Archive for the ‘Canon General’ Category

Canon Awarded the Third Most US Patents

Canon Awarded the Third Most US Patents

TOKYO, January 15, 2014 — Canon Inc. again ranked first among Japanese companies and third overall for the number of U.S. patents awarded in 2013, according to the latest ranking of preliminary patent results issued by IFI CLAIMS Patent Services on January 14, 2014.

Canon actively promotes the globalization of its business and places great value on obtaining patents overseas, carefully adhering to a patent-filing strategy that pursues patents in essential countries and regions while taking into consideration the business strategies and technology and product trends unique to each location. Among these, the United States, with its many high-tech companies and large market scale, represents a particularly important region in terms of business expansion and technology alliances.

Canon U.S. patent ranking among Japanese companies 2005 – 2013

Year Ranking* Patents
2013 1st (3rd) 3,825
2012 1st (3rd) 3,179
2011 1st (3rd) 2,813
2010 1st (4th) 2,551
2009 1st (4th) 2,200
2008 1st (3rd) 2,107
2007 1st (3rd) 1,983
2006 1st (3rd) 2,367
2005 1st (2nd) 1,828

* Number in parenthesis represents Canon’s ranking among all companies

Canon prizes its corporate DNA of placing a high priority on technology. And with regard to research and development results, the company actively promotes the acquisition of patent rights in accordance with the management direction of the Canon Group and technology trends while conducting thorough pre-application searches to raise the quality of applications. Through close cooperation between Canon’s technology and intellectual property divisions, the company aims to improve its technological capabilities while further enhancing its intellectual property rights.

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Canon to Haul Capacity Back Home as Yen Continues Slide

Canon to Haul Capacity Back Home as Yen Continues Slide

(Reuters) – Canon Inc is shifting capacity back to Japan in an apparent vindication of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s yen-weakening policies, which have made it more profitable for some Japanese manufacturers to produce and export from home.

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the world’s largest camera maker was caught out by its reliance on domestic production by a soaring yen – which devalued its overseas earningsand increased labor costs – forcing the company to produce more overseas.

It is now set to reverse that shift, boosting jobs and factory operations in Japan in a move that will delight proponents of Abe’s economic policies and erode the competitive advantage enjoyed by rivals such as Nikon Corp, which has long made the majority of its cameras overseas.

Canon will raise the proportion of products made in Japan to 50 percent within the next three years from 42 percent now, Chief Executive Fujio Mitarai told Reuters in an interview on Thursday, after saying he was “looking forward” to a further slide in the yen.

“Right now we have spare capacity at home because we gradually moved production overseas,” said Mitarai, referring primarily to cameras and photocopiers. Canon cut back production at home from over 60 percent before the 2008 crisis to 40 percent in 2009.

The move is designed to make manufacturing more flexible and Canon will leave the option open to push production back overseas should the yen strengthen again, Mitarai said, adding that the company has no plans to build new factories in Japan.

The impact of Canon’s strategy will be reflected in the company’s balance sheet in the months ahead. For the financial year ended December 31, Mitarai sees operating profit as likely flat against a forecast of 11.2 percent growth, and sales up around 7 percent versus guidance of 7.8 percent. The company reports its results for fiscal 2013 on January 29.

Last year, the yen fell 21.4 percent against the dollar and 26.4 percent against the euro as the Bank of Japan launched an aggressive monetary easing program.

AUTOMATION
Canon is also continuing its push to automate much of its production and replace humans with robots. Mitarai said he hoped to hike the proportion of automation at Canon’s lens factory in Utsunomiya, a city near Tokyo, to 50 percent at the end of 2014 from 10 percent to 20 percent now.

The company expects gradual progress in partial automation at its other factories, including Japan’s Oita, Nagasaki and Toride, to boost its gross profit margin by almost 1 percent to 48.3 percent in 2013.

