This Data Helps Illuminate Why Canon Is Not Allowing Most Third Party Lenses

This Data Helps Illuminate Why Canon Is Not Allowing Most Third Party Lenses

Canon has caused a fair amount of controversy recently over their refusal to allow most third-party lenses for the RF mount. However, recent research data sheds a lot of light on the decision. 

The latest BCN rankings, which track a variety of consumer electronics trends in Japan, have been released, and they show intense competition in the lens market, with the following market share for each major company (based on about 40% of Japanese retailers):

1. Canon: 17.1%
2. Sigma: 16%
3. Tamron: 15.1%
4. Sony: 14.2%
5. Nikon: 13.8%
6. OM Digital Solutions: 8.6%
7. Panasonic: 4.6%
8. Fujifilm: 4.2%

It isn't particularly surprising to see the order of the companies, but what is particularly interesting is the fact that only 3.3% separates Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Sony, and Nikon, indicating ferocious competition and showing that Canon is barely holding their lead at the moment. 

The data gets even more interesting when broken down by lens mount:

1. Sony: 32.6%
2. Canon EF: 11.4%
3. Nikon F: 9.3%
4. Fujifilm X: 8.8%
5. Nikon Z: 8.5%
6. Canon RF: 7.7%

Without a doubt, Canon intends to increase those percentages, and given the intense competition, they may feel that the best way forward is to lock down the mount and leverage their deep market share of camera bodies to push users toward their own lenses. You can read the full report here.

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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Well because of that my next camera is not likely to be Canon, I will not stick around. Good luck to Canon it has been a good run !

That won’t be a huge loss for Canon since your intentions were to buy 3rd party lenses anyways. That small profit on a single body won’t mean much.
You buying 6 Canon RF lenses instead Sigma’s would make a difference.

I would, since many lenses are not available in RF. However I have been a loyal customer to them. The last 20 years I have purchased over 18 canon bodies, and numerous lenses for my studio. i currently own 8 canon L series lenses and two sigma. Also three camera bodies as well.
I would also add that in my local community I do influence what some photographers would buy. Something else to think about. In other words, ''loss'' is not something easy to account for.

You would think it would make Canon run the other way and open up their RF mount to 3rd parties. But hey, they apparently know what their doing; they've been running a multi-billion dollar company for years, I haven't. LOL

Wouldn't that make even less people buy Canon lenses?

IDK - maybe for some. But if you were Canon, would you rather people just ran to other OEM's than even want to buy your camera? I'm sure that's not stopping sales of Sony, Nikon and other brands.

There's no greater reason for them to run to other brands than they did before Canon restricted RF mount to native lenses.
(1) Canon's existing DSLR base can seamlessly move to the RF mount with just the purchase of an adapter. ALL their Canon EF and third party EF lenses can be used on the RF mount. So unless they're complete morons why would such a Canon DSLR user sell their entire lineup of EF lenses and move to another brand?
(2) First-time ICL buyers anyway aren't looking to buy a diverse lineup of lenses, since they're coming in as hobbyists or speciality part-timers who'd just buy one or two RF lenses, and aren't really looking to third parties for speciality lenses or bargains. They're no less likely to pick Canon over a competitor.
(3) Users of competitor brands are anyway faced with a system change, regardless of whether third-party lenses exist or not, and are usually switching brands for a reason that has little to do with availability of lenses, or prices.
So there's no reason for Canon not to restrict the RF mount. Often the people grumbling and moaning are users of competitive brands who wouldn't come to Canon anyway, and just wanna diss Canon.

Is there really an EF body to RF lens adaptor? I know there is an RF body to EF lens adaptor that works well, but I was not aware of the existence of a reverse adaptor. Can you please provide a link to this product? If such a thing really exists, then I am quite interested, as it would allow me to use the RF 800mm f11 lens on my old DSLRs.

I have used only Canon EF mount bodies since 2007, but when I switch to mirrorless I will do better for myself to make Sony my new camera brand, and to buy a mixture of Sony and 3rd party lenses, mostly Laowa and Sigma offerings for the lenses that Sony has no comp for, such as the 60-600mm f6.3 the 15mm 2:1 macro and the 25mm Macro Probe.

