Canon’s 2020 RF Lens Roadmap Emerges: Six New Lenses, Including a Nifty Fifty and Two Big Surprises

Canon’s 2020 RF Lens Roadmap Emerges: Six New Lenses, Including a Nifty Fifty and Two Big Surprises

Details have emerged of Canon’s plans for its mirrorless full-frame camera lens lineup. Six news lenses are due to make an appearance in the next six months, including a nifty fifty and two completely unexpected telephoto primes.

As spotted by Canon Rumors, industry insider Nokishita recently posted the list, which also includes two extenders. Here’s the lineup in full:

  • Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM
  • Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM
  • Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
  • Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM
  • Canon RF 600mm f/11 DO IS STM
  • Canon RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM
  • Canon RF 1.4x
  • Canon RF 2.0x

The two f/11 DO lenses will no doubt take many people by surprise. Canon News spotted this patent late last year, thinking it odd but not paying it a huge amount of attention. Canon's made a few bold moves with its RF glass, and this is no exception. As Canon News notes, given the design and the spacing between the groups, it states, “it’s highly possible that these are somewhat collapsible.”

The “DO” stands for “diffractive optics” and Canon lenses that use this technology have a green band rather than the classic red band of the L-series glass. The diffractive optics bends light to a greater degree, allowing for significantly fewer optical elements to be used and producing lenses that are much shorter by comparison. Unfortunately, these optics are quite expensive: the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO will set you back just under $7,000, though this isn't an unusual price for a telephoto lens.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM Lens

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM Lens

However, as Canon News notes, these lenses will be much cheaper, though it remains to be seen whether these will be entry-level telephoto primes as some are suggesting. However they are priced, the RF 800mm f/11 DO will be dramatically smaller and lighter than a non-DO counterpart. When you consider that the EF 800mm f/5.6L is $13,000 and weighs 9.9 lb (4.49 kg), a budget version for almost a tenth of that weight could be a very appealing option.

Canon is finally giving its mirrorless users a classic nifty fifty. The legendary EF 50mm f/1.8 STM will finally have an RF equivalent, though it’s likely to be at least three times the price. With Canon rounding out more of its affordable glass, the R and RP become much more viable options for those on limited budgets or looking to save on space and weight.

Are you excited to see how Canon will continue to develop its RF lens lineup? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The lead image uses a photo by Javard.

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28 Comments

Ryan Mense's picture

I’m certainly not opposed to the f/11 lenses. Can’t wait to learn more about them.

Marius Pettersen's picture

Yeah! Being DO designs and f/11, they must be tiny!

Kurt Hummel's picture

What would a F11 lens be good for?

Andrew Eaton's picture

High ISO.... lol

Dale Karnegie's picture

presumably shooting distant things in broad-daylight

Jason Frels's picture

Or, like a MegaWatt flash with a softbox (that is probably ignited by the flash)

Niki Wicche's picture

Check out Duade Paton’s recent YouTube video, he’s a bird photographer. https://youtu.be/m_Yvi2PeFOs

Paul Norman's picture

Carrying into the backcountry in case you _may_ come upon a photogenic bear under a waterfall, or other wildlife at a distance. Say, you are scouting an area you are thinking of later hunting. Or say, even if you are a professional, but you are out in the wilderness for some other reason than specifically capturing maximally saleable wildlife images and are willing to suffer for it. Dragging an 800/5.6 around the bush on a whim, in many such scenarios, is simply prohibitive for most. Even among those precious few who can justify owning one of those monsters.

Absent these class of slower, made-for-lightness, lenses, M43 is the only realistic option between the Sony RX10 and the big guns. And for people mainly invested in and familiar with Canon (whose standard lenses, even by SLR standards, tend to be large), buying into and familiarizing oneself with an entirely different system camera, no matter how optimized it may be for that one specific task at hand, is a much bigger step than expanding on something one already is comfortable and effective with.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Do those f/11 lenses mean the new R5 will have super clean ISO 12,800? :-)

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

I was thinking that too. Some new breakthrough sensor tech with the R5, R6 and so on maybe?

