RF Plans for Big Lenses? Keep 400mm f2.8 IS III or send it back?

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
I just switched to Canon from Nikon because I’m sold on mirrorless and Nikon didn’t offer the lenses I want, like the RF 70-200, and the ultra-light 400 IS III. This issue is about the 400, and Canon's possible future plans. Help me decide whether to keep it or to send it back.

If I were an earning pro the easy answer is to buy the best and use it. I’m an undeserving amateur so this is an optional luxury purchase, a rare and special personal hobby indulgence justified in part because I'm in the industry as an optics specialist, and that I intend to give decades of service with nature photos, kids playing sports, and scenic creative photography. For me, it’s the ideal pair to the RF 70-200 because it provides a nice step in focal length, and leaves hunger on the long end for nothing more that TCs and my Questar telescope collection can’t handle.

The anxiety is that in a short time (say two years) they will release a dedicated RF version of this lens that I’ll really want and agonize over. This will preumably be discounted to $9999 by then, the new RF will be $12k, and Ebay or Adorama used buy-back might net me $7000. That’s a $5000 "rental" for a couple years, which doesn’t pencil out for my hobby, and the most expensive hobby purchase ever by a large factor.

If I knew that would happen, I’d not buy (I’d actually send back what I already have and love, during the evaluation period endiong in late February). Then, I might watch for a used $5000 IS II on Ebay that I could resell in two years for say $1200 loss (ugly given the 8% sales tax, plus 13% sale commission even if the lens doesn’t lose value – one reason I decided to buy new – Ebay just sent a bill for $1100 for selling my Nikon gear, and that doesn’t count PayPal).

Canon could solve this problem and overcome my hesitation a couple ways:
  • Offer an RF model soon. Unlikely, though I predict they will do this for the 300 IS III as it gets the lightening treatment of the 400. I predict that future big white models will have removable de-converters to enable them to mount to EF bodies, or maybe they’ll just build them so they can put either mount at the rear for two stock numbers and factory convertibility.
  • Offer a future bolt-on conversion of my lens for maybe $500-1000. I’m fine with that.
  • Most cleverly, immediately (soon) offer an EF-RF adapter (“converter”) with these features:
    • Color and contour match to lens – get the white right and all diameters.
    • No easy external detach – avoid hitting the wrong button as I do time and again. I’d rather have a converter for each lens of the few EF lenses I regularly use, and have to demount the combo from the body if I ever wanted to remove the converter. Or at least require a tool or stylus to demount externally.
    • Don’t add much weight compared to dedicated RF lens. I paid a $4 per eliminated gram premium for this lens.
One factor is that the days are presumably numbered for enjoying the sales-tax free purchase I already made on Adorama. Neither the buyer nor the seller is a retailer in my state, but most retailers have surrendered belly up to state tax authorities, insrtead of defending their customers. I might want to set up a holding company in Oregon to buy equipment and rent it out (to myself). When sales tax on a lens is $1000(!) I can handle shipping to my Oregon “business” and reshipping the rental to myself. So, the untaxed lens in my hand covers about $1000 in any loss by avoiding sales tax.

So, here’s the question I’m asking for your predictions on: How likely do you think it is that Canon announces in the next three years an RF 400mm that will make me regret buying the EF, without an appealing conversion option that eases the regret? Am I an oddity whose needs Canon is unlikely to address, buying a pro lens for mirrorless?

Thanks for your thoughts, and begging forgiveness of those who would be more capable than I at using this wonderful lens that I look forward to growing into.
 

StoicalEtcher

EOS RP
Jan 3, 2018
257
161
Yorkshire
Pure speculation on my part, but I can't believe Canon are not going to bring out an uprated, top end (i.e.1D-version) of the R/Mirrorless in the next couple of years. And, if they do that, then surely big whites will follow close behind or be ready at launch.

So, I'd reckon that a 400/2.8 Rf will come within your timeframe, give or take.

Having said that, life is short and you never know what's around the corner, so there is a lot to be said for taking those photos today, and see what tomorrow brings. This is particularly the case if your kids are part of the equation - they'll only be x years old this year - they'll be older by the time the lens one is waiting for comes out.

My take would be to buy now, maybe hold on longer, then trade up to the new 400/2.8 Rf version at a later stage. If you go second hand now, then your write-off is lower in due course, as you note. Alternately, go 400/2.8 III new now, then maybe hold on for a few more years than 2, that way the depreciation is spread out over more years (there tends to be a semi-fixed level for big whites which once they go down to, they then drift further down in price much slower). And at the same time, the new Rf 400 may also have come down in price too, no longer being the new must-have early release price, and so again your 'write-off' is lesser. And, in the meantime, you get to take those shots you were after, as well as enjoy the wonderful hobby!

Good luck.

Stoical.
 
