I don´t understand the Canon RF Lens Philosophy

Soren Hakanlind

Professional photographer
Feb 1, 2020
10
11
Sweden
hakanlind.com
What are Canon up to?! I do not a need a RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye! Neither a Canon RF 28-70/2 or any of the f1,2 lenses. They are too heavy and too expensive! Most of us professionals don't need this kind of optics. I need a good compromise between weight, performance and price.

Where are the RF50mm/1,4, RF24mm/2,0, RF20mm/2,8 or the RF135mm/2,0?

I have been a loyal Canon user and a professional photographer for more than 35 years. But I don't understand the Canon company any longer. Come on, Canon!

 

docsmith

EOS R
CR Pro
Sep 17, 2010
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I think we are at an odd point in the transition to RF lenses. It is actually well populated, 24 now if you include the RF 5.2 dual fisheye. They have f/2.8 and f/4 zoom trinities, they also have a prime trinity of sorts with the 35 f/1.8, 50 f/1.8, and 85 f/2, but have yet to complete the faster trinity of f/1.4 or f/1.2 primes.

I expect these prime lenses and more are coming. I doubt Canon is done at 24 RF lenses. When and whether they are exactly what you are looking for remains to be seen.
 
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Kit.

EOS 5D Mark IV
Apr 25, 2011
2,161
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What are Canon up to?!
I will try to explain.

Canon has plenty of EF lenses that work on the RF bodies just fine using a dumb adapter. What Canon does now is the lenses that cannot realistically be done in EF (like the RF 5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye) or the lenses where the adapter is a liability (like the heavy superteles).

I do not a need a RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye!
I would rather like to have it. Maybe I'll even buy one later.

Neither a Canon RF 28-70/2 or any of the f1,2 lenses. They are too heavy and too expensive! Most of us professionals don't need this kind of optics. I need a good compromise between weight, performance and price.

Where are the RF50mm/1,4, RF24mm/2,0, RF20mm/2,8 or the RF135mm/2,0?
If you can buy and carry such a set of primes, you are not really in a position to complain that the current EF-RF lens choice is "too heavy" or "too expensive".
 

unfocused

EOS-1D X Mark III
Jul 20, 2010
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Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
They can't make everything at once. Canon is making lenses that sell. It appears to me that these fall into four general categories:

1) RF versions of their most popular lenses (24-105mm, 70-200mm, etc.)
2) New lenses that take advantage of the RF design (28-70 f2, 800mm f11, etc.)
3) RF lenses that replace EF lenses but are not identical (100-500mm)
4) Lenses that will expand the shrinking camera market by selling cameras for new and innovative uses (dual-lens VR).

In the meantime, every EF lens works seamlessly on the R cameras.

Zoom lenses are much more popular than primes. Inexpensive primes and specialty primes (macro) are much more popular than fast primes. With improved sensor performance, the fast prime market is only going to get smaller.

If you view Canon as a business trying to maximize sales and profit, their strategy makes perfect sense.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
CR Pro
Nov 7, 2013
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What are Canon up to?! ... But I don't understand the Canon company any longer. Come on, Canon!
Hi Soren!

I can understand your thoughts.

Let's try to understand Canon.
Let's make a guess and try to think as Canon might think:

How is the Situation?
  • The ILC market is shrinking according to CIPA
  • Canon is #1 in this shrinking market
  • Canon has sold more than 100 mio cameras - may I guess that the huge majority are (D)SLRs (more than 90 mio by 2017)
  • Canon has sold more than 150 mio lenses - may I guess that the huge majority are EF/EF-S lenses (more than 130 mio by 2017)
  • so Canon already has a large installed basis in a shrinking market
  • Bestsellers like the EF f/2.8 trinity already have their RF successors
  • Still people that own a EF f/2.8 trinity may think more than twice before spending the money for the RF counterparts
  • That would be same for other superb EF L primes like the EF 135 f/2.0
Question Canon is asking themselves:
  • How do I draw more people into the R/RF lens system?
  • Choice 1: Redo the already existing EF lenses and hope that I can draw NEW users into R/RF system with them?
    Or hope EXISTING EF owners will happily and willingly replace their lenses at once?
  • Choice 2: In addition to the bestsellers make new special lenses that attract both new AND existing users?
It seems Canon did choose #2. Other primes will come later. But that'll take several years - for sure.
 

Soren Hakanlind

Professional photographer
Feb 1, 2020
10
11
Sweden
hakanlind.com
What's the sample size of that poll, how were the participants selected, what were the questions asked and what was the margin for 'most'?
My professional friends. It's not rocket science. It's not any poll. But maybe you like heavy, expensive lenses? :)
What's the sample size of that poll, how were the participants selected, what were the questions asked and what was the margin for 'most'?
 

