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Fstoppers has posted an article on why Canon does not need to innovate that will strike a cord in some people.
I used to be a bit of an apologist when it came to Canon camera innovation, believing that Canon cameras were a sum of all their parts, and not just about a fancy specification list. I have started to change my view on this, especially after the release of the capable, but not overly improved Canon EOS 6D Mark II. I think it’s obvious that it wasn’t a revolutionary release, and a lot of people don’t even think it’s an evolutionary improvement, merely taking parts from other cameras already in the lineup.
I think most people feel Canon really stopped being the leader of the pack in a lot of areas after the revolutionary EOS 5D Mark II, who’s innovation was basically an accident. Canon did do the right thing with improved firmware features to make the video performance an industry game changer.
They’ve made some very good and even great cameras, I wouldn’t trade the EOS-1D X Mark II for anything. The EOS 5D Mark III has been a workhorse for a long time. The EOS 5D Mark IV with its perceived gimped 4K and general feeling that the camera wasn’t a big improvement over the EOS 5D Mark III has caused people some pause.
A lot of R&D dollars seems to have gone into the very well regarded Cinema EOS line, even though they’ve had some missteps as they build their place in that market.
I don’t believe this with Canon lenses, I think most would agree they have the best lens lineup from top to bottom in performance, technology, innovation and breadth and depth.
Back to the cameras. What innovations have there been over the last half decade or so?
Dual Pixel AF comes to mind, which is a great feature in Canon cameras. The other being dual pixel RAW, but that is in its infancy and doesn’t provide much for most photographers. Canon sensor color science is still the best in the business, but that doesn’t seem like a lot of advancement in the last decade.
Canon remains the sales leader in DSLRs, and that will likely frustrate a lot of people. Why spend more on R&D and taking more risks if your bottom line isn’t being affected?
Brand power can only carry you for so long, at some point, something will give.
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Canon makes cameras that have the most important and fundamental features right. Bells and whistles are fine and are things to get excited about, but if the core features of how a camera is supposed to operate are compromised then it’s no longer practical. These are some of the reasons why Canon continues to dominate. The thing to consider here is that Canon has already innovated because they’re still ahead when it comes to how their cameras perform for the majority of professionals. Their competitors just don’t have the lenses, the autofocus features, or the color science they offer.
Canon’s support network and reliability is industry leading, but I think a lot of people take that for granted.
I do believe it’s time Canon stops playing it safe with camera bodies and starts putting some “wow” into future products.
Canon has admitted they need to innovate more, but were they speaking of the digital imaging sector, or other money making areas within the company. Canon has had a lot of focus on the last few years on acquisitions, and I think there may have been a reduced focus on the industry with its most passionate customers.