Canon: a piece of shit company

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years now, you KNOW how I had been a Canon fan girl for their consumer digicams in terms of video. Their previous digicam non-DSLR cameras were steadily getting better and better video controls, and that was something to cheer for. They were outperforming all other manufacturers by getting the *basics* of video right: exposure compensation, exposure lock, custom low colors, good frame rates at good bitrates, and some models even had manual focus and focus lock.

I was even, unfairly, called biased by certain people, for pushing these Canon digicams. But I’m not biased about hardware, I’m a hard realist. There were definite, true, and important reasons why I’d suggest Canon in the past (if your goal was artistic videography).

Well, the newer Canon cameras, starting last year, weaned off such abilities! FEATURES WERE REMOVED one by one, model by model. We are now at the point where the expensive, high end P&S digicam S110 does not even have exposure compensation/lock. This is obviously done so their more expensive dSLRs sell better, and their camcorder department doesn’t die. It’s an ARTIFICIAL way of keeping business afloat. That’s not what the market wants, it’s what Canon wants. Consider that the video section on the S110 manual WAS REMOVED too. Yup, removed. Where there used to be a whole chapter on video usage in the manual (in EVERY ONE of their P&S models), now there’s *none*.

For all that is worth, I can not suggest Canon to anyone anymore, when it comes to video mode in P&S digicams. What makes it even worse is that the other digicam manufacturers haven’t step up to the challenge to take over what Canon left behind. Most of the cameras from the other manufacturers also miss exposure compensation & lock, or they use fucked up frame rates. When it comes to semi-serious videography with these pocket cameras, they ALL SUCK, even if that was NOT the case 2 years ago!

I mean, they got to the point where they offered 1080/24p and 720/30p at good bitrates last year. What they should have done this year is to keep the old features and push their frame rates to 1080/30p/25p/24p and 720/50p/60p (just like in their dSLR range). I’m not asking for other crazy features here, neither I’m asking for full manual control. But when they go out on purpose and they remove the most basic of controls, exposure compensation and exposure lock, something that has been there since early 2000s, there’s something sinister at work there.

So, what to do? Get a dSLR or micro-thirds camera that happens to have the whole nine yards when it comes to video. Or if you prefer a camcorder, get the ones that cost over $1000 that also come with the whole nine yards. Since you can’t go for a good-enough $200 P&S digicam for video, shell the cash and get something appropriate for over $1000. At least you won’t be ripped off by buying a P&S digicam for $500 and not even get the video features that were present in a $100 Canon digicam just 2 years ago! So my suggestion is, either go all in, or try to find older models, second hand.

I personally still use my older, SX230, which is the BEST small camera for live shows, amazing mic quality on loud shows, and it still has all the other needed video features too. But it’s not the best in terms of other things (e.g. it has a slow lens). The S100 from last year is also good video feature-wise (if you ignore its hardware faults), the last of its range to support all the basic video stuff that are needed to make a video look professional, and not like a piece of shit cellphone video.

And let’s not forget that Canon only announced the full HDMI-out for the 5D MkIII recently after a third party firmware group said that they hacked in that feature. So basically, someone has to squeeze Canon’s balls before they actually offer what their hardware CAN do, but they refuse to put the software behind it to support it. Even if HDMI support might have engineering costs, this is not a case of “software costs” to the video features mentioned above, because the software for the specific features WAS ALREADY THERE. Instead, they’ve been CONSCIOUSLY removing them PROGRESSIVELY. As in, a strategy.

So, fuck you Canon, you are corporate shills and you suck donkey balls.

41 Comments »

Edgar Matias wrote on October 26th, 2012 at 10:16 PM PST:

Hi Eugenia,

Thanks for this post. I’ve been following your articles for a while, but hadn’t seen any on cameras recently (until this one).

Anyway, I wanted to ask what you though of the Panasonic LX7 for video?

If you get the PAL model, it does 25fps 1080p @ 20Mbps in MP4, which is pretty close to 24fps. It also does 50fps @ 28Mbps in AVCHD, which is handy for slow-mo…

http://www.panasonic.hk/av/english/dc/model/dmc-lx7.aspx

The other obvious (but more expensive) choice would be the Sony RX100, which does actual 24p.

Thanks, and hope you’re feeling better from your surgery.


