Canon's robotic arm gives better remote control for pro sports photographers

Canon's motorized pan/tilt head
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon has announced today that it is working on a robotic pan/tilt support that is designed to be used by professional sports photographers using DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. 

The motorized head looks similar in design to the PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras that are used for CCTV and in broadcast studios - except that here the photographer uses his or her own EOS camera and lens to get the shot. 

Professional sports photographers frequently use multiple cameras at big sporting events (such as the Super Bowl, or an Olympics track final) – but with a fixed position that must be set up in advance of the event. This motorized options gives the photographer the ability to change camera angle whilst the action unfolds. 

Canon's motorized pan/tilt head

(Image credit: Canon)

The solution currently under development, Canon tells us,  is based on a centered system in which the camera's optical axis is perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the unit, providing a similar shooting experience as is usual with traditional camera handling. The picture of the prototype clearly shows the device in use with a Canon telelphoto zoom. 

The unit can also be mounted horizontally (on a tripod say, or suspended from a gantry), or mounted vertically on a wall (such as on stand scaffolding).

The motorized head could also be used for video use – giving a second camera that could be used for TV production or vlogging.

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon is working on an accompanying remote control application that allows the photographer to control multiple cameras in the way, and download the images to their laptop.

We do not know when this device will come to market, but with the Olympics in Tokyo less than a year away, and with camera rumors of the Canon EOS-1 D X Mark III and Canon EOS Rx professional sports cameras in development, it could be an exciting 2020 for Canon action shooters.

Read more:
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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.