Just the other day, Canon announced the 16-35mm f/4L IS lens. The general announcement was left with confusion, anger, annoyance and felt an awful lot like when Canon announced the unnecessary 24-70mm f/4 IS back in 2012. Between these announcements and others much like it, as well as general quietness on announcing an updated 50mm lens, we have to ask...What’s the problem, Canon?
Before I get too far into this post, I’d like to mention that I’m the Canon fanboy of the Fstopper’s Staff. Not only do I only own exclusively Canon L series glass, accusations have came out of the comments in the past about me being sponsored by Canon. I’m not, but perhaps my post history of me flirting with Canon suggests differently. Well, I’m here to let you know - I’m pissed.
Canon has had Nikon and the rest of its competitors on the ropes for years now. With almost 50% of the DSLR market share, and Nikon sitting in second with only about 30%, Canon seemed to be delivering exactly what its customers wanted. The Canon 5d Mark II was groundbreaking, and the Mark III announced a few years later was a nice little upgrade to the already exceptional camera system. So they've been on point with their camera bodies, but what about their lenses?
The last few years, Canon (in my opinion) has completely missed the mark with its consumers regarding the lens announcements they have made over the years. So lets look at their most notable announcements over the last couple years.
The Rise of The Mark IIs
Over the last 3 years or so, Canon has created some advancements to their already popular lenses with Version 2’s of them. Most notably, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II have made extremely noticeable upgrades to their previous versions, however these upgrades didn't come without a step back. Both of these lenses, while a vast improvement to their predecessors, have came with a price hike.
|Lens In Question||Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM||Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM||Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM||Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM|
|Introduced||August 1, 2001||January 5, 2010||September 29, 2002||February 7, 2012|
|Weight||1570 g (3.46 lb)||1490 g (3.28 lb)||950 g (2.09 lb)||805 g (1.77 lb|
The Rise of The IS
On the same page, Canon has also disappointed us all with the rise of IS in lenses that we simply do not need. First, Canon announced the painfully slow 24-70mm f/4L IS in 2012. While 24-70mm is considered one of the must have lenses for people looking for a general all-rounder for their camera bag, f/4 is simply not acceptable for a lens priced at $1,499. People questioned the purpose of this lens, since the 24-70mm f/2.8L II was announced earlier in the same year.
|Lens In Question||Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM||Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM||Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM||Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM|
|Introduced||September 26, 2001||February 22, 2007||February 27, 2003||May 13, 2014|
|Weight||600 g (1.32 lb)||635 g (1.40 lb)||500 g (1.10 lb)||615 g (1.36 lb)|
They then followed up with the newly announced Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS. If that focal range sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Canon made a 16-35mm f/2.8L back in 2001 and also released a Mark II of the same focal range in 2007. Prior to that, they had a 17-35mm f/2.8L that dates all the way back to 1995.
The Fall of The Fast Glass
Canon won its market share but presenting speeds and lenses unseen by the competition still to this very day. When I started photography, I bought into Canon; not because they had a better body or a better system, but because they had a 50mm and an 85mm that could be stopped down to f/1.2. Still to this day, the competition have not reached those speeds in the DSLR market, which is why the 85mm f/1.2 is still one of the most sought after lenses on the market. Released within 8 months in 07/08, the Canon 50mm f/1.2L and Canon 85mm f/1.2L II (First model was released way back in 1989) changed the way we were able to shoot, giving us insanely shallow depth of field, with sharpness on our subject when done correctly. Since those times, they haven't made any innovations to push the bounds of our current limitations on an aperture front, all while Sigma was able to produce an f/1.8 zoom lens, previously unseen prior to now.
What Do We Really Want?
All of this talk is simply complaining if we don’t express what we really expect to see with Canon. However, there has been some chatter for years on what we really want, chatter that Canon has largely ignored.
Canon has a long history of making exceptional 50mm lenses. Not only do they still maintain the fastest 50mm available for DSLRs with their f/1.2 model, but they have once made one even faster with the holy grail known as the 50mm f/1.0L. With that said, everyone seems to be excelling in 50mm lenses as of late….everyone but Canon. Nikon released their premium 58mm f/1.4 within the last year, and Zeiss promises unparalleled sharpness with their 55mm f/1.4 Otus. Then there is Sigma, who is quickly stealing the market share with their newly announced 50mm f/1.4 Art lens setup. So while all of the competitors have announced a 50mm within the last year, Canon has remained silent, and expects its faulty auto focus system in the 50mm f/1.4 to suffice with its users.
While 135mm may fall under the ruse of a specialty focal range for some of us, many more of us swear that it is the absolute best focal range for portrait work, assuming you have enough room for it. Canon makes an exceptional 135mm f/2L, and with it’s price point sitting around $1,000, it makes an easy purchase for those looking to have incredible depth of field while maintaining sharpness. However, this lusted at, and well respected lens now sits at 18 years old. That is right, the 135L is now able to fight in a war, and help vote for our elected officials. Surely in the 18 years of production, there has been some advancements to auto focus speed, or sharpness within the glass - so why haven't we seen an update?
Back in 2007, Nikon announced a lens that had a lot of landscape photographers and some of us crazy portrait photographers drooling, it was the 14-24mm f/2.8G. While this lens has a short focal range, it was in a focal range that many of us haven’t really seen before. At this point in time, Canon shooters can only do 16mm on full frame cameras (unless ofcourse you’re willing to spend $2,300 for the 14mm f/2.8L from Canon). Since the announcement of this lens, I have heard rumors buzzing and patients filed by Canon for a competing lens in the same focal range. Seven years later, we've all but given up hope.
Perhaps Canon has different motives than what I (and seemingly the community) wants. Some people say that with their focus in video, Image Stabilization feels much more important than razor thin depth of field (Though I'd argue that a 16-35mm is easily hand-holdable and needs no IS features for video or photo). Or perhaps it'll take more of an effort from the innovators like Sigma to take the market share on lenses until Canon will finally start listening again. Regardless of the case, Canon hasn't been delivering, and it's client base is starting to look elsewhere. Feel free to vent your frustrations, or tell us what you'd like to see from Canon in the comments below - maybe, with enough fuss, they'll finally listen.