What Is Canon Missing?

What Is Canon Missing?

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.

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Justin Punio's picture

Canon are putting lots of effort into beefing up the RF lens lineup, I fully expect there to be more of the non L lens to be coming to make the Canon EOS R and RP more attractive. The current RF lens are just waiting for that Pro body.

Alex Coleman's picture

Definitely- looks like they have lenses waiting for bodies and bodies waiting for lenses.

Not to be snarky, but Canon has been missing any Oh-Wow introduction since the 5D2 in October 2008. I'm still with them because of my lenses and their interface, but I'd kill for a Canon with the IQ of a D850.

Exactly. Canon has been behind in sensor tech since 2008. I had shot with Canon since 2000, well not anymore. Last month I sold virtually all my Canon gear and went to Nikon with a D500 and D850. While mirrorless is intriguing, I need vertical grips and the ability to shoot in any weather. So far from what I am seeing I will be more than happy with the switch.

Ryan Davis's picture

I fully agree. I'd kill for a mirrorless version of the 5Ds, with a reasonable ISO range. Or just a 5ds mkii with a reasonable ISO range.

Thomas H's picture

I think we should simply acknowledge the fact that Sony's team made a sensational sensor technology, which is not easy to match. If it would be an easy task to duplicate, Canon would have done it. It is as if to beat Roger Federer to a 1st place in the rank list, while he was in his best years. So stop bashing Canon for the sensor tech. Of course they see the differences, they work with the Japanese dedication and skill, and yet, Sony's team did something what is a "world record" of sorts, and that opened them the door to the serious photography world. The winds of change. Sony is up, Lumix/Panasonic is up, Pentax is comatose, Minolta devoured, Canon in the trouble. Even if you/me/us like Canon, we have to appreciate the positive impact of competition on out favorite toys, or tools of trade.

I agree. And Canon should have given up making sensors and bought them from Sony, like Nikon did and does. They'd probably still be ruling the market if they did.

Andrew Lodge's picture

They are missing the ability to care about their consumers.

Ben Bezuidenhout's picture

I live in South Africa and there is literally NO Canon support. The Nikon and Fuji reps do regular shows and visits.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

I'm also from South Africa, and I can confirm this. Even retailers complain about Canon, and not just their camera's.

They haven't cared about there customers since they developed the EOS mount to be incompatible, even with an adaptor, with the FD mount, basically leaving all of us long term owners out in the cold.

Jan Kruize's picture

Oh well it’s canonteardowntime again. How much did sony pay this time to get this two articles in? Best selling camera in japan and what does canon miss? Get a life.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Great job cloning the tinfoil-hat out of your profile picture! I can't even tell it was ever there!

Eric Salas's picture

If you look at his previous comments, you can tell he’s quite the special case.

Jan Kruize's picture

Hey psssst.... allready discovered the button on top of that sony? When you press it.... it makes a picture.

Alex Coleman's picture

There's no mention of Sony in this article, while the only mention of another brand is against the backdrop of broader mirrorless markdowns.

This article judges Canon's RF mount strategy solely on its own merits.

I wonder if Jan Kruize can actually make a comment without bashing Sony. The most biassed man on this forum complaining about the writer's bias. A wonderful world this is.

Jan Kruize's picture

In your last alinea..... against the expected sony A7R4.... and other brands. So wait... do nothing, the A7R4 is coming.

And if Canon had only released low- to mid-range lenses, these articles would have been about their lack of commitment to full frame mirrorless.

What they are doing is entirely understandable. Making full use of their lens design abilities to declare intent while they make their mirrorless design capabilities mature.

And curmudgeons bashed Nikon for releasing lackluster lenses with their Z cameras. It would be nice if entire lens line-ups could be available at launch but that's just not going happen kids.

Alex Coleman's picture

I've covered both Canon and Nikon's mirroless lens strategies in previous articles. As Canon reveals more of their roadmap, and particularly with the introduction of the RP, I thought it important to highlight the disconnect between Canon's lenses and bodies.

If they did introduce low/mid lenses to go along with their bodies, I personally wouldn't have a problem with the strategy, so that is a bit of a strawman.

Pardon me but:

“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.”

All I have seen is some claims that a big hole in the camera makes for easy and small lens design? But Canons lenses are huge both in size and price, where are the benefits? Are the new Canon lenses better then Sony’s GM lenses, or smaller, or less expensive? Or Nikons?

I think it’s bullshit. It’s pathetic that that the only thing Nikon and also Canon? can bring to the table is a claim that a bigger hole outperforms Sony.

Canon's (and Nikon) new lenses have drawn quite a bit of praise. Perhaps you're still suffering from sticker shock and have completely ignored the reviews? Calm down now.

Funny :) just tell me how the larger hole will benefit me if I move to Nikon or Canon for that matter. I don’t think there are any added benefit compared to Sony’s lenses. But I suppose that’s why you hit on person and not matter in question. They all have good and expensive lenses, the hole size does not seem to matter. That’s the point. It a desperate pathetic lie.

To answer the matter, it’s not a big difference, f1.4 vs f1.2.

It’s not just the mount “hole” that’s bigger, the sensor is as well which is why the mount isn’t necessarily an improvement for just lenses, it’s necessary for the sensor. The e-mount is nice because it’s the same for crop and full frame but the Sony ff sensor is smaller and doesn’t need a bigger mount. So we kind of agree..

Does not Nikon use Sonys sensor? How can it be bigger? :)
Also If you want there are several 0.95 lenses for Sony FE.
Just saying:) Nikon is still planing there.

I thought we were talking about Canon? They make they’re own sensors and chips. yes, it can be bigger..

Consider the RF 35mm f1.8 at $449. and the RF 24-105mm F4 at $899. at B&H. These fit the system and moderately priced and not too big on this camera. There is also a consumer RF 24-240mm F3.5-5.6 coming which should be not too expensive. So to say the system is too expensive for some is ridiculous. The 5D4 body is also pricey as are the F2.8 zooms, so if you want to save money then: variable aperature zooms, or low cost primes like 35mm f1.8, or F4 zooms are the way to go to keep price reasonable. These will be quality lenses, just not the price of the fastest primes or widest aperature zooms, or give the best bokeh, but will be there for the regular consumer to buy. If not today the adapter will fit all the EF lens and EFS too.

Alex Coleman's picture

The larger diameter and shorter flange reduce the limitations imposed on lens designers. They can get larger elements closer to the sensor. It can enable a larger range of motion for IBIS elements. It can open up the possibilities for adapting other brand's lenses.

It seems that Canon is creating the best quality lenses possible, or ones that haven't been created before, like the 28-70mm f/2. Whether that makes sense given the introduced bodies is a question posed by this article- but based on testing, I don't think anyone argues that Canon and Nikon's new mirrorless lenses are technically weak performers.

Thomas H's picture

Dear Alex, there is no "larger diameter" in Canon's case. The RF flange diameter is identical to EF diameter, see Canon's White Paper section 8 for details. They simply kept the same diameter. It was already the largest 35mm mount diameter of them all. All electronic connection, seemingly future safe. Only Nikon made the diameter jump, the F mount was really very historic.

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