2020: The Year the World Tried to End, But Canon Finally Awoke

2020: The Year the World Tried to End, But Canon Finally Awoke

This year has been... memorable. While half the world is locked in their homes, forests are burning down to celebrate a child's gender, companies are going belly up, and it's starting to feel like the apocalypse, Canon has finally awoken from their slumber.

If you had to briefly give an overview of 2020, it would be pandemics, volcanoes, fires, riots, dead legends, and a veritable feast of other disastrous features in this smörgåsbord of catastrophe. Turning away from the smoldering embers to bury yourself in cameras would yield little respite too. Olympus might be no more (or at least not in the way we know them to be), Nikon seems to be sinking, camera sales are nose-diving still, and many photographers can't work properly. But in billows of deathly black smoke is a silver lining I am clinging to, and it's as unexpected to me as 2020 has been: Canon.

Who Woke the Sleeping Giant?

I primarily shoot on Sony bodies, but that wasn't always the case. My first camera was a Canon, and so was my second, third, fourth... I only moved to Sony when I tried a mirrorless body and decided it was the future. After a year with Sony, I started to become frustrated. Not with my Sony body — that's still great — but with Canon. They had shown signs they might enter the mirrorless market (which I'd been hoping for as a lot of my favorite glass is Canon's and I kept and adapted them.) Then, when they did, it was a more timid entry than the footballers into no man's land on Christmas day. As I wrote in my recent article on the most disappointing camera releases, it was a half-measure, and dreadfully middling. Where was the Canon that released exciting products with industry impact?

I started to look back, and it was a common story. Yes, their flagship cameras were always around the top of the DSLR leaderboards, but their innovation had been, for all intents and purposes, in hibernation. Sony had been pushing forward at a rate of knots, Fujifilm was making huge waves in both APS-C and medium format, and even smaller brands like Olympus were creating staggeringly powerful software to put in their cameras. Canon was releasing tired DSLR after dull point-and-shoot, and then, when they finally looked as if they were about to challenge Sony, they released the EOS R. It seemed to me that Sony and Fujifilm were rampaging up the sales charts and Canon and Nikon, who had been the "big two" in terms of mass commercial success in the camera industry, couldn't care less. Then, Canon woke up.

Who or what exactly woke Canon up, I don't know. Yesterday, while discussing the industry with fellow editor Alex Cooke, I joked that the EOS R might have been a purposely weak softball, that Canon might have decided they'd show just enough of mirrorless to their fan base to stop them jumping ship, but also offer a camera so underwhelming that when they launch their R5 and R6, the industry was floored. Well, intentional or not, it worked. Not only had they released mirrorless cameras that were going to compete with Sony for the title of MILC Overlord, but the R5 looks to be thwacking everyone else out of the way on its way up to take the crown of the best mirrorless camera on the market.

Great, thought I, Canon is making an effort again, albeit at a rather unusual moment in global history. But they weren't done.

Hibernation Is Over, and They're Hungry

The R5 and R6 — but particularly the R5 — had many Canon shooters vindicated and dribbling. While I haven't got one on preorder due to a difficulty utilizing creative enough maths to justify the purchase, I would use one in a heartbeat. If Canon offered me one, I'd sell my Sony tomorrow, and I really love that camera. But it seems as if Canon is just getting started. This week, they launched their third mirrorless body, even more, video-centric than the R5: the EOS C70

This far more compact camera in Canon's Cinema range looks to — if delivering on what it promises — replace the cumbersome members of the cinema family so far, and while sporting the shiny new mirrorless RF mount (though your old glass will still work via an adapter.) At half the price of the EOS C300 III and a fraction of its weight, all while retaining the Super 35 sensor, the C70 has the potential to be a monster in the videography sector. So, well done Canon — impressive stuff. 2020 has been a dreadful year and it's good to see you back in the game. Oh, wait, what? Did you just say "flagship"?

Canon's flagship camera, the EOS 1D X III is the pro body you'll see in the hands of most top sports photographers, photojournalists, and the like. It's consistently an expertly executed camera body that can withstand the rigors of heavy use in challenging situations. We've pondered at Fstoppers for a while now whether a 1D X IV is even in the cards in DSLR form, given that Canon appears to be pivoting to mirrorless is glorious fashion. If the rumors prove to be true — and it seems likely they will — the R1 is going to be their first titan of the mirrorless world; this is an area Sony too has been linked to entering, which if accurate, may expedite their plans.


I'm not sure what woke Canon up or whether they were ever truly asleep, but I'm glad they're back. Perhaps it was the sense that they were losing ground as the top dog, perhaps it was a ploy to let Sony fluff the mirrorless sector while they prepared to let slip the dogs of war, fittingly during the world's cry of havoc. Whatever the case, competition in the mirrorless sector can only be good for the consumers and prosumers alike, and whether I stay Sony or trot back to Canon with my tail between my legs dragging a knapsack of lenses, I'm pleased to see they're back to raising the bar during these tumultuous times both in and outside of the industry.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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"if delivering on what it promises" you said it. So far they woke and finally added features other companies have had for a while now and tried to dupe people into some 8k high quality 4k thing that failed. Now they have a new 4k camera coming out after getting people excited about 8k. 4k might be the thing now but some of us don't like to buy a new camera every time a new one comes out so some future proofing sounds like a good investment. The way companies are racing forward now, I think a wait and see attitude is smarter these days.