Soren Hakanlind

Professional photographer
Feb 1, 2020
10
11
Sweden
hakanlind.com
I will try to explain.

Canon has plenty of EF lenses that work on the RF bodies just fine using a dumb adapter. What Canon does now is the lenses that cannot realistically be done in EF (like the RF 5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye) or the lenses where the adapter is a liability (like the heavy superteles).


I would rather like to have it. Maybe I'll even buy one later.


If you can buy and carry such a set of primes, you are not really in a position to complain that the current EF-RF lens choice is "too heavy" or "too expensive".
If you are a professional you are not so keen to playing around with adapters. So I want to change to RF lenses as soon as possible. I will only keep my EF70-200/2,8 L IS II. It's fantastic! :)
 

Soren Hakanlind

Professional photographer
Feb 1, 2020
10
11
Sweden
hakanlind.com
Hi Soren!

I can understand your thoughts.

Let's try to understand Canon.
Let's make a guess and try to think as Canon might think:

How is the Situation?
  • The ILC market is shrinking according to CIPA
  • Canon is #1 in this shrinking market
  • Canon has sold more than 100 mio cameras - may I guess that the huge majority are (D)SLRs (more than 90 mio by 2017)
  • Canon has sold more than 150 mio lenses - may I guess that the huge majority are EF/EF-S lenses (more than 130 mio by 2017)
  • so Canon already has a large installed basis in a shrinking market
  • Bestsellers like the EF f/2.8 trinity already have their RF successors
  • Still people that own a EF f/2.8 trinity may think more than twice before spending the money for the RF counterparts
  • That would be same for other superb EF L primes like the EF 135 f/2.0
Question Canon is asking themselves:
  • How do I draw more people into the R/RF lens system?
  • Choice 1: Redo the already existing EF lenses and hope that I can draw NEW users into R/RF system with them?
    Or hope EXISTING EF owners will happily and willingly replace their lenses at once?
  • Choice 2: In addition to the bestsellers make new special lenses that attract both new AND existing users?
It seems Canon did choose #2. Other primes will come later. But that'll take several years - for sure.
You got a point. But I'm personally keen on replacing my EF equipment as soon as possible. I don't like to mess around with adapters.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
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When Canon went from FD to EF, what were the first lenses produced? How many years before they had a complete selection. Remember, you could not adapt FD to EF either, so it was urgent to get new lenses out.

Here is some help, the first 12 years in the images below. THE EF 50 1.4 showed up in year 7.

That should give a clue as to how important the lens was. The 50mm F/1.0 showed up in year 3.


Canon EF -1.JPG
Canon EF -2.JPG
Canon EF 3.JPG
Canon EF -4.JPG
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
CR Pro
Nov 7, 2013
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Germany
When Canon went from FD to EF, what were the first lenses produced? How many years before they had a complete selection. Remember, you could not adapt FD to EF either, so it was urgent to get new lenses out.
Great summary, @Mt Spokane Photography . Thanks.

Here is some help, the first 12 years in the images below. THE EF 50 1.4 showed up in year 7.
And AFAIK the EF 50 f/1.4 was more or less just the old FD design with AF and USM mechanics around it - like a lot of the other 1st gen. EFs, too.

And now RF lenses are mostly totally new optical formulae, optimized designs for the new flange distance. So much more R&D required.
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
25,767
4,145
My professional friends. It's not rocket science. It's not any poll. But maybe you like heavy, expensive lenses? :)
I really don't get why people persist in making unsupportable claims like, "Most of us professionals want/need/believe..." Of course, it's always fine to express your own opinion, and even share the opinions of people with whom you've discussed a matter. But the world is a very large place, and one person (or one small group) is almost certainly not representative of 'most of us'.

Now, 'most of my professional friends' as you later amended your statement is perfectly fine, as long as you clearly understand that you and your professional friends are irrelevant to Canon except as an insignificant part of their aggregate market.

I've said this before (more than a few times) – Canon is a global, multibillion dollar company and they have led the ILC market for nearly two decades. They conduct ample market research in a variety of channels – direct user surveys (I've received some), information collected via product registrations (that includes not only the lens purchased but other lenses and bodies owned, etc.), what CPS members around the world borrow at events or directly then what they eventually buy, and also most likely purchased market research from firms like RAM, GfK, NDC, etc.). Those data are used in their product planning decisions, so even though you don't understand their strategy, there can be no doubt that it's a well-informed strategy and history suggests it's likely to be a successful one.

