Stick or twist: are Canon's dials about to become clickable?

canon camera dials
(Image credit: Canon)

Have you ever wished that the dials on your camera did more than just twist and turn? Well, this could be a potential turning point for how we use our kit.

Canon might make some of the best cameras around, but it is forever tweaking the control schemes on its bodies. From the much-maligned touch bar on the original Canon EOS R to the odd thumb stick and wheel combo on the recent Canon EOS R7 camera, the manufacturer has shown that it is not afraid to innovate, even if things don't always pan out.

New patents have been uncovered by Canon Watch showing that the company has some big ideas for its camera dials, with them not only performing their current duties of turning left and right but also offering a "click" function.

Canon's patent talks at length about how its design will prevent "erroneous operation during a rotary operation", which in layman's terms means that it won't be possible to click it accidentally while turning the dial. 

Whether this is ever going to be possible in practice remains to be seen, with accidental clicks potentially being devastating in shooting situations such as sports and wildlife where fleeting moments are gone in an instant.

Patent drawing for Canon's 'clickable' dial concept (Image credit: Canon Watch)

Canon is the only company to be placed in the top 5 US patent applicants for 37 consecutive years, so it's fair to say that it has a lot of ideas that it throws around. This patent is more of a general overview of an idea than a detailed account of how it might be put into practice, and we may never see it actually put to use in a consumer product.

Canon cameras have always had some of the best ergonomics around, and this has won the brand legions of fans – having just overtaken Sony to regain the crown in mirrorless camera sales in Japan. This patent feels a little like innovation for innovation's sake, with this not being a feature that many (if any) users are really crying out for.

Canon is risking a lot playing around with the functionality of its cameras, and potentially confusing new and old users alike. This is especially important for professionals who have spent years mastering a control system to the point where it is subconscious, and they just want to be able to pick up a Canon camera and immediately begin shooting.

While we welcome companies making it easier than ever to use their cameras, sometimes, the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" might be sound advice.

Read the latest Canon rumors in our camera rumors hub. You can also learn more in our guides to the best Canon cameras, as well as the best Canon lenses and the best Canon RF lenses for the EOS R system.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.