When you're Mr. Big, you can get to the party any time you want to.
If Canon were a smaller company, people would be greeting today's trot-out of its mirrorless system like an ordinary middle-of-the-pack kid who finally shows up at a high school party halfway through. A few friends might say, "hey, where ya been? You're missing it." and the rest wouldn't even notice.
But Canon is the coolest kid in school. I'm remembering an old movie—old even for me, and I'm old—where the sidekick friend says, "But you can't leave the party!" and the hero says, "I am the party!" The cool kid can come any time she wants to, and nobody minds. By definition, whenever she gets there is the right time to arrive.
Here's the news in a nutshell: this morning Canon introduced the EOS-M, a small, mirrorless, 18-megapixel, APS-C sensor camera with two interchangeable lenses, one prime and one zoom. It has a touch screen enabling familiar gestures like pinch-to-zoom and swiping, and full HD video.
There are two ways you might react. One is lack of interest—the party's been underway for a while now, and let's face it, they ain't nuthin' but late. I.e., there are systems out there with multiple generations of product already well established and evolved, and well supported with system accessories and lenses. Maybe you've already jumped to mirrorless long ago, and already have your system. Nice try, Number One, but no need.
Or: here comes the biggest dog in the pack, with the most muscle, and they've been able to watch everybody else's mistakes; maybe they just took their time to get it really right. They have the resources. Maybe you're a Canon brand loyalist and have been waiting patiently for years, and you're feeling the warm glow of reward today. Finally, no more crappy also-cams from soulless electronics giants who can't make a sensor. Canon. Mmmm.
The camera is said to be simple, which causes me to perk up—we need simpler cameras, especially in this category. Simple means streamlined, refined, made more efficient, easier and more intutive to use.
Or, it means stripped of features and offering nothing really new or innovative. You've got to watch out for that vector and which way it really points.
More on the EOS-M as the news evolves. My personal take? Another post, later.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by MM: "A real-estate person once told me, 'Never forget when shopping for a house that there are only two things you can't change about it after you buy: 1) the location and 2) the size of the lot. Everything else can be changed later if you decide to.'
"I think a corollary for a camera system is that the only two things you can't change without creating a separate system are 1) the lens mount and 2) the size of the sensor. Everything else about a new camera system is flexible—the number of dials and buttons, the offerings of dedicated lenses, the speed of the focusing system, the shape and size of the body, the presence of an eyelevel finder or a built-in flash or a tilting LCD or a good grip; these can all be implemented or changed in years to come. It looks like between the lens mount and the sensor size, Canon has given itself a sturdy platform with plenty of room for future growth.
"For those who don't believe that in ten or 20 years even pros will still be using cameras with large slapping mirrors inside, this announcement might point the way to a professional-grade M-body someday."
Featured Comment by Nathan B.: "This is eerily similar to the Nikon 1 series launch in all but sensor size. Both featured on sensor phase detection AF, have an entry level consumer focus with highly simplified camera controls, limited number of native mount lenses and a big ugly bandaid for that lens selection in the form of a legacy mount adapter. Both manufacturers are taking a tepid dip into the mirrorless pool."
Featured Comment by KeithH.: "Another camera without a viewfinder...when will it end?"