Ivan wrote on October 27th, 2012 at 2:04 AM PST:

I must agree with you on this. Nikon, which doesn’t have a camcorder market to protect, seems to be overtaking Canon in many departments.
I know you’re not a fan of Panasonic’s Lumix LX series, but just take a look at the specs of the new LX7, and it blows away much of the competition. An example, full hd at 24/25/30fps, AND 720p at 120fps! All that, with stabelised Leica glass at f1.4. Video is recorded as avchd or mp4.

One more thing, as a positive note: the ‘old’ Canon models are out for grabs at bargain prices…


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Eugenia wrote on October 27th, 2012 at 8:50 AM PST:

I checked the LX7, and while it’s promising, its bitrate is half-assed. 20 mbps for 1080p and just 10 mbps for 720p in MP4 mode (the AVCHD mode is *useless* for serious artistic videographers, since it’s interlaced and it’s losing half its resolution when exporting in progressive). Canons do 36 mbps VBR in these resolutions, progressively.

On top of that, no 24p mode, and it’s NOT clear if they have a different model for PAL and NTSC, or they include both on the same camera. Also, they don’t mention if they record in 29.97 or in 30.00. In fact, they seem to record in 30.00, which is a tell-tale sign of idiotic product management.

So yeah, the LX7 is 95% “there”. But still not “exactly there”. Sure, they have manual control and a fast lens, but at 20 mbps bitrate and shitty frame rates, it’s not as good as it could have been. Obviously, bad management fucks everything up yet again.

My next camera will probably be the Canon EOS M (micro four thirds). It’s double the price than the LX7, but it’s also small-enough with its kit lens, 10 times faster lens (when you take the sensor size into account too), and it’s got reasonable resolutions and bitrates. I would have rather gone for the LX7, since it’s even smaller and cheaper, but bitrate and resolution is all what video is, and if they can’t get this right, they can’t have my money.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 27th, 2012 at 6:26 PM PST:

The LX7 doesn’t do 24fps.

Your only choice is 25p and 50p on the PAL model, or 30p and 60p on the NTSC model. They are two separate models — not user switchable between PAL/NTSC.

You could always conform 50p to 24p in post, but I’ve never done that before, so I don’t know how good it looks.

BTW, the Canon EOS M is APS-C (not micro four thirds) which is of course better. It’s slow as a stills camera, but appears quite good for video — and is probably the reason Canon crippled video in its lower models.

Rumour is that a Panasonic GX2 is on the horizon, and I would expect it to have 24p, so that it can compete with the Canon EOS M. We’ll have to wait and see.

Eugenia, do you have an opinion of whether the S95 or the S100 is better for video? With the CCD on the S95, there’s no rolling shutter effect to deal with.

Thanks for your comments.


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Eugenia wrote on October 27th, 2012 at 6:30 PM PST:

I’d go for the S100, it has an ND filter to stop down, and 1080/24p at 36 mbps. But some of them have a lens error, so watch out.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 27th, 2012 at 8:53 PM PST:

Thanks, I think I will. They’re only $329 on Amazon now.

I was hoping to get one of the newer digicams, but as you say, none of them do proper 24p. Will probably be another few years before competition gets them back to where the S100 left off.


Scott McCarthy wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:30 AM PST:

Eugenia, I’m not trying to be an ass, and I fully agree with the Canon rant, but then after telling them to go fuck themselves, you admit in the comments your next cam will be a Canon M ??? Mission accomplished Canon. You are a Canon Fan Girl !!! JK.


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Eugenia wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:49 AM PST:

I have no other way to upgrade my 5D MkII, I need 60p, and Canon (since my husband owns all these lenses). I’d have preferred a good P&S, like the S100 or LX7, but since these are below par of what they could have easily be video-wise, I’d have to go with either the T4i or the M. I chose the M because of size.


Scott McCarthy wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 9:38 AM PST:

Understood.Your husbands lenses will need a $200 adapter to fit the EOS M and at present there are only 2 lenses that fit the M directly. I’m sure the lens line up will grow over time but much more limited than the T4i which would fit your husbands lenses without an adapter.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 6:25 PM PST:

I can understand how buying a Canon EOS M could be seen as rewarding bad behaviour, but when you’re invested in a system, your options are limited. As a Mac user, I can certainly relate to that.

I’ve been trying to find out what the Mbps speeds are on the EOS M video modes, but haven’t seen them explicitly stated anywhere. One source said that they’d be the same as the 650D, but I don’t know how reliable that information is.