The reason I will do better by switching to Sony is purely due to Canon's policy on 3rd party manufacturers making lenses for the RF mount. The deeper Canon digs themselves into their position, the more that makes me want to get away from Canon entirely as I look into the coming years.

So you will sell all your EF lenses and buy an entire new set of lenses instead of buying an EF/RF mount adaptor? That's an oddly unintelligent choice.

Eventually, yes. And by eventually, I mean over the course of the next 4 to 6 years.

Autofocus being lightning fast and super accurate is extremely important for some of the photography I do, and I think that with rapidly and erratically moving subjects, AF will acquire and lock slightly faster with native mount lenses compared to adapted lenses. I mean, when one or two thousandths of a second REALLY matter, I can't afford to have something lag, even if imperceptibly.

I actually probably won't sell all of my EF lenses because they wear out and break so darn much that I won't get hardly anything for the busted ones. It's not like these EF lenses last forever, the way I use and abuse them. Lenses are something that I normally have to replace every several years because of the damage that they incur, and at some point the repair quote is higher than the value of the lens, so it just gets put on a shelf and a replacement is purchased. So I would just buy RF mount lenses one by one, as the EF lenses break and aren't worth repairing.

Your argument seems to be for staying with Canon. There doesn't seem to be any sense in switching an entire portfolio of lenses over 4-6 years, a period during which Canon most likely would have opened the RF mount to third parties.

You seem to insist on saying what you think would be best for me to do. Why don't you let me make the decision for what I do, and you can make the decisions about what you do? I'm not telling you what I think is best for you , so please show the same respect for my decision-making ability that I am showing for your decision-making ability.

By the way, I do not plan on "switching over" an entire lens portfolio. I would acquire Sony mount lenses and keep whatever Canon EF mount lenses I have that continue to work. So I would be adding Sony to the Canon lenses I already have. No need to get rid of the old Canon stuff. So not really switching over, just adding to. I should have explained that more clearly in my original comment.

What those percentages also show (indirectly) as that Canon's current customers are overwhelmingly novices. They are buying cameras but not more lenses. Sony E-mount where all the advanced amateur and pro buyers are. Hence the higher number of lenses being sold.

I think that conclusion is a bit premature to be honest, when we do not see how it compares with sales of bodies and what bodies all these EF mount lenses are used on, that still have such a large market share.

Anecdotallly, general electronics stores around here have been pushing Sony heavily as ideal camera for novice shooters (who for the most part won't be buying more lenses), and the Canon shooters I know all have multiple lenses. :-)

I'm drawing a conclusion based on a large dataset of hundreds of retailers. You're basing your conclusion on one or two personal anecdotes.

Anecdotes aside, I still think the data does not necessarily lead to only the conclusion you draw.

RF lenses are expensive.

EF lenses are much cheaper and I'm surprised how much they still sell -- so it could well be that many customers buying RF bodies, buy EF glass instead of RF glass.
Canon EF and Nikon F lenses are popular on all mirrorless mounts, but still more commonly used on "own brand bodies", so to say.

Then there is still Canon's EF-M mount, and EF-M mount lenses are not listed above but EF-M mount bodies will be included in the total count of Canon bodies sold. And I believe that so far, EF-M has been quite popular in Japan.

There's no way to tell how that impacts the share of Canon bodies in the statistics above, making them even harder to interpret.

I feel like most people are just adapting their EF glass on their new RF bodies and waiting (in vain apparently) for Canon to open up 3rd party options because of the price tag on RF.

Totally agree. I do have the Canon 14-35 and 28-70 RF glass, but also got the Rokinon RF 85 before Canon banned them. And using my other EF glass with the RF adapter.

I don't think that's the case, it's more of we are using our EF lenses on the RF mount instead of forking over the money for the Canon brand.

Agreed. And anyone in that category would not be a novice because they already own lenses. So Canon is not getting their existing customers to buy RF lenses to replace EF lenses.

I don't have a single RF lens.

I've never had an issue adapting lenses as so many stuffy photographers seem to want to argue against.

