There are few compact cameras out there that are not only easy to use but also allow you to take photos the way you envision. One of them is the PowerShot G5 X, which, with its EVF and assortment of dials, seeks to realise high operability worthy of its membership in the Canon premium compact series. In Part 2 of our interview series, we look at what the developers did in their efforts to achieve just that.
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(From left to right)
Mechanism: Takashi Yoshida, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3
Electronics: Ryuji Fukute, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3
Design: Yoshihiro Miyazawa, Design Center Products Design Div. 1
Design Chief: Kenji Ito, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3 Manager
UI: Koki Kitaya, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3
Image Quality: Atsushi Fujita, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3
Product Planning: Yoshikazu Sakagami, Image Communication Products operations ICP Group 3
The operation load was adjusted according to the envisioned operating scenes.
An abundance of dials to respond to higher level demands.
- The dials have an especially distinctive appearance, was consideration made for operation?
Design Chief (C below) Ito With the G5 X, we placed emphasis on making comfortable operations possible while looking through the viewfinder. As a result, there are a lot of rotating parts compared to other models, and we had repeated discussions about operability. To be exact, we never had as many repeated discussions with other models in the past.
Mechanism (M below) Yoshida It’s true, this is the first model where we discussed this much about operability (laughs).
C Ito In particular, we made repeated prototypes for the shape and position of the main dial on the front.
M Yoshida Yes, that's right. At first we considered a horizontal type like the existing main dial. However, when looking through the viewfinder, as we pursued what we thought was really the easiest shape and position to operate, we began to wonder if the horizontal type was the best. Then, as a result of repeatedly looking at different types, we came upon the vertical type dial with slanted sides incorporated in the shape. By deciding on this shape and position, I believe that it is an extremely easy to operate dial. And, with this position, the body size can be suppressed mechanically. As a result, this contributed to keeping the height similar to the G7 X, which is a major achievement.
C Ito In addition, there is the operation load for each dial. While thinking about the use for each one, we had many discussions about which ones we should make lighter, and which ones, heavier..
M Yoshida It was quite difficult, wasn't it? I recognized that the mode dial with the most risk of mistaken operations should be the heaviest. For example, it would be troublesome if you have the camera in a bag and the dial gets rotated by accident. On the other hand, I wanted to make the exposure compensation dial light enough to rotate with just one finger. But, it was also necessary to design it such that it is not easily operated by accident. We adjusted this delicate balance. Of the three dials, the dial that had the most discussion was the main dial. There were people who wanted it heavy, and those who wanted it light (laughs). However, in order for users to use the main dial quickly and comfortably, and not miss photo opportunities, it was designed to be the lightest dial on the G5 X.
Designed to require the least effort to turn of all the dials on the camera, so that it can be used quickly and actively.
Exposure compensation dial
Light enough to operate easily with one thumb even while looking through the viewfinder.
Designed to require the most effort to turn of all the dials on the camera, to prevent mistaken operations.
High quality operation sounds and sensations were also pursued.
A control ring that you will want to rotate actively.
- How about the control ring?
C Ito This time the operation sounds have been significantly changed. New mechanisms were incorporated to sound softer.
M Yoshida In ceremonious scenes such as weddings for example, if turning the ring makes a loud clicking sound it would not be very appropriate, so we wanted to achieve sophisticated sounds and high quality sensations reminiscent of the G series.
Product Planning (P below) Sakagami A ring that operates smoothly was an option, but there is something about a nice click feeling, and it means you can confirm by sensation that the desired setting value is locked in place.
It was my goal that users would be able to sense the change in values with their fingers as well as their ears. So, by retaining the click sensation, the result is a relaxing sophisticated sound.
Design (D below) Miyazawa As an example, the sensation is something like the sound that the bezel (a ring in the circumference) of a high quality watch makes (laughs).
M Yoshida That might be going a bit far (laughs), but it really is high quality.
