Canon and Arri-style PL lenses


Edwin Herdman

I believe I have read Philip Bloom twice stating (could've sworn one of those times was in here, but not finding it now) that Canon might make some PL lenses or PL mount cameras in the future. Zeiss already is carving out a niche in the EOS video empire with its compact primes and other lenses with a PL-to-EF adaptor on the end.

My thoughts are that while cinematography requires equipment expensive enough that any given company is unlikely to be able to persuade users to lock into any non-standard lens mount (i.e. EF or similar - non PL and not even PV), Canon makes a lot of money on lenses as a big part of their bottom line, so are unlikely to invite others into that party, even if cine lenses aren't likely to find their way into the hands of stills shooters and casual players. They have, though I don't want to give anybody evil ideas, an intriguing opportunity (along with Nikon, Sony, et al) to cut into that previously rarified market with the latest upgrades to consumer technologies, so they don't need to buy in to any existing cinematography history, and I don't think the risk to core DSLR lines is too great. But they will certainly prefer to hold onto control of the mount of whatever cameras they produce so they can make the glass for it. I don't see them looking at full-blown pro cameras yet - I mean in the DSLR format (camcorders are another story) - but they're already there with the 5D Mark II and the 1D Mark IV. It is a no-brainer opportunity for "synergy," however, so I expect they'd like to do something to keep the number of people using EF or similar video-capable DSLRs steadily increasing. With the current film-friendly SLR lenses this is a bit of a trick, especially for manual focus.

So how do you think Canon is going to address the future of video DSLRs with their lens lineups? Some possibilities:

a.) Ignore it, hope it'll go away (we're all past this point of course)
b.) Release cine lenses (i.e. hard stops at infinity and close focus, smoother gearing) for EF mount
c.) Release an official PL converter for the EOS bodies, or just let Zeiss continue to sell its own (but they sell no new glass this way)
d.) Let everybody continue to fight focus breathing on their EF mount primes (i.e. the 50mm f/1.4)
e.) Related: Treat the video DSLRs as essentially camcorder-style continually focused video devices, with optional manual focus, in a future update with more sensitive autofocus makes this possible (Nikon seems to be a step in this direction, I've heard).
e.) New mount for cine lenses? (Lump new camera in with that obviously.)

Personally I think they are looking at releasing a product more or less like their current camcorder lines, perhaps more compact to entice video DSLR users, with a DSLR sized sensor (even APS-C ought to be an improvement) and stills capability (as an afterthought, reverse of the video situation on DSLRs). DSLR video can play out as it may but the form factor probably means Canon doesn't have too many worries about video DSLRs cannibalizing their camcorder market (especially pro camcorders).

This one's out there, especially for the stills shooters, I know. Apologies to Mr. Bloom if he didn't write what I've attributed to him and my sanity's on vacation. :)