Following a recent interview with one of Canon’s senior executives, we’re getting more of an insight into what the Japanese giant has in mind for its vast range of cameras: EOS M is the most likely future of APS-C mirrorless, with no suggestion that there will ever be mirrorless versions of the large array of crop-sensor DSLRs.
Two quotes stood out in the recent interview conducted by EOS Magazine with Michael Burnhill, European Technical Support Manager at Canon Europe. “The M-series has still got legs to it,” he explained, and later noted that while APS-C “could support” the R system there were no plans given the need to fill out the range of full-frame lenses.
“Still got legs to it” isn’t a phrase that would inspire you to believe that a company is confident in the future of a certain technology. To me, it gives more the impression that they feel like flogging as much mileage out of something that is already starting to fade. However, I’m putting that down to typical Canon caginess when it comes to giving away its plans. As I see it, M and R are the future, and EF-S lenses might now be few and far between.
So what does this mean for the likes of the Rebel, the 80D and the 7D? Canon currently has seven APS-C DSLRs, five of which have been released in the last two years, and one of which — the 7D — is due to be updated sometime in the next six months, perhaps in the shape of something that blends it with the 80D. While many would salivate at the prospect of a mirrorless 7D Mark III, it seems that, in Canon’s eyes, the DSLR still has some serious mileage ahead of it. Given that it has only just phased out the EOS-1 film camera, DSLRs certainly still have a future. Changes are coming, but keep in mind that all of this speculation is about the next decade, not the next year.
The EOS-M range seems to be the best option for smaller format mirrorless, with pro and prosumer APS-C DSLR shooters set to be pushed increasingly towards full-frame mirrorless. Given that sensor prices are dropping and Canon seems intent on making full-frame even more affordable, nudging buyers in this direction feels like the obvious step.
As Fstoppers reader Steve White mentioned a few months ago, entry-level buyers will be steered towards an M version of the Rebel, perhaps even keeping the name. Canon will need to produce a decent amount of M glass across the range as new users won’t want to be playing with adapters, despite the flexibility that they offer. That said, it's of great benefit to customers that EF and EF-S glass will work with both M and R cameras, allowing Canon to offer a means of transition.
The casualty here will be EF-S glass, and small, third-party manufacturers might need to make a decision: try to plug a gap, or start making M lenses that are viable alternatives to Canon, perhaps even beating them to the punch. Ten years ago, Sigma and Tamron would probably be leading the charge but they're now a little more distracted by full-frame; today, by contrast, we’re much more likely to see companies such as Samyang at the forefront. The Korean company’s recent progress with autofocus certainly makes them a strong contender.
Is EOS M the way to go? If you’re an APS-C DSLR shooter, what does the future hold for you? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Lead image is a composite using a photo by Gerd Altmann.