September 10th, 2015

5 of the Coolest Things We Saw at Canon Expo


Canon gave visitors a unique opportunity to preview some of the technologies it’s currently working to perfect at its Expo, which opened its three-day stint in New York yesterday. Some of the most intriguing prototypes Canon had to show—including a 120-megapixel DSLR, an 8K video camera and 250-megapixel sensor—were announced before the Expo even kicked off. Still, we were able to catch a glimpse at a few other interesting products and technologies under development. Here’s what caught our eye.


600mm f/1.4 L Lens

Canon revealed that it’s working on a 600mm lens that will incorporate the new BR optics first introduced in the recently announced 35mm f/1.4 lens. Thanks to a combination of BR and DO (diffractive optics) elements, the new 600mm should be about 30 percent lighter than its predecessor. No other details were available.


Virtual Reality

Canon also showed off a virtual reality headset and 360-degree camera solution for creating virtual reality presentations. Unlike current VR headsets which strap around a user’s head, Canon’s prototype is held up to the face. The display has a 120-degree viewing angle and features two 5×5-inch screens with a resolution of 2560×2880. The omnidirectional camera system combines 24 Vixia mini X camcorders into an array that can record spherical video.


Smart Home of the Future

Somewhere between a Microsoft PixelSense Table and Minority Report, Canon displayed an interactive table that lets users engage with their photos in novel ways. Using a combination of sensors in the table and IR and other cameras mounted above, any camera placed on the table can have its images instantly displayed across the table’s surface. Users can swipe and pull images to get a better look, flick them across the table toward a TV where they are instantly displayed or drag them to a printer icon where they are made into tangible prints. The table can also bring analog images to life. A Canon rep placed a photo book on the table and the system scanned the images and pulled additional photos with similar tags down from a cloud library to display on the table (more pictures below).

It's hard to tell from this image, but the runner's body is raised about 1-inch or more from the media.

It’s hard to tell from this image, but the runner’s body is raised about 1-inch or more from the media.

Textured Printing

While photo printing on a variety of unique surfaces and substrates is not new, Canon is pushing to give prints a variety of different textures—like glass, wood, leather, snakeskin and more—through a dimensional printing process. The process creates photo prints up to 2-inches thick off the page using a UV curable inkjet press, layered ink and gloss coatings. Canon is already selling a version of textured printing to some of its commercial partners but the process under development will support more textures and greater depths. To our eyes, portraits printed dimensionally didn’t look quite as compelling as abstract patterns or objects like bricks and wood, which also felt startlingly close to the real thing.

Speaking of printers, Canon is also finalizing new photo inkjet printers in 17-, 24- and 44-inch sizes. They’ll use a new 12 pigment ink system, but no other details were available.

In this demo, Canon is recording four 4K streams from its 8K camera, passing it through a debayer box and sending four 4K quadrants into individual external recorders. To construct the 8K footage, the files from each external recorder must be merged in post production.

In this demo, Canon is recording four 4K streams from its 8K camera (which looks like its C300), passing it through a debayer box and sending four 4K quadrants into individual external recorders. To construct the 8K footage, the files from each external recorder must be merged in post production.

8K & HDR

Attendees were treated to a glimpse of 8K video on several displays—from a large movie projection to new 8K reference monitors still in the prototype stage. The footage was recorded with Canon’s new 8K image sensor, which was announced earlier this week. The 8K sensor can produce 35-megapixel still frame grabs from video files and offers 13 stops of dynamic range. As for data rates, 10 minutes of RAW 4K footage off the sensor generates 4TB of data, a Canon spokesperson said.

On prototype 8K reference monitors, the pictures were so sharp that even standing directly in front of the display with our eyes hovering mere inches from the screen and using a magnifying glass, the images looked crystalline and ultra-realistic with no hint of pixelation. The display in question had a pixel density of 300 ppi, which Canon said is about the limit a human eye can even resolve. From a normal viewing distance however, the 8K footage didn’t look noticeably different than 4K.

