Canon's Smart Move With Sigma and Tamron Shakes Up the APS-C Lens Market

Canon's Smart Move With Sigma and Tamron Shakes Up the APS-C Lens Market

The recent introduction of new lenses for Canon's RF-S mount by third-party manufacturers Sigma and Tamron is a significant development for the industry. These lenses, all designed for APS-C format cameras, are a significant development that reveals Canon's strategic approach to its mirrorless camera lineup. 

Sigma and Tamron's Entry Into the RF-S Mount

Sigma and Tamron, two of the most respected third-party lens manufacturers, have made an exciting move by announcing a suite of lenses for Canon's RF-S mount. This move is significant because it marks the first time that major third-party manufacturers are offering officially licensed autofocus lenses for Canon's mirrorless cameras. The lenses introduced by Tamron and Sigma include the Tamron 11-20mm F/2.8 Di III RXD, and from Sigma, the 18-50mm F2.8 DC DN | Contemporary, 10-18mm F2.8 DC DN | Contemporary, and a range of prime lenses from 16mm to 56mm with apertures of f/1.4. These lenses are expected to provide Canon APS-C users with more creative options and could potentially disrupt the market dynamics. From their sides, the lenses are a clear signal that Sigma and Tamron are confident in the RF-S mount's future and are willing to invest in it, though, in fairness, most of them are retreads of existing designs (or close) and thus, likely did not take significant overhead to develop. Nonetheless, this is a significant endorsement for Canon, as it could lead to a wider adoption of the RF-S system among photographers who are looking for high-quality yet affordable lens options. The move also suggests that Sigma and Tamron see a substantial market of Canon users who demand versatility and quality in their APS-C lenses.

APS-C Specific Design, Strategic Exclusivity, and Market Segmentation

The new lenses from Sigma and Tamron are designed specifically for APS-C sensors, which means they are not compatible with Canon's full frame RF mount cameras. This distinction is crucial, as it indicates a clear demarcation line Canon is drawing in the sand. By allowing third-party manufacturers to produce lenses for the APS-C market, Canon is effectively keeping the full frame lens market to itself, where it can continue to produce high-end, proprietary lenses, at least for the time being. This strategy could be seen as Canon's way of protecting its high-margin full frame lens business while simultaneously growing its presence in the APS-C segment. It's a clever way to segment the market, ensuring that professional and high-end enthusiasts have a compelling reason to stick with Canon's own lenses for full frame cameras, while still providing options for APS-C users through third-party offerings, particularly considering the RF-S lens library has not gotten the same sort of attention from the company as the RF line. 

Canon's strategy of keeping full frame capabilities exclusive to its lenses while opening the APS-C market to third-party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron is a strategic move that could pay dividends. By maintaining a competitive edge in the full frame market, Canon ensures that its premium products remain desirable to professionals and high-end enthusiasts. At the same time, the APS-C market, which is more price-sensitive and diverse in its needs, gets a boost from the variety, innovation, and affordability that third-party manufacturers bring to the table. This market segmentation allows Canon to cater to different segments of photographers without scrambling to build out two lens libraries simultaneously, which enables the company to focus its research, development, and marketing efforts on the more lucrative full frame market, where it has a strong reputation and loyal customer base.

This strategy effectively broadens Canon's appeal and reach, attracting both high-end professionals and enthusiastic amateurs looking for quality and affordability. Furthermore, this segmentation strategy could potentially lead to increased brand loyalty among different user groups. Amateur photographers and those with more limited budgets are likely to appreciate the accessibility and variety provided by third-party lenses for APS-C cameras. In essence, Canon's strategic market segmentation not only solidifies its position in various segments of the market but also cleverly uses its brand strength to maximize customer loyalty across different demographics without having to wait several years to develop a full RF-S line in a crowded APS-C market. 

Enhancing RF-S Mount Competitiveness

Canon's RF-S mount faces stiff competition from other APS-C mirrorless systems, such as those from Fujifilm and Sony. By opening up the RF-S mount to third-party manufacturers, Canon is looking to enhance the system's competitiveness. A broader range of lenses, especially from well-regarded brands like Sigma and Tamron, makes the RF-S system more appealing to photographers who might be considering other brands, especially at the low end of market, where price is often the primary deciding factor. This strategy could help Canon attract new users to its ecosystem, particularly impulse buyers, and retain existing ones who might be tempted by the lens offerings of other systems. 

Canon's decision to open up the RF-S mount to third-party manufacturers is a strategic response to the evolving landscape of the APS-C mirrorless market. By doing so, Canon is not only expanding its lens portfolio but also capitalizing on the reputation and technological advancements of Sigma and Tamron. This collaboration can lead to a surge in innovation and quality, as these manufacturers bring their own unique expertise and optical technologies to the RF-S mount. The result is a more compelling product offering that can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Fujifilm's X-mount and Sony's E-mount systems, which have long been praised for their extensive lens selections. By ensuring that RF-S mount users have access to a wide array of lenses, Canon is effectively reducing the need for photographers to look elsewhere for their equipment needs. By funneling more APS-C and low-budget users into the RF-S mount, Canon also expands its pool of users who could potentially upgrade to the lucrative RF full frame mount. 


Canon's strategic decision to allow third-party manufacturers to produce lenses for its APS-C RF-S mount while keeping full-frame lenses exclusive to its brand is a multifaceted approach that could benefit the company in several ways. It allows Canon to maintain its dominance in the full frame market, where it can continue to innovate without direct competition from third-party lens makers. At the same time, it opens up the APS-C market to a wider range of lenses without delay, making the RF-S system more competitive and attractive to a wider range of users, making it a savvy move for Canon.
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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This is just one more reason to move to Fuji for crop-sensor cameras.

that doesn't make sense...