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padam

EOS 7D MK II
Aug 26, 2015
700
325
I don't think they will replace these lenses any time soon, it is just not good business for them, they've figured out that these are the ones that EF users wanted the most. If they ever come out with a 400mm f/2.8 replacement it may have a built-in converter as well or something, but it won't be just a simple update.

But patents suggest that the ones they have not updated for the EF mount (500mm f/4, 300mm f/2.8, 400mm f/4, 800mm f/5.6), may come in RF mount instead (releasing all these lenses will take several years)
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
incidentally, is there anything to read into the fact that I got a low serial number ...0005x? In the first 100, being delivered now?

Also, if the internal filter (included) is an important part of the lens design, how can it still work with the drop-in gel filter holder 52(WIII)? Do these replace the filter holder? Gel filters would be an optically invisible element. I should probably chat with the outstanding Canon tech support that in my one encounter defaulted to "It must be our fault, send it back." (The correct answer was; "they all do that, change one setting and the annoyance will substantially reduce").
 

unfocused

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
5,367
2,109
66
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
Sounds like a bad case of buyer's remorse. Only you can decide what to do, but keep in mind that no matter what happens with the R line, your lens will perform flawlessly with any RF mount camera using a Canon adapter and you'll still be able to use it with EF mount bodies.

No one but Canon knows if and when they will bring out an RF version of any of the big whites. I suspect a big factor will be the break-even point on the volume of lenses they need to sell. They will not abandon the EF line, especially since they are about to release the new 1Dx III, so they would need to sell enough of the RF lenses in addition to the EF lenses to justify the development and production costs of the RF version. They will also need a camera that works well enough with big whites to generate sales of RF big whites. We are probably at least a year away from such a camera.

Finally, will an RF version offer anything of significance over the EF version? Impossible to say at this point, but given how fantastic the EF version is, it's hard to imagine anything offering such a significant improvement that it would make the EF version obsolete or undesirable.
 

CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
4,705
2,625
Irving, Texas
incidentally, is there anything to read into the fact that I got a low serial number ...0005x? In the first 100, being delivered now?
I collect lenses. The biggest thing that matters is condition. The only time I have seen serial numbers come into play has to do with a design variation in a lens' lifetime. An example of this is especially found in the 50mm Takumar line. Sometimes, that will affect value. Sometimes, but very rarely.

So with that said, I would not read anything into your serial number as far as future value goes. Vin numbers on cars? Sometimes. Serial numbers on lenses? I doubt it. I think the serial # on my 28-70 is 63 or 64 (last two numbers with a bunch of zeroes and another code in front of that (which plant it was manufactured in?). I have never wondered whether that will make it more valuable one day. I'll be long dead before that could ever matter. Most of my vintage lenses are 40+ years old. The only one that was ever of particular value was a 50mm Takumar I sold to the guy who wrote the Takumar Field Guide... Gerjan Van Oosten. Guess what? His book fetches over $1,000 (no longer in print and highly sought after by lens collectors). My pre-production Takumar fetched less than that. MOst Takumars fetch about $40 on average.

With lenses in general, condition means more than anything.
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
Sounds like a bad case of buyer's remorse. Only you can decide what to do, but keep in mind that no matter what happens with the R line, your lens will perform flawlessly with any RF mount camera using a Canon adapter and you'll still be able to use it with EF mount bodies.

No one but Canon knows if and when they will bring out an RF version of any of the big whites. I suspect a big factor will be the break-even point on the volume of lenses they need to sell. They will not abandon the EF line, especially since they are about to release the new 1Dx III, so they would need to sell enough of the RF lenses in addition to the EF lenses to justify the development and production costs of the RF version. They will also need a camera that works well enough with big whites to generate sales of RF big whites. We are probably at least a year away from such a camera.

Finally, will an RF version offer anything of significance over the EF version? Impossible to say at this point, but given how fantastic the EF version is, it's hard to imagine anything offering such a significant improvement that it would make the EF version obsolete or undesirable.
Not at all any buyer's remorse - I have learned nothing negative since deciding to buy and evaluate for 60 days with the option to return. 95% sure I'll keep it but still leaving the straps and goodies sealed in their bags. I should have done an unboxing video!

You make the outstanding point that this will always work perfectly on adapters, as it does today.

From looking at this teardown of the lens, it's clear that all Canon needs to develop is a replacement for a single structural part: the rear outer barrel as shown being removed in this photo.

The rear outer barrel supports some switches, and some wires might need to be longer to reach the extra inch to the contacts at the mount, but it could otherwise be identical. A summer engineering intern could create the part, and there is no redesign needed. Let the art department refine the contour. The final few millimeters would be the R style matte titanium look. This actually tells me that if EVER Canon made an RF version, there would be a part in the bin ready to convert any EF lens. And if Canon never made an RF version and relied on matching color/contour adapters (say selling it as an RF and including the adapter, or just including adapters with all when available like the "free" adapters they include with R kits) it's virtually certain they'd make the adapters work with the existing lenses, even the IS II lenses. And there's no doubt that the adapter or dedicated RF housing would have at least one control ring.

