Eye-Opening Look at How Canon Develops New Products

Eye-Opening Look at How Canon Develops New Products

"Canon's new 400mm f/2.8L III and 600mm f/4L III lenses are a lot lighter and much better balanced than the II series." Those words were easy to type, and it's all too easy to dismiss as "so what?", but what kind of work went on behind the scenes to make that statement a reality?

It might be the fact that Canon's III series telephoto prime lenses look a lot like... well, lenses. But what you may not realize is that they were rebuilt from the ground up and completely left the II series behind in many aspects. You probably have been made aware that one of the biggest changes with these lenses, and the reason such a reduction of weight occurred, is from moving many of the big glass elements back towards the mount side and in turn could be made smaller and lighter. But really think of what it must take to engineer all that and maintain world-class sharpness, contrast, autofocus speeds, and everything else high-end L-series glass exhibits. It's mind-blowing.

Luckily for us, Canon got their top engineers together for an interview (PDF file) on what exactly went on behind the scenes to go from the II series telephotos to the III series.. Honestly, it's a lot to read and take in, and yes, there's a bit of patting themselves on the back that requires skimming by, but I felt it was well worth it in the end.

I've never met any of Canon's engineers, but I've spent a good deal of time around Sony engineers and I can say that these guys are truly unsung heroes of photography. The public doesn't know their names or titles, but they are thinking about how to advance photography day and night. And not only think it, but then go into work and do it. I love these guys.

Definitely check out this interview because it's an interesting look inside how product development works for the biggest name in photography.

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Rod Kestel's picture

Nice. The modern lens is a stunning piece of kit.

We take for granted the astonishing sophistication and complexity in modern products. Look inside an camera or similar and there's a stupendous amount of cunning work by many people. When you consider all that, it's crazy cheep. (Not like crazy sheep. No crazy sheep.)

Then we get to use this stuff, yeeha!

Marissa Kasnya's picture

Great article and a very interesting read indeed. Omg they really could have tried to take happier pictures of the engineers tho as an imaging company. They all look soooo sad.

Paul Asselin's picture

Serious people who do serious work! On a side note, I'd have to sell my home to afford one of these lenses.

EL PIC's picture

The March of the Marks Continues... always a higher Roman Numerical with Higher Prices and Performance Promises like Superman.

The 400 mm 2.8 III is $12K .. guess I will stick with 100 - 400 I which was $1K.
I Bet the March of the Marks will continue with all those new Mirror-less lenses.

Xander Cesari's picture

Very interesting article. This part made me chuckle though:

"The system built over 30 years is a Canon asset, and the uncompromising pursuit of performance is deeply impressed on our minds, which is something we take seriously, day in and day out."

Explains why they dragged their feet a bit on throwing that all away!