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Photographers shoot down Canon’s Raise

Canon USA’s new AI-driven photo sharing platform, Raise, has not been well-received by photographers following its announcement last week.

Raise will compete with other image sharing social media platforms like Flickr, 500px, Instagram, and others.

While an overwhelmingly negative response by internet commenters doesn’t usually warrant a report, Canon is usually untouchable due to fanboys and girls jumping in to heap praise on the company, while drowning out or disputing criticism from others.

Marketing and PR departments of other camera companies may also enjoy similar fanatical support, but Canon seems to be in a league of its own.

Don’t believe us? Here’s a recent cherry-picked example showing the response to Canon Australia’s question: ‘if you could only have one lens, what would you pick and why?’ Whole lotta love there.

But this time the online naysayers dominated completely.

Canon says Raise is a photography community and portfolio service, where users can store and publicly or privately share images, as well as browse other images through a feed. It’s only available in the US.

The big difference is Canon’s Artificial Intelligence technology, which tags photos based on specific elements such as categories, emotion, style, composition, and colour.

The brave new world of AI is exciting, presenting unlimited possibilities of what a non-human intelligence can achieve. Sony is using an AI algorithm to improve AF tracking on a moving subject; NY Times is using Google AI to assist with digitally cataloguing the physical archive; and in the case of Canon’s Raise, users can enjoy automatic image organisation and categorisation.

But Canon wants Raise users to help ‘create a trainable dataset’, by allowing the AI engine to study their images and EXIF data.

The last sentence strangely prohibits uploading pictures showing residents of Illinois, Texas, and Washington! This is due to these states having a Biometric Law, which prohibits any biometric identifier (such as facial recognition) to be placed in a database for commercial purposes.

So what do the online prognosticators have to say about Raise on US-based photo news websites, Petapixel and Dpreview? Nothing very nice, that’s for sure:

‘I don’t understand why Canon would launch this when they have built something like Irista that has camera integration, RAW support, editing like in Lightroom and AI already,’ says Kurt on Petapixel. ‘All very well made compared to other Canon offerings like the image gateway or this. How many photo services does the company need to build, which one do I use?’

‘Typical Canon: this global company has local online services. Irista, Lifecake are only supported by Canon Europe, and now Canon USA launches their own platform without other territories participating,’ comments Dpreview reader, Sohus. ‘This is why the old camera companies are going to be toast: they are unable to act as a global powerhouse. Can you imagine Instagram having a different service in each territory?’

‘Another image storing/sharing platform by Canon? I won’t be surprised if they quietly pull the plug on this one about 13 months from now, like they have done with their previous platforms – or portals, or whatever,’ writes AshleyMC on Dpreview. ‘Half baked idea. Quarter baked effort. Zero credibility.’

CP on Petapixel tore apart the overly-protective T&Cs, finding ‘absurd clauses’ such as making users agree to not use Raise to ‘unintentionally violate any applicable… law’.

Then there’s the whole AI thing…

Dpreview user JohnTsR writes: ‘It couldn’t be more obvious Canon US is just asking photographers to do the hard work of building them a dataset for image recognition algorithm training: keeps pestering me to add more tags, check the AI ones assigned to my uploads are correct, that my photos are not tagged enough, impossible to create custom tags with just the ones Canon is interested in to pick from and there’s even a feature to draw a bounding box around the main subject and guess what, tag it! If at least the rest of the service was okay but upload just doesn’t work well and I have seen more error pop up messages than photos.

‘This is nothing more than an AI training program – harvesting metadata to compare focal point, lens, aperture and content, allowing them with predictive focusing and scene recognition from a wide range of “in the wild” photos,’ comments HPBotha on Dpreview.

Canon USA Imaging’s Twitter announcement, which goes out to 199,000 followers, was a fizzer with just one or two comments per post.

Those comments range from ‘is this available outside the US‘; ‘All my pictures are gone on the website as well as profile. What gives? Did the update wipe everything??‘; and ‘Instead of suggesting the user adds tags, it insists you do and won’t let you clear the notifications saying “more tags needed”. I was excited to see Canon had a photo sharing app thinking it would connect Canon fans, but I deleted it after about 20 minutes. Too stressful to use‘.

– So it looks like this is one notion Canon has run up the flagpole without any photographers saluting.

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