Snap Happy

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Oita, Travel Volunteer Journey | 6 Comments
Snap Happy

The name does not, as I have believed for so very long, have anything to do with loud artillery. This makes every explosive noise I’ve ever made while taking a photograph kind of redundant. Of course, Katy always knew better, although she didn’t know that the brand Canon actually comes from the Buddhist god of mercy. Nope, it took going to one of Canon’s flagship offices in Oita prefecture this morning to find that out.

When applying for the Travel Volunteer Project, we were asked to say what our dream in Japan would be. Katy wrote simply: to visit a Canon factory. Today, thanks to our brilliant team of coordinators in Kanazawa, that actually happened.

I doubt it’d have been on any other applicant’s list, but then few people are so fiercely brand loyal as Katy. It’s the parents fault as they say, she learned to love photography from her grandmother, who gave Katy her old Kodak Brownie, but the real schooling came from her father (pictured below on a photography holiday in Scotland) a dedicated Canon user and a fabulously talented photographer.  Her first camera (on loan from her dad) was a Canon T70 at the age of 10. From there it was an EOS 300, then the EOS 3, and then, having learned on the photographic equivalent of a Penny-Farthing, she transferred to the mighty Canon 5D, which – an incredible seven years later – is the one she still uses today. It’s been used in over 40 countries across six continents; it’s gone from -30C in Canada, to +45C in Dubai; and it’s been used for the vast majority of the images you’ve seen on the blog. Save for one quick repair while we were in Miyagi prefecture, it’s been a soldier on the road (the less said about my cheaper-but-not-that-cheap 550d, the better).

Canon was founded in 1933 under the name Precision Optical Instruments and has gone on to become a $45 billion a year global corporation. It all started with cameras (the very first one is proudly on display in the Oita factory) but these days that only makes up 25% of the total business. It remains, by far, the part we are most interested in.

All of Canon’s high-end cameras are made on Kyushu, and the plant in Oita is responsible for some of the very best. As you might imagine, producing something like their upcoming 1Dx is a tricky business: it will be able to shoot 12, 18 megapixel shots per second; will be capable of shooting Hollywood-quality movies; and can probably do your laundry if you programme it properly. The polishing of the glass is a marvel in itself: if the lens was expanded to the size of the Tokyo Dome, the imperfections would be narrower than the width of a business card.

It’s done by man and machine together, combining over a hundred individual parts in the body alone, before going onto some rigorous testing. As we saw the list it passes through for quality assurance, Katy realised that over the last couple of years, she’s performed all of these tests out in the real world exposing it to heat, cold and taking tens of thousands of exposures. She’s stopped short of the drop-test, though – no, no, she loves it far too much for that.


Your homework ahead of reading the next blog is to watch this.



トラベルボランティアに応募した他の人が全く同じ夢を書いたとは思いにくいが、でも世の中にはケイティのように特定にブランドを心から愛している人がいるものだ。ケイティが写真に興味を持ったのは、彼女がお婆ちゃんから古いコダック・ブラウニーをもらったことが始まりだった。そしてキヤノンの大ファンで、また才能あるカメラマンでもあるケイティのお父さんから受け継がれ、学び現在に至るのだ。(下の写真はスコットランドでキヤノンのカメラで撮影されたもの)ケイティが最初にカメラを手にしたのは10歳の時で、それはお父さんから譲り受けた“キヤノンT70”だった。そして“EOS 300”、“EOS 3”で写真の腕をあげ、“キヤノン5D”に行きつくのだ。それは7年経った今も大切に使われており、6大陸・40ヶ国以上、カナダでのマイナス30度の世界から、ドバイの45度の世界まで、とにかく常に大活躍してくれている。もちろんこのブログで皆さんが目にしている写真のほとんどはそのカメラで撮られたものだ。宮城県で一度調子を崩した以外は、連日の激務にも耐えてくれている。


キヤノンの高級カメラは九州で作られており、大分工場はその中でも最高レベルのものを作っている。皆さんも想像できるように、1Dxレベルのレンズを作るというのはとんでもないことなのだ。それは毎秒12 / 18メガピクセルの写真を撮影し、ハリウッドの映画並みの撮影も可能にする。前もって設定しておけば洗濯もしてくれるかもしれない・・・。そしてレンズを磨くことがまた驚くべき技術なのだ。もしレンズが東京ドームぐらいの大きさに拡張されたとすると、その不備は名刺の幅以下なのだ。



  1. Lesley
    December 8, 2011

    Homework done!

  2. Arti
    December 8, 2011

    Hey Travel Volunteer,

    Interesting the comment you publish in your post, people will get a nice information here in your blog, and have a good perspective and imparcial point of view and have great pictures. Keep going.. Like It, good luck



  3. Eunice
    December 9, 2011

    I did my homework, I’m sooo excited!! And that is a very memorable ep, too.

  4. Kumiko
    December 9, 2011

    Did you catch up the train after that?
    I hope you were not left in the cold Tsurusaki station.
    Enjoy the rest of two weeks with canon !!

    • Katy & Jamie
      December 9, 2011

      Hi Kumiko, Yes we did and thank you so much for all your help in the morning!

  5. Kim
    December 11, 2011

    I’m so glad Katy got what she asked for! It must have been a real treat to be able to see inside how her most famous cameras are made! A passionate photographers dream, really!

    You should put some shots up of Japan for sale when you get home, I’m sure they will be bought worldwide as they are beautiful!

    I see it’s getting a lot colder in Japan now, I hope you’re both wrapped up warm! I bet the onsens sound like Heaven about now :P