Canon will be giving away ten of the limited edition digital ELPHs in a customer sweepstakes later this fall. The company will also auction off five bejeweled cameras in Las Vegas in early 2007 to benefit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Digital ELPHs that have received the jeweled treatment are the Powershot SD40 and Powershot SD900. The cameras were customized with Swarovski crystals by a company called NYC Peach and are valued at approximately $1,000 apiece.
The custom models were unveiled at a special event at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City yesterday that included an exhibition of all 50 ELPHs Canon has had in its line since the product was launched in the U.S. in 1996. On hand to wish the ELPH a “happy 10th birthday” was the model’s original designer Yasushi Shiotani.
The original Canon ELPH APS film camera
Though the original ELPH used the old APS (Advanced Photo System) film format, many of the first model’s style elements have carried over to the current digital lineup including the ELPH’s distinctive “box and circle” design.
Shiotani said he came up with the design, which combines a solid square body with an enlarged ring around the lens, “so the camera would have a strong presence on the shelves even though it was small.” The circle around the lens, he explained, made it look larger than it was which helped emphasize its importance.
Ten years and 33 million ELPHs later, Shiotani said he’s amazed at how successful the camera has become. “Frankly speaking, I never thought it was going to be so popular,” he said.
The 2006 ELPH lineup
Along with being popular as a picture-taking device, the ELPH line has also achieved success as a fashion accessory, which is why Canon chose the Fashion Institute of Technology to fête its camera.
Sass Brown, a professor at FIT, compared the success of the ELPH’s design to other popular products like Apple’s iPod and the Motorola RAZR cell phone.
“Entire promotional campaigns are built on the style of the consumers who buy these products,” Brown said. “Little did people know that the trend introduced by the Canon ELPH would go on to influence computers, cell phones, and PDAs.”
In an interview later with Imaging Resource, Shiotani said he first saw the ELPH as a possible fashion accessory when he noticed people wearing the original model around their necks like a necklace.
Along with its box and circle design, Canon ELPHs have also been known for their snazzy and strong stainless steel construction. The SD900, the current ELPH flagship model, boasts a new titanium body, which increases ruggedness even as it reduces weight. As part of the tenth anniversary promotion, Canon will be offering the SD900 in a special Coach Edition Gift Set for $549.99. The Coach Gift Set will include the SD900, together with a special Coach carrying case, displaying the hallmark "C" of the Coach line worked into the black-on-black fabric of the case.
Yasushi Shiotani, creator of the ELPH
Though there is no current plan to radically change the design of the ELPH in future models, Shiotani said he has not ruled anything out, including the possibility of a touch screen, similar to what’s on an iPod.
“The problem with touch screens though is that they leave fingerprints,” Shiotani said through an interpreter. “And the size of the touch screen is limited by the size of the camera.”
Though it is known as the ELPH in the U.S. market, in Europe the line is referred to as IXUS, and in Japan as IXY. Shiotani noted that although Canon releases slightly different models of its products around the world, this line has remained consistent everywhere. The ELPH line was initially designed for the Japanese market, where tiny products are very popular. Shiotani noted though, that consumers worldwide are becoming more educated in a design sense, with the result that the ELPH line is now highly popular in the US and Europe as well. Conversely, Canon's A-series PowerShots were initially developed with the US market in mind, but are now enjoying increasing popularity in Japan as well.
Full details on how to win a bejeweled ELPH will be available at www.powershot.com in late October. The auction to benefit NCMEC will place during on January 9, 2007 during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The bejeweled PowerShot SD40 Digital ELPH