Have Canon and Nikon Lost Their Minds?

Have Canon and Nikon Lost Their Minds?

2018 has been quite a year for new equipment releases. We’ve seen Sony’s impressive a7 III, the Nikon Z6/7, and now the Canon EOS R, among many others. Specifically, these new mirrorless cameras continue to bring up one question for me, and that is: have we lost our minds?

I could get into some other pieces of equipment with this article, but I am going to focus on the new mirrorless announcements, because they seem, well, ridiculous to me. I don’t really have any issue with the cameras; they look wonderful and have some nice features. I’m even a little interested in the Z6 myself. However, both the Nikon and Canon cameras have one flaw that I find hard to overlook: the lenses.

For years, I worked at a camera store and we heard our fair share of gossip and always talked about what we thought of new products. Many months ago, I remember all of us agreeing on one thing: it would be ridiculous for Canon and Nikon to use the EF and F mounts (respectively) on their full frame mirrorless cameras, because the lens sizes would simply not be functional on a smaller camera body. Then, the announcements came and we see that they both opted for a new lens mount, which is good. Then, they both released absolutely behemoth lenses for the system for seemingly no other reason than because they could. The Noct for the Z6/7 and the 28-70mm f/2 are quite frankly, absurd.

Look, I get it. A 28-70mm f/2 sounds awesome on paper. So does a 58mm f/0.95. But, when the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 is 3.4 inches long, and the Noct is at least double the length, if not longer (judging by photos) and who knows how much heavier, do we really care about f/0.95? Probably not. As one of my former coworkers would always say: “if you need that blurry of a background for your photo to be interesting, the gear is not the problem.” I understand that some people like journalists or sports photographers benefit from having fast glass that lets them shoot in poorly lit locations, but not when it’s massive, manual focus, and costs roughly double their camera body. It seems more like bragging rights for Nikon. The same can be said about the 28-70mm f/2 from Canon for their new EOS R, although I see slightly more reason for a lens like that. These large lens mounts are continually bragged about for their ability to enable smaller lenses with wider apertures and better optical performance. Why not just make a 24-70mm f/2.8 that is small and comfortable unlike Sony’s beastly G Master? That certainly would have given Canon an edge for many photographers who find a 24-70mm to be their staple lens. The 28-70mm f/2 RF lens is over an inch longer than the EF 24-70mm f/2.8. That’s problematic.

I’m not faulting any one manufacturer; in fact, I think photographers themselves are to blame to some extent. For years, people have wondered about the possibility of an f/2 zoom like the 28-70mm RF without actually considering if there is a need for it. Sadly, Canon and Nikon listened and decided to make innovations in the area we need it least: lenses. I think this was an opportunity for both Canon and Nikon to make some major improvements to their video performance, dynamic range, or low light performance. Instead, these new cameras feel like excuses for Canon and Nikon to come out with their own “Otus” lenses — lenses that are not needed, but only dreamed of. I believe both manufacturers missed the mark by more or less repackaging their staple full frame cameras and eschewed opportunity for real innovation and change. I still think Fuji and Sony will still be the mirrorless staples in the years to come.

As a final disclaimer, I like mirrorless cameras quite a bit. I have an X-T2 that I use more frequently than my Nikon DSLRs. As stated early in the article, I even have my eye on the Z6, but only for the fact that it is a far smaller alternative to my D800/D700 and is still full frame with decent lens choices. Nikon made a great call with their initial lens lineup for the Z system: they’re small, light, and still functional (sans Noct). My issue with both Canon and Nikon is that these cameras don’t really do much that the D850, D750, and 5D Mark IV don’t already do. They’re just smaller and lighter. And both companies seemed to use them as an excuse to launch a new sort of competition between the brands of who can make the most absurd lens rather than really push boundaries of useful performance that will benefit the end user: us.

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Previous comments
Tom Weis's picture

Too bad it's not a 24-70mm f2... but if I was buying into the Canon R system that 28-70mm is the first lens I'd get.

Jay Alenby's picture

Great article. I agree with every word. It is so frustrating how the sheep mentality rules and everyone oohs and aahs over new products . I think there is an opportunity for improved mirrorless cameras to be great but these ones are not.

Dirk Bouwen's picture

I have more questions about the existing mounts & systems than those mirrorless solutions - still taking 3 to 5 years to develop to something truly interesting. But many have invested a lot of money into F & EF gear - and can hardly believe both companies are still planning to do a lot of R&D in this direction, intending to keep their DSLR arena alive. And adaptors won't save us - it's something temporary to let you swallow the bitter pil - are always meaning a sacrifice of IQ vs the native glass.

Deleted Account's picture

Yee gods! Everyone seems to think that Canon and Nikon should have made this for them and that for them. In reality we are at this time in camera space have so much choice. Stop whining about what you think they should make for YOU and go and buy what suits YOU. You said you have a Fujifilm, well they have a wonderful range of lenses, go buy some more small lenses for your Xt-2 - and if you like the Sony 24-70 or whatever go buy six of those.