Yes but with a premium. Canon is so expensive I kind of decided that it not a option and no point even to consider.
I think Nikon and Canon both considered there DSLR to be supreme and only after A9 was released they woke up.
Now Sony have a great line up, and many third party options for lenses, affordable.
Also why should I switch away from Sony?
Color science? I shoot raw and stay away from Sony profiles. My images look good.
Canon shooters with a huge collection of lenses probably feel the same, why switch to Sony. And yes, I would love to try out Canon, but that will only happen if I get one for Christmas:)

This site really does love Canon :-). Unfortunately for me, since selling my 6D I haven’t looked back and Canon mirrorless offer me nothing I can’t get with Sony now. Sony offer the most complete lens choices (at all price points) and the fact they share focus information is a huge benefit. Canon do not. I also don’t like the way it seems Canon are still selling non-L lenses without a lens hood and charging far too much for one, if the upcoming 85mm f2 macro is anything to go by. Why can’t they just produce a set of cheaper f1.8 primes with included lens hood like other camera brands? Sorry Fstoppers, I don’t share the enthusiasm. Sure competition is good for all of us but Canon EOS-R is too pricey and nowhere near a complete system yet. They are still catching up to the competition.

Sony “the complete lens choices” is a joke. No f/1.2 AF lenses, no TS, no 200/2... the f/2.8 zooms are mediocre at best, and the 85/1.4 is a grinder. It was ok to shoot Sony while waiting for the R5, but it doesn’t make any sense now.

I said most complete, but am aware they don’t offer every lens. Canon still need an adapter for EF lenses missing in RF mount. Sony certainly offer plenty of choices for those unable to spend $1000’s on lenses. Besides, your issue with some of their lenses is just your own opinion. Others are very happy with those lenses.

There is no difference between an adapted EF lens on an RF body vs EF lens on an EF body. They work either same good or better. If the outstanding RF glass is too expensive for some, they can always find a gazillion of new and used EF lenses available for peanuts.

Some people are also happy with cell phones, but what's the point?

It's mind blowing to see how people are so spoiled with technology. Never mind all the crazy hype and criticism from others. The only thing failed it the concept of the R5 some people cannot grasp, because Canon made exactly what was promised.

If you want to record 8K video for an extended time try the RED Monstro 8K VV which will cost you ($54,500.00) without a lens. And you better have some muscle because it weighs in at 3.35lb (without a lens, monitor or handel). And you better not bring it out in the rain because it's not rain proof.

We are spoiled with technology, I agree. I went with Sony because they are better priced and have a more complete lineup of gear.

Btw, what exactly did Canon make that was promised? They boasted about the R5 8K NO CROP capability but it turns out the heating issue makes this pretty much useless. I’m not trying to bash Canon cameras, just taking issue that you think they delivered as promised, considering many eager potential buyers were looking at it as a super high res video camera (I was always sceptical a small hybrid would deliver 8K without problems). People need to stop apologising for Canon’s inexcusable lack of transparency about the heating issue before a YouTuber brought this to public attention.

Lol, or use your brain and get a Zcam E2 F8 for $48,500 less...

Sure and all you need to do is add a handle, a monitor and make it waterproof among other things. Good thinking. Glad to have someone like you who can point out the obvious. Let me know when you arrive in America so I can send you a chauffeur.

I mean, even if you add another $2k in rigging and add ons, it's still significantly cheaper than your suggestion. Strange you'd go for such a poor example...

Okay Alex I like your example. It still proves my point. Canon made exactly what was promised, so thanks.

I agree with the author. Canon did wake up and in a big way. Now it is time for Nikon to step up. Remember the D850! Now surpass it.

They will . The Z cameras are really good. Their video features are a lot better than what the D850 has. Have you actually used a Z yet or are you going off what the youtubers say ?

I am a Nikon fan. I love the Z. But I want something that beats Canon in every way. I am not a hater of any product. I like Canon's challenge and admire their product. I hope Nikon engineers will do their best. After all that is the advantage of competition. May the best product win.

Why even think like that? Why not focus on using something that works for your needs? Besides, while tech specs do matter some things about cameras are subjective such as ergonomics, color science, and the way they feel in the hand.

Thinking can't hurt. If we keep buying stuff based on that thought process of having the latest and the greatest than that would hurt. Nikon and Canon competing to provide the best technology and at some point at a lower price hurts no one.

[Quote] Where was the Canon that released exciting products with industry impact? [/Quote]
Are you saying that the Canon R line of mirrorless cameras, hadden had an impact?

The thing is, that most people on the internet's camera sites, has an attention span of approximate "The announcement of the next great thing".
If the thing being announced isn't "the great thing" they had hoped, they trash it and lose interest in the anticipation of "The announcement of the next great thing".

Camera companies or any companies for that matter, don't work that way. There is never "the next thing" for them. they are already 2 - 4 years ahead in the design stage, with 3,4 ,5 cameras worked on.

So, when Canon (and Nikon) released thier first mirrorless, they were just the first in a long line of cameras to come.
Canon and Nikon and every camera company knew it. Only people on the internet, which didn't get the memo.

Forests are not burning to celebrate a gender. Some of your fellow citizens were celebrating and an accident happened. I'm sure they are very remorseful, being that was not their intention. Meanwhile, 4 individuals have been arrested for intentionally setting fires in OR and WA but you chose not to use them to make your political statement? Stick to cameras please...