Thriving on innovation: An NXT Exclusive Interview with Andrew Koh, Head of Singapore Operations at Canon Singapore


We spoke to Andrew Koh, the Head of Singapore Operations Group in Canon Singapore. He’s glad to be back in Singapore after nearly nine years (overseas), as he was at Canon India for three years followed by Canon Malaysia for five and a half years. He’s now looking forward to the new challenges here in Singapore.

How do you see Canon’s position now that we are transitioning out of the COVID-19 Pandemic, for example – many people picked up photography as a hobby in the last few years – do you see this start to slow down?

I think we have interesting times ahead as things return back to normal, and what I mean is that we are going to see the return of sporting events and large-scale exhibitions and activities like concerts and weddings, even overseas travel, so that means there are more opportunities for photography, for cameras to record and capture moments. This is a really exciting time for us as it means our cameras will be more highly utilised now as things go on.

On the topic of events – are you looking forward to the Singapore F1 Grand Prix coming back, I know you were very instrumental in Canon’s involvement in the 2008 Grand Prix?

On a personal level and business level, on a personal level, I’m excited that F1 is returning to Singapore. On a business level, if you look at accredited F1 photographers, my estimate is that 70% are using Canon cameras, that’s because our cameras are built for high-speed capture and they are robust enough to haul around an F1 paddock. I’m also sure a lot of enthusiast photographers will attend the race and capture the moments on the track – my advice to them is to bring DSLRs or mirrorless cameras because your smartphone will not be fast enough to capture the action on a racetrack.

On the topic of DSLRs, it’s now a niche product, do you see the platform still popular with photographers?

You know the saying “Different strokes for different folks” it all depends on personal preferences and I know many photographers who still prefer using DSLR over the mirrorless camera format, and there are people who have made the transition to mirrorless cameras. I guess it boils down to what you prefer, and Canon, as a worldwide leader in photography, we will continue to listen to our customers’ needs, and keep our ears close to the ground, as long as there’s a demand for DSLRs or mirrorless, we will continue to meet their needs.

Canon also has not updated its APS-C camera families since 2020, we have seen a new model since the EOS M50 Mark II in 2020, will you expect this to be updated in the near future.

A lot depends on what are the customers’ needs and preferences. And we’ll bear that in mind as we continue to produce cameras that will meet their needs and you have to remember that Canon sees ourselves as a photography company, we are not just producing cameras, we are producing tools to enable and empower our users to meet the needs – whether an enthusiast or a professional. So if there is a need for a DLSR or APS-C-sized, mirrorless, or full-fame, we will continue to produce them.

We’ve seen Canon’s mirrorless EOS R-series continue to grow with the addition of new models like the EOS R3 and new lenses, but the original EOS R camera is still available, will Canon be replacing it in the future.

When we started introducing the EOS R camera, it was not just that camera on its own – it’s a whole ecosystem of body, lenses, and adaptors. Since the introduction of the R-system, we have gradually expanded in terms of bodies and lenses available to users, so you can expect that we’ll continue to grow this. 

Canon had great printer sales in the last few years, and Canon came up with Ink Efficient printers to lower the printing costs of home workers. Now as we transition to hybrid work, how is Canon adapting to the new ‘work form anywhere’ paradigm?

This is an interesting question because many consumers tend to forget that Canon doesn’t produce cameras for consumers, but also printers and multifunction devices. During the Pandemic we benefited from the surge in demand for home printers – our PIXMA series did very well, but as we slowly return to the office, we will see an upsurge in our multifunction office devices, so whatever it is, we are geared up to be able to produce printers and multifunction devices that let your print from anywhere, from home, form office, from the cloud.

I know that one of your great passions is the annual Canon Photomarathon, which in 2021 was virtual, will we see it return as a physical event, challenging participants to be photo-creative?

The intention of the very first Canon Photomarathon remains the same now – to provide a platform for photography lovers to come together as a community to shoot pictures and improve their level of photography. Since then we have done 17 editions of the Canon Photomarathon in Singapore, which has become an iconic annual event. Unfortunately due to the Pandemic, we had to hold a virtual Photomarathon version last year – we still managed to attract a good interest level, we had over 2,000 entries. 

Hopefully, this year, moving forward with things returning to normal we can try to hold a physical event this year. We will try to provide a platform, whether virtual or physical, to encourage and promote photography.

Singapore is a challenging market for Canon with a high level of smartphone penetration, with a lot of people carrying 100-megapixel cameras in their pockets. How do you look at this challenge?

We must credit smartphones for popularising photography. With smartphones now, photography is accessible to the masses, and we at Canon don’t see that as a zero-sum game. We position ourselves not just as camera makers, but we are in the photography business, so as long as people are taking pictures and shooting videos it’s good for us. 

And when you realise that smartphones have certain limitations of what they can do, then they will be looking to upgrade to a dedicated camera, whether for still photography or video needs. So there is a very vibrant ecosystem in photography and we hope that we continue to complement each other and continue to thrive in this environment. 

How is Canon innovating its camera systems? 

As we all know Canon thrives on innovation and worldwide Canon spends a certain amount of revenue every year on R&D, which is part of our DNA, because of this we can come up with innovative new products and technologies. 

One example I have with me is the recently releases EOS R5 C with a prototype VR Lens, what we call a dual fisheye lens that is going to enable people to do more with the equipment that they have.