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Eugenia wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 6:28 PM PST:

You can extrapolate by the stated recording times, it’s the same as in most of their dSLRs, at around 45 mbps.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 7:07 PM PST:

Thanks. One last question… In your experience, what’s the lowest mbps that still gives quality up to your standards?


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Eugenia wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 7:12 PM PST:

It depends on the resolution, frame rate, encoder and profile used. So for 1080/24p, I’d need either over 30 mbps or a high profile, and a quality encoder. But at 1080/30p at 20 mbps, Panasonic would need to do magic to deliver good quality. I don’t believe in magic.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 7:33 PM PST:

So, for 1080/50p, I assume that you’d want upwards of 60 mbps, while the LX7 offers less than half of that (28 mbps).

BTW, I’ve found confirmation that the video coming off the LX7 isn’t as good as they’ve led people to believe…

http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/3943/panasonic-lx7-topic/p2

The signal is clean, but the detail isn’t there. The poster was able to get better video from his Samsung Galaxy Note cellphone. Talk about embarrassing.

If they release a hack for it, we might be able to get much higher bitrates and 24p. This is the same site that released the original hack for the GH2.


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Eugenia wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:24 PM PST:

>So, for 1080/50p, I assume that you’d want upwards of 60 mbps

No, because 1 second is 1 second, and modern encoding algorithms can compensate for motion (they don’t re-encode the majority of the frames, but only the parts that changed). 40 to 45 mbps should be enough with a good encoder, in medium motion scenes. 60 mbps would be needed for high motion scenes.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:42 PM PST:

Thanks for the clarification.

Would 38 mbps be enough for high motion scenes in 1080/24p?


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Eugenia wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:44 PM PST:

With a well tuned encoder, yes. For prosumer stuff that is, not for Hollywood.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:56 PM PST:

Oh okay, what would Hollywood require?


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Eugenia wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 8:58 PM PST:

RAW, of course. Only cheaper productions wouldn’t mind the encoding.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 28th, 2012 at 9:01 PM PST:

Okay, I get it.

I guess that’s why it’s such a big deal for higher-end to have clean HDMI-out.


Gerasimos wrote on October 29th, 2012 at 11:27 AM PST:

Well, I never thought to see the day you would tell off canon… But I am glad you did, because clearly they had it coming. I mean, eversince the flop with the c300, it all went downhill from there… It is really good to know that you can be objective when you need to.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 29th, 2012 at 1:41 PM PST:

In technology, it’s usually the mice who eat the elephants. There are lots of historical examples, so it was not smart of Canon to release an elephant (c300) into a world where their mouse (5DmkII) was top dog.

Sorry for the mixed metaphors. :-)


Peter wrote on October 29th, 2012 at 3:02 PM PST:

Would you still get an EOS M if you didn’t have those Canon lenses lying around?

I’m currently still very happy with my SX200IS but micro four-thirds looks interesting so I’m keeping an eye on what’s on the market in case it ever breaks down (after a few years, the lens cover and orientation sensor are starting to have issues)


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Eugenia wrote on October 29th, 2012 at 3:03 PM PST:

Probably not.


lowlypawn wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 9:26 AM PST:

Why do you hate the lumix GH series? You never recommend them or even mention them. The GH1 can be had for under $300 on ebay, a lens is another hundred or so. The GH2 prices are all over the place, But I saw a body for under 400, with lens around $1000. But the GH2 prices should plummet once the GH3 becomes available in a month. Yes the GH3 is going to be sick (it’s $1299 on B&H) Can you say 1080 @ 60P!!!!…. Seriously it’s time to sell the canon shit, yes sell the canon lenses. Buy some old vintage glass with manual F/stop & focus. It’s the only way to send a message to cannon. Of course if Panasonic was really smart they would sell a M4/3-to-canon adapter that allows full control of canon lenses like Sony has. Why this doesn’t exist is beyond me.


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Eugenia wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 9:30 AM PST:

I don’t hate them, don’t put words into my mouth please. However, not all frame rates or good bitrates were available originally in the Panasonic series. Sony is even worse in that regard. Nikon had other types of problems (but they have made huge strides lately on video).

And no, I won’t be selling our Canon glass, because I simply don’t own it. It belongs to my husband, who is just very happy with Canon, since he only shoots stills.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 1:35 PM PST:

I’ve done quite a bit of research on Panasonic cameras. The main advantage they have for video is the existence of hacks that allow much higher bitrates — this is especially true of the GH2.

