It’s been about eight months since Canon launched their full frame mirrorless system. In that time, they’ve created or announced 10 lenses to be delivered by the end of 2019, as well as a second body. Despite the fast progress on building out the kit, Canon is missing a critical item.
While the EOS R has a number of competent features, it falls short of market leaders in sensor performance, autofocus, and handling. Despite the body’s shortcomings when judged against other high-end cameras, Canon is producing and developing very high-end lenses, clearly targeted at professionals and users who demand high quality. The only lenses that are even vaguely consumer oriented, in line with the new RP body, are the two mid-range zooms at 24-105mm f/4 and 24-240mm f/4-6.3 and their 35mm macro lens.
For any consumers using the R and RP, the only reasonable option for other lenses requires adapting EF or EF-S lenses. This removes any benefit inherent to the new mount. For example, the only RF mount 50mm currently costs more than the EOS R body it goes on, leaving adapting the only reasonable option. The RF mount lenses definitely deliver the performance, taking full advantage of the flange distance and size of the mount, but don’t make sense on the current bodies, on the basis of cost, size, or performance objectives.
Since it seems the lenses and bodies of the RF mount system are going different directions, it is clear that Canon is building towards a pro body. When that body is coming, however, is a mystery. It is rumored to feature a high-megapixel sensor, but it isn’t supposed to be announced until 2020, meaning early adopters of the system will have waited 18 months for a body deserving of the lenses.
When the body finally does come out, users should have a large number of native mount lenses to choose from, but given the incongruity of the system in its current state, sales may be lacking until then.
Both Canon and Nikon have taken very aggressive pricing actions on their mirrorless systems, with Canon marking down their R body by $300. Whether this is indicative of softer sales across the camera industry, price skimming on a new product category or a push by management to juice up the numbers of their lines remains to be seen.
Given that both Nikon and Canon have mentioned a push for higher-margin products, the more-expensive full frame cameras and lenses are clearly essential to their future plans. That makes the conspicuous absence of a pro RF mount body all the more surprising. It’ll be interesting to see what steps Canon takes in the future. Was this a soft launch of their RF mount production: launch the lenses, while they iron out kinks with the bodies, firmware, and lenses? When the pro level RF body does arrive, it’ll be very interesting to evaluate against the expected Sony a7R IV and any other mirrorless announcements that have occurred in the interim.