Sure ! if you're ready to wait for one year or two, that the copy you ordered and already paid to the Fujifilm company is finally built and shipped to you...

Smart move my ASH! Canon and this article is full of Bull! As a Canon shooter, I was so disappointed when they brought down the hammer on the 3rd party RF makers. I did get me a Samyang RF85 lens before that happened. And if it wasn't so expensive, I would have left Canon for Sony. Side note: Sony if you're reading this, I'd trade my R5 and and RF and EF lenses straight up for a comparable set. LOL

With the slew of EF lenses (via adapter) out there, including 3rd parties, what 3rd party lens would you need for your R5? I tell 'ya, from the reviews I've seen, I'm envious of Canon's EF adapter for how good it is. Sony's adapters aren't that great.

Have you considered selling and buying used from reputable places like MPB, KEH, Adorama, BHPhoto, etc? Of course you'll take a loss. But, it's probably better than having equipment around you don't use or are not happy with it. So, the loss may not be as great.

I recently bought a used a9 for $1479 from MPB and it only had 4835 mechanical shutter clicks on it. It looked and felt new. God, I love this thing, especially the AF. I'm almost crazy enough, just almost, to sell my a7iii and a7Rii, for another a9.

Black Z Eddie asked:

"With the slew of EF lenses (via adapter) out there, including 3rd parties, what 3rd party lens would you need for your R5?"

I would LOVE a Sigma 60-600mm that would work just as good as a Canon lens on a Canon mirrorless body.

I have the Sigma 60-600mm in the EF mount, but it is very slow to focus compared to all of my Canon lenses. That. I presume, is because Sigma had to reverse engineer the AF system, and therefore it isn't as rapid and snappy as the Canon lenses are.

If Canon allowed Sigma to make a 60-600mm in the RF mount, and didn't hold back on anything, so that Sigma would not have to reverse-engineer the lens, then it would be freaking awesome!

I love my Canon lenses' autofocus capabilities, but the range of the Canon zooms leaves a lot to be desired, and I miss so many shots because of the time it takes to change lenses, or the awkward slowness of using two bodies, each with a different lens.

If Canon refuses to make a 60-600mm for their R bodies, then at least they could let someone else do it properly.

Several years to get RF mount on aps-c, several years to get other brands RF aps-c lents... I don't see any strategy other than postponing. Now they are postponing other brand RF full-frame lents.

But in fact, Sony, making Tamron release a 28-75 instead of a 24-70, to not compete with Sony 24-70; or Sony itself releasing as many rare zooms as the 24-50 or 16-25, to compete in price with the other brands in 24-70 and 16 -35...

Well, nobody plays fair here.

Truly, genius-level 4D chess from Canon. Finally deigning to allow the consumers they hoodwinked into buying R7/10/50/100s the option of purpose built APS-C lenses other than a handful of slow kit zoom lenses, because they have no interest or desire in serving these customers themselves.

But also denying their full-frame customers the same benefits, because after nearly 6 YEARS they’re finally going to maybe-hopefully-it-looks-like-possibly going to release some basic bread-and-butter F1.4 lenses that people really could have used at launch.

clap clap clap

Smart? Canon is just outsourcing their APS-C lineup. Hence the reason no one wants their cameras in any format.

Now they need to allow 3rd parties to make full frame RF lenses, not just APSC lenses. I completely glossed over Canon when moving fully to mirrorless for this reason. I didn't even consider Canon as an option at all.

Was this written by a Canon executive?

To be clear, I'm not praising them for how this will affect customer choice and satisfaction; I'm saying this was a savvy business move.

People seem to feel strongly about this sort of thing. I went Nikon since I always admired their F2 from the 1970s. I actually needed a DSLR and that seemed like a good direction for me. I don't understand the comments on this site anymore. I don't understand the nasty comments at all. I also got the point of your article...

Seems more slow and backward than smart. Canon finally figured out that you will lose market share if you have restrictive policies. I remember thinking when they made their original decision - to not allow 3rd part lenses - it was just one more reason to never buy Canon. And if they made that decision once, who's to say they won't in the future with another firmware update.

It is a smart business move. Why spend the millions on R&D and time to develop APSC lenses when you can let some one else do it freeing up your time and cash flow for other endeavors. It's fantastic business move. Is it great for consumers? I dunno we'll have to wait and see once all these 3rd party APSC lenses start rolling out.

It wouldn't surprise if the real reason was that Canon couldn't really be bothered with APS-C lenses. Lower volume and lower profit margin per unit. Canon can keep selling R7 and R10 bodies with a kit lens. Sigma and Tamron already have APS-C ready lenses. They just have adapt the RF mount. No longer a minor P.I.T.A. for Canon

It's definitely a smart business move. Offload the R&D of a second line of lenses to a third part saves a lot of money and their users still get some mostly solid options. Would still be cool if Canon showed interest in their own product though.

That's just non-sense. I moved to Sony because of Canon's monopoly on lens and Sony sensors are just better.

I would anticipate opening up of the FF RF mount in the next two years. Honestly, I rarely buy third-party lenses so for me this is not a huge issue.

Unfortunately at that time all of these people will have to work hard to find something else about Canon to whine about.

That and over heating during video capture are the only things to complain about. Otherwise Canon is still pretty amazing. Especially their lenses.

2 years? Then, Canon will loose a lot more of market share than it's loosing right now (on full-frame mirrorless). And that market share will be very difficult to recover.