Canon is the largest camera manufacturer in the world, but little do we really know about the historic Japanese company. Here are 15 interesting facts you didn’t know about it.
Number Fifteen: It’s Named After a Goddess
Founded in 1933 as “Precision Optical Industry Co. Ltd”, the company soon produced its first camera prototype, the Kwannon, which owes its name to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Optical Industry decided to coin a simpler transliteration of the Japanese name as their new business name.
Number Fourteen: Its First Logo Was a Picture of the Goddess
Directly co-related to its Buddhist name, Canon’s first logo featured an image of Kwannon, which was engraved on the top plate. The Goddess of Mercy was supposed to have 11 faces and 1,000 hands. In Canon’s rendition, Kwannon has 16 arms and it’s sitting on a lotus flower.
Number Thirteen: It Started as a Leica Copy
The company was established by a movie camera repairman, who wanted to introduce European-style cameras into Japan. Leica, the leading camera manufacturer at the time, was his biggest inspiration. Allegedly, he tore a Leica camera apart and was baffled by what he saw: “I was surprised that when these inexpensive materials were put together into a camera, it demanded an exorbitant price. This made me angry’.
Number Twelve: It’s an Eco-Friendly Compay
In 2007, Canon was top of the list of most climate-friendly companies in the world. Canon Group executives pride themselves in creating products which feature eco-friendly technologies that have a reduced environmental impact.
Number Eleven: Cameras Aren’t their Biggest Source of Revenue
Canon works with a variety of products, from cameras to calculators. It’s the business machines segment of the company that brings the most profit to the company, not the cameras. In 2007, office equipment (such as copiers, printers and scanners) accounted for 65% of the brand’s total revenue. The cameras segment, on the other hand, generated only 26% for that year’s earnings.
Number Ten: It’s the #73 Most Valuable Brand
According to Forbes, Canon’s $49.8 million network comes 73rd on the list of the world’s top 100 most valuable brands. Apple and Microsoft are on the first and second position respectively. Its main competitor, Nikon, doesn’t appear on the list.
Number Nine: Canon and Nikon Weren’t Always Rivals
Nikon was founded two decades before its opponent jumped into the photographic scene, but they only produced optical lenses. Canon’s first production model, the Hansa Canon, included Nikon’s Nikkor lens; it was a perfect combination of Nikon’s impeccable lens, and Canon’s state-of-the-art body. Canon continued to use Nikkor lenses until 1948.
Number Eight: It’s the Most Popular DSLR on Flickr
Analytics provided by photographic website Flickr show that Canon was the most used camera among SLR users on the website in 2015. Nikon and Sony fall far behind Canon on the chart, while Apple takes the first position on the overall graph, which includes point-and-shoot, mobile phones and all other types of cameras.
Number Seven: It Established a Charity Foundation
Canon’s Care Scheme aims to support charitable events, organizations or individuals in need of financial support. The foundation accepts requests from educational, environmental, humanitarian and cultural areas, although in the UK and Ireland only.
Number Six: Smartphones Are Threatening the Business
Canon lowered its revenue forecast for 2014, as demand dramatically slowed for digital cameras. Smartphones are behind this drop in camera sales, as built-in cell phone cameras keep increasing in quality. Myojo Asset Management Co’s chief executive explained that “Canon was too aggressive with their SLR sales forecast. People who want them already bought them.”
Number Five: They’ll Teach You How to Shoot
Canon holds a variety of workshops that aim at helping users acquire a better understanding of how their camera works. Workshops, which are usually one or two days long, range from creative photography to video shooting. A full list of the courses offered can be found here.
Number Four: They’ve Had Over 200 Digital Cameras on the Market
The company has released almost 300 digital cameras since the technology was first introduced in the late 20th century. Every Canon camera released, both film and digital, can be seen on Canon’s virtual camera museum.
Number Three: It Manufactures Medical Equipment
Canon produces medical machinery in radiology, medical imaging and, most importantly, eye care. After all, cameras imitate the workings of the human eye.
Number Two: Canon and HP Form a Power Alliance
Technologic titans Canon and Hewlett-Packard first teamed up in 1985. Their collaboration, which still lasts to this day, works as follows: Canon produces all the laser technology used in printers, which is then marketed under HP’s brand. Approximately one fifth of Canon’s revenue is a result of this partnership.
Number One: It Was Close to Shutting Down After World War II
The famous Japanese company barely made it through the war. After a partial loss of one of their laboratories and an extreme shortage in materials, Canon was close to putting an end to their photographic endeavors. However, they managed to stay afloat by reusing pieces from older models which they installed in new cameras. Their post-war goal was to “catch-up with, and surpass the Leica”, which they eventually did. Their determination saved the business.