Canon Should Bring Out an RF Mount APS-C Camera and Without Killing off EOS M

Canon Should Bring Out an RF Mount APS-C Camera and Without Killing off EOS M

Two interesting rumors emerged this week, one suggesting that Canon will kill off its M-series cameras, and another suggesting that an RF APS-C camera is only a year away. Despite the full-frame furor of the last few years, Canon should keep both of these formats. Here’s why.

Canon Rumors recently reported some alleged and somewhat bizarre and lackluster specifications for a forthcoming EOS M7, positioning the camera more as a replacement for the M50 rather than a successor to the M5 or M6 Mark II, effectively making it the body that finally kills off the M-series. This seems very unlikely given the popularity of these cameras (particularly in Asia), but it does reinvigorate the debate as to what Canon is planning in terms of its crop sensor cameras. The Japanese manufacturer’s future has always felt a bit awkward given that it’s stuck between two mounts, especially given that we’ll never see an adapter that connects RF glass to M-series bodies come to market.

To further stoke those fires, there’s now another, perhaps stronger suggestion that Canon will follow Nikon and create an RF mount camera with an APS-C sensor. There are vague rumors that a well-specced APS-C RF-mount camera — perhaps an R7 — will make an appearance in the latter half of 2021.

For Nikon, APS-C Z-mount made a lot of sense as, unlike Canon, it didn’t have a completely separate line of small sensor cameras getting in the way of its developments. Given the market’s collapse, Nikon must now be relieved that it killed off the 1-series back in 2018 — something it perhaps should have done a lot sooner, with hindsight — rather than trying to flog more life into it.

Canon EOS 7D Mark IIBy contrast, for Canon, there was a host of keen 7D Mark II users waiting to see what mirrorless would bring, with a lingering fear that a 7D Mark III would never come to market (spoiler: it won’t), thus pushing them towards bulky full-frame cameras that are either too slow or too expensive, or, worse, towards the M-series and an underwhelming selection of lenses.

The successor to the 7D Mark II — so popular with wildlife and sports photographers, not to mention run-and-gun videographers — could be shaping up to be the R7: an APS-C, speed-oriented body that should also pack some solid video specs that potentially avoids many of the R5 and R6’s overheating issues thanks to its smaller sensor.

The response from wildlife shooters who have been testing the R5 has been extremely positive. If a seasoned pro like Jan Wegener suggests that your hit rate when it comes to birds in flight jumps from 30% to 90% by switching from a DSLR to the R5, twitchers will be twitching furiously at the prospect of an affordable, smaller camera still capable of 15+ frames per second that can take advantage of Canon’s remarkable glass — even if that’s simply one of the new, budget, supertelephoto f/11 primes. If anything, those affordable primes could be are another hint that an APS-C full-frame speed demon could be in the pipeline.

Canon Rumors is keen to emphasize that all of this is uncertain at present, though it does claim that an RF 18-45mm non-L lens is slated for next year, which one can assume would only make sense if it were designed for an APS-C sensor.

Canon EOS M50, white


Many Canon fans take all of this as a sign that the demise of the M-series is upon us, but I’d argue that this is unlikely. While I’ve only ever seen one EOS M out in the wild (it was indeed white), they sell by the bucket-load in Japan, and make a popular choice for content creators, with the M50 being an excellent option for vloggers. A generously specced APS-C RF would not necessarily be a threat to the M-series, and while Canon will be conscious of the risks presented by splitting its product lines, the demand is almost certainly present. Furthermore, this wouldn't strike me as a huge investment in development; as long as the sensor technology can be shared long-term between M and R, there’s perhaps not much that needs doing beyond paring down the R6 while hanging onto the weather sealing and the dual card slots.

If you were Canon, what would you do? Are you an 7D Mark II owner waiting breathlessly for Canon to bring RF lenses to a crop sensor camera? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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John Xantoro's picture

1. A high-end R APS-C for wildlife might make sense eventually but it is a niche product and shouldn't have priority right now.
2. I think Canon should keep EF-M. I like the clear distinction and as customer, I know what it is and what I get (unlike for instance Nikon Z APS-C).
3. It's 2020 and nobody should be expected to use FF lenses on APS-C bodies. People who go into APS-C, do so deliberately for cost and size reasons and using e.g. a $900 24/1.8 Nikon Z just go get a 35mm equiv. is ridiculous. The same would be true for Canon.
4. I doubt that Canon would offer really cheap lenses and bodies for R-Mount APS-C, unlike they do now for EF-M.
5. EF-M doesn't have to be "professional", it doesn't have to have f2.8-Zooms etc. Small primes/zooms and maybe one, or two lenses for nice bokeh and portrait and an up-to-date body once in a while. Nothing more is needed.
6. The idea of "using APS-C because it's cheaper now but with the intention of upgrade to FF later" is obsolete and was always flawed and a scheme thought up by companies who didn't respect APS-C and its customers (like Nikon and Canon). Getting rid of EF-M would just tell me to avoid all APS-C products from Canon (Nikon sends the same message with their Z DX-line).

Matt Williams's picture

To be fair, no one aside from Pentax and of course Fuji has ever put much effort into their APS-C lens lines. Even the Canon M series feels like a distant priority for Canon - it always has.

But the advantage to having APS-C and FF in the same mount is that you don't need two separate lens types if you own both. I use APS-C and FF and I'd hate it if my lenses weren't interchangeable between them.

The RF and Z mounts are very new, so of course their priority is on FF lenses at the moment.

Michael Krueger's picture

To each their own but I'm of the opposite opinion, Canon having a seperate mount for APS-C and FF mirrorless is part of the reason I would buy Nikon Z or Sony E before a Canon product. I rather enjoy having APS-C and FF on Nikon F currently.

