I concur. The potential absence of a touch screen surprised me, rather than upset me. But for me a killer AF with amazing speed and accuracy, combined with a high burst rate (and deep buffer to use it), are the two main "must have" items for this camera. An improved sensor is also very desirable and I think that may be the biggest challenge for them to achieve.
Like you, I also want them to succeed and succeed well. Not just because I have a lot invested in their equipment, but because I want to see them retain their own sensor designing team. The best way to make sure both Sony and Canon sensors continue to improve is a healthy competition and spirit of innovation for both sensor design teams. (Oh yes, and Fuji too!).
I totally agree. We really need competition in the marketplace. Aptina and some of the other sensor manufacturers don't really compete in the larger form factor camera market (DSLRs and larger-sensor mirrorless). Since Nikon has effectively bowed out...it's mainly Sony and Canon, with a little bit of competition from Panasonic and maybe one or two other small players. So I agree, it's critical that Canon succeed here, so they don't hand Sony a default monopoly on a platter.
Jon, am I detecting a note of pessimism when it comes to the sensor tech, or do you think they'll pull it out of the hat?
I dunno. I've watched Canon for years now. I had high hopes, based on the patents I've read about. But when you dig into the history of those patents, many of them were initially filed before the 7D came out, or shortly after the 7D. Some were filed around the time the 1D IV came out. Filed, then granted usually around 18 months later. That means Canon had the technology long before that. Some of the patents indicate initial research in 2004, 2005, 2006.
A lot of Canon's patents sound very similar to the technology Sony has in the Exmor. I know Canon has a CP-ADC patent. They also have some very interesting patents that involve reducing dark current noise (something else Sony is very good at...Sony has some of the lowest dark current noise CCD sensors on the market that kick the crap out of the long-standing Kodak sensors. A Kodak KAF-8300, for example, has 0.02e-/s/px dark current noise accumulation, where as the new Sony ICX 674 and 694 sensors have an incredible 0.003e-/s/px...which is so low that no one who uses an astrocam with a Sony CCD even bothers with dark frames anymore...they simply aren't necessary anymore.) Canon has a patent that uses some kind of dynamic power disconnection to prevent dark current accumulation...I suspect it could reduce dark current levels below even Sony's CCD sensor levels. Canon also has a dual scale ADC readout system, which would allow them to switch to a slower readout speed when possible, which would also reduce read noise (a lot of read noise comes from high frequency components...reduce the frequency, reduce the noise.)
Canon has all this technology, and yet...where is it? Some if it is a decade old!! Where is it?
Yeah, I'm pretty pessimistic now when it comes to Canon's ability to actually EMPLOY their patents in actual products. There is another company that was like that. They were one of the most innovative companies in the cellphone industry. They have a patent library that is MASSIVE, and has some of the most incredible technology in the cell phone, smartphone, and tablet industry. They had technology patented long before Apple started making things like the iPhone and iPad that could have crushed Apple before they even got started. But they never used the technology. They invented it all...and just sat on it.
That company was Nokia. They used to be at the top of the cellphone world. They were the biggest manufacturer, raking in more money than all the rest combined. Look where they are now. They are a shadow of their former shadow, and Nokia itself no longer even owns a lot of those patents as they've sold them to Microsoft. Microsoft themselves is another company that rested on their laurels, and lost the race. They are still a force in the tech industry, but they have a major perceptual problem...they are often perceived as irrelevant now.
When I look at Canon...I see some kind of blend between Microsoft and Nokia being their future. Canon has a LOT of amazing technology. They've prototyped ultra high resolution sensors with very high frame rates. They file more patents every year than nearly all other companies. And yet...where are the products that use that technology? Canon is quickly racing towards a future where they could potentially be perceived as irrelevant by the consumers that currently pay Canon's bills, fund their innovation. Canon is quickly racing towards a future where they have a ton of technology that they are just sitting on, just like Nokia, just like Kodak, instead of putting it to work making competitive products that give their competitors a run for their money.
So yeah. I'm pretty pessimistic about Canon's ability to bring technology to bear
in their products. The 7D II should have been in the works a long time ago. Canon should have been making it a competitive product long before the 5D III was released. Canon should have known where their competitors were going, so they wouldn't have been caught so massively off guard (as it seems clear now that they were...otherwise they wouldn't have had to delay the 7D II release so much...it's now two years overdue, that's a really long time.)
I am hoping the 7D II gets a major boost to still photography IQ, but it's a pessimistic hope.