Unfortunately, there’s no hack for the LX7. Panasonic seems to want all their video customers to go for the GH2 or GH3.

“Hate” is a strong word, but I wish these companies were less political about disabling features in their cameras. They are just denying themselves opportunities and potential customers. Were it not for the hacking community countering those foolish decisions, I don’t think the GH2 would be as popular as it is.


James wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 6:10 PM PST:

If you are ready to spend big money on Canon’s micro four thirds, perhaps Canon is not such a piece of shit after all?


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Eugenia wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 6:16 PM PST:

IT IS a piece of shit company. The removal of features is NOT fair.

But you’ll have to understand that I’m a special case. Not everybody has access to all these lenses as I do. I’m tied to Canon’s lenses, I like it or not. This is made clear above in the comments. I don’t have an option, my husband won’t have me buying different lenses for other vendors. He sees it as a major waste of money, since he has already invested in the Canon lenses for his photography.

But if I was like 99,9% of the rest of the people, who don’t have this volume of lenses, then I WOULD have jumped ship. OR, I would have just continued to use the Canon dSLRs and completely ignore their digicams.


Scott McCarthy wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 6:19 PM PST:

James, if you had read down through the comments you would of realized this was already discussed, and the M is not a micro 4/3rds camera , its mirrorless APS-C


Edgar Matias wrote on October 30th, 2012 at 9:55 PM PST:

I think it’s just a matter of time before the bitrates go back up. There is so much competition now; you just need one company to offer a reasonably priced camera that’s exceptional for video, and that may be enough to force the others to follow suit.

I think Canon was really really early in offering high bitrates — perhaps too early. I think they will regret abandoning that lead. Panasonic, in particular, has done really well by focusing on video. They may be the ones to eventually pick up where Canon left off.

In the mean time, the S100 is CHEAP right now. I may end up getting 2.


James wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 10:51 AM PST:

Eugenia we all want you to enjoy $1000 EOS M (with $200 lens adapter). Even though it is made by a piece of shit. But for the rest of us, without spouses whose Canon lenses laying all over around house, it’s time to jump ship.

When Canon removes video exposure lock from their EOS M and dSLR, do keep us posted which brand would you choose.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 3:07 PM PST:

James, she answered your question in the article…

So, what to do? Get a dSLR or micro-thirds camera that happens to have the whole nine yards when it comes to video. Or if you prefer a camcorder, get the ones that cost over $1000 that also come with the whole nine yards. Since you can’t go for a good-enough $200 P&S digicam for video, shell the cash and get something appropriate for over $1000. At least you won’t be ripped off by buying a P&S digicam for $500 and not even get the video features that were present in a $100 Canon digicam just 2 years ago! So my suggestion is, either go all in, or try to find older models, second hand.


James wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 5:14 PM PST:

Edgar, I asked why to spend $1000 bucks on a camera made by a piece of shit company. I was confused, perhaps Canon is not such a piece of shit after all, but no – Eugenia had reassured us – yes, IT IS a piece of shit. Now, when this point is crystal clear, and I wished her good luck enjoying her next $1000 camera made by a piece of shit company.

“But if I was like 99,9% of the rest of the people, who don’t have this volume of lenses, then I WOULD have jumped ship.”

I didn’t ask anything. I am just one of those 99,9% whose spouses have little or no volume of Canon’s lenses, and who are clueless what brand to jump to.


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Eugenia wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 5:24 PM PST:

James, you don’t seem to want to understand what it’s being said here. You are misunderstanding a lot of things, trying to make me look like a hypocrite. I’m not a hypocrite, I’m a realist.

The “piece of shit company” refers to their strategies about their digicams, not in their hardware process or quality of their dSLRs. It’s these questionable BUSINESS practices I have trouble with, not their dSLRs or high end camcorders.

As to which company to jump to: you don’t have to jump away from Canon if you’re using their dSLRs, or if you’re upgrading to one of these. They’re still the best in the market video-wise. A good Panasonic, Nikon or Sony dSLR would do too though. The problem is specifically with the digicams in general. That’s where my whole problem lies, because I have been a huge advocate of small digicams that do the BASICS of video well-enough. And now we’ve been strapped away from these, because of market segmentation and fears of product cannibalization.


James wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 5:47 PM PST:

Gotcha. Canon is a piece of shit as a company, yet their products are the best on the market (at least video-wise and excluding small digicams, of course). I think I got it this time.

