There will be a Canon EOS 70D, but the future of semi-pro DSLRs is probably full-frame, says Masaya Maeda, Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations at Canon. However, while he says new concepts are needed to save the compact camera, he doesn't see larger sensors as being the answer for the mass market.

Masaya Maeda - Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations at Canon

No room for large sensor compacts

'Some say the digicam market is mature and that smartphones are eating into it. I would say this is true. In terms of the compact camera segment, new concepts are needed,' Maeda says: 'The PowerShot N is part of our response. Of course we have other things in the works but I can't talk about it yet'.

However, he ruled out the idea of a larger sensor camera along the lines of the Sony RX100 to offer more of an image quality distinction between smartphones and compact cameras. 'I think the market does exist but it wouldn't be very large. We think we have a good balancing point in terms of price, image quality and size. Lots of other combinations are possible, but, once you go below APS-C the next logical size is 1/2.3 inch', he says.

'Silicon conductor technology is still advancing. The answer may change, but 1/2.3" is the answer at the moment. Users want to shoot at greater distances and want to get better photos in low light - these are the needs. There will always be a gap between smartphones and compact cameras in those respects.'

APS-C - the step-up architecture

'My idea is that, if you increase the size, you go with APS-C - that's the architecture that allows low light performance. That was the reason I put an APS-C sensor in the PowerShot G1 X and the EOS M - for the time being, that's the standard.'

And, he believes, customers do understand that there's better image quality to be had. 'If you look at sites like Instagram and other sharing sites, the ones that are getting the most likes and the most comments about the photography are the ones taken with a DSLR or dedicated compact camera, and there's discussion about "how did you get that?" and the answer is that it's with a dedicated camera.'

Despite this understanding, he concedes that the EOS M hasn't yet been fully able to exploit this market. 'Looking at worldwide results we've seen users are limited to certain regions - we're seeing very positive sales in Japan and South East Asia, looking beyond that we haven't established market share yet.'

'The concept of the EOS M is to make an interchangeable lens camera as small as possible while retaining the quality we would expect from an EOS product. It must be able to support a wide range of lenses - without that support, there's no point making it. Looking at the data, we're not seeing the EOS-M users making use of a variety of lenses. So one of the challenges is to roll-out a lineup of attractive lenses - that is our response to encourage people to use them.'

The future for semi-pro

Now that full frame is appearing in cameras the size and price of the 6D, the future of APS-C at the semi-pro level is in doubt, he says: 'That's something we're considering at the moment. From our semi-pro users there's still demand for APS-C but in the future, I think we will see an increase in the number of full-frame models.' Either way, that doesn't close the door on an EOS 70D though - when asked when we can expect one, Maeda promises: 'some day in the future. Without fail.'