Will there be an APS-C EOS R-series camera?

neuroanatomist

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There has been a rumor and ample forum buzz about a possible EOS R-series camera with an APS-C sensor. Is that likely?

TL;DR…no.

There seem to be two camps promoting the idea. One camp is looking for a ‘budget’ option in the EOS R line, an inexpensive body that’s compatible with the RF lens lineup. Personally, I think that would not be an APS-C camera. The main reason is that the EOS M line exists and is a global best-seller, providing entry-level and somewhat more advanced bodies with a lens lineup from 11-200mm, including some high-quality, low-cost lenses.

The other reason is the also-rumored $800 FF EOS R body, which would be a very affordable FF camera. Canon seems to be headed this way with their recent lens releases: there is already the RF 24-105 f/4-7.1 at $400 and RF 50/1.8 at $200, and they’ve recently added the RF 100-400 f/5.6-8 at $650 and the RF 16/2.8 at $300. There are also wide and telephoto macro primes at $500 and $600, respectively. These lenses appear geared toward a budget-friendly FF system. All that’s needed is that sub-$1000 FF MILC.

For a budget APS-C R-series camera to be viable, Canon would likely need to develop a set of RF-S (or whatever moniker) lenses in the wide and normal range at least. Not sure they would want to add yet another mount to the mix. The leaked roadmap does have an RF 18-45mm zoom on it, and that is a potential standard zoom for an RF APS-C camera. But it’s also a very viable ultrawide zoom for a FF MILC, and would fill a significant gap in the budget-friendly FF system.

The other camp (which seems more vocal here) is looking for a high pixel density sensor for ‘more reach’. Given that an APS-C crop from the R5 yields a 17 MP image, an APS-C sensor with a higher MP count (like the 32 MP sensor in the 90D and M6 II) would yield significantly more ‘pixels on duck’ for applications where focal length is limiting and for macro shooters wanting more (digital) magnification. These folks are looking for a ‘high end’ APS-C RF-mount camera, the obvious analogy being the EOS 7D and 7DII, leading to speculation about an EOS R7.

Although I can see the utility of such a camera (in general, not for me personally), I think both history and Canon’s current strategy argue against it. On the history side, consider the 7D and 7DII. Every other Canon series, from the xxxD and xxD models below the 7-series to the 5- and 1-series models above it received more frequent updates. In many ways, the 90D was the real successor to the 7DII – although a step down in some ways, it was a step up in others and obviously there has not been a 7DIII. Beyond the 7-series itself, consider also the EF-S lens lineup aimed at APS-C users. The three EF-S lenses considered ‘high end’ and favorites of 7-series users were the 17-55/2.8, the 15-85/3.5-5.6 and the 10-22/3.5-4.5. Of those, the first two were released in 2006 and 2009, respectively, and never updated (though it could be argued that the 15-85 was itself an update to the 17-85). The 10-22 was replaced with the cheaper, slower all-plastic 10-18/4.5-5.6. Meanwhile, the 18-55mm, 18-135mm, and 55-250mm lenses all saw at least three versions, and all were updated in the last decade.

So, history suggests that the ‘high-end’ APS-C body and the best-matched ‘high end’ EF-S lenses were low on Canon’s priority list. To me, that is evidence that the market for those lenses is not very significant as far as Canon is concerned. So, when people claim, “The market wants a high end R7 with an APS-C sensor,” what they really mean is they want one, and maybe a couple other people they know want one, too. It’s important to realize that the microcosm of forums like this one, or the small circle of people someone knows, are not representative of the broader market. Canon has knowledge of the desires of that broader market through a variety of methods.

Alternatively, it is possible that there was a substantial demand for a 7DIII that Canon chose to leave unfulfilled, in an attempt to push those people wanting ‘more’ from their top-shelf APS-C camera into buying a FF camera system. If that’s true, then that logic applies even more to the R-series. The R5 and R6 offer very good performance, and Canon have also provided the RF 600/11 and 800/11 for those wanting ‘more reach’ on a FF camera.

Someone will probably bring up the ‘Nikon just did it so Canon must follow’ rationale, but Nikon doesn’t have anything like the EOS M line. Their initial foray into MILCs, the Nikon 1, was a flop that was last updated in 2015 and formally discontinued in 2018. Nikon’s Z 50 (and the Z fc – did they not learn from the Df?!?) are their late attempt to capture some of the APS-C MILC market that’s dominated by Sony and Canon.

Overall, I think that despite the wishes of some people, we won’t be seeing an APS-C sensor in an RF-mount camera.
 
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unfocused

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There has been a rumor and ample forum buzz about a possible EOS R-series camera with an APS-C sensor. Is that likely?

TL;DR…no.

There seem to be two camps promoting the idea. One camp is looking for a ‘budget’ option in the EOS R line, an inexpensive body that’s compatible with the RF lens lineup. Personally, I think that would not be an APS-C camera. The main reason is that the EOS M line exists and is a global best-seller, providing entry-level and somewhat more advanced bodies with a lens lineup from 11-200mm, including some high-quality, low-cost lenses.

