I was very intrigued by the data that came out of the informal poll of wishlist lenses for 2011, and decided to compile the data to see if anything remotely meaningful emerges from it. yes, I realize it's nowhere near a scientific study, for so many reasons ... but at the same time, that doesn't neccessarily mean it's an utterly useless group of data.
at the very least, we can discern the inclinations of the people who frequent Canon Rumors, which is a surprisingly broad demographic (I believe) in terms of age, shooting style, profession, purchasing power, brand loyalty, etc. I've attached the data gathered from the "your lenses wishlist for 2011" thread, both in its entirely raw format, as well as grouped by similar type, and finally as a list sorted by quantity.
please note, all lenses are implied as being "USM" (true USM). we're already a decade in to the 21st century, there's no reason for Canon to be making anything with dingy little micromotor USM.
inferences from the data:
1. EF vs. EF-S
It's clear to see why Canon spends far more effort in designing EF lenses. out of 113 votes for lens requests, only 14 were for APS-C only lenses. that's a meager 12%, and I do think this statistic is telling. the people who are going to be puchasing and owning multiple lenses tend to be those who take photography seriously. if you're taking your photography seriously, you're likely to want to invest in better gear (quality over quantity). if you want the best quality, it looks like people still go to the EF lineup for it.
2. L glass
By comparison, 71 requests were for what would presumably be designated "L" glass, a huge 63%. Why would Canon be investing major effort in low-margin EF-S glass if they can be selling 5 times as much of the big expensive red-ringed stuff? I do believe this number is skewed somewhat by the type of people that frequent Canon Rumors, if you look at the signature lines of the people who post most often, it's clear that overall, "we" are not the people who are looking for their first non-kit lens. But from what I have seen of many first-time "what should I buy" posters on the site, they are very often considering, or purchasing, a 24-70 L or a 24-105 f/4 L IS as their step-up lens (a.k.a. gateway drug). even if L glass sells on a 1:1 ratio against EF-S lenses in the real world, I think that's reason enough for Canon to churn out L glass -- feel free to correct me (and there may be no way to prove this) but I believe Canon makes a much better ROI number off a 400mm f/2.8 L IS than off of an EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS
3. Primes vs. Zooms
Surprisingly, despite the fact that two of the most-wanted lenses on this list are zooms (guess which ones, it's pretty obvious), primes accounted for 69 votes (61%). again, I think this is influenced by the fact that the purchasing demographic here on CR, but at the same time, more and more I find that people looking to go beyond their first zoom lens are looking for either an affordable prime with a max aperture larger than f/2.0, or for a macro prime. people always whine and moan (to put it gently) that as a populace we are churning out more photography but less great work every day, but look at it this way: the more people that get into photography, for better or worse, the more likely our pet lens projects are going to get approved and funded by Canon HQ.
4. The CR Most Wanted
I think most of these are giveaways but everyone will still be interested to know how it panned out. I grouped certain lenses somewhat (for example there was a request for a 24-70 f/2.0 L IS, and a request for a 24-70 f/2.8 L II, I rolled these into the 24-70 f/2.8 L IS number), and here we go:
#1 - 9 votes - EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM
#2 - 8 votes - EF 50mm f/1.4 II USM
#3 - 7 votes - EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6 L IS II USM (there were also two votes for an 80-400 version of this lens not included)
#4 - 5 votes - EF 50mm f/1.2 L II USM (there were also two votes for an f/1.0 version of this lens not included)
#4 - 5 votes - EF 35mm f/2.0 II USM
#5 - 4 votes - EF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM
#5 - 4 votes - EF 35mm f/1.4 L II USM
#5 - 4 votes - EF 28mm f/1.8 II USM
#5 - 4 votes - EF-S 30mm f/1.4 Macro USM
nothing terribly surprising here, and the winner is somewhat inconclusive, based on whether or not you decide to group things differently. what is clear, is that Canon's breadwinners have not really changed. what's more surprising is that the feeling that there's still a strong need for a 100-400 replacement despite the 70-300 and 200-400 announcements. the conclusion I drew is that, if I were in Canon marketing, I'd be very excited. not only are you going to be able to sell plenty of 70-300s and 200-400s (based on initial reactions), but when you do come back around to slotting a 100-400 replacement in between the two, you'll have plenty of takers still.
lots of demand for the 50's to be replaced, personally I think that's next once Canon has finished cranking out this round of Big Whites. I'm also optimistic about a 24-70 replacement coming in the next two years. it seems that Canon is rolling through their breadwinning core and cranking out some fun/bizarre/awesome lenses on the side as they go along. with the 70-200 f/2.8 II out, and the 300, 400, 500 and 600 being replaced, clearly the 50s and 24-70 (and maybe 24-105) are next.
5. Budget lineup updates
There are a number of us looking for refreshes of the cheap wide (20-35mm range) EF primes, and a number of us looking for refreshes of the cheap EF L telephoto primes (basically, a replacement for the 400 f/5.6 L). How likely is that to happen? For the cheap EF primes, there were a total of 15 votes (13%). that's about the size of the demand for the EF-S-specific lenses. so we may see one or two drop over the next few years but I'd be very surprised to see a thorough refresh, once it's looked at in this light.
as far as a replacement for the 400 f/5.6 L goes, people have proposed a 400 f/5.6 L IS, 500 f/5.6 L IS, and/or a 600 f/5.6 L IS. I think we'd be pretty happy to see any one of these drop. so, grouping these votes together, there are 7 votes (6%) for a replacement for the little-but-sharp-as-heck 400. that's actually not a bad level of demand for a single lens (remember the 24-70 replacement garnered 9 votes). maybe we'll see this one get refreshed in the next 2 years.
That's it from me, folks, feel free to download the PDF and draw your own conclusions; share them here and let us know what trends you see coming from Canon based on market demands. Thanks for reading!