Frankly as a Nikon shooter I'm a little bit jealous of Canon's new 28-70 f/2 although if I was in the Canon camp I definitely would have preferred a 24 on the wide end. Also even though I fancy this lens it does not mean I'm going sell all my Nikon gear and buy into Canon. THAT would be absurd.

Also the point of making mirrorless is NOT to make cameras smaller. Especially if you want a full frame sensor. There are plenty of options if you want a smaller mirrorless camera. If these current humungous FF mirrorless cameras and lenses are too big just buy something else! It was probably born out of making things easier and cheaper to manufacture.
I think with the flange distances and the new mounts the Canon and Nikon lenses are going to be fantastic image quality wise. I'll definitely be slowly buying into the new Z system, slowly being the operative word as I have a recent acquired an unacceptably huge D850.

These new iterations from Canon and Nikon are a response to market pressure from people like you whinging and carrying on that they don't have a product to compete with Sony who was the only FF mirrorless out there. Now the product is on the way to the shelves - a product you probably haven't even tried or touched and yet you are complaining. THAT is absurd.

That was actually absurdly good fun to write, thank you.

Rob R's picture

I would think the manufacturing cost would be less, recoup R/D after a couple of cycles. Mirrorless is driving sales in a declining market. New mounts new lenses more $$$. Once it starts to die down, out comes the Medium Format and the cycle repeats. But for right now FF with its lower cost is a lot easier to get into now and sales are good.

Adam Palmer's picture

I want that 28-70 bad

Stephen Zielinski's picture

Hmm, Canon and Nikon leverage existing technolgy to build a base for two new camera systems. This strategy reduces problems by providing continuity with proven to be reliable components. What's new is kept under control. We can thus expect neither system to hit the ground while stumbling.

The author finds this situation ridiculous even though he beieves the cameras themselves to be worthy. It seems Canon and Nikon built spectacular lenses to complement their new platform. Why would this be a problem? It's not. No one is obligated to buy these new lenses, especially EOS R users, who can expect full compatibility from their EF lenses. Chances are, the lenses will be excellent. Why complain about that? Nor are existing customers obligated to buy either new system to use the gear they already own. They can wait for a camera they want to buy -- and then buy it because the need or want it.

So, Canon and Nikon offer new systems with new lenses. Both did not offer sensor and other technologies that lept over their past technologies or anyone elses. Is this ridiculous? No, the R and Z systems expresses the features of two controlled entrances into a market in which the two companies do not have a presence. Besides, sensor innovations do not ceme cheaply or on demand.

While we wait for these novel sensors, we can take great photos with the many great cameras available to us.

Photo Kaz's picture

This article is so stupid. Both companies are offering fast (f/0.95, f/1.2, f/2) and slow (f/4) lenses which offers consumers CHOICE. If you don't want a fast zoom don't f**king buy it. There are many reasons to opt for a faster lens, if you can't figure that out then you shouldn't be posting articles here.

Matt Williams's picture

If you don't want it, don't buy it. They both have smaller aperture, smaller size lenses you can get instead.

End of discussion.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

My 2 pennies worth of thoughts. I think it might actually be more difficult to invent a completely new line of cameras than we think. The first iterations of the A7 weren't that great either. But by listening to clients, they in time developped rather awesome cameras. The Canikon entries are their first generation cameras and they seem for a large part to make the same mistakes as Sony.
And Canon being Canon handicapped their cameras because that is what they do. With the exception of their absolute top model, they will always do something to make the cameras less appealing.
In this case, one-card slot, no IBIS, and handicapped 4k footage.

User M4's picture

I think the author missed the point here. Canon and Nikon introduced a new mount which is arguably the biggest news in decades for the perspective companies and they needed to showcase what the mounts can offer by dropping some jaw dropping lenses. Those halo lenses will definitely be talk of the town for months to come and are the perfect examples to lure interest to their new mounting systems that are available with the new Z6/7 and R.

Tyler Atwood's picture

An f2 zoom is MUCH needed if you have ever shot portraits or weddings, what is this guy talking about. As a Nikon user I wish they would have introduced lenses like that, their new lens lineup is embarrassing and overpriced.

Chuck McIntyre's picture

Love the irony. You spend the whole artical knocking the new lenses for being too heavy and too large. But you then close your article by dismissing Nikon’s and Canon’s new mirrorless cameras for simply being lighter and smaller. Thanks for the chuckle.

Christopher Eaton's picture

I think that the writer missed the point of these lenses. Kind of. They are vanity lenses. They did not effect the camera R&D. The only reason Sony didn't do a vanity lenses is that they didn't have all the installed base of existing lenses to work with their adapter. Oh, and, also, the Sony mount is too puny.

Paul Jay's picture

This must be the dumbest article I have read. Just because you don't have a need for something doesn't mean no one else does. Just because you like lenses with low DOF doesn't mean your photography has a problem, it probably just means your style of work has developed in such a way that utilises a technique. If you can't see that different people like different things then you are the problem. What a short sighted opinion and a steaming pile of dog crap. Why would F-Stopers even publish this junk?