Those of you who recently picked up a Canon 5D Mark III have the comfort of knowing that your super-expensive DSLR was lovingly assembled by hand in Japan. That may not be the case for much longer: today a Canon spokesperson announced that the company would be moving towards completely automated production starting immediately. There's no definite date on when the transition will be complete, but Canon hopes to finish by 2015.
The primary reason to move to robotically-assisted production is the reduction of labor costs, which is why it's so popular in the automaker and appliance industries. But there's a cultural element as well, according to Japan Daily Press. They report that part of Canon's drive comes from keeping up Japan's image as "a nation of technological advancement". While other companies are taking up robotic assembly as a means of moving high-paying jobs to china and other nations, Canon says that it will train its employees for new types of work and avoid eliminating a single job.
The change should allow Canon to produce its cameras and lenses at a cheaper price point, something that every photographer should be happy with. The 5D Mark III retails for $3500 for just the body, a significant step up from the previous generation even considering its advances in features and specs. More options for more consumer and pro photographers should be welcome.