Cameras for the masses

By GJ Janse Van Rensburg, Canon Product Specialist at Drive Control Corporation (DCC)

Few technology organisations around the world boast leadership innovation that can be described as “unquestionable”.  However, those few that do enjoy this status have a key characteristic in common; the ability to offer their innovation to the masses, integrating high-end features in more attainable products, therefore, exposing us all to the strides they have made in changing the way we apply technology.

One such organisation is Canon and its contribution to camera advancement and innovation globally; celebrating the production of the 50 millionth EF lens for its EOS range of cameras, the achievement also marks over 20 years of innovative technology and drive to provide photographers with the best quality products.

Moreover, the company also recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Canon SLR (single lens reflex) camera – the Canon Flex was launched in 1959.

Again, over 50 million Canon SLRs have been sold worldwide and these cameras are today accepted as the benchmark standard for amateur and professional photography.

However, in order to understand the significance of Canon and its camera advancement, it is important to take a step back and look at the heritage and the foundation of an ethos that exposes both amateurs and professionals to milestone technology.

The beginnings

As mentioned, the first Canon SLR, the Flex, was released in May 1959. The camera featured a breech-lock bayonet mount for its lenses and several other innovations that took hold in the 1960s. Canon followed that with the introduction of the Flex R2000 in 1960; this camera had an impressive shutter speed up to 1/2000 of a second.

In 1964, Canon introduced its F series 4 with the release of the FX; it had a slightly simpler mount for its lenses. The FT QL, which featured an automatic quick-load system for the film, was introduced in 1966.

Canon released its first professional-grade model, the F-1, in 1971, which provided full through-the-lens (TTL) metering. Just before the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Canon released a high-speed version of the F-1 that could shoot nine frames per second. In 1984, the F-1 achieved another milestone with the release of an upgraded model for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles that could shoot up to 14 frames per second.


Canon’s EOS system – which still exists today – was first released in 1987.

The system offered an improved autofocus system and had a new EF (electro-focus) mount for its lenses.

Importantly, the first EOS Rebel camera, the Rebel XS, was released in 1993 and proved to be immensely popular with amateur photographers.

The digital era

Canon introduced its first proprietary digital SLR in 2000 with the release of the EOS D30.  The company sought to improve greatly on digital technology with the introduction of CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) full-frame sensors, which are the same size as 35mm film, and its DIGIC (Digital Imaging Core) processor.

DIGIC processors

The DIGIC image processor, which boosts signal processing for higher image processing speed and improved picture quality free of noise, has become a standard component in general consumer digital cameras which includes Canon’s PowerShot range of cameras.

One common flaw of conventional digital cameras is the slow response time, which means users often miss out on great shooting opportunities. However, with DIGIC and its signal processor feature users benefit from greater processing when compared to general-purpose processors. Indeed, DIGIC can easily handle a huge amount of image data captured by CMOS or CCD sensors.

Apart from Canon’s camera innovation which is available throughout its ranges, as demonstrated above, the company also features a complete line-up of photo printers, single-function and multi-function printers that compliment the superb imaging generated by its ranges of amateur, semi-professional and professional cameras.

Lastly, indicative of the company’s leadership, Canon was voted as Europe’s top camera brand for the tenth consecutive year in the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands Survey 2010, an annual pan-European survey of consumer attitudes to brand products and services.

Reader’s Digest asked its readers in 14 languages across 16 European countries to nominate the brand they trusted most in a range of consumer categories, including cameras.  Respondents were drawn from the Reader’s Digest customer database of 4.5 million homes in Europe, and more than 32,000 responses were analysed.

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Cameras for the masses