On the eve of the Indian leg of Canon's photomarathon, we sat down with Eddie Udagawa, VP of Consumer Imaging and Information Center, Canon India to understand how Canon's initiatives are faring in the country along with other insights around Canon's product portfolio.
Digit: How is Canon's PhotoMarathon faring in India as compared to the other countries in South East Asia?
Eddie: Canon Photomarathon is a unique Live Photo competition where each participant tries to click the best possible photograph on the theme given under the pressure of time. Originally conceptualized in Singapore, the Photomarathon has spread to other regions like Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Srilanka, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei & Vietnam.
This was the 7th edition of Photomarathon in India and we are happy to witness the popularity this event has gained over the years. The ever increasing number of youngsters taking up their cameras and unleashing their creative self is reassurance to our constant efforts towards encouraging a culture of photography in India.
We feel confident and extremely proud with the photographic capabilities that Canon Photomarathon managed to attract this year which is immensely innovative and at par with the global standards.
Looking at the success of the platform, we intend to scale it up and engage enthusiasts from different parts of the world.
Digit: What is different with this year's edition of Canon's PhotoMarathon?
Eddie: In this year’s edition, Canon has introduced student category for the school students aged between 12-17 years where students from various schools have participated thus giving a special focus on the youth.
There were 17 schools who participated in Photomarathon Delhi and 12 schools in Canon Photomarathon Mumbai.
Apart from that we also roped in more partners on board like Adobe India, Fitbit Inc, Lino Manfrotto + Co, JTB, Sandisk India, JW Mariott Aerocity and digital partners So Delhi and So Mumbai.
Digit: Could you shed more light on the Indian community as per Canon? Between the professionals, amateurs, DIY enthusiasts, absolute beginners, etc. How is the Indian community different as compared to the rest of Asia and as compared to the world?
Eddie: For Canon, India is a very prestigious market. It is no doubt an emerging photography market and we feel more and more youngsters are willing to take up photography as a career option. We have seen a lot of change since we first started Photomarathon in India in the year 2009. Initially, it was more of professional photographers who participated in this live photo contest, gradually over the years we have seen photo enthusiasts, beginners, and hobbyists who have started participating in Photomarathon. Looking at the young talent, this year we introduced student’s category where students from various schools participated.
With the evolution of photography in India, people have started experimenting using various cameras available in the market based on their needs and requirement. It is not only high-end cameras which are been used for clicking the best shots but we have seen a lot of entry level cameras like EOS 1300D used by the participants.
Photography continues to resonate as one of the most embraced vocation and avocation. It has evolved over the years to become a passion for people across the world. In India, photography industry is reconfiguring itself by manifesting in the form of growing interest in higher functionality compact and digital SLR cameras. We continue to reach out to Tier II and Tier III cities in the country to engage with consumers, as we believe in promoting the art of photography and the power it entails. We conduct various workshops and training modules, promote photo tours and so on which keep happening all over the country.
Digit: We know that sales for DSLRs, Mirrorless and Point and shoot have been falling over the last decade globally. Is India exhibiting a similar trend? How is Canon adapting to this drastic change in the consumer market?
Eddie: India has seen a growing trend in the DSLR segment. With the launch of our new cameras in the market in 2016, we see huge potential from our entry level camera EOS 1300D and our mid- level camera EOS 80D. We have recently launched our flagship model EOS-1D X Mark II and EOS 5D Mark IV which are high-end professional cameras and we see a huge demand for these cameras. It is a great opportunity for us to keep innovating and add new technologies in the products which we offer thus satisfying different needs of the consumers.
So far, as the Compact cameras are concerned, Canon has been focusing on the current compact camera portfolio especially in the Zoom range category and high-end premium compact cameras. A better zoom and image quality; focus on HD video recording and low light photography are some highlights. Our premium compact camera G series is targeted for anyone who is looking to create high-quality images and also for people who already own a DSLR and are looking for a second camera.
We do provide our users with an option to choose a Canon mirrorless camera with the EOS M3 and EOS M10. We recently launched EOS M5 which is a high-end model in the mirrorless range. The provision is there, and we expect the segment to grow in future. With our existing range of dynamic products, we have been successful in addressing the imaging needs of the consumers. Research and development is an integral part of a technology company like ours. Our experts are always innovating to get newer technologies to our customers.
Digit: When it comes to sales of lenses, do Indian customers opt for a myriad selection of lenses or is it just the prime lenses that make up the bulk of the purchases?
Eddie: Canon has one of the biggest selection of prime lenses in the industry. That being said, for the professional fraternity the prime lenses and some select fast aperture zoom lenses top the sales charts. When we look at amateurs and first-time buyers, they tend to opt for zoom lenses, whether the standard zoom kits or a step-up lens. India as a whole enjoys quite a diverse demand when it comes to optics.
Digit: With the demand for better picture quality sans noise, rolling shutter effect, etc., will we see cameras with high-performance CCD sensors in the consumer segment?
Eddie: The rolling shutter effect can be caused by a variety of reasons, use of a CMOS design being one of them. However, these days, due to improvements in hardware fabrication as well as software the effect of rolling shutter is minimal. Our advanced DIGIC processors are also able to correct this phenomenon.
Thanks to the many benefits CMOS sensors enjoy over CCD sensors, CMOS sensors are being used not only in DSLR cameras but in smartphones as well. A CMOS sensor allows for faster image creation as well as much lower power consumption.
Digit: Aside from lenses, lens filters, and flashes, what extra level of modularity can Canon add to their cameras to provide more choice for the consumer?
Eddie: The EOS and compact camera ecosystem from Canon consist primarily of cameras, optics/lenses, speedlites, battery grips as well as filters and lens hoods etc. In recent times certain regions of Canon (including Canon India) have also added bags and backpacks to their portfolio of products. Designed specifically for enthusiasts and photographers, Canon India’s flagship line-up of bags feature maximum durability and weather resistance, allowing users to safeguard their equipment with ease.
Such is the global popularity our products enjoy that many brands have sprung up dedicated to providing 3rd party accessories and additions to augment our products. These include tripods, other forms of support, water proof kits for specific cameras, battery grips, specific backpacks as well as specialized items like drones etc. We believe such accessories require specialized expertise.
Digit: More and more technology segments are going the open source way. Are there any plans for Canon to do the same? Will Canon be releasing source files for their camera firmware in the near future?
Eddie: Actually, Canon is one of the few companies to provide a complete SDK (software development kit) for developers and programmers.
Canon is also one of the very few manufacturers who make their own image sensors, imaging processors and lenses and this is a major strength for us. We also remain one of the major patent filers worldwide. Such information is proprietary and is what allows us to maintain our competitive edge. Thus camera firmware and other related software would be among the most closely guarded secret of any camera company.