Unexpected impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake
The EOS-1D X is a "monster machine" among digital SLR cameras. What factors do you think led to the success of the development?
Setting extremely high goals and not settling for compromise as we set out to achieve them. I think this tradition of development was the primary reason behind our success.
All of the members of the development team clearly had a sense of mission to overcome some very high hurdles.
This sense of mission, or passion, may have been more like an obsession (laughs). It's easy to lower a target, but I think not doing that is just the way Canon does things.
Was there anything else that was made possible through Canon's strengths?
The accumulation of technology through the in-house production of not only optical technology, such as lenses, but also such key parts as sensors and image processors, obviously worked in our favor, but on top of that, the collaborative strength between various technology fields also provided benefits during development.
I feel the same way. Every time we faced an issue, the team leaders immediately got together to consider how to address it. The leaders are all professionals in their respective fields, so I think the effectiveness of such collaboration was fully brought out.
The accumulation of technology from those that preceded us and the sense of unity that they have passed down to us are what support Canon today.
Since it occurred when you were in the final stages, did the Great East Japan Earthquake have a significant impact on development?
It did have an effect. We were at a loss because we didn't know when the prototype components would be delivered. You can't skip testing with prototypes.
The electrical components in particular were affected. We had made quite a few requests with part manufacturers that had factories in the Tohoku region. Nevertheless, we managed to absorb most of the delay in the schedule. That was thanks to the efforts of the parts manufacturers.
Even a monster machine like this is a stepping stone for the next one
Is that so? That must've created quite a headache for you. The release date for the EOS-1D X, however, had already been decided. How do you think such a monumental product will be received by the market?
Of course, more than anything else, we hope the EOS-1D X will fill the ranks of sports photographers.
Of course that would be great, but we would like to earn high marks among the discerning eyes of professional photographers. Nothing would make me happier than having a pro use the camera in a way we hadn't anticipated and say, "I was able to take a photo like this!" or, "I couldn't have taken this shot with any other camera!"
Area of development: Electrical circuits
To put it briefly, I want it to be the best, and continue to be considered the only professional model, until Canon releases the next "ultra-monster camera.
I feel the same way. However, rival manufacturers won't just sit idly by, and even with a product like this, it's clear that we must view it as a stepping stone to the future and work to improve upon it.
Even if well received in the market, we mustn't stop evolving. I think our mission will remain the same: to find ways to upgrade the performance, functionality and usability required by professionals.
So, evolution not for the sake of technology, but for the user. Thank you all for your time today.
The challenge of simultaneously boosting sensitivity and image quality while providing high-speed continuous shooting ... although the developers of the EOS-1D X winced when first faced with this challenge, they achieved their goals by persevering in their efforts without compromise. While the various hardships they faced were, of course, different in each field of technology, the energy and passion dedicated to the project was undoubtedly the same. This interview provided us with glimpses of the unity and collaboration the various members of the development team shared.