Has Canon Made a Big Mistake?

Canon recently caused a fair amount of controversy when it came out that they had requested that Viltrox stop manufacturing autofocus lenses for the RF mount, as they feel doing so infringes on their intellectual property. The incident seems to explain the curious lack of third-party lenses for the RF mount. Has Canon made a mistake?

Coming to you from Christopher Frost, this interesting video essay discusses Canon's recent decision to ask Viltrox to shut down autofocus RF mount lens manufacturing. Frost is one of the best and most respected lens reviewers on the internet, so it is well worth listening to what he has to say on the matter. Of course, it is Canon's right to enforce their intellectual property rights and redirect people toward their own lenses, but it is no secret that third-party lenses make up a significant portion of the market, and their availability often affects the decision to invest in different camera systems. Anecdotally, I have seen a lot of comments that people will reconsider their investment in the RF mount due to this policy, and it is certainly a bit frustrating to wonder if we will ever see lenses from respected brands like Sigma and Tamron. Check out the video above for Frost's full thoughts. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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That's one thing I really like about µ4/3rds — it's an open standard, and they INVITE lens makers to make glass for their mount.

Also Sony were right to open up their mount to third party lenses.This move by Canon will certainly drive more people over to Sony.

I am one of the folks who will be forced to switch over to Sony or Olympus or Fuji if there are not a fleet of 3rd party lenses made in the RF mount. I know I can adapt EF lenses, but new lens innovations are not going to be made in EF anymore, and I don't want to be left with only old discontinued lens tech.

Same here. Canon DSLR user. The next body will be a Sony.

Ok. Find me a Tamron or Sigma 150- 500mm in m4/3 mount. I'll wait. Hell. I'll even buy it. Here's a clue. It doesn't exist.


Yeah, good point you make.

If you have Fuji or Olympus, there are really slim pickings when it comes to extreme lenses, or highly specialized lenses. So many lenses are made for "the big three" to which there just aren't Fuji or Olympus counterparts. And adapting sucks when you have to have state of the art autofocus speed and accuracy when tracking rapidly and erratically moving targets.



No, I didn't miss that. Dan Jeffries is the one who apparently missed that. I think you confused our comments, and mistakenly attributed his comment to me. My point was that pickings are much slimmer for Olympus and Fuji. I didn't say that there are no choices, just that there aren't nearly as many choices.


That may be true but find me a Tamron or Sigma 150-500mm in M4/3 mount. Just one will do....

I switched from Canon to Sony a few years back, so no effect on me at this point. However, if I were considering switching to Canon now, or starting out, this lack of third party lenses would be a very strong strike against that decision. By trying to keep all the marbles in their own tent, I expect they have reduced the number of total marbles they will receive at all...

It's a bummer if we won't see Tamron or Sigma RF lenses in the future. I would love to see something like the Tamron 50-400 for RF, but it seems we won't get it for quite some time :-(

a bit off-topic but it's funny to see how all the YouTubers jumped on this wagon of giving an opinion on whether Canon made the right or wrong call.

It really shows how a hot trend can be used wisely to create views and monetize. This is not a critique. Hat's off to them.

When this blew up (with Viltrox not being allowed by Canon) in a week's time, everyone was talking about this on youtube and pretty much all of them had interesting numbers.

Of course YouTubers would offer an opinion. If talking about gear is their main content, this is not surprising.

if you do a little research, you can find photographers that actually avoid focusing on gear actually covering this as well. Tony and Fro etc are expected of course. but this leaked to way more people than usual

Canon have two problems. Firstly the lack of third party lenses and secondly their reluctance to talk about this move. How can photographers looking to invest in a new system possibly give Canon some serious though if Canon are staying very quite on this and not giving anyone any idea what the future is for Canon regarding this issue?

Personally, I don't care but I agree that options and competition are a good thing. I am however amused that people don't have an issue with and paying extra for imposed video features most of us will never use while demanding options on lenses.

That is what you wrote. I wrote that people pay extra for options imposed on them that they will never use and don't have an issue. There is are choice for video only equipment that are better options for example. Both lens choice and being overcharged for something most of us don't use are impositions.

So what you are saying is that they give you the technology for free because they already paid off their R&D, tooling and all. I don't know any company that would leave that money out, but, okay. There are a lot of us who don't see the need for video and also have not upgraded from Dslr yet. The simple fact that canon recently that they are not discontinuing their Dslr line says a lot in my opinio. I know I'll have a video that I won't need when when I decide to make the move to mirror less, and I'm fine with that but the video raw from canon was a disaster for example and I am not sure that people will fall for it again. So it's a gimmick that does get paid for by the client either it works or not.

