I've blogged many months ago that Canon is "certainly" testing its imager technologies in moving towards the possible development of a 36x48mm imager based SLR type camera. If I was the CEO of new product development, I would be recommending this development...
The imager part is actually the "simple" part of the picture. If Canon engineers takes the present day 5D2 imager, with its 24x36 architecture, housing 21MP, and lines two of them side -by-side, "connect all the dots" and viola, we've got a 48x36mm imager housing 42MP.
Now the harder part. The Mechanical/Optical components. The present day Penta-prisms, Mirror, and Shutter mechanisms are all designed for a shutter moving from top to bottom with a 24mm vertical travel, by 36mm on the horizontal. Ok, to modify this mechanism Canon would have to increase the vertical travel by 12mm, 24+12=36... simple enough; and increase the shutter Width from 36mm to 48mm, which again is 36+12=48... which as you can see is only a 6mm increase on all 4 sides of the present day 24x36mm imager.
The huge engineering change may come with Canon abandoning the REFLEX part of present day SLR design.
In years past, SLR's were designed to have an alternate optical path so that the Photographer was able to see the composed image, then presto, the image was allowed to "expose" the film, with the movement of a MIRROR and the exercise of a SHUTTER.
Today, and for decade or more SONY and CANON have been using "electronic shutters" for their high resolution Video equipment, having the ability to easily implement a 1/2000 second exposure duration. No mechanical shutters flapping up to 30-120 frames per second and everything in between.
Its time to migrate this technology into the SLR form factor. Because of the success in LCD and OLED technologies, Canon can insert a 2million pixel imager underneath the Penta-prism, redesign the viewfinder optics a bit, and viola, one has a brilliant, crisp, ultra high resolution view of ones Capture; with that image being electronically shared directly from the imager. When one presses the "shutter" button (no mechanical shutter though) the image is "captured" and there is NO delay, NO black-out periods... similar to what is now happening with Canon's 5D2 in "Live-View" mode.
The 5D2 is a "transition camera," as Canon retained the mechanical shutter for still-only that are captured when looking through the present day optical viewfinder, however, using an electronic shutter, when one desires to "take a still" while simultaneously recording a HD Video clip...
Therefore, lets move from the 5D2, "transition camera", optical and electronic viewfinders, to a fully electronic shutter and viewing system, and finally eliminate the mechanical Mirror and Shutter FLAPPING... as there are certain limits on how much flapping that can occur per second on a mass-production portable SLR type camera.
Because of the SLR design of the 5D2 having Mirror and Shutter, one cannot view (through the optical viewfinder) the recording of a Video Clip, as the Mirror is UP; therefore one has to hold the 5D2 away from one's face looking at the LCD panel on the back of the Camera... making for an unsteady hand-held position. For tripod use, no worries.
If you want to see what LCD engineering to date, go your local Pro Video shop to see SONY's viewfinder housed in their new PMW-EX3 or their EX1 Video cameras; truly outstanding brilliant, detailed, with outstanding fidelity, from an advanced LCD Screen.
Lets discuss the Lens Optics for a 36x48mm imager. But first, note that the 24x36mm imager target has an image circle of 44mm. This figure represents the measurement of the line drawn between opposite corners of the 24x36mm rectangle; it measures 44mm. Therefore, present day EOS lenses can deliver an image circle of 44mm. So for down-ward compatibility purposes present day modern EOS lenses in theory, could produce a 44mm image Square...
Ok, Using present day EOS lenses, not containing internal baffles and lets take the present day 5D2 imager stats, a pixel dimension of 5616px by 3744px (=21.0 MP). Since 3744 pixel dimension is the 36mm side, then a 36x36mm square would equate to a 14MP square.
However, Canon would have to Deliver new lens designs to fully illuminate this new 36x48mm Image-Target, which will require an image circle of 60mm.
Another point, Canon's 50D has approximately twice the pixel density of the 5D2, therefore, if Canon chooses to produce an Over-sized SLR camera similar to the Leica S2, lets call it a Canon 1Dx, using the pixel architecture used in today's Canon 50D, then the 1Dx would have an overall pixel count of 77.7MP, which would produce a 230PM TIFF stock image.
At 77.7MP we're talking a leader in the Medium Format industry, in a SLR format camera, with VIDEO capability; that is truly revolutionary, using technologies that are present-day available... the only questions remains, are there enough buyers for this design, and at what retail price can Canon deliver this product...
One more point, Canon could use the architecture of its 50D and place it in a 24x36mm imager design and deliver a fully compatible EOS lens system SLR housing a 39MP image sensor.
Bottom line, the folks at Canon have/are fully examining all these matters...
The image directly above was made with a prototype Canon 5D MKII - not from a final production model. These frames grabs of the 1080p video.
JimWilson, Boca Raton, FL, USA.