Christmas is coming again and I'm hopeful that I remain on your "Nice" list.
After having reasonable success with my previous What I Want From Canon for Christmas lists, I decided to add a few more items this year. I present below my Christmas wish list for 2014 and will include the 2013 items that were somehow overlooked. I understand that technology development takes time and do not mind you taking the entire year of 2015 to grant these wishes.
Auto Focus Stacking
Sometimes a camera is not able to keep everything in the frame in sharp focus due to depth of field limitations. The lens may not have an aperture narrow enough to do this and the photographer may not want to use the narrowest apertures available to avoid the effects of diffraction. A common technique used to capture extreme depth of field is focus stacking. Multiple images are captured with the plane of sharp focus being adjusted from close to far (or vice versa) during the sequence.
While this technique can work well, it is at least mildly complicated to execute. I would like you to provide an auto focus stacking function that lets me focus on the closest part of the subject, register that focus distance and then focus on the most-distant part of the subject and register that focus distance. The tripod-mounted camera would then determine the number of pictures necessary for the proper focus stacking based on the DOF-determining parameters including the aperture currently selected. Really nice would be for the camera to understand and take into account for the in-use lens' focus breathing (if it has such).
Quick Detachable Neck Straps
Camera neck straps are very useful most of the time. But, sometimes straps become a liability (catching on things, getting in my eye, etc.) and I would like to remove them. Such times include when using the camera on a tripod or monopod. Or, for when using a big lens with its own neck strap.
Yes, all current straps are removable, but the standard Canon straps take too much time to unthread and then rethread for reinstallation. Some third party companies offer types of quick release systems, but all leave something hanging from/attached to the camera.
What I request is a camera version of what the sporting arms industry refers to as a flush mount push-button quick detach universal sling mount. In all magnesium alloy-framed camera models (at least), a tubular insert should be provided where the current neck strap holders are located. Inside that female insert will be a circular groove. A male adapter will be designed to fit into the insert when a button is pressed to allow its ball bearings to retract into the sides of the adapter. In place and push button released, the adapter will spin freely (for easy neck strap untwisting) with the bearings riding in the insert's groove, but will not release unless the photographer intends to release it (allow no accidental release).
A neck strap will be attached to the male adapter. I will be able to quickly remove or attach any of my straps to any of my cameras. Another huge benefit is that this setup will allow third parties to attach their own neck strap variants without cannibalizing my camera's tripod insert.
Arca-Swiss Compatibility Tripod Mount Rings for All
Every time I get a telephoto lens with a tripod mount ring, I add a lens plate to make it compatible with my Arca-Swiss-compatible support and flash gear. It seems like a simple process to simply machine the bottom of the tripod mount foot to add this compatibility during production.
The Arca-Swiss system is very popular (and great to use), so many of us would be well-served by the addition of this feature. Those not using this system would be little-inconvenienced and the additional production cost would be minor.
Canon, I'll roll up my unfulfilled 2013 wish list line items here, just so you can keep everything in one place.
I Want a Sharp Mode
I'll start my list with my biggest and most-complicated wish first. I want a new camera mode. Your marketing wizards will likely think of a good name for it, but I'll get you started: It can be called "Sharp Mode", "Pro Action" Mode, "Stop-the-Action Mode", "Bryan's Mode", etc.
Via this mode selection, I want to tell the camera to automatically select the slowest shutter speed that will deliver no subject or camera motion blur in my image. The camera will utilize the viewfinder imaging sensor to determine a subject's rate of motion across the frame (caused by either camera shake or subject motion). Based on this intelligence, the camera can instantaneously determine the slowest shutter speed necessary to capture a sharp image.
By using the slowest shutter speed necessary, the lowest ISO setting possible can be used – resulting in the lowest noise possible in an image. And of course, there would be no motion blur in the result.
I will always want to set the aperture manually in this mode. For overall image brightness, there should be manual and auto exposure options. In manual mode, the image brightness will remain as I set it. The ISO will always be Auto and the camera will use the lowest ISO setting possible to deliver proper image brightness. In auto mode, the camera will determine how bright the image should be (with exposure compensation available). In manual mode, the camera will maintain the brightness I set (with offsetting adjustments to brightness parameters). Once ISO 100 is reached in any mode, the shutter speed should not be further shortened – a too fast shutter speed is rarely an issue when stopping all motion is a priority.
This mode will work with or without image stabilization enabled. A menu option will allow me to adjust the sensitivity of the camera's motion detection – to tune the setting as desired.
A significant benefit from this mode will be the assurance of sharp results at the lowest ISO setting possible. Reduced noise will be the benefit of not having to shoot at insurance-level, faster than necessary shutter speeds.