D Miyazawa For the design as well, we made repeated adjustments to achieve comfortable operations. No matter what, it was necessary to position all these buttons and dials on this small body so it would be easy to use. With the grip shape for example, we made repeated detailed adjustments. In order to establish both a good grip feel and easy to turn dials, extreme adjustments in the tenths of a millimeter were made where the ridge of the grip comes in contact. The thumb grip is positioned on a slant, ensuring that exposure compensation dial is easy to turn. And, as it is on a slant, the base of your thumb is raised up. This prevents mistakenly operating the buttons located on the back surface.
UI (U below) Kitaya There really is quite an abundance of dials and buttons. And by customising the material of the controls, even greater freedom was attained. For example, when registering the AE lock function, by registering thumb AF to the AE lock button, and registering AF operations (One-shot / Servo AF) to the movie button, it is possible to position AF-related operations around the thumb, and you can enjoy shooting with pre-focus.
Taking advantage of the 1.0-type sensor and large-aperture lens, the G5 X inherits the high image quality and power of expression of the G7 X.
- What is image quality like on the G5 X?
P Sakagami On the G5 X, basically we followed the f/1.8 (W) – f/2.8 (T) 24-100mm* 4.2x lens, 1.0-type sensor, and DIGIC 6 that were highly rated on the G7 X, achieving high image quality appropriate to the G series.
* 35mm film-equivalent
Image Quality (I below) Fujita That’s right. We took special care in order to draw out the good points of a device with a 1.0-type large format sensor and lens with a bright f-value. Just as on the G7 X, design and tuning were carried out with consideration for a total balance from wide-angle to telephoto, and from the periphery to the centre, making it possible to achieve a higher level of performance.
It also handles high ISO speeds well, and background blurring is also very beautiful, so I think that this size in combination with the electronic viewfinder makes it a really easy-to-use camera.
Freedom and power of expression during Live View shooting as well.
The vari-angle LCD expands possibilities.
- Why was a vari-angle LCD instead of a tilt-type LCD included?
P Sakagami One reason we thought of is because if you can turn the LCD around and close it, when shooting with the viewfinder it makes it possible to concentrate more. This will lessen the risk of it being carelessly bumped, scuffed, or scratched when carrying the camera. Additionally, the vari-angle LCD has the advantage of supporting shooting from a variety of angles. In scenes where it is difficult to shoot while looking through the viewfinder, by using the vari-angle LCD, I think you will be able to enjoy shooting with a high level of freedom in a wider variety of scenes.
C Ito Essentially, a tilt-type monitor would have made it easier to make the body size thinner and not as wide. No matter what, with the vari-angle LCD, there is more volume. This gave the people in charge of the mechanism a hard time.
M Yoshida Yes, that's right. A plan for downsizing we had in the works for quite a while was applied here. In fact, there was talk of reusing the LCD from the G1 X, but talking with Mr. Miyazawa, he said that he felt the overall balance would be off. Mr. Miyazawa also designed the cameras such as the EOS 5D II, and with clear points of emphasis and consideration for the total balance, he really makes it look good, so he worked hard on this camera too (laughs).
D Miyazawa Thanks a lot (laughs). You had already made the interior mechanism quite a bit thinner and narrower, so I pursued a design that looks slim by shaving off as much as possible from the exterior.
M Yoshida I was able to make the outside frame quite a bit thinner, and as it is a touch panel, I think it has somewhat of a high quality LCD feel like a smartphone.
Power of expression that takes advantage of optical performance.
Shoot premium selfies that are a step ahead of the competition.
P Sakagami Going with the vari-angle screen also responds to the need for shooting selfies. In order to make shooting selfies even more fun, the selfie mode on the PowerShot N2 was included. This time we included a new feature for controlling the aperture as well. By utilising a 1.0-type sensor, it is possible to blur the background optically rather than with digital processing.
U Kitaya And operation is really not difficult at all. It was designed so you can make adjustments by moving the bar on the touch panel. Also, when in selfie mode, as we included a feature that automatically displays the UI vertically when shooting in the vertical position, shooting selfies is made easy. In addition, you can also adjust the brightness and smooth skin effect.
I Fujita Up until now the smooth skin effect only had three levels, but it was expanded to five levels this time. You can choose effects that suit your taste even better.
P Sakagami Yes, you're right. With the G5 X, I think you will be able to enjoy shooting the kind of selfies unique to a premium model.