What was noticeably different from a distance was a high-dynamic range display. Canon showed off a prototype display capable of brightness levels of 2,000 nits. By contrast, the average display delivers roughly 200 nits and the next-generation high dynamic range 4K TVs will achieve between 600-1,000 nits, depending on the model and manufacturer. Using an HDR monitor, users will be able to see more of the image data recorded by today’s high dynamic range cameras.

Here’s a closer look at some of the technology Canon was demoing:

Canon's Smart Home concept. The smart table can use a picture frame to crop digital images.

Canon’s Smart Home concept. The smart table can use a picture frame to crop digital images.

An analog photo book comes to live as similarly tagged images and videos are pulled down from the cloud to the smart table.

An analog photo book comes to life as similarly tagged images and videos are pulled down from the cloud to the smart table.

Mounted above the smart table, a series of cameras and sensors track hand movements and more.

Mounted above the smart table, a series of cameras and sensors track hand movements and more.


Canon’s spherical image capture solution combines 24 Vixia mini X cameras.

Canon looks poised to refresh its professional inkjet printers. Three models, including this 17-inch mockup, were displayed at the Expo.

Canon looks poised to refresh its professional inkjet printers. Three models, including this 17-inch mockup, were displayed at the Expo.

By layering on the ink and gloss, Canon can create dimensional prints with textures that feel like the real thing.

By layering on the ink and gloss, Canon can create dimensional prints with textures that feel like the real thing.

With textured printing, you can feel the wrinkles and scars of a long life. If you're into that kind of thing.

With textured printing, you can feel the wrinkles and scars of a long life. If you’re into that kind of thing.

September 8th, 2015

Canon Pumps the Pixels in Product Prototypes


A 250-megapixel prototype with EF mount.

If you thought Canon’s 50-megapixel 5DS and 5DS R were the company’s last word on pixel-packed sensors, think again. The company announced that it has built a 250-megapixel APS-H-sized sensor that can read the letters off an airplane up to 18Km away. It’s also built a 120-megapixel DSLR with an EF mount. Oh, and an 8K video camera.

The announcements were technology previews–Canon won’t be shipping a 120-megapixel DSLR or 8K video camera just yet. Still, they are a glimpse of where the company is headed. Here’s what we know:

* A 120-megapixel DSLR with EF mount: Canon says that the “high-resolution images that the camera will be capable of producing will recreate the three-dimensional texture, feel and presence of subjects, making them appear as if they are really before one’s eyes.” RAW files will measure in at 232MB. Memory card company stocks will skyrocket.

*An 8K video camera: According to Canon, this Super 35 mm-equivalent CMOS sensor will record 8,192 x 4,320 resolution video, or 35-megapixels. It will deliver frame rates up to 60 fps with 13 stops of dynamic range. The camera body will have an EF mount and Canon says that 78 out of 96 EF lenses in its current lineup will be compatible with the 8K camera.

* A 250-megapixel APS-H-sized sensor: This one is really aimed at commercial applications like surveillance cameras. Despite the plentiful pixels, Canon said it’s still capable of shooting at 5 fps. The video off the sensor would deliver resolution that’s 30x that of a 4K camera. Canon said it aimed this beast of a sensor at a plane in flight 18Km away and was still able to distinguish the lettering.


February 5th, 2015

Canon 5Ds Takes Aim at Medium Format with 50-Megapixel Sensor

HR_5DS_5DS_R_COMBINATION_CLAfter making their obligatory appearance on the Internet rumor mill, Canon officially launched the 5Ds and 5Ds R, a pair of high-resolution DSLRs based on the 5D Mark III, in advance of the CP+ Show in Japan.

The new 5Ds and 5Ds R will have mostly the same build and feature set as the 5D Mark III but will use a 50-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor of Canon’s own design. The 5Ds R will have a low pass filter cancellation affect to soak up even more resolution (more on that in a minute).

According to Canon, the cameras will offer a 4.14 micron pixel pitch, giving them roughly the same pixel density as the new 7D Mark II. However, the new 5Ds and 5Ds R won’t offer the low light performance of either the 7D Mark II or the 5D Mark III — instead, they’ll top out at a native ISO of 6400, with  a high setting of 12,800 and a low of 50. Canon says that noise levels in the cameras will fall short of the performance of the 5D Mark III or 1-Ds but be comparable to the 7D Mark II, as will the dynamic range.

