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What does Canon do?

Canon is a Japanese multinational corporation that specializes in manufacturing imaging and optical products, including cameras, camcorders, photocopiers, steppers, computer printers and medical equipment. Founded in 1937, Canon has grown to become one of the largest companies in the world with over $30 billion in revenue.

Imaging Products

Canon is best known for its popular line of digital cameras. Canon unveiled its first digital camera, the RC-701, in 1984. Since then, Canon has been at the forefront of digital imaging technology. Today, Canon manufactures point-and-shoot cameras, DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, action cameras and security cameras among its imaging products. Some of Canon’s most notable camera lines include:

  • EOS – Canon’s flagship DSLR camera system used by consumers and professionals.
  • PowerShot – A point-and-shoot digital camera line for consumers.
  • IXUS – A range of subcompact point-and-shoot cameras.
  • EOS M – Canon’s line of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.
  • EOS R – Canon’s full-frame mirrorless camera system.
  • PowerShot G – Advanced point-and-shoot cameras geared toward professionals and photo enthusiasts.

In 2019, Canon had 44.4% market share worldwide in the digital camera market. Canon remains one of the top digital camera brands along with Sony, Nikon and Fujifilm.


Canon introduced the world’s first 10x optical zoom camcorder in 1996. Today, Canon remains a leader in the camcorder industry with its Vixia and Legria lines of consumer HD camcorders and the XF series of professional camcorders. Canon camcorders are widely used by videographers, filmmakers, news crews and families documenting memories.


Canon manufactures an extensive selection of camera lenses under the Canon EF, EF-S, EF-M, RF and MP-E brands, covering a broad range of focal lengths from ultra wide-angle to super telephoto. This includes zoom lenses as well as prime (fixed focal length) lenses covering needs from sports photography to macro photography. Canon lenses pair with Canon DSLR and mirrorless cameras and are renowned for their sharp optics, robust build quality and fast autofocus speeds.


In addition to cameras, Canon is a leading manufacturer of printers for homes and offices. Some of Canon’s major printer product lines include:

  • PIXMA – Home photo printers and all-in-one printers.
  • imagePROGRAF – Large format professional photo printers.
  • SELPHY – Compact photo printers.
  • MAXIFY – Small office printers.
  • LASER SHOT – Monochrome laser printers.
  • imageRUNNER – Office multifunction devices.

Canon’s substantial investment in printer research and development has allowed the company to continuously bring innovative products to market like its line of 5 and 6 color photo printers. Canon printers are known for their print quality, speed, reliability and ease of use.


Canon produces a variety of scanners for home and business applications including flatbed scanners, sheetfed scanners, photo scanners, document scanners and large format scanners. Canon scanners are integrated into many of the company’s multifunction printers and geared for scanning documents, photos, slides and negatives. Notable scanner models include the CanoScan LiDE series for homes and small offices and the imageFORMULA series for businesses managing large volumes of documents and forms.


Canon developed its first plain paper copier in 1962 and has since grown into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of digital multifunction devices (MFDs) and laser multifunction printers. The imageRUNNER series serves as Canon’s flagship line of digital copiers for office use with capabilities for printing, scanning, faxing and document management. Canon strives to incorporate cutting edge features into its copier products like cloud connectivity and mobile printing/scanning.

Medical Equipment

Canon’s medical equipment includes a range of imaging devices to support healthcare professionals.

  • X-ray machines
  • Ophthalmic equipment
  • Digital radiography systems
  • Diagnostic ultrasonic equipment

Notably, Canon was the first company to commercially launch digital radiography systems which replaced conventional X-ray film with digital sensors. Canon medical equipment utilizes advanced image processing technologies developed for the company’s camera business.

Semiconductor Lithography Equipment

Canon produces semiconductor lithography equipment used to manufacture computer chips and components. Lithography is the process of transferring circuit patterns onto silicon wafers. Canon’s equipment includes steppers/scanners which utilize laser optics and machine vision technology. Canon strives to develop lithography equipment capable of printing smaller and smaller circuit patterns to enable faster and more complex semiconductors.

Industrial Equipment

For industrial applications, Canon manufactures digital visual inspection systems, virtual reality systems, digital X-ray machines and precision automation equipment. These products incorporate Canon’s advanced optical technologies to support specialized needs in manufacturing, research and other industries.

Office Products

Canon’s office products encompass paper shredders, calculators, network cameras, overhead projectors and multifunction devices. These products contain technologies derived from Canon’s imaging and optical research to improve office productivity and collaboration.

Additional Facts About Canon

  • Canon’s headquarters is located in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Canon employs over 197,000 people worldwide (as of 2019).
  • Masaya Maeda has served as Canon’s CEO since 2016.
  • Canon owns over 2,700 subsidiary companies around the world.
  • Canon has over 130 offices in Japan and oversees 460 subsidiaries overseas.
  • The Canon Group invests heavily in R&D – spending 8.5% of its revenue or $1.9 billion annually as of 2019.
  • Canon’s largest market is the Americas representing 40.4% of sales. Europe represents 33.1% of sales.
  • In 2019, Canon reported ¥3.59 trillion JPY (~$32.65 billion USD) in net sales.
  • Approximately 80% of Canon cameras are produced at factories in Japan, the rest in Asian countries like Taiwan.

Canon’s Diverse Businesses and Products

The wide range of products manufactured by Canon highlights the company’s diverse business segments and operations. While cameras and printers target consumers and small businesses, Canon also supplies specialized equipment used in industries like healthcare, manufacturing and semiconductor fabrication. Canon leverages technologies across its businesses – like optics, imaging, mechatronics and precision mechanics – to improve its products and create new applications. As a large multinational corporation, Canon consists of hundreds of individual companies worldwide to handle the design, manufacture, sales and support for its extensive product lineup.


In summary, Canon is a global company involved in the research, development and manufacturing of a vast range of imaging and optical products. Canon’s core businesses include cameras, camcorders, printers, photocopiers, scanners and medical equipment. Additional product lines encompass semiconductor lithography equipment, industrial products and equipment for offices. With tens of billions in annual revenue across diverse industries, Canon utilizes its substantial R&D investments to continuously advance its technologies and create innovative products that expand worldwide applications for optics and imaging. As one of the largest technology companies in the world, Canon’s impact spans consumers, businesses, professionals and industrial settings.