The Canon Expo is the company’s chance to show off some of the key technology that it’s working on. Some of it we’re unlikely to see for a number of years, other bits are already on the market.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite things that we saw at the show:
Little big lens
The compact EF 600mm f4 DO BR lens prototype – featuring a new technology known as Blue-spectrum refractive optics (or BR for short), was one of the first things that caught our eye at the show. We saw these new optics for the first time in Canon’s update to its classic 35mm f1.4L. BR technology is designed to combat chromatic aberrations and colour fringing and even in this early prototype it appears to do a great job. But the most impressive thing about this lens is its size. Although it looks a little stumpy and will likely be unusable handheld, it is significantly more compact than the existing 600mm lenses.
Canon has been busy expanding its professional printing services, entering the 3D printing world with two new machines. We also had a sneak peak of a brand new desktop A2 printer, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000. But the printing tech that really got us interested was the textured and large format printing options.Watch the video that we shot in Paris about one of the new large format printing techniques, used to create unbelievably lifelike prints. It’s still in development but the results were incredible. Canon also showed off a new printing service that makes it possible to produce high-quality prints with fine texture reproduction from just millimetres up to 2-inches thick. We saw this showed off in photos and even in recreated works of fine art, where the original brushstrokes are realistically reproduced.We were told at the stand that the machine that recreates the art pieces isn’t even commercially available and would cost more than £100,000. With each print starting at £1000 we’re unlikely to all be cloning classic works of art any time soon.
We weren’t alone in rushing around to take a look at the 250-megapixel and 120-megapixel sensors either. Both examples of Canon’s technological might were even more impressive in person and considering the 120-megapixel APS-H sensor is already housed inside a 5Ds camera body that you can pick up and shoot with, we don’t imagine this limited prototype is far from being a fully working sample. While the 250-megapixel sensor still needs to overcome some tougher technological challenges given the processing power, storage and circuit technology required to make it practical. We suspect both cameras will prove popular in military, astro, surveying and engineering settings when they eventually come to market.
Connected homes and image-sharing platforms are clearly a big part of Canon’s strategy going forward with software and app solutions such as Lifecake and Irista taking pride of place at the show entrance, as well as a large area dedicated to PRISMAdirect – a complete workflow management system. They showcased PRISMA using the marketing of a bike launch, the stand and presentation were slick and will have definitely caught the eye of Canon’s B2B customers.
8K on the way
8K is the future as far as Canon is concerned and that future isn’t a distant one. According to a number of Canon reps that we spoke to in Paris, 4K and eventually 8K viewing in the home is less than five years away from becoming the standard for millions of people. As a result, Canon showed off working examples of its first 8K camera demonstrations, indicating that the company is ready to lead the charge. Canon’s first 8K camera, uses an 8K-optimised lens and four tethered RAW 4K recorders. But it will eventually use a single dedicated 8K recorder and will make it possible to grab 35-megapixel stills with 13-stops of dynamic range from its 60-frames-per-second footage. Watch our video on Canon’s prototype 8K solution for more information.
Overall, photography seemed to take a backseat as Canon made a concerted effort to position itself as global brand, not just a camera manufacturer. Still, Canon did have some truly groundbreaking camera tech on show, even if some of it was hidden away. With insanely high resolution and high sensitivity sensors, fantastic quality printing and monitor devices and some potentially useful sharing and content management offerings, Canon shared enough to keep us excited.
Now if only we could get our hands on a new 5D and 1DX update…