Powered by a pair of Digic 6 processors, the 5Ds and 5Ds R will offer 5 frames per second continuous shooting as well as 1080p video recording at 30 fps. However, Canon was quick to emphasize that the video capabilities of the new cameras will be sharply limited compared to the 5D Mark III. They won’t offer movie servo AF, clean HDMI output or headphone jacks.

Movie makers won’t be completely neglected however. Canon is debuting a new time-lapse movie mode in these cameras that lets you select how many frames you want in the movie as well as the interval between those frames.

HR_5DS_EF24-70_3Q_CLBoth models will feature a 3-inch display, a CF and SD card slot (with newly added support for UHS-1 cards), and USB 3.o connectivity. Sharpness settings have also been enhanced. Photographers can now adjust sharpness along three specific vectors — strength, fineness and threshold. Automatic white balance has been improved with the addition of ambience or white priority.

As mentioned above, both the 5Ds and 5Ds R will be built from the 5D Mark III’s body with a few subtle tweaks designed primarily to keep the camera as stable as possible during shooting. The mirror will be motor driven, not spring driven, to soften its impact when it moves internally. The mirror lock setting has also been upgraded. In prior Canon cameras, to lock the mirror you had to tap the shutter twice. While that setting is still available, there’s also a menu to set a delayed automatic second shutter. You can designate the interval between when you lock the mirror and when the shutter releases a second time. The ultimate effect, Canon says, is to reduce vibrations when using a tripod.

Finally, the internal chassis, base plate and tripod socket have been reinforced to make the cameras rest more securely on tripods.

The 5Ds R will have a specialized “low pass filter cancellation effect” that increases the apparent sharpness of its images relative to the 5Ds. Canon didn’t ditch the low pass filter entirely, they said, in order to avoid a costly redesign of the camera body. As such, the 5Ds R will be aimed especially at landscape photographers who want a super-sharp image and who don’t shoot repeating patterns as the lack of a low-pass filter will make the 5Ds R more susceptible to moire, Canon warned.

Both models will arrive in June. The 5Ds will retail for $3,699 and is available for pre-order now. The 5Ds R will set you back $3,899 and is also available for pre-order.

Do these strike you as medium format killers? Let us know what you think.


February 5th, 2015

Canon Rebel T6s and T6i Take Their Place at Top of Rebel Lineup

HR_T6s_EFS18-135_IS_STM_3QFLASH_CLThe Canon Rebel T6s and T6i will join the compay’s three Rebels currently in the lineup as the new top-of-the-line enthusiast models in April.

The new T6s and T6i will share a number of features, including a new APS-C-sized 24.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor and a Digic 6 processor. The cameras will use an updated Hybrid CMOS AF III technology for speedy autofocus in still and video modes that is similar to the Dual Pixel CMOS AF found on its higher-end cameras (such as the revamped Cinema EOS C100 Mark II).

Additional shared features include:

  • A native ISO range of 100-12,800 with an expansion to 25,600
  • An upgraded 7,650 pixel exposure metering sensor
  • A 3-inch, 1.04 million dot, vari-angle touch screen display
  • Faster live view for stills and movies
  • Continuous shooting at 5 fps
  • 1080p video recording at up to 60 fps with clean HDMI output
  • Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Flicker detection to compensate for sodium and mercury vapor light sources
  • Distortion correction for stills and videos
  • Miniature effect now available when shooting movies
  • An Intelligent Viewfinder that overlays camera data on top of the optical viewfinder.
  • A new Color Tone Detection AF mode that scans 19 AF points and identifies objects with skin tones to focus on instead of simply the nearest available object.

The T6s will add a few additional features to its bill of goods, including servo AF during burst mode in live view, an electronic level, and an HDR movie effect. The T6s body will set you back $850 or $1,200 with an 18-135mm lens.

The T6i will retail for $750 for the body, $899 with an 18-55mm lens or $1,100 with  an 18-135mm lens.