Innovation in robotic production also means Canon can have factories in developed markets and remain immune to the high wages while keeping distribution costs low. But its plans for an automated printer cartridge factory in the Netherlands have been stalled by the prolonged chill in the European economy, with construction yet to start.

“We’ve bought the land but demand in Europe isn’t strong enough yet,” Mitarai said, adding that Canon had been too optimistic about a recovery in its biggest market, where it gets around a third of its revenue.

“Our forecasts for Europe at the beginning of last year were way off.”

Initially buoyed by a weakening yen, the company hiked its operating profit forecast in the first quarter of 2013 by almost 10 percent, saying that each yen that the Japanese currency slid against the dollar would boost revenue by 19.7 billion yen ($187.91 million) and operating profit by 7.7 billion yen.

However, the dramatic shrinkage of the compact camera market last year – estimated at 40.2 percent by researcher IDC – and an unforeseen weakening in high-end camera sales forced Canon to cut its profit forecast at the following two earnings announcements.

The CEO said he was optimistic that Canon can increase both revenue and profit by more than 5 percent in 2014, and could far surpass that level if the yen weakened beyond the company’s “conservative” estimates of 100 yen to the dollar and 135 against the euro.

On Thursday, the Japanese currency was 105 against its U.S. counterpart and 142.89 against the single currency. A weaker yen means it is cheaper to make goods in Japan, and boosts the value of overseas revenue once repatriated.

SLR SALES
Mitarai said sales of digital single-lens reflex cameras likely came in under 8 million units in 2013 to mark the first annual decline since Canon introduced its first model in 2004.

Some analysts say that consumers are increasingly prioritizing connectivity and mobility over picture quality, finding themselves slipping their smartphones out of their pocket instead of hauling out their SLRs. Mitarai disagrees.

“There isn’t any impact from smartphones on SLRs. They’re a different genre. You can send your (SLR) pictures out to the world now with WiFi, to the cloud. The only difference is that you can’t make calls with your camera,” he said.

“We don’t have any plans to make a camera that you can phone someone with… But we will continue to put in more connectivity features into SLRs.”

Canon says that digital SLR sales softened this year due to the prolonged chill in the European economy and slowing growth in China.

Canon’s global shipments of interchangeable lens cameras accounted for 45.1 percent of global shipments in July-September, according to IDC, a 5 percent drop in share from the year prior and a 25.7 percent drop in unit sales.

However, Mitarai said Canon had increased its share of the SLR market by a few percent over the whole year and would aim to increase unit sales in 2014, hoping to reach 9 million units in the short-term thereafter.

Source: [Reuters]

Are Metal Mounts Better Than Plastic?

Are Metal Mounts Better Than Plastic?

The following article is by Roger Cicala and Aaron Closz from LensRentals.com

Assumptions, Expectations, and Plastic Mounts
Photography companies love catchword marketing. They like catchwords because photographers make assumptions about what those words mean, even though the words really don’t mean anything. So basically, they say nothing, but it makes you believe something.

Two of my favorite examples are “professional quality construction” and “weather resistance”.  When I read those terms, my brain translates them to “Blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah.” They are subjective terms, just like ‘elegant design’ and ‘innovative styling’.

Most photographers, though, make all kinds of assumptions about what those catchwords mean, and have all kinds of expectations about the equipment that is described by these largely meaningless bits of marketing. We all know what Oscar Wilde said the word assume really means. Expectations, of course, are simply a down payment on future disappointment.

I have watched several world-class internet meltdowns with great amusement recently. All were started when photographers found out that their assumptions and expectations about what catchwords meant were wrong. They became a firestorm when people added a lot of ‘facts’ that weren’t really facts.

Plastic Mounts and Professional Construction

Much of the recent internet rioting was triggered by some Olympus 12-40 lenses that broke off at the plastic mount (the mount is the internal part of the lens where the bayonet — the metal part that twists into the camera — attaches by several screws). Several people reported their lenses broke at the mount with minimal force applied (a short fall or even pressure from other items in a camera bag). We ship those lenses all over the country and they seem no more likely to break than any other lens we stock. But apparently at least some of them had a weak mount.