My main critical lens is the EF 50 mm 1.4. It's pretty easy to guess why I still don't have an RF lens yet.

But I really really want one. I have the money for it but it just doesn't exist.

EF lenses are plentiful in the marketplace these days. I've been shooting Canon for roughly ten years now - started with a 5d mk I or II, cannot recall. moved to the 1dx MKI, through the 1dx mkIII. I've since switched to full mirrorless; r5 and r3 with 5? RF lenses; 15-35, 24-70, 50 1.2, 85 1.2, 100-500 4.5-7.1. I also keep an ef-rf adapter handy as I have the 200f2 and 15 2.8 fisheye. I have the RF 135 1.8 on order and will grab then when I get home.

Yeah, RF is pricey, but so was new EF glass when it all came out. I spent roughly the same on the EF 24-70 mkII when it came out, the 70-200 2.8 IS MKIII when it came out. As a working pro, I prefer the canon eco-system over most other lenses; CPS is a godsend when things go wrong, and frankly, not worth the savings having to deal with 3rd party repair / warranty issues. Canon Canada supports me better than any company in any industry ever has...

my 2 cents - its worth the investment if you are a working pro.

You're failing to see that a lot of Canon's current customers are Canon DSLR (or former DSLR) users who are still using their EF lenses, even on RF mount bodies.

I am just FORCED to use my existing Tamron EF mount lenses. That is my frustration. my only RF lens is the cheap rf nifty fifty. I was eyeing the viltrox 85mm also as i have tested this glass from a friend and it was a good lens for me. However i was still saving up when canon demanded them to stop making them.

Yes, no doubt, there are some frustrations. Canon does have an RF85 f/2 for just $100 more Viltrox, though. But if you're patient, they're showing signs of opening the market up for third party on a case by case basis, I'm guessing based on the market status of given lenses.

Funny about your numbers on mounts… MFT Rumours just showed a graph showing MFT running second to Sony E, but they aren't even mentioned here.

This seems broken, as OM Systems had 8.6% of the "by vendor" market, but can't even show 7.7% of the "by mount" market? And that's without any help from Panasonic and the independent lens makers!

Something's fishy.

When your competitors deliver 90-100% of the performance at 50-75% of your cost, I guess locking the mount is your /only/ recourse. I mean, lowering your prices or improving performance would be crazy talk. Right?

I mostly agree -- but I wonder, which RF lenses should have performance improved?

I'm not keeping up that much with RF lenses now but I feel that most of them are great lenses but far too expensive for me.

One might say that some lenses are a bit slow (narrow max aperture) but that's often the compromise for lighter weight and smaller size.

Well just to mention one, the 15-35 f/2.8 has an absurd vignetting and a price that simply isn't justifiable by the performance, I'd pick a Sigma 14-24 f/2.8 over it any day.
The old 16-35 f/4 is actually brighter than the f/2.8 RF in a lot of the frame, that's how bad the vignetting of the 15-35 is.

i absolutely hate vignetting. I value deep corners of the frame being very bright and very sharp. Light falloff in the corners and along the edges sucks, and correction software isn't nearly as good as super bright and sharp at the moment of capture.

Unlike certain other lens characteristics, it seems vignetting is something that is fairly easily handled in software, via lens profiles. Olympus/OMDS (et. al.) do it all the time, automagically, in a way of which the end user isn't even aware, in most cases.

Ah, yes!

Vignetting of that lens is indeed an issue. In test charts I've seen it is as much as -4 stops in the corners and edges.
And it also has been an issue with their later EF 16-35mm f/2.8 lenses, so I guess it's quite a conscious choice of Canon to design the lenses that way.

Perhaps it helps them overcome other optical issues?

One way to interpret that data is that the companies who enjoy the most third party lens support in their mounts themselves sell proportionally more lenses.

It’s hard to interpret though because one has to make an assumption about what the percentages represent: market share of lens sales? Camera market share? Etc

I've been a Canon EOS user since 1991 and only once bought a 3rd party lens, the EF mount Sigma 50mm Art, which I sold 3 years later. I buy into the system for the OEM glass, just like I did in 1980 with Nikon, until it all got stolen. But I understand people want options, I've just always been more than satisfied with the camera brand glass.