 “I have given you two examples of manufacturers who will charge you more for cameras”. You really take people for stupid. I’ll send you a mirror. Since when has either brand ever been affordable? That’s not how they do business. But please do answer, that’s your own trap.

Cameras have had video since a long long time and I never had a problem with it. But saying that people won’t buy cameras if they don’t have advanced video is as valuable as me saying that the yearly sales of cameras has seriously dropped since the increase of the integration of video into still cameras. Am I wrong? In the context I am putting it, by the numbers, it’s simply a fact you can’t deny. My real opinion is that we both know that’s not true, not the fault of video. Yet video hasn’t stopped the decline either...

Now lets take a look at the R5 and R6. Why did the R6 drop pixel count vs the 6Dm2 when the R5 gained a considerable count from the 5D4? What if Canon had made a 50mp R6 (instead of the 10 years backward 20mp count) with only 4k or lower video and no RAW for video? What camera would have out done the other? Furthermore, back early on when it was becoming obvious that overheating was an issue with the R5 I asked why did they not make also an R5.5 with lower quality video or no video. You can go back in my comments, it’s out there. And then, bam. nearly 2 years later: R5c. That one is both a competitor to the first while making the R5 look like non professional, hybrid of its own kind that was a mistake.

If the R5c outsells the aging R5, then you are right, video is what people want. If not, not so much.

I have plenty of cameras with video feature that I never use. Thanks for reminding me this captain obvious. And no, Captain, the R5 only has heat issue with specific settings, And those happen to be the ones Canon was so proud about until well, the fail. And by the way you got another thing wrong, all the guys who bought the R5 hoping to start a business are all shooting stills too. I don't think your global understanding is worth my time but thanks for the replies.

No captain, I know a few people who bought the R5 and now realize they have to buy the R5c. What a waste of money when you have student debt to start with. I'll get an R1 if it's anything of my liking or move to Fuji.

Well isn't it what we do? Like most people, I use my phone for video because my need is random and okay is good enough. Raw on video is a different animal requiring more archiving space and processing speed on a computer. Few amateurs, the large part of the market, will go to the extend of using Raw regularly. R5c is a better choice by far and actually usable. And yes, despite your pretend it shares most of the R5 but the video actually is what makes it more expense. Please dispense yourself from telling me I make a contradiction. Yes the R5 is still overpriced due to raw video.

Not really, look at the 5Dm4, it's still produced and cheaper than ever, a $800 drop. They price for the profit margin they want not volume. Volume can be improved on demand.

It's 6 years old, so what??? You think like a photographer. If it sells that's the bottom line and Canon has announced that they will keep supplying many items. Did not say just liquidating warehouses full of Dslr items. If you have an official document then show it or send the link, I can review my response.

What retailer did you work for?



If they made a stills-only camera, it would cost more, because it wouldn't sell well at all.

There are very few of us pure still photographers. The VAST majority of people buying interchangeable lens cameras today are people who shoot a lot of mixed media - stills and video both, with the same body. These people are NOT on websites or forums such as this one, so your idea of the current worldwide market may be skewed incorrectly if you think that Fstoppers members are at all representative of the market in general. And the photographers that you know personally from your locale, or that you meet at trade shows or on commercial shoots or whatever, are also not at all representative of the overall worldwide ILC market.

A stills-only body would sell so poorly that all of the R&D costs would only get spread out over a very small number of units, so the price would be way above the cameras that have all of the video bells and whistles, in addition to stills capability, because those bodies sell so many more units than a stills-only body would ever sell.


But would you say that if the R6 had 50MP and a lower level video at a lower price than the R5?

Also, will the R5c outsell the R5 since people crave for video? My guess is no, but may be Canon will prove me wrong early next years if they publish numbers.


Most of the people who shoot video along with stills are satisfied with the video capabilities of the R5, and won't go for the R5c, anyway. So comparing R5 sales to R5c sales isn't really narrowing things down at all. All it does is separate those who are more serious about video from those who require video, but don't need such advanced video capabilities.

Benoit, you seem to understand the technology really well, but you seem to struggle to understand the market and the mindset / desires of the camera buying public. Conversely, Canon seems to have a really good handle on understanding their intended market, and knows how to manipulate their product lineup and policies to suck the most money out of its customer base.