John Xantoro's picture

I can understand this position but I think going about APS-C this way limits its potential and reduces it to being a helpmate for FF photographers. For instance somebody already has a nice collection of ~$800 Z f1.8 glass and then gets a Z50 with the kit zoom and takes it, with one of the f1.8 primes, to have a nice light kit for certain occasions - I get that.

But if I am a new customer, looking at getting into the photography game and being price conscious, Nikon Z seems like a terrible choice (if I want more than just slow kit lenses). Nikon for instance has never produced a 35mm equiv. prime for F-Mount DX in 20 years - it's pathetic. So if I want a 35mm equiv. I would have to spend 900$, which is insane. The 22/2 EF-M costs 200 bucks. And judging by its history and roadmap there is no indication that Nikon will change course regarding DX.

Now if Canon was to go into R-Mount APS-C, would they offer a 22/2 for 200 bucks? Maybe, but maybe not. Would they offer a R-Mount M100 wit kit zoom for 450 bucks? Maybe, maybe not. And how long would it take to build up a lens collection?

Dave Haynie's picture

Olympus, Panasonic, and Fujifilm have proven that there's no fundamental problem with producing professional results with a smaller sensor.

The classic problem with APS-C bodies in full-frame systems is that they serve two roles. On the high-end, they're the camera with the built-in teleconverter, able to coax 1.5x (1.6x if you're Canon) extra magnification from a $10K+ sports/wildlife lens. That's a good use, but really the only one for a serious professional or enthusiast. The fact is, zero to "very few" pro-grade lenses designed for APS-C have ever been made for a system that's got both APS-C and FF bodies, other than from third parties like Sigma.

Because that leads us into the other rationale: APS-C bodies can be cheaper. Freakishly cheap, in fact... you can buy an APS-C DSLR from Nikon or Canon, with plastic kit lens, for less than half the price of this year's Sony RX-100 P&S camera. But Canon never made a high-grade EF-S lens, and Nikon made maybe one or two higher-spec DX lenses. So you buy the FF lenses, EF and FX, for your APS-C body. Problem is, with that 1.5-1.6x crop, you're not getting all that much better an image quality, and especially not image resolution. A lens designer can design a sharp lens for a variety of sensors, but the resolution is spread across the whole image circle.

That's why everyone looks at Fujifilm results and gets amazed that it's an APS-C camera. Yeah, APS-C, but with a while line of pro-grade lenses designed for APS-C. Canon, Nikon, and Sony make their APS-C bodies, with rare exceptions, for consumers, and the same with APS-C lenses. So when you have those FF lenses and upgrade to that FF body, you get a big jump in quality. If you had pro-grade APS-C glass and upgraded to FF, you'd take a hit on quality with your cropped-FFshots through those lenses.

Canon's always been weird, anyway. You can't take your EF-S lenses to EF/FF, and you can't take your EOS M glass to RF. Period. So technically speaking, a Canon users with all APS-C has no real incentive to upgrade to Canon. I never quite got that, but at least they're consistent.

Reginald Walton's picture

Do we not have enough cameras on the market already?

Nick Straub's picture

Canon, when it comes to crop sensor cameras, made the EF-S series, which were made for crop bodies with lenses built around the EF mount. So instead of keeping the EOS-M line going (because they don't all have removable lenses do they?) why not create an RF-S line for crop sensor mirrorless cameras?

I have looked into getting one of the EOS-M cameras before but if you could have a camera with that build quality and a lens as good (if not better) as the EF line, why not do it?

Alan C's picture

Kill off EF-S, keep EF-M and limit RF to full-frame. There is too much confusion in the market at the moment: the demand for cameras does not justify the range of offerings available. Manufactures need to simplify their ranges avoiding duplication and barely differentiable products. At present the EF-M and RF ranges are sufficiently different to appeal to very distinct sectors of the market. An R-mount APS-C range, saddled with its large mount and the need to show its R-mount lineage, would seem to rather pointless.

Sam Sims's picture

If Canon had used a mount suitable for both APS-C and FF in the first place, like Sony, maybe they’d be better off now. As they didn’t and they went down the consumer route first, I agree that they should just stick with separate EF-M and RF for FF. I think the argument that people would use the same mount to upgrade from APS-C to FF won’t happen in significant enough numbers to justify new investment in RF APS-C lenses. Canon went down the road of consumer mirrorless way before considering FF mirrorless and should just stick with the way things are now. At least EOS-M wins the small and light argument. APS-C DSLR’s now look quite bulky in comparison.

Stig Nygaard's picture

> If Canon had used a mount suitable for both APS-C and FF in the first place,

Just to be clear - because many seem to have misunderstood this. Both fullframe EF lenses and crop EF-S lenses fits all Canon's APS-C DSLR cameras.
The only way it blocks is when you try to use Canon's crop-lenses on their fullframe DSLRs.
It is basically the same mount for fullframe and APS-C.

Sam Sims's picture

I was talking about mirrorless.

Leopold Bloom's picture

I like my compact M6. Combined with the 22mm it is the perfect companion for very light travel - for example when I go hiking. Even with the 18-150 it is still a capable and light combination. I don't think that an APS-C body with RF mount would be anywhere near that level of compactness (but I could be wrong of course).

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

I like many things about my M5, and it's small and light.
With the right lenses, it stays small and light.

Unfortunately Canon has not put a lot of effort into building out it's EF-M lens selection and so quite naturally, I started looking at FF EF lenses when I wanted more...

If Canon wants to keep the EF-M system alive, it should put more effort in it, especially the lenses.