Here is an example of how I would use this mode:
I am shooting a soccer match on a very cloudy day. I am shooting with a wide open aperture (say f/4) and using a 1/1600 shutter speed to insure that most action is stopped. This exposure requires an ISO setting of 3200 for correct brightness – high enough that noise is very noticeable in the images. But, not every shot captured at this match needs a 1/1600 sec exposure to stop the action. A ball carrier that has momentarily stopped, a portrait captured immediately after a big play, the keeper on the ground with the ball safely in his/her hands. These shots can safely be captured at far longer exposures with lower ISO settings that deliver higher image quality.
With Sharp mode selected, the camera can instantly and automatically shift-down the ISO setting to give me a higher quality, but still sharp, image. Some shots such as a hard kick captured at a close distance might need an even faster shutter speed than my 1/1600 and this mode would instantly adjust for this.
I am high up on a mountain shooting handheld. It is mid-day under a partly cloudy sky and I am shooting landscapes with a circular polarizer filter installed. Since parts of the scenery are always under a full sun, I know the exposure I need. And I want an f/11 aperture. The big differentiator in determining the shutter speed necessary for sharp images is the strong gusting wind. Sharp mode can determine how much camera shake is showing in the viewfinder, even with the image stabilized lens I'm using, and can determine the shutter speed necessary to stop that shake – the instant the picture is taken. When the wind stops, I can possibly shoot at 1/10 sec or longer, but during gusts, I might need 1/80 or even higher. The camera can simply boost the ISO setting to give me always-sharp images.
Adding this capability (even to the fully-auto green square+ mode) would be a huge benefit – especially for beginners. This would be a game-changing feature that would sell a huge number of cameras.
I discussed Sharp mode with Chuck Westfall (Canon USA) at the PhotoPlus Expo in 2013. I don't expect to see a firmware update bringing this feature to us, but I do hope that Canon will include this feature in new DSLR camera models.
Tv Settings Longer than 30 Seconds
Why is 30 seconds the longest exposure allowed in-camera? There are plenty of uses for longer exposures and I am not aware of any limitation to today's cameras taking exposures much longer than this. I want Tv settings up to (at least) 5 minutes to be available in 1/3 stop settings in-camera. Allow a menu option for limits to be set shorter than this (those who do not need anything close to 30 seconds will also be accommodated).
Ultra-High Resolution Canon EOS-1Ds X DSLR
Simply take the current Canon EOS-1D X (or the Canon EOS 5D Mark III) and drop a 40MP (or similar) sensor into it. I'd rather give nothing up to gain this resolution, but ... you can take 1 fps if you need to. :)
Ultra-High Resolution Via Multiple Shots
Taking the ultra-high resolution DSLR camera wish one step further, I want Canon to utilize multiple images to composite a much higher resolution image and/or higher quality image. There are multiple ways to accomplish this goal, but adding a very tiny imaging sensor shift in the X and Y axis between each shot is a possible method. Limitations would be similar to those encountered with HDR photography including motionless subjects needed. I made this request to Chuck in person, so at least he is thinking about this one.
Effective ISO 7.25, 12.5 and 25
I no longer want to buy or carry neutral density filters in multiple densities and multiple thread sizes. Please figure out how to give me lower ISO settings with no loss of dynamic range. Throw away some photons or something.
And while you are working on this request, can you give me digital graduated ND filter capabilities in-camera? Allow me to use the touch-enabled LCD to show the camera the area of the frame that is to be made darker. Allow me to set the gradient shape, size, softness and density.
Can you also give me a built-in circular polarizer filter?
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens
Canon has recently given us a pair of great 24-70 L lenses, but I still would like an f/2.8 IS version. Basically, add a 4-stop image stabilizer to the current Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens and I would be a very happy camper. In addition to giving us an awesome lens, Canon would give those of us trying to decide between (or trying help others decide between) the 24-70 L II and the 24-70 f/4L IS or 24-105 f/4L IS a huge time savings. I asked for this lens a long time ago - and will keep asking until I get it or something better. If Tamron can make this product, I'm certain that Canon can.
Canon EF 500mm f/5.6L IS USM Lens
I would like to see a great bird and wildlife photography lens that is both smaller and much more affordable than the current supertelephoto lenses, but I am of course not willing to accept less than perfection from the image quality. The gap between the 100-400 L & 400mm f/5.6L lenses and the big white guns leaves a room for such a lens.
Canon Lens Hoods for All
I want the proper lens hood to come with all Canon lenses I purchase – not just L lenses. I don't need "flocking" – matt plastic inside the hood will be fine (and easier to clean).
Thanks Canon! Can't wait for my wishes to be fulfilled!
What do you want from Canon for Christmas?