January 5th, 2015

Canon at CES 2015: A Parade of PowerShots

HR_SX710HS_BLACK_3Q_CLCanon introduced a total of five new PowerShot cameras and three new Vixia camcorders at CES 2015.

The PowerShot SX530 HS boasts a 50x optical zoom lens, 16-megapixel image sensor and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC. It uses Canon’s DIGIC 4+ image processor and records 1920x1080p HD video. It ships in February for $430.

The PowerShot SX710 HS is a successor to the SX700 and delivers a 20.3-megapixel sensor paired with a 30x optical zoom lens. It’s capable of recording 1080p HD video at up to 60 frames per second. The camera’s Story Highlights mode can create slideshows with creative transitions automatically in the camera. It’s due next month for $350.

The PowerShot SX 610 HS, for $250, offers an 18x optical zoom, 20-megapixel sensor and Wi-Fi/NFC.

HR_ELPH160_BLACK_3Q_CLRounding out the entry-level of the PowerShot line are a pair of Elph models. The 170 IS features a 20-megapixel sensor, a 12x optical zoom lens and 720p HD video capture. It ships in February for $150 and will be sold in blue, black and silver. The 20-megapixel Elph 160, for $120, features an 8x optical zoom and 720p video recording.


On the camcorder front, Canon will bring the Vixia HF R series to stores in March.

All three models will share the same 57x (32.5-1853mm) optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, 3-inch touch screen displays, and a 3.28-megapixel CMOS sensor for recording 1920×1080/60p HD video in either MP4 or AVCHD formats. The Vixia models will also all offer fast and slow motion modes, cinema-style filters, headphone jacks and a Framing Assist mode to recapture focus on a subject during zooming.

The $450 HF R62 offers 32GB of internal flash memory and Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity. The HF R60 will feature 8GB of internal memory plus Wi-Fi/NFC and will retail for $400. Finally, the HF R600 records directly to SD card and won’t offer wireless connectivity. It will retail for $300.


November 10th, 2014

Canon’s New 100-400mm Lens Is Steadier Than Ever


It’s been 16 years since Canon shooters have seen a new 100-400mm EF lens. The wait is now over.

The second generation EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM lens is official and boasts improved image stabilization, giving it four stops of stabilization versus the 1.5 available on the first generation model. Image stabilization is also now tripod sensitive and will be available in three modes: standard, panning and during exposure only.

The lens has been redesigned from the original “push-pull” zoom to a rotating zoom that Canon says will keep the lens steadier and more precise when zooming. The zoom torque adjustment ring has had its own makeover so you can set your zoom tension more easily.

The optical formula has been revamped as well. There is now one Flourite and one Super UD lens element in the lens as well as newly developed Air Sphere Coating to minimize flaring and ghosting.

The new 100-400mm will be able to focus on objects as close as 3.2 feet away.

The lens will offer Flourine coatings on the front and rear surfaces to keep dusty and water from beading on the lens and will feature a weather resistant magnesium housing to keep it safe from the elements.

It will ship with a new lens hood that will feature a slide window for quick access to lens filters, so you don’t have to pop the hood off to adjust your filter. The tripod mount has also been redesigned so that it’s quickly detachable.

The new 100-400mm will hit retail in December carrying a $2,199 price tag.

September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Canon Fires Out the 7D Mark II, G7X and New Lenses




Canon has introduced several new cameras at Photokina 2014, including the EOS 7D Mark II, as well as three new lenses.

The 7D Mark II brings several firsts to the EOS line largely focused, if you will, around the camera’s autofocus system. It will be the first to run dual DIGIC 6 processors with a 10 frames per second (fps) burst mode that has an expanded buffer of up to 31 RAW images or 1,900 JPEGs (the older 7D topped out at 130 JPEGs).  It employs a new 65 cross-type AF system for better low light focusing as well as an improved version of Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF that uses sensors on the CMOS display for phase detection autofocus, improving accuracy during video recording. More firsts for the EOS line include a bulb timer and intervalometer for time lapse and long exposure photography as well as distortion correction for EF and EF-S lenses.

