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.
By 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.
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.