R5 and the myth of crippled Canon cameras. Locked

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Thomas A Anderson Regular Member • Posts: 278
R5 and the myth of crippled Canon cameras.

I just read this article on Petapixel https://petapixel.com/2020/02/13/why-did-canon-just-now-decide-to-wake-up/, and it reminded me of this common refrain from critics that seems to be uniquely leveled at Canon: Canon cripples cameras. Now, I could be wrong about this being unique to accusations against Canon. However, it seems like many Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, Nikon, etc. acolytes (I use this term intentionally because some photographers are consumers of cameras, and some are followers of a brand as though it’s a religion) and even some Canon users have latched upon this as the main complaint about any new Canon camera.

All of this despite the weaknesses that continue to plague the brand of their own choice. The following are just quick examples, not an exhaustive list. With Sony cameras their horrible menus, lousy ergonomics, stunningly useless or non-existent touchscreens, lenses that are more expensive than Canon equivalents (I mention this because adapting Canon lenses to Sony cameras has always been a big topic of discussion….for some reason???), less than flattering colors/skin tones, erased stars, baked RAW files, or strange streaking caused by on-sensor PDAF sensors are the primary complaints I can come up with off the top of my head. Fuji and Panasonic have their own issues, as does Nikon especially with the Z line. For the longest time all we heard about from Sony trolls (the main group of trolls in Canon forums) was how great Sony dynamic range was or how great eye AF was. What about Sony’s problems? Oh, not a problem. Canon’s problems? Obvious intentional crippling.

With the R, there were constant accusations from publications, even DPR, that this was a prototype. Canon, after making hundreds of camera bodies over decades, release the R as a half-baked experiment. The M-Fn. Bar? Useless. The 4K? Useless. The dynamic range? Still behind. Never you mind that after spending time with a camera beyond a reviewer’s typical weeks or maybe a month that M-Fn. Bar can be configured to be perfectly useful. The new lens control dial is great. The touchscreen is great. Eye AF is extremely useful if you like that kind of thing. The cheaper RP had predictably fewer controls.

And now the R5 will be the flagship RF camera. It looks to have a joystick controller that will likely be very flexible and configurable. The button layout looks better than the R and RP, with more single-function buttons that are more spread out. This is exactly how Canon positions its various bodies: cheaper bodies tend to be smaller with fewer buttons, and as you get larger and more expensive, controls get more sophisticated. The R and RP aren’t crippled, they’re cheaper.

The R5 will have a new, higher resolution sensor that will almost certainly have improved dynamic range and DPAF pixels and probably shockingly good AF tracking and Eye AF. It will almost certainly cost at least $3,500 for the body only.

And where is DPAF on all other camera brands? Please don’t talk about DPAF on phones like that’s relevant to real cameras (I use the term “real” as an intentional jab at people who ramble on about how phones are about to replace standalone, ILC cameras…..”mirrorless” is the future too, but look at how cameras with mirrors outsell them over a decade since the first “mirrorless” hit the market). Where are the STM lenses or the new Nano-USM lenses or the lenses with a control ring? I only ask because for some reason those deficiencies aren’t labeled as “crippled” by pundits and brand bashers.

The graph in the article can tell you a lot. Canon didn’t sit back and relax or get to the game late, they simply properly judged the market. The made huge investments in developing new technology like the RF mount and DPAF, and then needed to spend some time recovering that cost. That’s what happens when a company has to plan for the long term. Releasing an update to a camera every six months like Sony does isn’t necessarily a virtue, although when fighting for market share that strategy certainly can help (especially when that division doesn’t actually have to always be profitable thanks to all the other divisions raking in money).

The article also talks about Canon having processor issues as their theory for the slow movement of video specs. Knowing how Canon video struggles with rolling shutter I just don’t buy this as an explanation. I think the Canon sensors have readout speed issues that have been an unfortunate side-effect of the DPAF technology. And yes, processor power might also be a factor but that’s at least in part due to the huge load placed on the processor by DPAF focus calculations. Data from MILLIONS of pixels either has to be processed or developed into an image during both stills and video shooting. To me that means a certain amount of processing headroom always has to be reserved for subject tracking, Eye AF, other AF modes, and image recording or video recording. You can’t choose to process video or images based on the least processor-intensive scenes or modes, you have to assume ALL of the available processor-hungry options will be on AT ONCE.

This is a new spin on the “crippled Canon camera” trope. It’s so novel that it looks like a desperate effort to put an entirely new spin on what they classify as Canon needing to “wake up” from their slumber. With a brand new sensor, unlike the R from the 5DIV or the RP from the 6DII, the assumption still is that they’ve always had issues….with something that hasn’t been a point of real speculation for all this time. Of course, it’s also very possible that if the sensors have issues with readout speed resources have been directed at R&D for processors that will one day work with an updated sensor design, and in the mean time you save money by matching the processor updates to the needs of the camera. After the firmware update to the R, I don’t see any processing issues at all. Subject tracking is snappy and accurate.

In the end, the article just looks like a desperate attempt to level another accusation at Canon with absolutely no evidence to back it up. They’re reaching. And Canon cameras have limitations just like every other camera. In the extremely competitive camera market absolutely nobody would “cripple” a camera, but they would make strategic decisions about what features are important and how much they can charge for them.

Even Jared Polin expresses in his preview that he wondered how the R5 would be crippled. Of course, he has no filter and mostly to drive traffic to his videos. But this baseless insult keeps getting pushed by him and others.

Ricoh Caplio R5
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