What amused me was the absolute fury expressed by numerous photographers that a “professional quality” lens might have a plastic mount. I’ve looked up the term ‘professional quality’ everywhere and nowhere have I found it defined as ‘having an all-metal mount’. But some people are livid that it isn’t so. If you’ve read one of these posts on the internet lately, you’ve learned all kinds of things. . . none of which are true.

  • Most micro 4/3 lenses have metal mounts (they don’t – only one does that I recall).
  • All ‘professional quality’ lenses have metal mounts (they don’t, not even close to all do).
  • Micro 4/3 lenses and NEX lenses all have plastic mounts, but ‘real’ SLR lenses have metal mounts (not true on either side of the comma).
  • Plastic mounts are only used on cheap kit lenses and have only appeared in the last few years (They’ve been around for a long time on many lenses).
  • Lenses with plastic mounts break more frequently than lenses with metal mounts (Nothing suggests this).

I take apart lenses all day every day, so I was rather amazed to find all these facts spoken so dogmatically by people who claimed them to be absolutely true. I make it a rule never to argue with people who claim absolute knowledge, no matter how wrong they are. But I will occasionally show them pictures. So here are some pictures of the mounts of lenses that Aaron and I took apart for various reasons this morning.

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L lens. Released in 1998 (15 years ago), considered a Professional Quality lens, and certainly carrying a professional quality price. It has a plastic mount. In fact, we keep that mount as a stock part because we have to replace it every once in a while. It doesn’t break often, but we have hundreds of them and they do break once in a while.

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L with rear barrel removed, showing 4 plastic posts that the lens mount attaches to.

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L with rear barrel removed, showing 4 plastic posts that the lens mount attaches to.

Panasonic-Leica 45mm Macro Elmarit f/2.8 m4/3 lens. I won’t argue about whether it’s a Professional lens, but it’s really good, really reliable, and quite expensive. It has a plastic mount despite online claims otherwise.

Panasonic-Leica 45mm. The 4 empty plastic holes are where the lens mount attaches. The 3 screws still in place attach this plastic piece to the next plastic piece in the lens barrel.

Panasonic-Leica 45mm. The 4 empty plastic holes are where the lens mount attaches. The 3 screws still in place attach this plastic piece to the next plastic piece in the lens barrel.

Sony 50mm f/1.8 NEX lens. Again, I’m not arguing Professional here, but this one is widely mentioned in the forums as ‘all-metal construction’. It has a metal shell, just like the Olympus 12-40mm, but the support pieces are plastic and the mount screws into plastic, just like the Olympus 12-40mm.

Sony 50mm f/1.8. The 4 hollow plastic posts are where the screws from the lens mount attach.

Sony 50mm f/1.8. The 4 hollow plastic posts are where the screws from the lens mount attach.

 

Canon 14mm f/2.8 Mk II L. I don’t think anyone argues this is a Professional Quality lens at a very professional cost. An ultra-reliable lens, but it certainly has a plastic mount. Not that we ever have to replace them. They never break here despite being far larger than the Olympus 12-40mm.

Canon 14mm f/2.8 II rear barrel showing hollow screw hole in polycarbonate inner barrel where the lens mount attaches.

Canon 14mm f/2.8 II rear barrel showing hollow screw hole in polycarbonate inner barrel where the lens mount attaches.

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L Mk I. A professional lens released in 2002. It weighs about 2 pounds; far larger than any two micro 4/3 lens combined. It is generally referred to as a tank because it never breaks (it has optical problems, but those occur at the front end, which is, oddly enough, entirely made of metal). The plastic mount never breaks despite holding up 2 pounds of lens. Trust me on that, we’ve carried hundreds and hundreds of these for years and never had a mount break. (As an aside, the Mk II version has a metal mount, despite being lighter. I’m not sure why.)