The 20-megapixel 7D Mark II uses a newly developed APS-C-sized sensor with an ISO range of 100-16000 (expandable to 51600). It will feature a new AF Area Selection lever around the multi-controller on the back of the camera to toggle between the camera’s seven AF selection modes without taking your eye off the scene. The AI Servo AF III algorithm on the 7D  Mark II will be similar to the one found on the 1D-Xand will allow tracking parameters such as tracking sensitivity and AF auto point switching can be customized.

Canon also improved the scene detection sensor, giving it a 150,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with 252 zones. Enhancements to the auto exposure were also incorporated to help the 7D Mark II photograph under flickering light sources like sodium vapor lamps.

New Video Tricks

The 7D Mark II incorporates several changes to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology  to improve video performance. First, the 7D Mark II will offer adjustable movie servo AF speeds in five stop adjustments as well as the ability to adjust AF tracking sensitivity on a sliding scale. The area of coverage is unchanged from the 7D at 80 percent of the frame.

You won’t find 4K recording on the 7D Mark II however. Canon stuck with 1080/60p. You can output an uncompressed HD signal via HDMI to an external recorder. On the audio front, there is a stereo mic jack and a headphone jack with a silent control feature for adjusting audio levels during recording.

Canon also said that overall focusing speed, face detection performance and low light performance with low contrast subjects has also been improved.

You’ll find a 3-inch display plus a viewfinder with 100 percent field of view that can overlay data such as an electronic level display or grid. Built-in GPS is also on hand for geotagging images.

The 7D Mark II’s magnesium alloy body offers four times the moisture and dust resistance of the original 7D.

You can pick up the 7D Mark II in November for $1,799 (body) or in a kit with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens for $2,149.


Canon also trotted out a new advanced compact camera. The Powershot G7X will offer a 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6 processor. Canon tweaked the image processing algorithms for this compact to mimic the highlight and shadow detail rendering in its more advanced EOS line.

The G7X, which is situated just beneath Canon’s G1x Mark II, offers an ISO range of 125 to 12800, Wi-Fi for wireless image transfers and NFC. There’s also a 3-inch, 1-million dot touch screen LCD display which can be tilted out from the camera body.

For fast action, the G7X can burst at 6.5fps at full resolution and records 1920 x 1080 video at 60fps.

A control ring on the lens offers the ability to change exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and a manual focus ring can be turned even during AF. The lens itself offers a focal length of 24-100mm with an aperture range of f/1.8-2.8 and a curved diaphragm for creating bokeh.

The G7X ships in October for $699.


New Glass

Last, but by no means least, Canon has three new lenses in the EF family.

First up is the new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM, which Canon is styling as a portable telephoto, weighing in at 4.6 pounds or about half the weight of the f/2.8 version of the lens. The lens will feature a new gapless dual-layered diffractive optical element to reduce flare around backlit subjects. There are aspherical and UD elements on hand to combat optical aberrations and the front and back of the lens are coated with flourine to repel dust.

The 400mm will offer optical image stabilization good for up to four shutter speed steps of correction. Image stabilization can be used in three modes: standard, panning and exposure only. There are four programmable buttons on the lens and the lens can be manually focused in AF mode.

The EF 400mm f/4 lens ships in November for $6,899.

HR_EFS24_28_STM_3Q_CLAlso due in November is the new EF- S 24mm f/2.8 STM, the slimmest and lightest EF-S lens ever to roll out of Canon’s factory. This pancake lens features a seven bladed aperture and an electromagnetic drive aperture mechanism for quieter adjustment during video shooting.  The EF-S 24mm will sell for $149.

Finally, Canon announced the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, its first for the EF series to use a screw-type stepping motor for quiet AF during video filming.

It offers optical image stabilization good for up to four shutter speed steps of correction. The seven optical elements are arranged in a new grouping and use a new AF algorithm for faster focusing, Canon said. The 24-150mm features a seven bladed aperture, two aspheric elements and a UD lens element.

Look for the 24-105mm in December. It will retail for $599.



