Canon Seems to Be Planning Some Absolutely Crazy Lenses for Their Mirrorless System

Canon Seems to Be Planning Some Absolutely Crazy Lenses for Their Mirrorless System

Canon's EOS R system has arrived to predictably mixed reviews, but I have to say I've been rather impressed by the lenses so far, which seem to be pushing boundaries, such as the RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens. And while a full frame f/2 zoom lens of that focal length is impressive, it's nothing compared to what these patents show Canon working on.

Canon Rumors and Canon News uncovered a patent application by Canon for some future lenses for their mirrorless line, and what it contains is nothing short of groundbreaking should it ever reach the hands of consumers. The application details an RF 14-21mm f/1.4L zoom lens, something that's simply unheard of. At present, there's the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens, but that's a prime lens that's also two-thirds of a stop slower. The application also details an RF 16-35mm f/2.8L, a much more more standard lens, but there's also mention of a RF 12-20mm f/2L lens, another extreme piece of glass.

Now, it's important to remember that companies file patents for cameras and lenses that never make it to market all the time, but the fact that Canon is even putting research and development time and money into such insane lenses seems to be a good sign for its mirrorless line. Of course, what such lenses would cost is an entirely different discussion.

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38 Comments

This seems like a good way to market better lenses and move everyone upscale,that can afford it.Canon will force other companies to follow suit.I am especially interested in how Sony will respond,lens wise.Is Sony now restricted by their smaller lens mount?Nikon kept the f-mount for years after rumours stated they had a restrictive older mount.Will this re-newed competition move prices upward?Competition might spurn new development ,however prices continue to climb.

Eric Salas's picture

Sony already commented on the “size of the mount” talk and called it ridiculous. You can already adapt an F/0.95 lens to an Emount so that’s already been proven to be false. This is Canon responding to the industry leader for mirrorless and pushing for companies to create more niche lenses instead of primes IMO.

If Canon can get their prices in order on these lenses (a huge debate for the past few years on Sony Gmaster expenses) then they’ve got some winners. I’d still put money on both of these proposed lenses being 2500+.

I don’t know anyone begging for a 14-21mm 1.4 or a 12-20mm 2 but I sure as hell will adapt it if they do it.

Sony can call it all they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that a larger diameter mount can work with different angles which will lead to higher image quality for the same aperture. Yes, an f/0.95 will work on both mounts, but they will not give you the same results.
Nikon needed a new mount and chose 55 mm throat diameter but Canon already had the EF-M mount with 47 mm (Sony E mount has 46.1 mm) so they didn’t need to, but they still chose to go to a new and bigger mount for full frame with a 54mm throat diameter.

Matt Williams's picture

Just because you can adapt an f/0.95 lens to E mount doesn't mean the argument of mount diameter is "proven false." Not at all.

There is a *very* good reason both Canon and Nikon designed larger mounts. They didn't do it for the hell of it.

A larger throat means larger exit pupil. It also means better telecentricity. Because of that, it means lenses can be smaller and of higher quality because they don't require a rear correction element. A larger mount throat allows for a less limited angle of light - you can correct for this in a smaller mount with a diverging element - this is very common, it's what a telephoto lens is. In short, it results in a larger lens than would be necessary if the throat were larger.

This is why Canon might be able to make a wide angle f/1.4 zoom lens, for example.

There ARE limitations to the smaller throat of the E-mount. The only question is how important that is, and only time will tell as Nikon develops the Z system - but right now, Sony is doing okay.

michaeljin's picture

"Because of that, it means lenses can be smaller and of higher quality because they don't require a rear correction element."

This is true in theory, but in practice, companies still seem to create huge, heavy, lenses despite all of these advantages. So what use is it if nobody is actually making smaller glass?

I completely agree that Canon and Nikon's mounts have a higher theoretical ceiling in terms of performance and design capabilities than the smaller E-mount. The big question is going to be how much this actually matters in the end. In Nikon's case, if all they're really going to do with it is release an f/0.95 manual focus lens for $5000+, then it's not really going to have a practical impact for working photographers. The difference is going to be made in the lenses offered that us mere mortals can afford.

Despite all the talk about how these mounts afford the ability to design lenses easier, we've yet to see any real benefits on the consumer end. They're still large and their constantly ballooning prices don't seem to reflect the lower R&D costs that one might assume for lenses that are supposedly easier to design and build.

Personally, I do hope that Nikon picks it up with their development on the Z-mount because it would be nice to hold a Nikon camera in my hands again...

Matt Williams's picture

Well, yes. However:

1) we have very limited samples to compare from the Z and F mounts, so it's hard to say anything about "in practice." I say that, because while I agree that companies tend to make huge lenses, this is the first time we've had a wide throat mirrorless from a leading manufacturer. So we can't exactly look at Sony's lenses as an example of big lenses because we're talking about the smaller diameter of that very mount.

2) we don't have a comparison for the Nikkor S 24-70 f/4 because Nikon only makes a 24-70 f/2.8. But, let's just assume if they did it would be similar to the Canon f/4, which is 600g. The new S is 500g. The Nikkor S 50mm 1.8 is 185g, which is exactly the same weight as the F-mount 50 1.8G. HOWEVER, look at the MTF charts of the two lenses. The new Z 50mm blows the F mount out of the water. The same is true of the new 35mm vs the old 35 1.8G.

So, while, for example, the two 50mm lenses are identical in weight (of course minus the extra weight of flange distance), the newer one is a MUCH better optic. That's an incredible MTF chart for a 185 gram lens.

