When Canon announced that it was developing a new concept digital SLR with 4K video recording capabilities, photographers wondered whether the new model would be the long-awaited EOS 5D Mark III.
And while the new concept camera has so far remained unnamed, Mike Owen, Canon's European professional communication manager, in an interview with BJP's news and online editor Olivier Laurent at the Cinema EOS launch event in Berlin, confirmed that the camera [pictured above] will not be part of the firm's EOS range of still cameras.
"The Cinema EOS system is a system," he tells BJP. "It will have multiple products as the EOS product line has, and the thing that will tie all of this together will be the lens mount, because we feel that our lenses are one of our key assets. But when it comes to the concept camera, that will be part of the Cinema system, and the still EOS range will continue to develop as it has been over the past few years."
The confirmation comes as Canon is heavily promoting its Cinema EOS C300 camera to the European market, which, despite its fragmentation, is home to the world's largest filmmaking community. "It's always difficult to address a fragmented market when launching a new product," says Owen, "but it's the same with every single product we launch. We always try to have, as much as possible, a unified European approach to launching products. But, in terms of the implementation of the message, it can very complicated. One message, for example, that might work in the UK might not work in the Middle East."
But, Rainer Fuehres, Canon Europe's head of consumer imaging group, tells BJP that for the Cinema EOS C300 camera, the firm plans to use established channels from its professional photography division, as well as from its broadcast division. "We intend to use all of these channels to maximise the exposure of this product so that everybody that would like access to it will be able to have access to it."
He adds that Canon will offer the same amount of focus on all of its European markets. "We are addressing all of the relevant markets both in terms of segmentation as well as geography, and we will see how the product is being used and adapted. That will teach us a lot."
Mike Owen, Canon Europe's professional communication manager, here with the Canon Cinema EOS C300 camera, and Rainer Fuehres, head of consumer imaging group at Canon Europe, met with BJP's Olivier Laurent in Berlin.
This desire to learn from its customers was at the heart of the C300's conception, but will also play a crucial role in the future of the Cinema EOS system.
"When you look at the C300, it's an evolution," says Fuehres. "The 5D Mark II surprised us - it was an overwhelming success, differently from what we had originally intended. We learned a lot, as filmmakers showed us things that you could do with the product that we were unaware of. We thought that if all of this was possible, why don't we make a more dedicated product - but then we have to listen to people that are going to use it, what has to be on the product and what has to be in the pack. That's what you see with the C300."
He adds: "I think we all fully appreciate that there are things that are not yet included, but as we said at the launch event, it's just the beginning, and from now on we're here to listen and learn to evolve further. I wouldn't say that the one that shout the loudest gets it, but I think that the market will tell where this product will be used. We have a strong background in professional photography, a strong reputation in professional videography, and we're now giving a preposition to people in cinematography and broadcast. All these areas will give us feedback on this product and all these areas will have an impact on whatever the next product is like. Traditionally, we're not very good at talking about our future products - we're so secretive - but time has also shown that, eventually, we get it right."
Will 4K become an integral part of the future of the Cinema EOS system? This remains to be seen, says Canon. "We will listen to the marketplace and that will ultimately drive our product strategy," says Owen. "We have announced that there will be a 4K model coming in the future, because, obviously, there's a lot of clamour for 4K within the industry - whether that filters down to the end user at the moment is obviously another story - but we know there's a lot of requirements for this, so that's why it was very important for us to announce that we are working on this now as to give market confidence that we're in this for the long haul. We're not just going to be a one-hit-wonder. It's very key in our strategic direction. So, whether 4K comes in a body like the C300 will be driven by the market."
But Canon is confident that the Cinema EOS system will be accepted by the filmmaking and broadcasting industries. "If you look at the success we've had with the Canon XF300 and XF305 being the first 1/3 chip camera to be approved by the BBC for broadcast use, and the fact that the C300 uses the same codec and has 50 Mbits per second at 4:2:2, it meets the BBC's standards. We expect that with the C300, broadcasters around the globe will be able to integrate it in their workflows, because it ticks a lot of their boxes."
He adds: "We know that broadcasters have very specific workflows and very specific ways of dealing with things, and the C300 is designed to answer the questions that they have, while allowing them to keep the same filming look with an output format that is readily accessible."
Fuehres also believes that the C300, as well as Canon's entire Cinema EOS system, will open up the world of filmmaking to new audiences. "We were pleasantly surprised by the success of our 5D Mark II, and that's we've learned and listened and that's why we've come up with a product for a new market. And yet, this will also open up this market to people that hadn't considered it yet. I've spoken to people that had never considered this type of cameras and are now interested in them. I think this camera could redefine where the boundaries of the market are and enhance it."
And while it's impossible to say what kind of share Canon will be able to grab, it has "an ambition to succeed," says Fuehres. "But we want to learn and come up with further expansion for the Cinema EOS system, which will, hopefully, grow our share."
Visit www.canon.co.uk for more information, or read our full report on the Canon Cinema EOS C300 camera here.
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