Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Canon Will Deliver a Miniature D-SLR

PC Mag

In the past year, a handful of manufacturers have introduced compact cameras that offer speed and image quality comparable to traditional D-SLRs. So far these cameras are made by Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic and cost as little as $550 dollars.

Officially, Canon has been completely silent about this emerging genre of products, but Masaya Maeda, head of Canon's image communication products division, told Reuters this week that the company is working to bring its own competitor to the market.

"There is a consumer need for good-quality cameras to be made smaller," Maeda told Reuters. "We will meet this need."

A Canon spokesman said the company could not confirm the Reuters report at this time, and had no additional details to offer.

Maeda also did not give specifics on how Canon will offer a small camera with D-SLR experience, but I'd suspect its product would likely follow the same formula as the competition: no mirror box.

Traditional D-SLRs require two image sensors: a large one for capturing images (larger equals better image quality) and a smaller one for executing auto-focus. Two sensors require a mirror box in order to mirror the image to both sensors, as well as a large body to house this system. D-SLRs rely on just the large image sensor to execute autofocus (and other tasks like simultaneously display an image on the LCD), but small and cost-effective processors are not powerful enough to keep up with the large amounts of data being delivered from the large image sensor, until recently.

The new miniature D-SLRs from Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony get rid of the mirror box and second image sensor. In their place are a faster processor, which works in conjunction with the large image sensor to simultaneously deliver images, autofocus, and a live view on the LCD.

Though this is how Canon's competition delivers a miniature D-SLR experience, comments from Maeda suggest that Canon will do things differently. Maeda told Reuters that "it's not a question of whether or not you have a mirror" but whether you can deliver cameras that are smaller and maintain image quality and speed.