I will only keep my EF70-200/2,8 L IS II. It's fantastic! :)
It is a fantastic lens, but I think it's a bit ironic that you are clamoring for lighter lenses and the RF version is 420 g (28%) lighter than the EF version, and much smaller making it easier to transport (takes up one 'slot' in a pro-size backpack by fitting vertically instead of needing two lens slots'):

Screen Shot 2021-10-08 at 12.44.06 PM.png

The RF version also delivers noticeably better image quality. Of course, the RF version is much more expensive, so I suspect that really means your desire is mostly for cheaper lenses.

Personally, I recently bought the RF 70-200/2.8 and sold my EF 70-200/2.8 II, and I am very pleased with the RF lens. Planning to replace my EF 24-70/2.8 II with the RF 24-70/2.8 IS sometime before my R3 arrives.
 
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Antono Refa

EOS R
Mar 26, 2014
1,326
434
With improved sensor performance, the fast prime market is only going to get smaller.
Seems Canon has prioritized the 50mm & 85mm f/1.2 primes, as well as the 28-70mm f/2, though the motivation is likely depth of field, rather than sensor performance.

I agree with previous posters that Canon prioritized lenses that would get photographers to switch from EF to RF.
 

YuengLinger

EOS R5
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,505
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USA
The adapters are really no burden. Rather than replacing a $1200 EF lens, I simply add a $100 passive adapter. For the few EF lenses I've kept, the lens + adapter still fit in the old Pearstone or Ruggard case I bought for them.

Interestingly, the OP mentions the one EF lens that did not work for me, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. What was a nicely balanced portrait lens on my 5DIV became too front-heavy and, in portrait orientation, annoyingly awkward on the EOS R. So I bought the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L, and I love it! So light, such great IQ, and, of course, super compact when stowed. That's a lighter lens for you!

If you haven't seen the attached video, please watch to see how how well an EF lens works adapted to the R6. I have this combo, and I simply leave an adapter on the lens even when stored. I have no plan to replace this 35mm lens, even when an RF version comes out. It's quick, well balanced, and reliable. (And my EF 135mm f/2L? Same!)


I'm so happy with the RF lenses I've purchased, and the mirrorless FF bodies, that I've never thought to ask about lens philosophies. My photography is better than ever, in my own opinion (of course). I just hope Canon keeps selling and maintaining great gear. And if some Sigma lenses I want become available, I'll look at those too!
 
Last edited:

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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...It is a fantastic lens, but I think it's a bit ironic that you are clamoring for lighter lenses and the RF version is 420 g (28%) lighter than the EF version, and much smaller making it easier to transport (takes up one 'slot' in a pro-size backpack by fitting vertically instead of needing two lens slots'):

View attachment 200673
I actually bought my ThinkTank Airport Security V2.0 because the design of the collapsible handle allowed the EF 70-200 f2.8IS to stand up in one of the compartments, they even advertised this as a specific design element. At the time it was the only bag I could find that I could fly with that allowed this layout functionality.

Screen Shot 2021-10-13 at 13.41.28.png
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
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I actually bought my ThinkTank Airport Security V2.0 because the design of the collapsible handle allowed the EF 70-200 f2.8IS to stand up in one of the compartments, they even advertised this as a specific design element. At the time it was the only bag I could find that I could fly with that allowed this layout functionality.

View attachment 200751
I don't use a photo roller-bag, rather I generally travel with a Peli luggage carryon or checked piece with my photo gear in a backpack. The RF 70-200/2.8 fits vertically in my Lowepro Video Fastpack 250AW, a bag I really like for travel because it holds a gripped body and 3-4 lenses, has another compartment for snacks/chargers/etc., and a laptop compartment that holds my 16" MacBook Pro and an iPad.
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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I don't use a photo roller-bag, rather I generally travel with a Peli luggage carryon or checked piece with my photo gear in a backpack. The RF 70-200/2.8 fits vertically in my Lowepro Video Fastpack 250AW, a bag I really like for travel because it holds a gripped body and 3-4 lenses, has another compartment for snacks/chargers/etc., and a laptop compartment that holds my 16" MacBook Pro and an iPad.
Camera bag preference is endless! I have half a dozen and I'm sure you do too! But my bulk mover is the ThinkTank Airport Security V2.0 because of what is can hold (including the vertical 70-200 f2.8) and the fact that is is one of the few big roller bags that also has 'emergency' shoulder straps. I've found there are few places I can't drag a roller but. when I really can't I can semi comfortably shoulder carry it.

Having said all that when I go on my proper personal travels I go much lighter with just a single body and two lenses, for that I generally use the ThinkTank Retrospective 10 or even the ThinkTank Turnstyle 10 V2.0.

It seems I am a ThinkTank addict...