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk I. That big beast is easily and reliably supported on it’s 4 polycarbonate screw mounts.

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk I. That big beast is easily and reliably supported on it’s 4 polycarbonate screw mounts.

The Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC lens. I include this one just for completeness, because it’s another large lens and at least one online authority has stated it has a metal mount. Sorry, there’s no metal back there at all.

Common mount with empty plastic holes that attach the lens mount, and screws remaining in holes attaching this to the next barrel piece.

Common mount with empty plastic holes that attach the lens mount, and screws remaining in holes attaching this to the next barrel piece.

Attention Fanboys: Just because your favorite lens isn’t shown here doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plastic mounts. Lenses of 70-200 f/2.8 size and up all have metal internal mounts (as best I can recall), but lenses smaller than that may be either metal or plastic. All Zeiss ZE and ZF SLR lenses have metal internal mounts (but not Zeiss-designed lenses for other brands). Nikons are more likely to have metal mounts than other brands, but they have a fair amount of plastic-mount lenses, too. Otherwise, the majority of lenses have internal plastic mounts.

Does it make any difference? I looked at the Lensrentals’ reliability data for the last several years (several thousand repairs), and there’s no higher failure rate with plastic mount lenses. They have, if anything, a bit lower failure rate, but it’s not a significant difference.

When a plastic mount does break, people tend to freak out a bit because the lens is so obviously broken. From a repair standpoint, though, we love them. It takes 15 minutes to replace a broken plastic mount and the lens is as good as new. Metal mount lenses don’t break like that. Instead internal components and lens elements get shifted and bent. It can take several hours to return one of those to optical alignment.

So What Does It Mean?

Absolutely nothing except that internet hysteria is alive and well. By my latest count, during the last two weeks 7,216 internet experts have claimed it is an absolute fact that plastic internal mounts are a new, cheap, poor quality substitute for internal metal mounts. The pictures above suggest otherwise.

The pictures show that for many years lots of very large, very high-quality, professional-grade lenses have had plastic internal mounts. Guess what? They didn’t all self destruct. In fact several of them are widely considered particularly rugged. Looking at 7 years worth of data involving around 20,000 lenses I can’t find any suggestion that plastic mount lenses, in general, fail more than metal mount lenses. Sure, there are certain lenses that fail more than others, but not because they have a plastic mount.

In theory, plastic mounts might be better, worse, or no different than metal as far as reliability goes. There are logical arguments for each.

Obviously a few Olympus 12-40mm lenses have broken at the mount. It may be there was a batch of badly molded mounts. It may be a design flaw. It may just be random chance – a few of everything break. But it’s not just because the mount is plastic.

I do like taking this opportunity to remind everyone that marketing catchwords like ‘Professional Grade’ mean very little. If they say it has 16 megapixels they’ve told you a fact. If they say  ’Professional Grade’ that’s a word with no clear definition. It probably means ‘built better than some of our cheap stuff’.

Speaking of Catchwords

As long as we’re on the subject of catchwords, it’s probably worth tackling ‘Weather Sealed’ or ‘Weather Resistant’ next. Many people seem to believe that means ‘waterproof’. When you take lenses apart all day you find out it usually means ‘we put a strip of foam rubber behind the front and rear elements and scotch tape over the access holes under the rubber rings’.

Strip of foamed rubber that sits behind the front element of a ‘weather sealed’ lens.

Strip of foamed rubber that sits behind the front element of a ‘weather sealed’ lens. 

Tape over access holes in a weather sealed lens.

Tape over access holes in a weather sealed lens.

It’s better than no weather sealing, certainly. And some (but not all) ‘weather sealed’ lenses also have internal gaskets around barrel joints and other added bits seals. But I haven’t seen one manufacturer yet tell us exactly what weather their lens is sealed against. Snow? Rain? Sunshine? Wind? Well, it can’t be wind because the lenses we spend the most time taking dust out of are mostly ‘weather sealed’.