With your help, I think I just talked myself out of worrying that I might wish I'd deferred this until an RF version. I'm certain to either get a true conversion, or a nice adapter.

I do predict that the next 300 should resolve this.
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
I collect lenses. The biggest thing that matters is condition. The only time I have seen serial numbers come into play has to do with a design variation in a lens' lifetime.
Agreed. I collect Questar telescopes, and numbers are similarly irrelevant (thought I might hope for a low number when they come out with their 5-inch under development).

My main concern was that an early number reflected one with some bugs, or other concern. It was factory sealed so not a return. Just noting on the chance of a issue while I'm in the return period.
 
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Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
726
762
Agreed. I collect Questar telescopes, and numbers are similarly irrelevant (thought I might hope for a low number when they come out with their 5-inch under development).

My main concern was that an early number reflected one with some bugs, or other concern. It was factory sealed so not a return. Just noting on the chance of a issue while I'm in the return period.
Serial numbers are certainly irrelevant for Canon, NOT AT ALL fot Leica.
An odd serial number can easily mean a few additional 1000 $, sometimes even more, bur here, of course, I'm speaking of a very peculiar "market".
As to Leica M 3 bodies, a serial number 0000001 would cost at least a few 100000 $...at an auction.
 
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CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
4,705
2,625
Irving, Texas
Serial numbers are certainly irrelevant for Canon, NOT AT ALL fot Leica.
An odd serial number can easily mean a few additional 1000 $, sometimes even more, bur here, of course, I'm speaking of a very peculiar "market".
As to Leica M 3 bodies, a serial number 0000001 would cost at least a few 100000 $...at an auction.
I'm sure you are right. Still, I cannot see the reason for Leica's "new" prices let alone used. I feel the same about fashion brands too though. Like Armani suits? I just don't get it. When it comes to high end markets things just go way out of proportion. In that world things, I guess, are more about image and how people think others see them than function.
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
726
762
I'm sure you are right. Still, I cannot see the reason for Leica's "new" prices let alone used. I feel the same about fashion brands too though. Like Armani suits? I just don't get it. When it comes to high end markets things just go way out of proportion. In that world things, I guess, are more about image and how people think others see them than function.
There is no rational explanation for this phenomenom, apart from the fact that:
- Leica has the longest history in the world of photography (have invented 24 X 36)
- Their products show a huge amount of compatibility and continuity (lenses from the 1920s can still be mounted on the latest models)
- Highest quality (most of the time)
-1920 models can mostly still get repaired
- Enormous amount of interesting variants
- M cameras never had any real competion, so are quite unique
- Many vintage lenses are still better than anything else (My, but not only my, opinion)
- Collectors are mad and no real photographers
- But I really also love my EOS R and 5 DIV and 5 DIII plus most L lenses
 
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AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
6,371
4,579
There is no rational explanation for this phenomenom, apart from the fact that:
- Leica has the longest history in the world of photography (have invented 24 X 36)
- Their products show a huge amount of compatibility and continuity (lenses from the 1920s can still be mounted on the latest models)
- Highest quality (most of the time)
-1920 models can mostly still get repaired
- Enormous amount of interesting variants
- M cameras never had any real competion, so are quite unique
- Many vintage lenses are still better than anything else (My, but not only my, opinion)
- Collectors are mad and no real photographers
- But I really also love my EOS R and 5 DIV and 5 DIII plus most L lenses
It’s a well known phenomenon called “positional goods”. Putting up the price increases demand from those who have money to burn.
 

CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
4,705
2,625
Irving, Texas
It’s a well known phenomenon called “positional goods”. Putting up the price increases demand from those who have money to burn.
Yup.

"Positional goods often exhibit superior quality and features. However, they derive most of their value if they succeed in distinguishing their owners as members of a favored group. "

 
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TexPhoto

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 15, 2011
1,238
35
San Juan, PR
I think it will be a very long time before Canon makes any big white EOS R lenses for the following reasons:
1. Sales of EOS R cameras are to date very low.
2. Longer lenses benefit the least for the reduced flange distance of Mirrorless cameras.
3. Adapters are readily available, and the existing lenses work great with these adapters. (maybe a "white" adapter could be made available.)
4. With No pro level EOS R cameras available right now, and a new PRO DSLR just being introduced, the need seems low.
5. The Cinema line still uses the normal EOS mount. And uses all that extra flange distance for ND filters, a critical part of the system.
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
So... I sent it back. Thanks Adorama for the VIP360 60 day trial including free shipping both ways.

