Canon Can't Meet the Demand for RF Lenses

Canon Can't Meet the Demand for RF Lenses

Canon recently released a list of RF lenses that it cannot meet the demand for. Is this simply poor planning or a clear sign that its new lenses are exceeding expectations?

A few days back Canon Japan published a list of RF lenses that the company is unable to meet the demand for. These lenses include:

In its statement, Canon Japan said that orders had exceeded expectations and apologized for any inconvenience. You can see the statement in full here.

When I saw this statement I couldn't help thinking back to my own experiences when I bought the Canon EOS R5 and some RF lenses, including the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM listed above. From the date of order, it took almost four months until I'd received everything. Naturally, I put a lot of that down to the chaos caused to supply chains and so forth, but even so, I was still a little bewildered that Canon would go on such a huge, global marketing blitz as it did with the new EOS R5 and other RF lenses if it knew it couldn't supply customers with their newly paid for gear. Conversely, perhaps they hadn't expected such a big demand for their new cameras and RF mount lenses. If that was the case, their sales and marketing department needed a serious overhaul, I thought.

Yet here we are, almost a year on, and Canon is still saying that demand has exceeded expectations and supply is thin as a result. Whatever way you spin it, I think it's really poor business acumen by Canon. Great that demand is high, sure, but quite embarrassing for a global company such as Canon to admit it has a severe shortage of a number of newly released and highly spruiked products.

What are your thoughts? 

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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As of today you'd be hard pressed to find a new RF lens of any focal length in stock at any of the traditional outlets. As annoying as that is, not having a credible, systemic explanation of the problem only adds to the frustration. How much of this is due to the shutting of factories during the height of the pandemic last year and the backlog of production work they're facing? How many factories are still closed or not working at full capacity? How much is attributable to trade war nonsense with China in recent years? Or to simply poor decisions by Canon? Sony lenses are at least *easier* to come by, if not readily available everywhere, but I don't know why. Likewise with Fujifilm. Nikon, oof--they've got their own problems.

Yes it could be any or all of those things. Surely Canon has had long enough to adjust to disruptions…? And as you say below, they keep taking customers’ money, yet can’t deliver the products customers have paid for. I’m a big Canon fan but this just reflects very poorly on the company, I think.

Sony lenses are easier to come by because no one wants them anymore.
Those who wanted them have them and new users are just not there.

From my admittedly limited sampling of YouTube photographers who are switching... I don't think that's the case! Maybe a consumer electronics company like Sony is just better equipped to do handle manufacturing.

Ooooor maybe because their system has plenty alternatives at almost every focal length to suit different budgets supplied by many different contributors…

…these fanboys these days…why all this hate all the time?

As of earlier today all Canon RF lenses, except those on the list, are in stock at Canon USA online store.

I'm sure they're happy to take my order. I suspect the odds of receiving a lens in a week are about zero.

I have rewards through Best Buy and BH so would rather use them. Thanks, though.

But when this happens to Nikon it is a clear sign of their impending demise

Can’t really comment on that as I’m not atop Nikon issues

I mean this same thing has happened to pretty much every company for the past 1-2 years. Nikon, most currently with the Z fc "orders exceeding expectations," Sony with the 50/1.2 GM "orders exceeding expectations," Fujifilm with the 70-300 and GFX 100S.

It's not unique to any single company, though fanboys like to pretend it is.

Right? Articles about Nikon not meeting manufacturing demands always have comments about how Nikon is going under.

Canon most likely was overwhelmed by orders when photographers saw a superior product line at a decent price.
Amazing lenses and incredible bodies that could use EF lenses seamlessly and actually enhance them.
The chip shortage does not help either. But it is the superior product thus a huge demand.

Of those 5 lenses listed, 3/5 are decently priced. But it goes beyond that. It’s still ridiculously hard to even get the EF to RF native Canon adapter. That’s been the case for close to a year now….

I don’t think Canon or any company deserves such harsh words. You have to accept this situation as it is basically the same in all industries. Complex economic anomalies due to the pandemic and the post-pandemic market reactions.
Lead times for copper, steel, plastic parts, wood, cement, anything have increased fivefold in the past one year period. Yeah, and electronics. Also, prices are skyrocketing, and not only materials and products, but freight as well. (A 30’ sea container from the US to Hamburg was €2700 a year ago, now it is €10000, and you have to book 3 months in advance.)
Companies making consumer products are absorbing a lot of this, I am certain that Canon too, as it is considered temporary, and everybody is hoping that by mid 2022 the situation will improve.
Have a look around the world. Reasearch your topic. Picking a single company and lambasting it for something that’s universally true for the whole world economy is not acceptable in professional jornalism.

All sound arguments that overlook one major point : Canon keeps announcing new products and advertising and marketing said new products. If the pandemic means they can’t deliver them or make good on customer purchases, then hold off until they can. You don’t put a new dish on a restaurant menu if you know you don’t have the ingredients, let alone take the diner’s money.

You haven't tried to get food from the menue in a restaurant in the former Deutsche Demokratische Republik or any other Eastern bloc country, have you?

I travelled through the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland around 25 years ago, but the beer was so good I can’t remember anything else!!

Covid Covid Covid!!! The vaccination rate is Japan is horrifyingly low, like about four percent at most. The Olympics that are about to begin are not allowing any spectators. Japan is totally screwed up. Additionally there is the world wide shortage of computer chips. Try buying a new car. The people who run Canon are very smart and they know all about supply chains and manufacturing. This is not their fault. Trust me, they would love to take your money. I have an R5 which I love and use my EF lenses with adapters. No problem.

I have just about every lens Canon makes, and when I added the R5 to my gear bag I had no intention of buying a bunch of high priced RF lenses. Well, then Canon sent me a couple of those pricey lenses to test out and I was hooked. They are light, they are a thing of beauty to hold and shoot with and they exceed all of my "L" lenses in most every way, except the 600III which is simply an "L" 600III with a silver RF adapter glued to it.

Can you take a picture of your arms? ;) The 100-500mm on this list is not light, especially when you’re hand holding it for extended periods of time.

That said I get your point. The old EF lenses were heavier by comparison.

I love the 100mm specifically because the image quality to weight ratio is so good.

We have a R6, a R5, 15-35, 28-70, 70-200 (2.8) and the 100-500 and we bought them all with no wait time at all. Our “trick” was to hit the local shops online and keeping an eye on Best Buy. They get those lenses in one or two at a time every couple of weeks. Since they don’t let people place orders on them back ordered, they don’t have a waiting list to work through.

Chip shortage could be to blame, seems every lens that is on back order comes from a name brand and is fully electronic. Haven't noticed supply isses on the manual focus and 3rd party lenses void of electronics.

Could also be an inability to produce enough large glass elements, demand could have been to high for the manufacturing capacity and with the industry looking the way it is you can't blame them for being hesitant to invest more money to increase manufacturing capacity with no guarantee it's needed long term.