Canon please make this camera

axlotl | Opinions | Published Dec 16, 2011



By axlotl  December 2011

Here is a description, reasoning and photos of a wooden mockup  of the mirrorless camera that I want Canon to make.

This is not a rumor.
I have no idea what products Canon or any other camera maker is planning.

1. Introduction.  As I write this in December 2011, Canon has been conspicuous in abstaining, thus far at least, from the rush by most other camera makers to produce a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. I do not know what Canon's intentions are but I really hope they  make a mirrorless camera just like the one
described in this article.

2. The logic.   I have owned and used many SLR's,  DSLR's and a succession of compact cameras over
several decades, and five mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (a.k.a Compact System Camera or  CSC)  in the last two years.   I have come to the view that the main benefits of the CSC  type of camera over the DSLR type relate to the viewing and operating experience. The key features of this are native full time live view, multiple benefits of latest generation EVF's, accurate contrast detect AF easily located anywhere in the frame,  magnified view for fast accurate manual focus and, more recently, the  possibility for on sensor phase detect AF.

Mirrorless cameras can also be smaller than DSLR's but I see that as being of secondary importance with interchangeable lens systems. We are currently witnessing a marketing race by compact system camera makers competing for the title of smallest camera, as if reducing  size had  some kind of intrinsic virtue.

There is a certain size of camera below which any further reduction impairs viewing, handling and operation. The simple fact is that our hands and fingers do not shrink to fit smaller cameras.  There will always be an argument as to the precise point where this impairment starts to become a problem, but for the camera
user who wants to take control of the process of photography,  I put it somewhere between a small DSLR and
one of the larger (mirrorless) Compact System Cameras.

3. My ideal interchangeable lens camera  needs to have excellent Holding, Viewing and Operating characteristics. 
It needs an anatomically sculpted handle design so the user can hold it firmly and comfortably, preferably using a full five finger grip with the right hand. It needs a very good monitor and excellent EVF. It needs a full set of ergonomically designed hard controls such that the camera can be operated by touch, while continuously looking at the subject through the EVF and without having to remove a hand from the basic shooting position.

The mockup which I made provides all this (not the electronics obviously, but the space required for them)  in a compact package.

4. Mockup features.

* I designed the mockup myself and made it from scrap plywood and timber.  Body depth and swing
out monitor size are based on the Canon EOS 600D. I crafted the right side to fit comfortably into my average size and shape adult male right hand. The type, number and location of buttons, dials etc, 
was determined by analysis of  operating requirements for the user wanting to take control of the process of picture taking, using one of the PASM modes. Point and shoot mode can be set for those
who prefer to operate this way.

* The center of the shutter button is 80 mm above the camerabase. The body has 50 mm width on the right side of the monitor frame. These are the two key dimensions which determine possible configurations for holding and operating functions.  The mockup       
provides a fully sculpted anatomical handle, full five finger grip and a full range of hard controls, none of which is located where it would be likely to be activated accidentally. These include a shooting mode dial, drive mode lever adjacent to the mode dial, main control dial just behind the shutter button  and  a rear dial combined with 4 way controller.
There is a separate back button AF start/lock and a jog type combi controller to instantly move AF area during capture or an enlarged section of the image in review. Most buttons have a diameter of
10 mm, which is  larger than usual for easy location by touch. All primary and secondary exposure and focussing controls can be operated by feel with the eye continuously at the EVF and both
hands on the camera in shooting grip. The handling and operating experience is
similar to an EOS 7D in a body only 67% of the 7D's box volume.  Actual dimensions are  Width, 137 mm, Height, 86 mm, Depth, 70 mm (with or without the EOS mount adapter, depth is determined by the handle). The box volume (width x height x depth) is 824 cc.

The mockup was designed to meet ergonomic, not size requirements but it ended up having a smaller box volume than a Panasonic GH2 (848 cc).  It looks larger than the GH2 because it's shape "fills the box" more than the faux  DSLR style of the GH2.

* Viewing is by swing out monitor and/or high resolution EVF. The EVF is optimally located with it's optical center 25 mm inset from the top left side of the body. The  inset allows the left side of the camera to rest against the right side of the bony part of the nose and the orbital bone (above the eye) for maximum stability.
The camera body above and to the left of the EVF is curved in shape to match
the curved line of the orbital and nasal bones of the face.

* There is an inbuilt flash unit and hotshoe.

* The camera body and lens mount are large enough to
accommodate either a full frame 24 x 36 mm sensor or an APS-C  22.3 x 14.9 mm sensor.

* There is a double lens mount system. The camera as shown depicts,
in plywood mockup form,  a bayonet mounted adapter to accept and operate normally with all existing EF and EF-S lenses, with a back focus distance of 44mm. With the adapter dismounted, a
second lens mount is revealed. This has the same 54 mm internal diameter as the
EOS mount but a back focus distance of about 25 mm. This mount can accept a new
range of EF-C (C= compact) lenses, designed specifically for the mirrorless

The lens axis has been moved as far to the left (as viewed by the user) as feasible, to open up space on the right side for a full sized handle.

* The mockup lens as shown is similar in size to the  EFS 15-85 mm, EFS 17-55 mm or EF 24-105 mm
zoom lenses.

* My apologies for the rough finish of  the mockup. Rough it may be but considerable
thought and work has gone into the design and exact shape of the piece,
particularly the handle which went through several prototypes before I got the
shape to fit my hand perfectly, with a built in allowance for smaller and
larger hands.  It shows  the correct size and spatial relationships between  key camera components, including the main controls.  In the process of creating the design I tried to develop a stylish visual statement on a theme of sculptured curves with  maximum ergonomic efficiency and backwards compatibility with existing EF and EFS lenses.