Matthijs Bettman's picture

That 70-200 F4 is a lens i wish Nikon makes.. This makes me wonder, should i transfer from my Z7....?

Jørn Tv's picture

I was just thinking the same. Happy with my Z 6, but a 70-200 f4 would be nice. I currently use the 1st gen 70-200 f2.8, which unfortunately isn’t fully compatible with the Z cameras, despite being a G-lens. A lighter and sharper f4 lens would be nice.

Tom Reichner's picture

For decades, Canon protected their professional wildlife and sports customers by making sure that casual hobbyists couldn't get longer than 400mm without paying upwards of 5 to 10 thousand dollars for a big white prime.

Sigma and Tamron destroyed that protection several years ago when they came out with their immensely popular - and super cheap - 150-600mm lenses. Since then, the pros who shoot with $10,000+ glass have had to contend with hobbyists shooting with slow, cheap glass at similar focal lengths.

The shame of it is that many people in the general public don't pay attention to the finer points of image quality, such as out-of-focus character, background rendering, and super-fine detail resolution. So these casual hobbyists are posting and submitting photos that are not on a par with the true fine-art-caliber images that professionals are taking with their big white primes, but most "regular people" don't even notice, or appreciate, the difference that the big, expensive glass makes.

It now seems that instead of protecting their professionals by keeping long focal lengths out of reach of the casual hobbyist, Canon is now adopting an, "if we can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em" approach, by coming out with cheap, slow lenses in supertelephoto focal lengths.

While this may be good for overall sales figures, and for people who are satisfied with "good enough" results, it does leave the fine-art wildlife elitists with their $10,000 primes hanging out to dry. Kinda sad. Seems like the end of an era.

Ryan Cooper's picture

My 2¢ on this is if you are a truly elite fine art wildlife photographer then you shouldn't be depending on expensive glass to set yourself apart. Rather it should be your skillset that makes you shine. Your dogged pursuit of the perfect frame. Your consistent ability to track and predict the location of rare/beautiful animals. your understanding of their behavior so that you are in a position to make a spectacular money shot that others wouldn't be able to make. It isn't perfectly sharp images or flawless background rendering that makes any wildlife shot spectacular, it is subject, composition, and gesture.

Tom Reichner's picture

Yes, of curse, Ryan.

But when you put all those years of hard work and dedication into wildlife photography, when that awesome opportunity finally becomes reality, you would want to capture it with the best gear possible, wouldn't you? I mean, if you work your butt off for years and years, then when that perfect frame comes along, you want the result to be not only a perfect scene or moment captured, but you want the capture to be as close to perfect as possible, from a technical and aesthetic standpoint.

The best answer to the age old question, "is it gear, or skill?' is actually, "both."

Ryan Cooper's picture

Of course, but the differentiator that sets YOU apart should be skill, not gear. If you are depending on gear to set you apart, you are setting yourself up to be mediocre.

Nothing is stopping you from taking the perfect shot with the perfect gear. No one with the same lens or a cheaper lens is a threat to you capturing that magical moment.

It seems to me that your complaint, though, was that others can come along and take the same shot with cheaper gear. They then are able to compete with you because most viewers lack the eye to even tell the difference between the a cheaper lens and a $10,000 lens. It shouldn't matter because the way you wield your lens should be your competitive edge.

Christian Fiore's picture

Unless the AF on the cheaper lens is poor, the camera's performance and sensor quality will show a much bigger difference in the final image than a high dollar lens. What's good is a photo taken with a $15K lens when the skies and highlights on the subject are blown out to pure white while the shadows look like confetti? Softer lenses can be sharpened in post easily enough. Sensor detail that was never there can't be recovered.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Do you really think that a picture taken at f/11 with a cheap lens will be comparable to a picture taken at f/4 with a big white razor sharp lens? And do you think that Canon was protecting their customers by making them pay 10 k$ for a lens?

Anyway it doesn't matter, I tried once the Sigma 150-600 way, yes, it's lighter than the Canon 600/4, but it's so awkward to use with how long it extends to reach 600mm, its AF is so slow, and image quality was a lot worse than I had expected.

