I’ve been a fanboy of yours for just about 45 years, ever since I bought my first SLR – the Canon FT/QL — at the age of 12.
Over the ensuing decades, you were my go-to company as I moved up the 35mm food chain to systems-level gear as an enthusiast (F-1) and then, once I had children of my own, to auto-exposure (AE-1); auto-focus (EOS 10s); and semi-professional (EOS3).
Never mind all the accessories and lenses, I bought, too. I was even willing to make the switch from FD to EOS lens mount because I was so smitten by you.
And although I strayed a little bit when digital first came out (I flirted with Agfa) I returned to the fold with the 10D; did professional work with the 1D (which even to this day I cannot bring myself to jettison because of the images I captured of the 9/11 light memorial); and moved to the 30D because of a noticeable improvement in resolution while still allowing me to use all of my L glass.
Then I strapped in for a rocket ride with the 5D Mk II and my conversion to video.
But even as the 5D Mk II opened my eyes wide – and eventually led me to change my life by changing careers altogether – the seeds of dissatisfaction started to root.
Why did I have to go to Magic Lantern in order to monitor my audio or record longer than 11 minutes?
Why did I have to focus manually and buy a separate magnifying loop and eventually an EVF in order to be able to focus properly?
I confess: I strayed again, this time with a Panasonic GH2.
I even traded down from the 5D Mk II to buy a pair of them. They are wonderfully light and small; have better – i.e., usable – autofocus than any other DSLR body of yours except for the 70D; and their control layout remains as intuitive and comforting as a favorite old sweater.
I jealously eye the dynamic range of Nikon, Blackmagic and Sony.
But it was when I rediscovered an article from earlier this year where a Samsung Note actually shot sharper video than the 5D Mk III (yes, OK: it was broad daylight and the 5D Mk III had superior dynamic range) that it hit really hit me.
You need to go 4K. Now.
I want you to go for it. I want you to respond to the market, rather than try to stay – and price yourself – above it.
You have the competence and expertise to do it. You’ve already proven it.
And I don’t mean JUST resolution. I mean really blow out low light sensitivity and dynamic range, too.
Maybe I’m suggesting that you not pursue the path of another brilliant camera maker whom I deeply admire and yet has tried to ignore and stay above the market.
I am, of course, speaking about Leica. She was the very first 35 camera I ever used (a IIIc).
But I – like so many others — fell in love and switched to you because you were easier to live with and offered me so much more.
Just like Sony and Panasonic – even Samsung and Apple in very narrow circumstances – do now.
I’m no industry expert, and I’m only one voice. But it seems to me that the smaller form factor/crop sensor market is only going to grow, and this means YOU have an opportunity to grow with it.
To ignore it is to do so at your peril.
You can’t surf by fighting waves; you can't ski by fighting gravity.
You have to go with the flow.
Beyond giving us the sensors and functionality at price points that work in an age of new expectations, maybe you have a unique opportunity.
Give the crop sensor industry the big, maximum aperture lenses that you do so well and we’re just beginning to understand we really need.
It’s yours to own, if you really want it.
You have economies of scale that other players don’t. Expertise that they don’t. Capital and infrastructure that they don’t.
But I fear that if you don’t take these steps, you will lose the lofty perch from which you now view the industry.
With respect and admiration,
Hugh Brownstone, Canon Fan
(cover photo credit: snap from Hugh Brownstone)
And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
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