Allen's Blog

The “Other” Competitors at the U.S. Open

Early 80s Nikon ad (scanned by Esox lucius @ MFLenses.com)

When Canon first decided to get really competitive in high-end SLR cameras and lenses, a field totally dominated by Nikon and long before the digital era, some marketing genius realized that those white barrels on long lenses would stand out both on television and to the crowds at sporting events. And that helps sell gear.

I know that there are those who maintain it’s all about the fact that white reflects, rather than absorbs, heat and that this better protects some of Canon’s lens elements.

I prefer to see it as a way to literally improve Canon’s visibility in the pro photographic marketplace. And it worked. The lenses were (and are) great, and after a while it seemed that there was a sea of white telephotos and the occasional Nikon interloper at the Super Bowl, the World Series, etc. It’s no secret or accident that Nikon did a great job of matching or beating the competition (I’m a Nikon shooter for a full 50 years), and I still find myself taking a quick survey whenever TV coverage provides a view of the still photo corral at a major event.

Canon L lenses at the 2013 US Open

That was the case during the semis of the U.S. Open this week in New York. Late in the match, there was about a ten-second cutaway when the announcers were calling attention to the fact that all photographic eyes were on Djkovic just before the victory that would put him in the finals. With always-helpful TiVo, I froze the scene and did a quick and totally unscientific lens count — at that moment, at least, the results were 7-5 in Canon’s favor. Of course, had CBS’s camera panned a bit left or right, the numbers might easily have been reversed.

The only point here is that competition is healthy on and off the court.