Masaya Maeda - Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations at Canon - pictured at Photokina 2014 with the new EOS 7D Mark II and PowerShot G7X.

DPReview attended the Photokina trade show last week in Cologne Germany. As well as getting our hands on this season's newest photo gear we also sat down with executives from several major camera manufacturers. One of them was Masaya Maeda - Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations at Canon.

Our time with Mr Maeda was brief, but in our conversation he shared reactions to the 7D Mark II, and explained that Canon is very serious about mirrorless, as well as committed to making higher-resolution sensors. 

How has reaction been to the EOS 7D Mark II?

Really really positive. Sorry to keep you waiting for five years!

You’ve had a long time to get feedback from 7D owners - what did they want most in a replacement?

Besides a bigger sensor, they wanted the same sort of features found in the EOS-1D X. We did a lot of interviews with 7D users - more than 5000 people in total - and we think that in the EOS 7D Mark II we got very close to achieving EOS-1D-type features in a lightweight body.

The new Canon EOS 7D Mark II updates the 2009-vintage 7D with a completely overhauled AF system and an action-friendly max 10fps framerate.

How would you characterize the typical EOS 7D owner?

The user profile of 7D owners is ‘high amateur’ and enthusiasts who want high framerates and professional photographers who want a lightweight, fast camera. And also anyone who doesn’t want to carry something big and heavy.

Why did it take so long to replace the EOS 7D?

I will ask our engineers! But basically we reviewed the entire design and architecture of the camera, and we improved every part of the autofocus system. This all takes time.

Dual Pixel AF is in its second generation in the EOS 7D Mark II. How long do you think it will be before it can rival conventional phase-detection AF in terms of performance?

I don’t know. We are working on it but it’s very difficult.

Canon's 'Dual Pixel' AF system allows for phase-detection autofocus in live view and video modes. There are two photodiodes at every pixel location (shown as red and blue in this illustration), the signals from which are compared to achieve on-sensor phase-detection AF.

Assuming you do achieve this, presumably at that point you won’t need a mirror?


What needs to happen before Canon will create a serious mirrorless camera?

We are serious. We are really focused on mirrorless and we’re spending lots of time, and devoting a lot of manpower to scaling up mirrorless development right now. 

What has changed? Why are you more serious now than in previous years?

We’ve actually been serious about it since the very beginning.

The EOS 7D Mark II omits built-in Wi-Fi. Is this feature less important to 7D II users compared to (say) 70D owners?

No, we don’t think so. We considered adding this feature to the EOS 7D II but the body material presented challenges. But we have a solution with the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A.

Canon released two cameras at Photokina - the EOS 7D Mark II and PowerShot G7X. One thing we’ve learned is that the sensor in the G7X is not made by Canon. Does this represent a new philosophy at Canon?

We select the best sensor, whoever the manufacturer is. That’s our policy.

Canon's latest high-end compact, the PowerShot G7 X, slots in beneath the G1 X Mark II and offers a 20MP 1-inch type sensor, 24-100mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 zoom lens, and a host of other enthusiast-friendly features. 

One thing we know from our own testing is that Canon DSLR sensors can’t quite compete with some modern sensors from Sony in terms of dynamic range. How important to you is developing sensor technology?

We are very focused on getting the best image quality. I’m not sure what measurements you’re looking at but when it comes to dynamic range for example we consider image quality as a whole, from low to high ISO sensitivities and on balance we consider our sensors to be the best.

My ideal camera is one that can take a picture in any environment from complete darkness to the brightest sunshine.

So in your opinion your sensors are currently the best on the market?

Yes. In the EOS 7D Mark II for example the sensor we’ve used is improved compared to the previous generation, especially at high ISO and in shadows. There’s less noise.

Currently no Canon camera offers more than 22MP. Do your DSLR customers ask for higher resolution? 

Yes. We know that many of our customers need more resolution and this is under consideration. In the very near future you can expect us to show something in terms of mirrorless and also a higher resolution sensor.

Mr Maeda, you’ve been at Canon for a number of years. Looking back, what are you most proud of?

My team. Also the fact that we brought video to the DSLR world, and the Digital Elph / IXUS. We created something stylish, which was widely copied by our competitors.

Canon's EOS Mark II wasn't the first DSLR to offer a video feature, but arguably it was the most influential product in the general movement towards filmmakers using DSLRs for capturing video content. 

Canon established ‘the’ digital camera concept and everybody else followed. We were also very proud of our film cameras, and the way that we continued and made the transition to digital with the two brands - EOS and Elph / IXUS.

When was the first time you saw a picture from a Canon digital camera and thought ‘that’s better than film’?

2004. That’s when the reproduction of color exceeded the capabilities of film. Across our entire product line.

That was ten years ago - what’s the next big moment?

You tell me!