Third party glass on dslr’s with reverse engineering meant those lens’ autofocus performance was significantly worse than first party lenses. With mirrorless the difference is a lot closer now to the point third party lenses can easily be used by professionals without feeling like they are not up to the job.

I'm going to stick with Sony as I enjoy the greater variety of lenses.


I am considering switching to Sony for that very reason. What lenses do you have that are not currently offered in RF mount?


Forgive me jumping in, but here are some : 50mm1,4, 35mm 1,4, 85mm 1,4, 24mm 1,4. I do not care about the 1,2 versions as I find them too big and expensive.

Hey George

Yes, I know a bunch of 3rd party lenses that have no first party equivalents. For me it's truly unique lenses like the Sigma 60-600mm, Laowa 15mm 2:1 macro, and the Laowa 24mm Macro Probe.

But I wanted to know what lenses Erpillar Bendy was using.

Me just venting on Canon, sorry !

Since the EF 50 mm does not work with high frame rate mode on the r62, I actually need a RF version that can keep up. Unfortunately my beloved 70 to 200 2.8 tank lens is also not compatible with it. But there's no way I'm replacing that lens with a push-pull zoom. No thank you.

So vent away, it is definitely warranted. Canon is responding because maybe they're getting a little bit nervous about the bad press and angry comment sections. Most of the YouTubers won't complain because they could afford all of the lenses they need and get loaners which are sometimes even permanent (Panasonic handed all those guys thousands of dollars in lenses).

The Sony GM 24/1.4, 35/1.4 and 50/1.4 (will have soon), Tamron 17-28, Tamron 70-180, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN, and some Samyang/Rokinon lenses. Many are cheaper than Canon RF options. I also have the Sony GM 24-70/2.8 II which is lighter than the Canon RF option.

One of the main benefits to third party, other than price, is the availability of unique lenses not offered by first party lenses. Also anyone who can’t afford the premium L lenses will just be stuck with Canon’s poor lineup of non-L lenses, or some third party manual lenses.


Yes, exactly! It is great to see that someone here actually gets it!

It is not about price at all for me. But rather about the fact that Canon refuses to make specialty niche lenses that 3rd party manufacturers are willing and able to make.


How sad for Canon. They've been making the rounds lately in the media to ensure that they let frustrated customers know that they're thinking about them. What a load of bunk.

They would have sold one more lens if they actually came out with the RF50 mm 1.4. Will this lens ever come out? there's been shootouts from other manufacturers versions on all of the photo websites for the last month.

Where is Canon in that? Oh... NO WHERE.

I don't even know how to use my r62 AF yet (coming from a 5D3), and I'm already looking forward to that Panasonic or Sony body. So many lens options is going to be sublime!

I had the Eos R and now the R6. ( Also a couple of 5dmk4s ) I do not own rf glass, and I would like to add one more mirrorless body. However I would need to start repurchasing my lenses in RF. The way I see it I will bite the bullet and switch. On the long run it would be the best option *for me*

Reading the full report, when it comes to lens mounts market share in units, Sony's E mount leads, with Micro Four Thirds a close second.
On the Sony E mount out of the top 10 selling lenses, 6 are from Tamron and one from Sigma.
With its much smaller RF market for lenses, Canon simply can't afford to give 70% of the RF market away.
On the other hand with Micro Four Thirds being an open mount it's interesting to note Sigma has recently chosen to not try to compete with OM Systems and Panasonic. This reflects the value for money MFT represents.
So despite of all the hype around Canon's RF mount it still has a task to become dominant.

Best thing about sony is that I can put 18 different lens mounts on one camera. I have ef mount, old Nikon lenses, c mount. For my professional work I stick to mostly sony but I have a lot of fun with my other lenses.

Since the third party lenses would have to be reverse engineered, maybe Canon wants to have full quality control over the lenses used on their cameras because it only makes Canon look bad if the lenses don't perform perfectly as Canon lenses.

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