Interview with Developers: PowerShot G7 X Mark II (Part 3) -Design & Operations-2016-03-17 2016-03-14
The PowerShot G7 X Mark II features a variety of functions that widen the range of shooting opportunities you can capture. Its compact body, too, has been designed to encapsulate the very essence of a camera. In this part of our interview with the developers, we find out some behind-the-scenes “secrets” to this very design, which has resulted in a camera that tempts you to grab it and start shooting.
Chief of design Hideaki Yamaki: Manager ICP Development Center 3, Image Communication Products Operations
UI Seiji Ogawa: ICP R&D Center 2, Image Communication Products Operations
Mechanisms Akihiko Masuki: ICP Development Center 3, Image Communication Products Operations
Design Keita Takatani: Products Design Div. 1, Design Center
A new grip that unites your will with the camera
－Why is the camera equipped with a grip?
Takaya: Although the previous camera, the PowerShot G7 X, had a grip-less design, this time we started over from scratch. We asked ourselves questions such as ‘What is the role of the G7 X line in the expanded G series?’, ‘What is the essence of the camera?’ and ‘What is a legitimate camera style?’. The planning department and development department discussed this many times, and finally decided that a grip was necessary.
However, because the PowerShot G7 X is a compact line, we didn’t want to make the grip too big. Even so, just a surface-level grip is pointless. Keeping the weight of the camera in mind, we made many prototypes and improvements, adjusting the dimensions of protrusions on the edges and grips on the decimal level to ensure the best balance between finger rests and center of gravity.
The result is a grip that is not too large due to unprecedented efforts. Not only does this make for a camera that has excellent grip and portability, but results in a unique grip that maintains the authentic and high-end feel appropriate to a premium model.
Masuki: Many of those involved in design gathered together numerous times to try out the prototype grip and give their impressions. In addition to the grip protrusion, I also think that the rubber covering from the side of the lens barrel to the flat sections is important.
Takaya: Right. By adding rubber covering to the sections where your fingers rest, the hold on the camera is completely different. It has a comfortable fit for a grip that I think provides a feeling of stability.
Controls for quickly communicating your intentions
－What are some other details on the controls?
Takaya: The shape of the thumb grip was optimized to prevent misoperation of the exposure compensation dial. On the other hand, the width of the exposure compensation dial was made wider and placed vertically so that it is easier to operate with the pad of the thumb. Simply sliding your thumb up from the thumb grip provides stress-free, speedy exposure compensation control.
The button layout around the cross keys is optimized to prevent misoperation. The movie button and MENU button which are most easily contacted with the thumb and palm of the hand have also been flattened to prevent misoperation. This area was designed based on feedback regarding the PowerShot G7 X.
Ogawa: Another important point is how the PowerShot G7 X Mark II uses a UI much like that on EOS cameras. Although the graphics are the same as on the PowerShot G3 X, G5 X, and G9 X, the menu screen in particular will be familiar to EOS users because it has the same easy-to-use UI.
PowerShot G7 X Mark II menu screen
PowerShot G7 X menu screen
A control ring with selectable control feel
－It looks like the control feel of the Control Ring can be switched.
Yamaki: Yes, it can. The lever to the side of the lens barrel can be used to freely switch between the step ring which provides a solid feel of changing numerical values and the smooth, fine adjustments of the continuous ring. Because it can be operated with the left hand, intuitive switching is possible while holding the camera.
Masuki: This results from contrasting user preferences. Adding a switching lever is a significant advantage in freedom of usage, because users can switch between control types depending on the scene.
Ogawa: Indeed. For example, the step ring can be used for changing parameters with stops, such as the shutter speed and ISO speed. You can then switch to the continuous ring for changing parameters without stops, such as manual focus. These options allow you to control the camera in a more intuitive way.
The newly designed seamless zoom can also be assigned to the control ring. Of course the step zoom and zoom lever operations are available, however, the seamless zoom provides more fine-tuned control over angle of view. Because it is possible to assign the seamless zoom even in Auto mode, etc.*, I believe users can experience the fun of casually assigning different shooting functions to the Control Ring.
* Parts of Auto, Plus Movie, and SCN mode in addition to C, M, Av, Tv, and P modes
Ogawa: Although on the PowerShot G7 X, settings could only be changed using touch operations while recording movies, on the PowerShot G7 X Mark II, parameters can now be changed using the continuous ring.
Yamaki: Assigning functions not only to touch, but to manual controls such as the ring while shooting provides the fun of controlling a gadget and shooting with a camera. Be sure to learn how to use the ring and dials well to capture beautiful photos and experience the essence of the camera.
A “Timeless Design” that captures the camera’s essence and authenticity
(from left) PowerShot G7 X, PowerShot G7 X Mark II
－It looks like the design has changed a lot from the PowerShot G7 X.
Takaya: Since the release of the PowerShot G3 X, G5 X, and G9 X last year, we have aimed for a more refined and authentic camera design in the G series with the Timeless concept. Because we have carried on with this concept on the PowerShot G7 X Mark II, I believe a more camera-like, bold, straight line design has been achieved.
Canon pursues an orthodox design that incorporates the essence of the camera. However, this does not mean that we are tied down to old-fashioned styles of the past. We actively strive to incorporate new elements. We do our best to achieve a design that is a fusion of classical and modern elements.
Although it may seem simple and conservative at a glance, we have focused on incorporating the finest of details, from the G-series trademark red line, to the cut lines on the edged top cover, spin-cut finish, and laser engraved text.
Manufacturing power with a good balance between size and performance
－What kind of efforts went into making the camera compact?
Masuki: In addition to the traditional 180° upward axis for the LCD, a new downward 45° tilting axis mechanism was added, making it necessary to cancel out the thickness of the added parts. This size was achieved by reworking and optimizing each and every part, and gradually filling in the dead space.
However, this aggressive design raised the difficulty of the manufacturing process to a new level. We studied mass production possibilities at the factory in Nagasaki while making adjustments during the design stage.
Recent premium models, including compact digital cameras, require an extremely high level of manufacturing precision. To clear this hurdle, Canon has efficiently adopted automation systems to prevent inconsistencies and errors during manufacturing.
Of course, complex tasks are still faster and more accurate when skilled workers are involved. We were able to succeed in mass production through a combination of this automation and skilled technician work.
Takaya: I personally made a considerable amount of impossible requests.(laughs)
Masuki: At first we put the Step/Continuous selection lever away from the lens barrel on the front of the camera body, however, we were told that this was clumsy (laughs) so we did our best, and were able to move it near the side of the lens. In the end, having the switching lever and control ring close together means that your finger doesn’t need to move as much, making controls easier.
Takaya: I believe the entire design is appropriate to the face of the new G series, making it something that will be cherished for a long time.