As for the 58mm 0.95, that is made to 1) allow Nikon to flex and show off and 2) compete against the Otus series. So its size, weight, and manual focus are entirely in line with competition.

Like you said, we just have to wait and see. It really depends on how much Nikon optimizes weight over quality or vice versa or manages a compromise. However, it should be easier to manage that middle ground (as seen by the 50mm S quality and weight).

Honestly, all of the talk about the mount diameter allowing for bigger apertures, while true, isn't really why they did it. It's all this other stuff - improved optics and/or potentially smaller sizes.

amplighter's picture

You're kind of late on this as DPReview posted information about this 2 or 3 weeks ago. Groundbreaking?.. I doubt it and as you've said. if this lens is produced it will be for the R camera only, at least for the first few years and would be out of the "average consumers" price range.

Eric Salas's picture

Considering the price of the 24-70 F2, I wouldn’t think they’d sell for anything below 2500 and would put money on them being in the 3000+ range.

This is great. Canon will lead the way with lenses in the mirrorless range I think. Only question as you say is the price. However a piece of glass like the 28-70 f2 should last you a lifetime and so the investment is absolutely worth it. Will mirrorless Push DSLR from the market? Possibly.

michaeljin's picture

No, it likely won't last you a lifetime. No modern autofocus lens is likely to last a lifetime. They're far too complex with too many proprietary elements which, when broken, are effectively impossible to repair without securing parts from the manufacturer.

As for whether DSLR will be pushed out of the market by MILC, I think that the smart money would say that in the long run (the next decade or so) this is likely to be the case as DSLR development slows down and the industry is populated by newer photographers with no investment in DSLR's for whom MILC's are the norm.

I disagree. A lifetime being what 20 years which if looked after they should last at least that long.

Matt Williams's picture

I would be utterly shocked if modern focus-by-wire AF lenses last 20 years. I'd say that is a damn near impossibility for 99% of such lenses.

If looked after well.

Matt Williams's picture

No. It doesn't matter how well they are looked after. 99%+ of modern mirrorless lenses will not last two decades.

It's like saying a computer will last 20 years. Yes, maybe one could, if you keep replacing every part that fails. I've had my Macbook Pro for almost 8 years but I've replaced the battery twice (and it needs replaced again), the keyboard, the trackpad, the RAM, and certain things just don't work like the keyboard backlight and the SD card slot.

But these lenses - loaded with electronics not unlike a computer - are much less easy to repair than a computer. Because it isn't a matter of unscrewing the bottom and spending 3 minutes to swap a part out.

OK calm down mate. We will have to agree to disagree.

Matt Williams's picture

Yeah, modern AF lenses with their focus-by-wire designs aren't going to last two decades. Unless people just don't, like, use them.

Eventually mirrorless will push DSLR out of the market. It just will. Eventually mirrorless with compete in every way with DSLRs (plus exceed them in many ways as they already do) - manufacturers will pour more R&D into mirrorless (as they are beginning to do) - newer photographers who grew up with cell phones will buy into mirrorless like you say - and eventually it just won't make sense for manufacturers to make DSLRs anymore. I doubt this will happen sooner than 10 years (but heck, it could be 5 years for all I know). Could be 20 years. But it will happen.

Darren Loveland's picture

Help me understand the value of a wide angle, wide aperture lens? Outside of astrophotography, I can't see to many areas where a 14-21 f/1.4 has a much use? I could be wrong here, looking for insight. I'm more interested in longer zooms with wide aperture, e.g. 24-90 f/2.8, for greater versatility.

Jen Photographs's picture

Landscape photography.

For landscape photography, wide angle, of course. But wide aperture? I doubt it. Except maybe for very special cases, I doubt any landscape photographer would set their lens to f/1.4.

Darren Loveland's picture

Why shoot landscapes at wide aperture?

Adam Lee's picture

Music photographers. Being up front in a concert photo pit in a dimly lit nightclub, a wide angle, wide aperture zoom lens works wonders. The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is one of my main lenses shooting bands perform.

Matt Williams's picture

I understand using a 15-30 for this.... but isn't 14-21 incredibly limited for such an event? It seems like you'd really want much more maximum reach than 21mm.

Clearly I do not photograph bands.

Adam Lee's picture

For me, it's more about the wide angle and the f/1.4. There are times where a performer comes right up to the edge of the stage and you can get a really dramatic shot being up close to them and the lens is fully wide. The other part of that is that at venues where the lighting is fixed at a certain angle, when the performer goes to the edge it gets really dark so the 1.4 would be a huge help. The zoom, while only to 21mm would be fine for minor adjustments in framing. I'd never use it as my only lens on a concert shoot.

Matt Williams's picture

Thanks, cool to know

Darren Loveland's picture

Great input! Makes a lot of sense, capture the subject in the frame and out of focus stuff going on elsewhere in the image. Low light because of the setting, I get it now. Cheers.

Matt Williams's picture

They do have a very limited envelope. Astro or non-astro landscape/general wide angle photography at night are probably the biggest draw. Which is also true of a lens like the Sigma 14 1.8.

And apparently music photographers use them - I never would've figured this, 14-21 seems very limited for shooting bands (15-30 does make sense to me, though).

Other than that.... I am really not sure who would need such a lens over like a 14-24 f/2.8.

Extreme low light video might also be a situation where you would have a lens like that since you can't just choose the exposure time you want

Jen Photographs's picture

Companies will often patent designs with no plans to actually manufacture it. It's a strategy -- if they patent it first, other companies can't use a very similar design even if they came up with it on their own.

Basterds! Patents should finish after sometime the manufacturer doesn't come with a real product.

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