week that Canon are finally about to get their act together and produce a full-frame mirrorless camera, we felt it was about time we shared a few of our thoughts on the long-time market leaders in the camera industry.

It’s probably fair to say that, for a long time now, Canon have been resting on their laurels. Their laurels in this instance being the admittedly exceptional 5D (and it’s two subsequent offspring) alongside the 7D (and it’s offspring – notice a theme developing here?). The problem with this is exactly as you’d think. Dining out on the success of two fantastic DSLRs may taste pretty good right now, but the fact is that we haven’t seen much in the way of innovation from Canon over the last few years – really since the 5D was first introduced in 2005. It may not be totally obvious to all at the current moment but it really does feel as though the ground is beginning to shift in photography as more and more people come round to the idea of smaller-sized cameras being able to produce pro-quality images. We can understand Canon’s reluctance to some extent in not wanting to poop on their own doorstep as it were, but the reality is that innovators like Fuji and Sony are currently producing cameras that are gathering dedicated followers at pace, all the while stealing market share from beneath Canon’s plodding feet.

It’s worth noting that Nikon have not faired that much better, although the introduction of this year’s D750 has helped them claw back some brownie points in our eyes. It may still be a DSLR but it is small, lightweight and comes in at a fraction of the cost of a ‘pro-level’ DSLR while still packing a very impressive punch when it comes to image quality. The Nikon 1 range also seems to have faired considerably better in the consumer market than Canon’s oft-forgotten EOS M model.

Where Nikon and Canon do hold the advantage in the race for people’s hard-earned pennies, for now at least, is in the quality of the lenses they produce; the range of optics these two have at their disposal borders on ludicrous. Even here though, as more and more third party adaptors come to market it has become less important to buy into their systems just to gain access to their impressive back catalogue of glass. We suspect that long term this won’t work out well; photographers tend to invest thousands of pounds in good quality glass, it’s true, but the smart ones also tend to only invest once, meaning that the real money to be made on a consistent basis is the inevitable churn of people looking to update their camera bodies every few years or so.

For this reason it’s becoming apparent that the big guys, particularly Canon, need to get up off their backsides and innovate before they lose their stature in the market. It surely won’t be long before they react to the innovations over at Sony and, to a lesser extent, Fuji and so it comes as no surprise that these rumours are starting to surface. We’re certainly looking forward to hearing more mirrorless system rumours from Canon over the coming months.

 

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