Will This New Software From Canon Change the Future of Photography?

Last week, without any fanfare, Canon released a piece of software that could have far-reaching implications for the future of digital photography. Forget the EOS R5 news. This is bigger.

Tony Northrup was quick to comment when Canon quietly launched image.canon, its new mobile device connectivity and cloud application. It’s not perfect, but given manufacturers’ record for producing software that connects cameras to the internet, this is a massive improvement.

Last year, I wrote an article explaining why my mom’s fridge was better than my shiny new Sony mirrorless camera. If a smart fridge can send an image across the internet, why can’t my Sony a7 III?

This is Canon’s first step in addressing one of the reasons that ILC sales have nose-dived — and as steps go, this is significant. It’s a sign that memory cards will soon be a thing of the past, and that in five or ten years, once data speeds have caught up to cope better with massive raw files, a photographer’s workflow will be seamlessly integrated with cloud technology.

Kudos to Canon for getting there first and also for making software that’s not a UI disaster. It needs some refinement but given what went before, it’s a monumental improvement.

Other manufacturers should take note as this could be a major advantage in the battle for customers.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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"Will This New Software From Canon Change the Future of Photography?" No, nor will any other software product from any other company. Next.

That’s quite a compelling rebuttal, count me convinced!

What a dumb statement. I bet people were saying that right before Photoshop was released

"It’s a sign that memory cards will soon be a thing of the past..." What an ignorant statement. Many people still don't have any internet access at all, let alone at speeds necessary to transfer 50MB files. Sure, a handful of people in wealthy areas of the world will be able to do that. But taking photos out in the Serengeti, or remote reaches of the Terai? Please. It'll be great for another billion cat photos, though!

So you're suggesting that people can easily drop 5k on a camera then another 6k on two lenses but this person doesn't have the internet?

Color me baffled.

Do you really not understand that there are still places in the world where there is no internet, let alone high speed internet, no matter how much money you have to spend?

No, I'm suggesting dropping 10K on travel to photograph in places around the world that don't have internet connectivity 24/7. Or much internet/cell service at all. But heck, even in US national parks there's often no cell service, so you couldn't even get by using just cloud storage on a simple backpacking trip for landscape photography.

Oh, and come to think of it, what's a photojournalist supposed to do when a country they're in for a story shuts down the internet? Maybe bring a film camera as backup?

After spending 5k on camera and 6k on lenses, try spending another 3-6k on a trip to a remote national park for wildlife photography or a trip deep into the mountains for landscapes... how much fast internet do you find there?

For every one photojournalist, person on a desserted island, person living in the antarctic, there are 1000 people that just want to make media of their kids, an afternoon trip shooting birds, people making media on vacation in the next town over.

Pros use pro cameras, this isn't that.

Replace memory cards? No.

Not until 5G is actually everywhere, is fully unlimited with no restrictions -- (one wedding with raw files would murder any data cap) and the connection is 100% reliable.

What it will do?

Make tethering in the studio a dream, potentially provider a killer back up option, etc.

But man, talk about a lot of hype for nothing much.

No, no, you're wrong. This is bigger than the R5, the person who wrote the article said so.

The whole story is so funny. So if I'm out travelling and stay in a budget hotel, I'm supposed to upload my A7R iv RAW files at 60mb each over the hotel Wi-Fi. 100 photos is 6gb. Which hotel will allow that? Or use my mobile phone data?
This feature seems to work best at home over unlimited Wi-Fi... but then you could just take out the memory card and stick it in your PC instead...

In one word: Hyperbole.

This guy is a total waste of time, his thoughts like his reviews are meaningless.

This article is mostly crap. However, it is correct about the appallingly bad software for Internet or even just WiFi connectivity from most vendors. Nikon is particularly bad. They think they have to insert themselves and try to make money at every step. You have to use their crap app, can't just connect to a WiFi access point and thence to your camera to pull data off by standard means.

The first camera manufacturer to just adopt the simple, obvious approach here will own the rest.

I tried this with my new Canon G7 Mk III backup camera and decided that taking the SD card out, putting it in my laptop and transferring the files was about 1000 times quicker and more convenient. I also hate the proprietary nature, having to go through the Canon cloud first. In my Pentax K5, I use a Toshiba Wi-Fi enabled SD card if I want to transfer pictures direct to my phone. Exceptionally quick, simple, convenient and intuitive. Just connect phone to the card's WiFi ,open a browser on your phone which takes you to a simple web page showing your folder tree, select and download the pictures. Simple. The Canon app is fiddly and far from intuitive. Only issue with the Toshiba card is it drains the battery about 30% faster while the camera is switched on, so I make sure I have a spare battery in my camera case and switch it off when not being used rather than letting it drop to standby.

Well it seems you would need a computer near you to make sure it actually sent the pics where you wanted and if you're near a computer, just plug the damn usb in and dump your damn pics. This cloud service for money stuff just scares me. Having my images uploaded to any place on the web scares me and if you shoot nudes or sexier content, your clients probably will be scared too. So no thanks.

Just like lphone, they will force update to obsolescence old camera and lens, that means you will need to buy new camera every year, after that nikon and sony will follow, just like lphone killed the 3.5mm jack and all the android copy

So in your mind a new software means old cameras stop working? What in the world are you talking about?

Tried it first day it came out, before the Android app was available. It was fairly easy to setup but RAW files took forever to upload to their cloud server over my home wifi. And I still couldn't download the RAW to my phone because Android did not recognize the CR3 file type. And I'm not sure if it's any more useful for jpg than just using Camera Connect.

Young photographers expect connectivity issues to be resolved by default. When you can presume your smartphone to back up images automatically, and process and share just as quickly, why would you want to explore the possibilities of 'old' technology?
Even if you don't have Wi-Fi access (which new satellite launches should ensure is rare) you can still transfer images through Bluetooth. Either way manually transferring with memory cards ensures that cameras are physically bigger than they need to be, and cost more.

I might be being just paranoid but I really don’t like the terms and conditions of use for this software.
“By uploading Image to the service, a Member grants Canon (including it’s affiliated companies and third party service providers and business partners) right and license to copy or otherwise use, on a worldwide basis, free of charge, the Member’s Content”
This really doesn’t sit well with me.

I agree and I'm surprised this isn't a way bigger story.

Thanks for bringing this up. The entire notion of "changing the future of photography" by connecting the camera to the cloud is so much overhyped. Canon's blatant abuse of photographer's rights in TOS is indeed much bigger story. I hope somebody will take Canon to court for this.

Tony, you say "never have to touch an SD card" as if there is some poisonous aspect to touching an SD card. As you rightly point out, this won't be ready for prime time until speeds are sufficient.

I might be wrong but doesn't Panasonic have this same CloudSync service with 100GB of storage space on Google drive with their Lumix Club for years? You can connect your Panasonic camera to your Lumix club account and upload the files there directly. But as was stated the upload is too slow to be practical at the moment.
You should then be able to setup a Drive sync to your local computer and set the LR watch folder to import them.

Fstoppers is click bait just like Tony ...

At a time when we all regard the battery life of our cameras as critical, especially as mirrorless makes a bid to replace dSLR, do we really want to use our precious battery life to upload photos?

That's not just a "pro level" restriction. So, even if better transfer speeds are introduced, even if a good internet network is constantly available, I don't see this having the impact that is being claimed here. Because why would the better option be to spend £50 on each new battery that I need to handle this overhead than to spend £10 on a 32GB Sandisk SD card?