Recently I was invited to spend an afternoon in Canon's new Singapore HQ. Opened in response to Canon's ramp up across Singapore & SE Asia in general, as well as giving a unique insight into their new facilities it was also an opportunity to get a very early hands on with some of their new cameras & printers.
Some of the new facilities are geared up to aspects of Canon's business outside of photography & dedicated to corporate activities. Sections like their security division & business excellence centre looked impressive but not of prime importance to photographers. Their professional print centre DID look pretty cool though, especially their Deluxe Labo printer capable of quickly churning out huge numbers of super high quality prints.
By far the most interesting points of the tour were of the new Imaging Academy with dedicated classrooms for computer based training in Photoshop & Lightroom and - more excitingly - a fully equipped studio with complete lighting rig. The latter is also available to rent at extremely competitive rates too, only S$50 for two hours. Compared to the majority of other photo studios around Singapore this is extremely good value for the standard of facility.
Personally, the part of the facility I enjoyed the most was sadly the part where photography wasn't allowed. Visiting the service centre showed the back room team responsible for fixing all the Canon cameras & lenses in Singapore. It was fascinating stuff, seeing the scale & complexity of the equipment and hearing how they approached tackling different types of issues. I've already reached out to Canon about maybe getting permission to do a behind-the-scenes article about it, I'm sure it would be of interest to others.
Lots of new stuff was available to play with. I'll come to cameras in a second but a couple of other products looked interesting. Canon's PRO range of printers are their top end fine-art models and priced to boot (I'm getting my hands on two different models to review very soon) but I was able to have a very close look at their new MG7770 printer. For those looking to print out their images at home rather than running around to print shops I definitely think it's worth a look - the quality of the prints from it were surprisingly good. Expect a detailed review soon.
The other item which caught my eye was the new Rayo projectors - small but effective little units that produced surprising image quality and best of all are wireless. Two models are available, the i5 and i8, but both are apparently identical... except the i8 is gold covered. Clearly someone in marketing thought that was a clever idea!
Of course the new cameras were what I was particularly interested in! The G5X and G9X both looked like solid additions to Canon's compact lineup, especially the G5X which felt like it shared much with the G7X and seemed to be something of interest to enthusiasts.
The highlight for me, in terms of new cameras at least, was getting a chance to preview the M10. I've used all of the preceding models and been largely unimpressed - there's nothing wrong with the cameras and the M3 ironed out many of the wrinkles of earlier models but they aren't special. They feel like concessions to the mirrorless market rather than being serious entries. The M10 looks & feels exactly the same as the earlier models and without seeing detailed specs I'm not entirely sure what the difference is! That said, just seeing the way it was presented along with the different chassis options gives an idea where Canon are targeting it.
I don't think there can be any argument the M10 is being aimed squarely at the selfie-snapping amateur crowd, those people looking for a smaller/lighter camera from a brand they already associate with cameras. With all indications suggesting that Canon are releasing their first serious mirrorless body next year it seems Canon are making it very obvious what segment the M10 is for. It's debatable whether this was the intent all along - my suspicion is that it's probably a new decision to pitch the M-series as we know it along the
In terms of how the M10 stacks up it's too early to tell. The autofocus did feel snappier and more accurate than the M3 but even in the 20-30 minutes I had to use it I still found situations where it just refused to focus completely. I'm expecting to get a review unit soon.
It was a fun afternoon. Although clearly a big marketing push, it was still a unique chance to see parts of a major camera company otherwise hidden from view and a couple of the products were definitely exciting, the G5X and MG7770 in particular. The new facilities look great regardless of whether you're a Canon user and reasonably priced to boot. As a neutral in the photography world, I think Canon have had a mixed year and are facing tougher-than-ever competition from Sony. The overriding impression I had talking to the Canon guys on the day is that they acknowledge the challenge & the pressure but no-one is backing down. The guys on the ground seem excited to be there and looking forward to the challenge and it was cool to see.