To many of us, it's become apparent that mirrorless is the future for cameras. The huge advancements in short period of time have made them very popular. Companies like Fuji, Sony, and Panasonic have developed some fantastic cameras, and their respective ecosystems are growing fast with new lenses and accessories. Currently, Canon and Nikon have remained behind when it comes to effective and professional mirrorless systems and many disappointed professionals have already jumped ship to other manufacturers. As it becomes clear that Canon is developing their own model, here's what I think it needs to compete with those alread out there.
Keep The EF Mount
I really can't stress how important it is for Canon to keep the EF mount for its pro-level mirrorless system. The EF-M mount can be used for mid-range and entry-level mirrorless cameras, but the EF mount must remain for their pro system. Canon's main advantage is the fact that they have such a vast number of incredible lenses. They may, in fact, have the best lens lineup on the market. If they develop another mount for their pro-level mirrorless system, that will spark the beginning of the end for the EF mount. Getting rid of this major advantage is extremely ill-advised and one of the worst decisions they could ever make. Canon is already a few years behind companies like Sony and Fuji when it comes to sensor technology and camera features. An incredible amount of money will be required to develop all the new lenses, only for them to end up in second or maybe even third place. Moving away from the EF mount will also potentially make all of their current customers free agents, and I'm sure Sony would love to tap into that market. Sony should be praying that Canon does not continue with the EF mount. Nikon, on the other hand, has needed to update their mount for some time now, and this is why they've had to go for what is currently being described as the "Z-Mount." Canon needs to capitalize on its strengths. The EF mount is a major strength and will put them far ahead of the competition. With this one point, they could secure their position for decades to come.
For the love of god, no. Adapters are not convenient. They are horrible, ineffective, bad solutions for a problem that doesn't need to exist. Stick with the EF mount! The way to do this is to create somewhat of a hybrid camera. Keeping a similar body design with the same flange distance will save a ton of money. Get rid of the prism and the mirror and simply add in an EVF. Whatever potential space is left can be used for something more useful like better cooling, maybe more internal storage, more powerful processors, or maybe even features currently in development that we may not know about. You may be asking the questions: "What about adapting other lenses? Won't a shorter flange distance be better"? The most popular adapters currently available are for EF lenses, and if Canon sticks with the EF mount, then there's very little need to adapt. Many professionals that have switched over to Sony only do so for the body and continue using Canon lenses; therefore, keep the EF mount.
Size and Weight?
Weight is important, but as discussed above, get rid of the prism and the mirror; this will automatically reduce the weight of the camera by a very noticeable amount. Also, maybe lighter-weight materials could be an option, although that may require more investment than it's worth. Size, on the other hand, really isn't that important. In fact, having a smaller camera is a disadvantage for a number of reasons. Many tech companies seem to think that having a smaller device is somehow a great achievement when it's actually a compromise and potentially a flaw. Ergonomics are far more important than having a smaller camera, and smaller cameras are generally terrible for ergonomics. Some may suggest using a battery grip, but then, what was the point of making it smaller in the first place? Also, lenses can't exactly get much smaller, and only the flange distance is going to be different. The trend seems to be pointing towards tiny bodies and huge lenses; eventually, maybe your 50mm will need a tripod collar.
Battery life is another major disadvantage for smaller cameras. The fact remains that mainstream battery technology has not progressed very much and bigger batteries will have better battery life. Mirrorless cameras also require more energy, which only compounds the problem. Even batteries from bigger mirrorless cameras such as the Fuji GFX 50S can't compare to batteries from a 1D series camera. It's extremely difficult or not at all possible to keep the same battery performance with a smaller body. Bigger is without a doubt better. Canon should save themselves some money by keeping to a similar body design and sticking with the EF mount.
Canon really needs to step up their game when it comes to features. Aside from the 1D X II, all of their other new releases have been underwhelming at best. Here is a quick list of features that Canon needs to have as standard:
- Full-frame 4K capability with a more efficient codec
- 1080p at 120 fps
- Better dynamic range of at least 14 stops
- Log profiles as standard
- Focus peaking
- Flip-out touchscreen
- Dual card slots
- Focus stacking
- A fully developed time-lapse feature
- A minimum of 9 frames per second continuous shooting spped
Yes, DSLRs are meant for video too, and Canon needs to start taking it more seriously. They are the company that made it popular; it's only fitting they continue to develop this.
There are some features that I strongly recommend Canon consider; however, I doubt these are features we will see in a Canon camera anytime soon.
- Built-in sensor stabilization (not just an electronic version of this)
- Pixel Shift technology coupled with Dual Pixel raw files
- 16-bit raw files (seriously though, this would be amazing)
- Better Wi-Fi with a better app
- Native ISO 50
- 15 stops of dynamic range or more
"This is now an era when latecomer manufacturers stand to gain." This specific quote from Canon's CEO sums things up pretty well. The stars couldn't have aligned themselves any better. A few key decisions that Canon makes in the next year or so could have a huge impact on the company. I doubt that Canon will be releasing anything earth-shattering, as they are very reserved in many cases, but whether or not they continue with the EF mount may determine their future. Nikon may have a tough road ahead of them when it comes to developing their mirrorless system. This, however, is something they will need to do in order to compete. It may take them up to a decade before they have a fully developed ecosystem, and the amount of investment required puts them at a great disadvantage. Nikon may have to settle for third place. Sony, on the other hand, is growing their mirrorless division very well, and the market sentiment seems to be in their favor. Effectively, this has become a race for two companies, and Canon potentially has the upper hand. Not only does Canon have a significantly larger range of lenses available, they are also cheaper and have better third-party options. The overall sentiment seems to be against Canon; however, the practicalities of their system outweigh the sentiment. Many professionals will simply continue with them. They already hold the number one spot in various key areas, and if they stick with the EF mount, it's going to be very difficult for other companies to compete.