It’s very different with different manufacturers. You can assume whatever you like, but when you send your lens in for repair, ‘weather sealed’ still means ‘the warranty doesn’t cover water damage’.

The truth is, terms like Professional Grade and Weather Resistant are nearly as vague as ‘innovative technology’ and ‘stylish design’. I’m certain it’s only a matter of time before I see an online post that says, “I bought this camera because the manufacturer said it had stylish design, but it’s butt-ugly. I think we should start a class-action lawsuit for false advertising”.

Roger Cicala and Aaron Closz

Lensrentals.com

Announcement Talk Begins

Announcement Talk Begins

There are various reports of Canon making announcements on January 7, 2014 and new one talking about a press conference in Hong Kong on January 9, 2014.

CES 2014 begins on January 7, 2014 and we expect new PowerShot cameras, such as the replacement to the SX50 IS. The speculation about January 9, 2014 is a bit odd, as the invites are only for Hong Kong. The last 2 Asia based announcements turned out to be a white SL1 and the EOS M2, so I’m not expecting too much at this time. Canon not announcing something for CES itself, but announcing it on the second last day of CES on the other side of the planet, now that would be a first.

Until we see press invites for other countries outside of Hong Kong, I wouldn’t get too excited about the January 9, 2014 speculation.

Source: [DCF] via [CW]

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History: The Original Canon EOS 5D Camera

History: The Original Canon EOS 5D Camera

From B&H Photo
B&H Photo has posted a nice article about the coming of the original Canon EOS 5D camera body. At the time, it was the first full frame camera that was “affordable”.

A snippet from the article
“Most photographers in the mid 2000′s had developed their eye using 35mm film cameras. When they attached a 50mm lens and looked through the viewfinder, they expected to see a 50mm focal range. However, nearly all the DSLR cameras available at the time were using APS-C-sized sensors, which introduce a significant amount of crop factor. The classic nifty fifty is cropped to 80mm. This compromise threw many people off, and proved to be a persistent nuisance.”

The original Canon EOS 5D was the first full frame camera I ever used. I borrowed it a lot from the photo store I worked at, I just couldn’t go back to my EOS 40D, which was a great camera in its own right. I didn’t actually own a full frame camera until late into the life of the 5D Mark II, as I was using APS-H for a long time with the 1D3 and 1D4.

Read the full article

cr

Canon’s Cinema EOS System Captures Comet ISON from Space

Canon’s Cinema EOS System Captures Comet ISON from Space

TOKYO, Japan, December 2, 2013—Canon Inc. announced today that an ultra-high-sensitivity 4K camera was used to successfully capture video of the comet ISON from the International Space Station at approximately 7:08 p.m. JST on November 23, 2013. Canon technology contributed to this world’s-first achievement as video production equipment from Canon’s Cinema EOS System was used to record the astronomical phenomenon.

Discovered in September 2012, ISON was unique in that, among the many large comets that have passed through the solar system in recent years, none had traveled so close to the sun. Accordingly, expectations were high that the “sungrazing” ISON would provide earthbound stargazers with a rare performance that would not likely be repeated anytime soon. After the video was shot, however, the comet is believed to have largely broken up and evaporated, meaning that it will no longer be visible in the night sky.

The footage of the comet ISON was shot from the vantage point of outer space, which is not subject to atmospheric fluctuation, enabling the capture of clear video images that would not have been possible if shot from Earth. As a result, the video will likely prove of high value to the scientific community.

The Canon video production equipment taken on the mission, all from the company’s Cinema EOS System lineup of professional digital cinematography products, comprised the EOS C500 PL professional cinema camera (launched in October 2012) and two EF Cinema Lenses: the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L SP (launched in December 2012) and the CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L SP (launched in October 2012). All three support 4K image resolution and the EOS C500 PL makes possible exceptional high-sensitivity imaging performance that facilitates the capture of usable footage even in low-light conditions.