Now I need to persuade my spouse to get good volume of Canon lenses, and spend $1000 on EOS M or dSLR, so I wouldn’t have to jump ship…


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Eugenia wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 6:00 PM PST:

Your sarcasm doesn’t work with me James. Regarding digicams, which is where the problem lies, there’s NO SHIP TO JUMP. The others are as bad. The only jump that can be made is not to another digicam manufacturer necessarily, but to dSLRs. And for dSLRs, there’s no reason to give up Canon, because they do deliver in that domain. But this does not mean that Canon does not need a good public spanking for their business practices. These removals were CALCULATED.

You are free to go to whichever dSLR manufacturer you like. I personally do not have this luxury. I don’t have the money required to move to any other dSLR manufacturer. $1000 for the T4i/M is nothing compared to what I’d need to spend to rebuild my lenses and accessories for Panasonic or Nikon, because in that case it would be “camera+lenses+accessories” instead of just “camera”. Please try to understand this before you reply in such a rude manner here.

But one thing is for sure: the digicam part of the story, which I have been an avid supporter of in this blog, is history. Canon killed it, and the rest don’t live up to the expectation. So no matter what, it’s a dSLR game from now on. No matter the manufacturer.


Edgar Matias wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 7:13 PM PST:

James, are you a Canon employee (or related to one)?

If not, why are you taking such personal offence to Eugenia’s statements?


lowlypawn wrote on October 31st, 2012 at 8:46 PM PST:

I meant the ‘hate’ comment in a tongue-and-cheek way. I just figured you were not much of a Panasonic fan simply because I can’t remember you ever talking about them even when the GH1 was all the rage. But anyway there is another option with all that canon glass laying around. Kipon makes an EF to M4/3 adapter with a built in aperture, it’s under a hundred bucks on ebay. Or Metabones makes a Canon to Sony NEX smart adapter, still no auto focus so it’s not perfect but it’s an option and it looks pretty good from what I saw on youtube. Just wondering what you think of that option?


Carl wrote on November 1st, 2012 at 5:12 PM PST:

“Regarding digicams, which is where the problem lies, there’s NO SHIP TO JUMP. The others are as bad.”

I disagree. You mentioned LX7 is “95% there” yourself. Are Canon’s digicams are “as bad”, i.e. at 95%?

Also, Eugenia, you are misleading (purposely or not) about spec of LX7.

“the AVCHD mode is *useless* for serious artistic videographers, since it’s interlaced and it’s losing half its resolution when exporting in progressive”

LX7 has AVCHD Progressive (that’s right – PROGRESSIVE), at 28Mbps, at 60p (Sensor output is 60fps).

I certainly do not dispute your view about which cameras qualifies for “serious artistic videographers”. But if your choice falls on 2-year old Canon’s P&S, same level of “serious” art can be achieved by shooting videos with a cell phone.


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Eugenia wrote on November 1st, 2012 at 5:28 PM PST:

James (or should I call you Carl now? you are the same person),

>You mentioned LX7 is “95% there” yourself. Are Canon’s digicams are “as bad”, i.e. at 95%?

It depends what you need. I prefer good bitrate and reasonable frame rates over full manual control. If you prefer manual control, AND you’re on a PAL country, then sure, the LX7 is a fine product.

>LX7 has AVCHD Progressive (that’s right – PROGRESSIVE), at 28Mbps, at 60p

Even so, as we discussed above, 28 mbps for 60p is not enough for good quality. For full 60p, I’d need seriously over 40 mbps. Besides, except for slow motion, I have no need for 60p, I need 24p and 30p at a good bitrate instead. That’s the gold standard for art (30p for only slight slow motion to 24p that is barely visible as slow, in the case of artistic videos with no audio). Also, 20 mbps at these frame rates are just not enough (again, as discussed above). In fact, scratch that. The LX7 does not do 24p at all. In fact, its 720/30p mode is at JUST 10 mbps, which is WORSE THAN WHAT MODERN CELLPHONES DO.

So there. It does full manual control on an utterly useless encoding mode. Hurrah.

>same level of “serious” art can be achieved by shooting videos with a cell phone.

As mentioned in the article itself, there are a set of features/needs that I call “basic”, which must always be met before I endorse a product. These “basic needs” ARE ENOUGH to make something artistic in a way that RIVALS expensive cameras, and they certainly don’t look like cellphone video. Full manual control and 60p (that the LX7 does as its main video features) are not among these must-have features.


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