Canon Imaging Head Says Future SLRs Will Be Smaller, But Not Necessarily EVIL

Today, Canon Japan’s Image Communication Products head Masaya Maeda said that Canon is working on a smaller version SLR to be released in the near future. In an interview with Reuters, Maeda said the idea behind the small SLR is that it could compete with Nikon’s future mirrorless system and other existing EVIL systems that are inherently more compact than most current mid-level DSLRs.

Maeda did not reveal whether the new Canon camera would include a mirror, but he suggested that the company has their focus elsewhere. Maeda said:

It’s not a question of whether or not you have a mirror. There is a consumer need for good-quality cameras to be made smaller … We will meet this need.

Still, Maeda did not commit to a solid answer about internal mirrors, though he suggested that there may be more ways to reduce the size of SLRs without removing the mirror.

Reuters cited an analyst, Kazumasa Kubota of Okasan Securities, who believes Canon may be wisest in sticking to traditional SLR designs. Kubota added, “Looking directly at something through a viewfinder is different from seeing it indirectly via semiconductors.”

What do you think? Is Canon on the right track, or are they missing the next gravy train?

(via Reuters)

  • Adam

    Why would you want a smaller camera, but still insist on having the mirror?

  • Dylan

    I don't care how the camera is made, I just want the best quality for the best money. It seems to me that nothing could ever beat direct optical visualization, and therefore keeping a mirror in the mix makes sense.

  • Guest

    How does having a mirror improve quality? In an SLR, the mirror flips out of the way when the shutter is pressed so the lens can focus its image directly onto the sensor. In an EVIL system, there is no mirror, and the lens focuses its image directly onto the sensor. Both types of cameras do not have anything in between the lens and the sensor while taking a picture. The only purpose of the mirror in an SLR is for the optical viewfinder. In an EVIL camera, the viewfinder image is produced digitally.

  • Rob LaRosa

    A mirror improves quality in at least two ways. The image in the view finder will always be clearer with a quality mirror system, especially in low light. No “fuzzed up” images on the LCD when shooting at night with a mirror. Second, using a mirror in an SLR allows phase detection auto focus which will always be faster than the contrast detection AF system found in mirrorless cameras. And again, phase detection AF is always better than contrast detection AF in low light situations.

  • sacredgeometry

    because its the best way to view whats going on in most situations especially lowlight and high light screens just aren't up to it. Secondly it wouldn't be an slr if it didn't.

  • A Colourful Guy

    The timing gap between phase and contrast detection autofocus systems has closed significantly within the last years to the point where contrast detection is nearly as fast as phase detection.

    Also, with LCD quality improving rapidly with each generation (OLED tech is a great example of this) and LCD's being able to ramp up brightness in low light, something a mirror can not do without a complex light amplification system, I think the time will come where people will start to prefer them over mirrors.

  • Mouring

    Another issue comes into play, balance. Take a FF or 1.6x crop camera with a 70-200mm lens and hold it out far enough away from you so you can view through the 3″ LCD while still keeping the camera stable while zooming and fiddling with f-stop, iso, shutter-speed, etc… It isn't very comfortable.

    So unless we move to assisted zooming (and assisted manual focus) or move to a smaller sensors which take less glass to gain the same distance it will be awkward enough that I suspect most professionals and heavy amateurs will shun it.

    Only reason people accept shooting this way for P&S cameras is because they aren't front heavy and thus the balance is where it belongs (in the body of the camera).

    I'm on the fence about mirrorless cameras. I've yet to see a mirrorless SLR that feels right to me (I hated range finder cameras).

    However, the idea of making a “smaller DSLR” body that still takes the existing EF/EF-S lenses… meh. See the balance issue above concern.

  • Rob LaRosa

    “Getting there” and “equal to” are two very different things. Until EVILs can match or surpass a mirrored system, there will always be those who want a mirrored system.

  • Adam

    The question here is whether or not EVILs are going to be the next big market to open up. They don't have to replace SLRs in their first generation to be a worthwhile investment for canon. The mirror-replacing technology is close to, and improving faster than mirror technology. If canon and nikon start trying to compete with each other to build it better, it'll quickly be a viable alternative.

  • Adam

    Perhaps for people who can't adjust their grip forward they'll offer “Bulk Adaptors” that can be clipped onto the back to make them heavier.

  • davidonformosa

    Olympus makes the smallest digital SLR cameras but these use the Four Thirds sensor which is smaller than Canon's APS-C sensor. It will be interesting to see what Canon come up with. Apart from the camera I suspect there will be at least one extra small lens. It wouldn't be hard to do this with a prime lens. Producing a small zoom for the APS-C sensor may be more difficult.

  • DSLRGuy

    I think that Canon is taking a big risk if they donĀ“t invest in EVIL R&D. In the near future the complete interchangeable lens entry level will be EVIL, EVFs will get better in every respect very fast, and also much cheaper.

  • Brianbazala

    I recently bought the Lumix GH1 to replace my bulky video camera. There are many advantages to having a smaller form factor camera and lenses — especially for a pro news/event shooter who must carry an array of gear and lenses around all day. Compared to my partner's 5DMkII, the Lumix is a fraction of the size and weight (with kit lens), but is still comfortable. By the end of the day, he is beat, but I'm still ready to keep shooting.

    EVIL cameras represent a progressive, revolutionary alternative for both hobbyists and pros alike and it would be folly for Nikon and Canon to dismiss the growing market. These cameras will only get better as technology improves and greater lens options become available. Panasonic, Olympus and Sony may find themselves dominating the mid-range camera market in the not so distant future.