Like many others, I too have been waiting for quite a while for Canon to release its mirrorless system. There are speculations and indications that they may very well do so this year, but I personally grew a bit restless. Because of this, I decided to put to paper, or rather to CAD and rendering software, my vision of such camera. After about a month of learning, debating, modeling and rendering, the Canon AE-D came to life.
Actually, this camera represents more of a fantasy rather than vision. Personally, I don’t actually see Canon going this route since it will probably be quite expensive. While pros and enthusiasts may welcome it, the bulk of the profit is in the sub 1K vicinity. Nonetheless, there is a market for such a system and that is something that I constantly kept in mind while working on the project. I wanted to conceive and design a product that could find its roots in reality. Both product/marketing wise and technical wise.
The design is inspired by the classic AE and AE-P which are two of my favorite Canon cameras ever. Simple, iconic, timeless. I couldn’t think of a better basis for a modern mirrorless system.
Some of the main features and the reasoning behind them are:
Full Frame – Might as well be the pinnacle of 35mm. Especially if a new lens mount is required. Future proof.
18.1MP sensor from the 1DX – This camera will not rob sales from the 1DX on form factor alone so it makes sense to use an existing sensor instead of a new one. Plus, it will make an excellent pair to someone with an 1DX.
CM-D Lens mount – That was the source of most headaches for me. Naturally, I wanted to design it around the EF mount for reasons that I don’t need to state but it proved to be very problematic. Both the flange depth and actual mount diameter meant that the camera needed to be much thicker and possibly taller to accommodate EF lenses. So this “CM-D” lens mount is roughly FD sized which keeps the dimensions close to the original and enables lenses that are not too huge.
50mm f/1.0L “Kit Lens” – Fast primes. What can I say? I love them and they probably the best match to a system as I outlined above. So their existence is no less realistic that all the other items here. While I am far from being an optics expert, I designed this 50mm lens based on a combination of schematics of the Canon 50mm f/1L. FD f/1.2L and Leica f/0.95 so it should be a realistic representation of the dimensions of such a lens. It also features an aperture ring for direct control as well as an Auto mode for shutter priority or auto mode.
Viewfinder – Design wise, I knew from the start that I wanted to incorporate the prism hump of the AE cameras. It is a prominent feature that without it, the context of the design gets somewhat lost. At the same time, it is obviously not a technical requirement in mirrorless cameras so making it detachable while housing the EVF felt like the the optimal combination of form and function. After all, if this is a camera for photographers, a viewfinder, even if electronic, is a must.
Flash + Flash + Flash – I regard flashes as an integral, must have feature of any system and I didn’t want to handicap its use in any form. Not when taking snapshots with the built-in one and not when the viewfinder is either attched or not.
As for the future, I see myself designing a second camera in the line. Something more pocketable with more pancakey lens. Something that will also possibly more in line with what Canon will offer us themselves in the future.
A few more images at: http://davidriesenberg.com/archives/262