I decided that my demand curve hadn't yet risen high enough to offset the uncertainties that worried me.

If I turn out to be wrong, and this exact model (perhaps with suitable adapters or conversions) is still the ideal for me by the time I really need it, I can easily buy it later (possibly at a lower price). No risk, nothing lost.

But if I kept it, I risk finding I preferred an alternative (a side-by-side RF model, or maybe an alternative 200-500 slower lens, or...), and have to expensively sell it on the used market.

It's not a matter about the probability of either outcome. It's about one having zero cost and the other having a potentially substantial cost.
 
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privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
8,250
1,601
120
So... I sent it back. Thanks Adorama for the VIP360 60 day trial including free shipping both ways.
I hate that attitude, we all pay for that shit, if you want to rent before you buy go to Lens Rentals they will even deduct the cost of the rental from the sales price, or join CPS and get a loaner for free, but to use a brand new lens that now can't be legitimately sold as new has a huge cost implication and moral implication for the retailer and so directly all purchasers.
 

Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
I hate that attitude, we all pay for that shit, if you want to rent before you buy go to Lens Rentals they will even deduct the cost of the rental from the sales price, or join CPS and get a loaner for free, but to use a brand new lens that now can't be legitimately sold as new has a huge cost implication and moral implication for the retailer and so directly all purchasers.
Your hallucination about my intention upon purchase is duly noted. It's odd when people "hate" something that requires mind-reading of someone they have never met (and thankfully never will).

I also test via CPS Platinum and would happily have begun that way if it were available. I've invested well over $5000 in Canon gear in the last two months, and am ready to invest much more in the months and years ahead especially on a big white that doesn't require an adapter, so I think Canon will come out fine since I switched to them. In fact they might just sell more big ones as people read my report, and learn that the risk is zero to give it a genuine try.

Adorama will drop the price by $500 and sell it used as like new in a heartbeat. Without your tender concern for their and Canon's buiness practices and relationship with a customer.

PS regarding your "moral implications": Bite me.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
8,250
1,601
120
Your hallucination about my intention upon purchase is duly noted. It's odd when people "hate" something that requires mind-reading of someone they have never met (and thankfully never will).

I also test via CPS Platinum and would happily have begun that way if it were available. I've invested well over $5000 in Canon gear in the last two months, and am ready to invest much more in the months and years ahead especially on a big white that doesn't require an adapter, so I think Canon will come out fine since I switched to them. In fact they might just sell more big ones as people read my report, and learn that the risk is zero to give it a genuine try.

Adorama will drop the price by $500 and sell it used as like new in a heartbeat. Without your tender concern for their and Canon's buiness practices and relationship with a customer.

PS regarding your "moral implications": Bite me.
I don't need to read your mind to dislike what you did, or hate that it is a thing people do. I don't care what reasoning you apply to justify your behavior I find it reprehensible and it means the true cost of that action, which even you estimate at $500, are spread across the rest of us.

I wasn't questioning your morals, they are on full display for all to gauge, I was pointing out the moral dilemma that kind of behavior poses for retailers. I have received pre handled goods as new from the big NY stores and I don't like that it is people like you that create the situation where that can happen.
 
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Optics Patent

Former Nikon (Changes to R5 upon delivery)
Nov 6, 2019
310
248
Unless you believe that the refund policy is inherently immoral (that would make you quite the busybody into the business decisions of others) then you are mind-reading my intentions. Which would be hallucinating about your own powers.

I’ll take my own shot at mind reading and guess that you’ll never buy a $12,000 lens and that makes you resentful. Close enough?
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
8,250
1,601
120
Unless you believe that the refund policy is inherently immoral (that would make you quite the busybody into the business decisions of others) then you are mind-reading my intentions. Which would be hallucinating about your own powers.

I’ll take my own shot at mind reading and guess that you’ll never buy a $12,000 lens and that makes you resentful. Close enough?
I believe people gaming the refund policy is immoral, I don't care if it's you doing it or somebody else, that doesn't mean I have to read your mind or anybody else's any more than I'd need to understand the machinations of any other fraudster. And it isn't an altruistic feeling for the poor put upon retailer, you yourself estimate the cost to the retailer as $500 plus at least three shipping costs, the rest of the retailers customers pay for that loss and I am amongst them.

As for being resentful about your lens choice, if you are so insecure as to believe that then have at it. If I needed a $12,000 lens I am in the very fortunate position of being able to buy one, I can even offset it against my taxes and reduce my tax burden by that amount, but I don't need it so you are correct in that I will probably never buy a $12,000 lens. However if I did I would have the balls and self confidence to do it rather than post wistfully about how I want the best now and I want it future proofed and can you all hold my hand while do it and please give me some positive reinforcement because I obviously don't need it either.