June 8th, 2014

Fake Chuck Westfall Unmasked!: Photographer Behind Controversial Canon Blog Reveals Why He’s Calling It Quits


The real Chuck Westfall, a Technical Advisor at Canon USA for pro imaging products

If you follow the photo industry and, in particular, the world of Canon photography products, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Fake Chuck Westfall blog.

A direct descendent of the Fake Steve Jobs persona that humorously parodied Apple’s leading luminary on The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog, Fake Chuck Westfall has been spoofing Canon’s main camera guru and the photo industry in general since 2008.

Fake Steve Jobs turned out to be writer Dan Lyons but Fake Chuck Westfall has remained anonymous…until now.

After tweeting on the FCW Twitter account last week that he was planning to pull the plug on Fake Chuck Westfall, the man behind the controversial blog agreed to be interviewed by PDN to explain who he is, why he created FCW, and why he’s putting an end to it. (And no, it’s not because Canon is threatening legal action, as it did back in 2009, which turned Fake Chuck Westfall into a photo industry Internet celebrity and caused the blog’s traffic to skyrocket.)

So, without further ado, meet photographer Karel Donk, aka Fake Chuck Westfall. Donk will give a more in depth account of the entire Fake Chuck Westfall saga in a post on his blog on Monday morning. (UPDATE: Here’s Donk’s FCW farewell post.)


February 11th, 2014

Canon Intros G1 X Mark II Advanced Compact Camera, Rebel T5 Consumer DSLR, and Macro Ring Light

HR_G1X_MARKII_BLACK_3QBACKLCD_CLCanon took the wraps off a batch of new photo gear tonight, including the Powershot G1 X Mark II, which is a top-of-the-line compact camera; the Rebel T5 consumer DSLR; and a new Macro Ring Light for close-up photography. The new camera products from Canon comes just days before the start of the CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2014 in Japan.

Canon Powershot G1 X Mark II
The G1 X Mark II is follow-up to the G1 X, which we reviewed positively (with some quibbles) back in 2012.. Like its predecessor, the G1 X Mark II boasts a 1.5-inch (18.7 x 14mm) CMOS imaging chip that’s a tiny bit smaller than APS-C sensors in many DSLRs and some “mirrorless” interchangeable lens camera.

But the 12.8-megapixel sensor in the G1 X Mark II is an entirely new chip, that actually has slightly less resolution than the previous camera, which used a 14.3MP CMOS imager. According to Chuck Westfall, a Technical Advisor for Canon, the drop in resolution is designed to accommodate the G1 X II’s new aspect ratio, which is now 3:2.

Westfall, who we interviewed during an NDA meeting about the new gear before tonight’s launch, said the new aspect ratio for the G1 X II is meant to make it more like a Canon EOS DSLR camera. Photographers can also switch to a 4:3 ratio on the G1 X II, without impacting the field of view.

“It’s a substantially improved product,” Westfall said about the new G1 X Mark II. “Physically, it’s in the same range [as the previous model] but there’s lots of changes and improvements throughout.”

Like its predecessor, the G1 X II will debut at a price of $799, which puts it in line with some higher-end, entry-level DSLRs. Calling this camera a compact is also a bit of a stretch: Canon lists the dimensions of the G1 X II at 116.3 x 74.0 x 66.2 mm, which makes it too big to fit into your pocket. It weighs 18.2 ounces (without the battery), which is almost an ounce more than the previous model.


January 6th, 2014

CES 2014: Canon Announces New PowerShot Compact Cameras

Canon announced three new PowerShot compact cameras in Las Vegas Canon-PowerShot_N100_White_02this morning as part of this week’s Consumer Electronic Shows (CES).  The point-and-shoot cameras include these models: the PowerShot N100, PowerShot SX600 HS and ELPH 340 HS.

The PowerShot N100 will go on sale in May 2014 in white or black for $350. The PowerShot SX600 HS will go on sale at the end of February 2014 in red, white or black fro $250. The PowerShot ELPH 340 HS will ship in March 2014 in purple, silver, or black for $200. More details on these three point-and-shoot cameras in the press releases after the jump.