With cameras increasingly in pockets, Canon continues to aim for the high ground with ‘Change your lens, change your story’

With the rise of smartphone photography, it’s tough out there for most camera manufacturers. The experienced and enthusiast photography market is the logical place for them to play and Canon is doing just that in a new campaign to show off its lenses and the difference they can make to telling a story. 

Called ‘Change your Lens, Change your Story’, which has also been running in Australia, the short film was shot by director Tim Parsons of Exposure Films and supports a competition to win a Canon prize package, including a day shooting with Graeme Murray, one of your photos published in NZ Geographic, plus $2000 worth of Canon Dollars to upgrade your lenses. 

The six-minute film follows professional photographer Graeme Murray and pro-snowboarder and entry level photographer Leon Thomason as he is taught about how different lenses give the same scene a completely different look and feel.

Canon consumer marketing manager Rochelle Mora says: “We sent Graeme and Leon to two amazing locations, the North King Country Motorcycle Club and Castle Rock, and captured the whole experience as they explore how a different lens can transform what you capture. Changing a lens is such an affordable way for any photographer to gain inspiration and be more creative with their photography. We want to inspire people to achieve more than they thought they could with their cameras and lenses, and this campaign aims to demonstrate the incredible results that are possible,” she says.

The film shows how images of high speed action shots of ex-world champion motor cross rider Ben Townley differ when using a sports lens or a landscape lens. Similarly, rock climber Maria Martinus is shot climbing Castle Rock with a portrait lens, revealing Maria in the spectacular surroundings, while a macro lens captures fine details down to minute speckles of chalk dust. The shots also feature in print advertising. 

Bcg2’s creative director James Blackwood is a keen photographer and came second in the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the year competition in 2009. And creative director Robin Powell says: “This has been an incredibly inspiring project to be involved. The response and feedback from photographers has been brilliant. So far the views achieved on Canon’s website have exceeded their original target by 1,000 percent and the work has won the attention of other regional Canon offices.”

The Canon competition that the short film supports closes on 2 August.

Given that Canon is a brand that sells cameras designed to take stunning photos, it comes as no surprise that its ads benefit from the imagery spawned from its products (GoPro’s marketing strategy is based around this idea as well). In a US campaign for the brand released last year, Canon called for owners to “bring it”, sending in their best images which Canon featured on a microsite. It was designed to enlighten consumers to a new perspective of telling better stories with higher quality images and video. Participants were also encouraged to use the hashtag #bringit whenever they uploaded their creative HD videos and still images on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Canon is big on inspiring creativity (even if it getting the shot is potentially hazardous), as evidenced by its Emmy award-winning ad, and it’s also big on improving photography skills, which it attempted to do through a campaign that involved urban deer and mad Italians

Nikon took a similar approach to Canon’s ‘Change your Lens’ campaign when it released its latest Nikon 83x Mega Zoom Camera. Like Canon, the brand made use of a sport to show off the capacity of its new model, in this case, surfing as well as rock climbing. A short video shows Nikon’s new model zooming in from afar on surfers out catching waves, a woman’s hands as she climbs as well as some stills from nature. The video is intercut with shots of the camera where text appears on the screen detailing the features.

Nikon gained quite a bit of attention with another commercial called ‘I am a Generation’ which documents gay dads from Atlanta, Georgia, Kordale and Kaleb going about their daily lives with their three children. The family gained internet fame when the couple posted a snap to Instagram of them brushing their children’s hair in the morning and getting them ready for school.

With more and more people owning smartphones these days, the camera industry is under pressure. According to The Buffalo News, global shipments of digital cameras have fallen 30 percent in 2014 according to Christopher Chute, research director of worldwide digital imaging at IDC, a market intelligence firm.

“It’s especially shocking because this was a market that until recently was growing by double digits,” he said. “This is the beginning of the collapse for cameras.”

According to the article nearly 60 percent of US homes now have a smartphone compared with the 70 percent of homes that own more than one camera

“But while digital camera sales fell by nearly a third this year [2014], smartphone sales are expected to rise more than 32 percent.”

The article also points out that camera manufacturers such as Canon and Nikon’s stocks have lost more than half their value since the iPhone was introduced in 2007, and that the brands are trying to compensate with aggressive markdowns.

Apple is also backing the quality of its cameras with its ‘Shot on IPhone 6’ campaign. As well as its World Gallery, it has rolled out a campaign involving “77 photographers, 70 cities and 24 countries”, including New Zealand, that puts some of those shots on billboards, in print ads and online.

Samsung has also placed an emphasis on camera quality with its new models, the Samsung S6 and the Samsung S6 Edge which have a 16PM front camera and a 5MP front camera, and the quality of these cameras will only get better with time. So, increasingly, that only leaves the high ground for brands like Canon. 

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