Having said that, who are YOU to decide who's entitled or not to be a wildlife photographer? Are you jealous? Or so insecure about your work that you don't want competition to enter the market?

Christian Fiore's picture

I think the bigger issue here is that the lens is already F/11 wide open. Stopping it down any further to gain in sharpness will just wash it all away with noise.

And yes, the Sigma lens AF is slow if you're racking focus near to far, but it's certainly fast enough to track things without issue. Sharpness is good to great, bokeh is average, and CA is almost non-existent. You run into issues with the atmosphere hurting IQ more than the lens itself (minus being slower).

David Udin's picture

Yes. The original argument that Canon was motivated by market protection for professional "fine-art nature" photographers seems to be that the market for these photos would tolerate less than fantastic image quality. These photographers are not making a living on instagram--it's glossy magazines and big pictures on walls. The market for these photos isn't huge, so the market for these lenses isn't huge. Even at these prices I don't expect that the total contribution to Canon's bottom line is huge, either. Sports journalism is no doubt a larger market, but unless you're limiting your market to newspaper quality images, you need the fancy glass, too. Canon isn't protecting the professional photographer from the amateur, it's protecting its own professional market, period, by its investment in design and manufacturing of lenses of this quality. You'll only see those prices come down when someone else can design and manufacture lenses of the quality demanded by pro markets for less money.

B Dabunited's picture

Canon never intentionally 'protected' professional wildlife photographers, they were only protecting themselves. It was Tamron and Sigma who came out with the cheaper alternative because Canon wouldn't cannibalize their own market.

Having a bigger more expensive lens doesn't give you some kind of exclusive right to wildlife photography. It also doesn't make you a better photographer, or person for that matter. What sets apart a professional from a 'casual hobbyist' is not, and should not be, their financial means. To be quite frank, if a professional feels threatened by hobbyists they should really reconsider their profession.

And if the 'regular public' doesn't care about the difference between the 'sub-par' photo of the plebeian unworthy casual and the photo of the pro, it is worth asking if you should.

Rick Rizza's picture

Cannot imagine extending 2x an f/11 lenses. I might use a telescope for bigger aperture.

Anyway, So now white barrels will be a white dwarf? Seriously, the pride of carrying a 400 f/2.8 is more than carrying a 400 DO. But again, those are cosmetic.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Cosmetic indeed. If people are buying and carrying a white lens for pride, then they're quite pathetic aren't they?

Rick Rizza's picture

If it's only for pride, yes. I once saw a guy carrying a 500 and I was, gosh that bird watcher looks so cool.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Too me they're just a tool to do a job. I'm not parading them... I even have a camo cover so nobody's going to see a "big white"...

Michael Hickey's picture

Says to me that Canon is protecting the R&D investment made into the newest EF long lenses (400 and 600 vIII) and that we won't see RF versions of those lenses for quite some time.

CARL BRAGANZA's picture

When the $$$PRICE$$$ of a lens can be mistaken for a mortgage payment or could quite easily pay for a family of 4 to go on a 7-day Caribbean cruise or could pay for 2-months groceries for aforementioned family of 4, i have to wonder if reading articles like this is worthwhile, as all it really serves to accomplish, is having me start to contemplate selling one of my children or a kidney. or taking out a life-insurance policy on the wife.

Canon "L" glass is an unattainable fantasy/wet-dream for us mortals. 99% of us will never even get to see one in person, let alone being able to mount it and play around with. Don't get me wring, "L" glass is incredible and i oft find myself biting my lip attempting to stifle myself from screaming out in ecxtacy just as i climax.. "Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens" just as i climax.

Yeah, so Mr.Canon... thanks for all the lenses ill never get to use! Good job!!!

Rayann Elzein's picture

There's a tool for every use and every budget. Canon just released incredible long lenses on low budget, so if that's what you need, get one of those. Those big white ones are just work tools. Nobody complains that a bulldozer costs tens of thousands of $, well, it's the same here, it's just a tool for a job. Professionals who need them know how to budget them. (I'm not talking about rich enthusiasts here)