I have been a Canon shooter for the past 15 years. I rely heavily on 3rd party lenses, not because I am a cheapskate or trying to save money, but because Sigma makes lenses that Canon refuses to make.

Two of my main lenses are the Sigma 60-600mm f6.3 and the Sigma 300-800mm f5.6. Canon doesn't make anything even remotely similar to either of these lenses. I use these zooms for most of my wildlife photography because the zoom ranges are extremely useful and the image quality is excellent, even for pixel peepers like myself and the folks with whom I market my images.

I have been planning to upgrade to Canon mirrorless bodies with the RF mount. But if I will not be able to get third party lenses with this mount, I will have to change my decision and switch over to Sony instead. Or maybe Olympus or Fuji. I really don't want to switch to Sony or the others, but Canon will leave me no other viable choice if I will not be able to take advantage of the new innovative lenses that Sigma and Tamron will be making.


If I switch camera systems, I want it to be the last time I switch for the rest of my life. I need to know for absolutely sure that I will be able to stay current with lenses until I die in approximately 25 years. The freaking hell I am ever going to switch again. I do not want to be "adaptable and fluid" when it comes to gear. I want to get stuff I can use for the rest of my life so I never have to bother with selling off one system's components and acquiring components for a new system.

Given that, I think that making my "rest of life" plans all based on the EF mount would be foolish, as it is already on the path to discontinuation and obsolescence. There is already a Tamron lens that I want, like, right now ... but it only comes in Sony mount. So I am already suffering because of EF being obsolete.

If being tied to the EF mount is already causing me to miss out on lenses right now, then how in the world will EF be a solution into the foreseeable future?

No 3rd party manufacturer in their right mind is going to keep developing new lenses in the EF mount, because it is being abandoned by Canon and the market is going in the other direction. Masses of photographers are moving AWAY FROM the EF mount, not toward it. So why would a 3rd party lensmaker make lenses in a mount that is being abandoned? It wouldn't make any sense.


Of course I can always adapt existing EF lenses to whatever new body I want. But the issue is that I don't want to be "stuck" using the soon-to-be-old EF lenses.

My whole point is that I am mostly interested in being able to use new 3rd party lenses - ones that haven't even been designed or made yet.

In 5 years, when Tamron or Sigma come out with a new zoom, or a new macro lens, I want to be able to buy it and use it. In 15 years when they come out with some crazy new lens, I want to be able to use that on whatever new body I am using at the time.

I have zero interest in being stuck with just the EF lenses that already exist.


No, I already told you that it doesn't, and won't, work that way. Of course they will not make brand new state of the art lenses in EF mounts anymore. They have already stopped doing so. Just look at many of the brand new designs that Tamron and Sigma have made, or announced, and note that they are NOT available in EF mount.

If you want a new lens like a 50-400mm, you MUST buy a Sony, or else you're stuck using a clusterf___ of adaptors that will keep the autofocus from being as rapid and perfect as it is natively, for things like fast action sports or birds in rapid flight.

I think that most lenses today do not get as old as people want you to think. I had a Tamron lens in the 80's that got invaded by what ever bacterias came near it. If you like today's Tamron, if yours is already aged a little and did not get it attacked by nature, it most likely will outlast you.



You and Stephen Strangways both seem to misunderstand the point I have been trying to make.

So, I will try to make it more emphatically, so that it is clear:

I am not really satisfied with the lenses that the world has to offer today. Some of them kinda meet some of my needs fairly well, but none of them are really perfect for my needs. So, I am thinking and hoping that in the next 5 to 15 years, 3rd party manufacturers finally make lenses that really fit my shooting style. Then, finally, there will be lenses that are exactly what I want!

But, if Canon does not allow these 3rd party manufacturers to use their mount technology, then I will have to switch to a different type of camera body in order to use these yet-to-exist lenses natively.

I have absolutely no fear or concern that the current EF lenses will "get old" or become dysfunctional. I think that they already fall short of what I want in a lens because of the limitations that are inherent in their design.

If there are hardly any EF lenses that perfectly fit my needs now, then I seriously doubt that in 5 or 15 years anyone is going to be making brand new lens designs in the EF mount.


I have been a simi-pro Canon shooter for 30 years, I thought i would stay with them forever, but NOT anymore. My next camera (when moving to mirrorless) will be another brand ... They are greedy and shooting themselves in the foot. I'm really disappointed ☹️

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