The actual EOS C500 PL used on board the International Space Station underwent special modifications to further boost sensitivity and to enable the camera to withstand the rigors of shooting in space.

Canon Canada Student CPS Program

Canon Canada Student CPS Program

From Canon Canada
Canon Canada has launched a new CPS program aimed at students.

Canon’s Student CPS Program is designed to offer an unrivalled level of sales and service support for studying Photographers, Videographers, and New Media Artists. By becoming a member of Student CPS, you will be eligible for a host of real world benefits designed to help and assist post-secondary Visual Arts, Fine Arts, and Applied Arts students in mastering their craft and achieving their career aspirations.

Some of the benefits include

  • Access to student-specific pricing discounts on a selection of professional products – view list in Program Details
  • Membership-exclusive promotions, discounts and contests
  • Subsidized incoming overnight shipping charges ($10) on eligible product. These charges will be added to the repair service charge. Return shipping is free for warranty repairs and a flat $10 fee will be charged for return shipping of out of warranty service.
  • Expedited service turnaround target of 6 days
  • 20% discount for repair parts and labour for eligible products

Visit Canon Canada’s Student CPS Page

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Canon supports relief efforts in Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan

Canon supports relief efforts in Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan

TOKYO, November 12, 2013—On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, struck the central Philippines, causing massive damage and loss of life.

We at Canon extend our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this catastrophe and our thoughts go out to the victims and their families. Although the road to recovery will be challenging and take time, we hope that the region will soon be able to begin the rebuilding and healing process.

The Canon Group is aiding in the relief efforts for victims of the typhoon with a donation totaling 10 million yen (approximately US$102,000). The company is currently considering to which humanitarian aid organization the donation will be made.

Canon Cuts Full-Year Forecast as Camera Users Switch to Phones

Canon Cuts Full-Year Forecast as Camera Users Switch to Phones

2013 hasn’t been a stellar year for Canon
Canon Inc., the world’s largest camera maker, cut its annual profit forecast and predicted its first drop in sales of models with an interchangeable lens as consumers switch to smartphones to take photos.

Net income will probably total 240 billion yen ($2.5 billion) for the year ending December, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement yesterday, cutting its earlier forecast of 260 billion yen. The new projection missed the 250.8 billion-yen average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Smartphones are eating into digital camera sales as companies such as Apple Inc. and Sony Corp. release new handsets with stronger built-in lenses and sensors to lure shoppers. The value of worldwide camera shipments dropped 19 percent in August from a year earlier, a ninth consecutive monthly decline, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association in Tokyo.

Read the rest of the story at Bloomberg

thanks Bruce

cr

What’s Next for Canon?

What’s Next for Canon?

Not even a whisper
For the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much chatter coming from the Canon camp. We had previously been told that Canon would not be announcing anything else in 2013. Although, we still thought we would see the Canon EOS M2 which has appeared in some DPP software literature.

There still seems to be a lot of EOS M stock out there, as we keep seeing deals for the camera come about. There is a possibility Canon is waiting until stock levels are near depleted before they make an announcement. Christmas season is coming up, and we’re getting a bit late to announce a product for the Christmas season unless it ships right away.

As far as the big EOS stuff, we’re still holding with no DSLR or lenses in 2013, although a development announcement is always possible. I don’t think Canon has ever done a development announcement without announcing an official new product along side it.

I expect 2 camera bodies at the most in Q1 of 2014, one being a new EOS M camera. The other being an entry level type DSLR. I think it’ll be early spring before we see the really exciting stuff from Canon.

I am also told that new Cinema EOS camera(s) are likely to appear before NAB in April 2014. There has been nothing in regards to specs or which bodies would see an update.

More to come….

cr