The World is Changing; It Has Always Been Thus

by Hugh Brownstone2 Comments

On this 7th anniversary of Canon’s announcement of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, it strikes me that the camera company of my youth is now a global conglomerate in a very different world. But that’s not really my preoccupation these days.

Canon recognize that the consumer camera market – not just DSLRs – is shrinking. They’ve been very busy looking for other growth opportunities, and they’ve begun to place bets with acquisitions like Axis Communications (a video surveillance equipment manufacturer) for $2.8 billion and Milestone (a web-based video surveillance software company) for an undisclosed amount. You can see our interview with Chuck Westfall of Canon here; you can see more about Axis and Milestone from our Canon Expo 2015 walk-about video here.

Security is big business.

And so is Canon – now a Fortune Global 500 company, a company that has grown to a market cap of more than $30 billion.

A truly impressive company, straight up – and nothing like the camera company that produced the Canon FT-QL in the early ‘70s, the first 35mm camera I ever bought.

The reality is, seven years after the Canon 5D Mk II was first launched — and perhaps two years since it became clear that mirrorless isn’t going away — Canon is simply assessing its portfolio of businesses and figuring out where to invest and where to harvest. It seems to me that it has begun to shift some of its resources away from photography and filmmaking to other pursuits. It is responding to the world around it.

And what a world it is.

Canon 5D Mark II Anniversary_Canon Expo

We countenance inequality everywhere (income, gender, race, sexuality). Climate change contributes to record flooding, drought and wild fires. We are witness to and collaborators in a political season in the U.S of candidates and “debates” truly cringe-worthy, even as we ignore enormous dislocations of people around the world savaged by war, our own profligacy, and crumbling civil rights. We are victims and the weak-minded enablers of the use of fear as a tool of manipulation by too many governments.

We the people are powerful and enfeebled.

I find myself thinking — whether you recognize this as a quote from Uncle Ben in SPIDERMAN or Voltaire — that it is more important than ever to remember that “with great power comes great responsibility;” and from Hippocrates, “do no harm.”

And that as photographers, videographers and artists, it has never been more important – it is our obligation — to help people see clearly the world around them.

THAT’s what I’m thinking about seven years after Canon launched the 5D Mk II.


(cover photo credit: snap from Hugh Brownstone)


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