With seven new lenses hitting the market, Canon is updating their CN cinema glass to RF mount. They’re almost identical to the original EF mount lenses that debuted in 2011.
The biggest benefit to shooting on Canon’s CN line is that the electronics communicate with Cinema EOS cameras. These new RF lenses are no different. Users will still have the Dual Pixel Focus Guide, which is an incredibly handy tool for solo shooters. Chromatic aberration correction and peripheral illumination correction remain as well, which don’t work when shooting raw footage.
Distortion Correction has been added to the new RF glass. A nice feature for smaller crews. Again, users can’t record raw footage if they want to utilize this.
Gains and Losses
What you gain with those features, you lose with versatility. They’re exactly the same as EF lenses, except there’s an adapter bolted on. Canon admitted this in a YouTube comment recently.
The new lenses differ from the EF version in adding a native RF Mount (eliminating the need for adapters), and the ability to engage distortion correction on RF-mount Cinema EOS cameras.
In some ways, this is great. Users with an existing CN-E lens set can add the new CN-R lenses and expect the same qualities. Canon isn’t messing with an already lauded set of lenses.
If you’re a solo shooter or part of a small crew, the CN-R lenses will be a wonderful addition to a C70. However, more professional sets will shoot raw footage, focus manually, utilize a test chart for distortion, and appreciate the versatility of an EF mount lens. For a $25,000 lens set, I think Canon’s going to have a hard time selling these reboot lenses.
The Future of RF
Canon’s dominated the lens market with their EF mount glass through the 2010s. Their RF mount may prove to be as popular, but it’s not there yet. In fact, RED has more RF mount cinema cameras than Canon does.
Is this CN-R release reassuring to EOS cinema camera users? I don’t think so. Not utilizing the RF upgrade to downsize these lenses is puzzling. Even Zeiss’ Compact Prime series got a downsize over the years.
The move from EF to RF isn’t going to happen overnight. Being in the middle of this transition without any real flagship cinema camera and an apathetic update to the cinema lenses isn’t a good look. For now, it's still reasonable to invest in EF and PL mount glass.