The other reason is the also-rumored $800 FF EOS R body, which would be a very affordable FF camera. Canon seems to be headed this way with their recent lens releases: there is already the RF 24-105 f/4-7.1 at $400 and RF 50/1.8 at $200, and they’ve recently added the RF 100-400 f/5.6-8 at $650 and the RF 16/2.8 at $300. There are also wide and telephoto macro primes at $500 and $600, respectively. These lenses appear geared toward a budget-friendly FF system. All that’s needed is that sub-$1000 FF MILC.

For a budget APS-C R-series camera to be viable, Canon would likely need to develop a set of RF-S (or whatever moniker) lenses in the wide and normal range at least. Not sure they would want to add yet another mount to the mix. The leaked roadmap does have an RF 18-45mm zoom on it, and that is a potential standard zoom for an RF APS-C camera. But it’s also a very viable ultrawide zoom for a FF MILC, and would fill a significant gap in the budget-friendly FF system.

The other camp (which seems more vocal here) is looking for a high pixel density sensor for ‘more reach’. Given that an APS-C crop from the R5 yields a 17 MP image, an APS-C sensor with a higher MP count (like the 32 MP sensor in the 90D and M6 II) would yield significantly more ‘pixels on duck’ for applications where focal length is limiting and for macro shooters wanting more (digital) magnification. These folks are looking for a ‘high end’ APS-C RF-mount camera, the obvious analogy being the EOS 7D and 7DII, leading to speculation about an EOS R7.

Although I can see the utility of such a camera (in general, not for me personally), I think both history and Canon’s current strategy argue against it. On the history side, consider the 7D and 7DII. Every other Canon series, from the xxxD and xxD models below the 7-series to the 5- and 1-series models above it received more frequent updates. In many ways, the 90D was the real successor to the 7DII – although a step down in some ways, it was a step up in others and obviously there has not been a 7DIII. Beyond the 7-series itself, consider also the EF-S lens lineup aimed at APS-C users. The three EF-S lenses considered ‘high end’ and favorites of 7-series users were the 17-55/2.8, the 15-85/3.5-5.6 and the 10-22/3.5-4.5. Of those, the first two were released in 2006 and 2009, respectively, and never updated (though it could be argued that the 15-85 was itself an update to the 17-85). The 10-22 was replaced with the cheaper, slower all-plastic 10-18/4.5-5.6. Meanwhile, the 18-55mm, 18-135mm, and 55-250mm lenses all saw at least three versions, and all were updated in the last decade.

So, history suggests that the ‘high-end’ APS-C body and the best-matched ‘high end’ EF-S lenses were low on Canon’s priority list. To me, that is evidence that the market for those lenses is not very significant as far as Canon is concerned. So, when people claim, “The market wants a high end R7 with an APS-C sensor,” what they really mean is they want one, and maybe a couple other people they know want one, too. It’s important to realize that the microcosm of forums like this one, or the small circle of people someone knows, are not representative of the broader market. Canon has knowledge of the desires of that broader market through a variety of methods.

Alternatively, it is possible that there was a substantial demand for a 7DIII that Canon chose to leave unfulfilled, in an attempt to push those people wanting ‘more’ from their top-shelf APS-C camera into buying a FF camera system. If that’s true, then that logic applies even more to the R-series. The R5 and R6 offer very good performance, and Canon have also provided the RF 600/11 and 800/11 for those wanting ‘more reach’ on a FF camera.

Someone will probably bring up the ‘Nikon just did it so Canon must follow’ rationale, but Nikon doesn’t have anything like the EOS M line. Their initial foray into MILCs, the Nikon 1, was a flop that was last updated in 2015 and formally discontinued in 2018. Nikon’s Z 50 (and the Z fc – did they not learn from the Df?!?) are their late attempt to capture some of the APS-C MILC market that’s dominated by Sony and Canon.

Overall, I think that despite the wishes of some people, we won’t be seeing an APS-C sensor in an RF-mount camera.
You must be bored. Trying to stir things up a bit aren't we?

I agree with most of what you wrote, except I don't think the EF vs. EF-S concerns are important with the RF mount. If Canon were to make an RF-S lens, it would seamlessly mount on any R body, since the camera could simply crop the image as the R series already does with EF-S lenses. One problem with crop-senor DSLRs was that manufacturers constantly had to educate consumers about which lenses would fit on which bodies. That's not an issue with mirrorless.

The best argument in favor of a low-cost crop sensor R is that it would allow Canon to consolidate everything into one mount. However, I'm not sure the design requirements of the R mount would allow a crop sensor R to ever be as compact as the M series and compact size seems to be the best reason to build a low-cost crop sensor body. Canon is showing they can build a full-frame R that is reasonably compact and reasonably low cost, so I think that argues against dropping the M series for the R mount, unless they totally drop APS-C.

Of course the big issue is the mythical R7 that so many dream of. I'm agnostic on this one, mainly because I don't think we can know enough to make an informed prediction. We don't know what the market size is, we don't know what the minimum cost might be and we don't know what the maximum viable price point might be. I'm inclined to believe it is not viable, but I have to admit part of that is because it's so much fun to see the reaction of forum participants when you suggest they won't get their dream camera. :)

More seriously though, I've found that personally I have no problem using the R5 in crop mode when I need more reach. It's virtually indistinguishable from the 7DII when processing images and of course, it is a much better camera. Yes, an R5 is a significant investment over the 7DII, but when you combine the cost of a 5D and a 7D, the R5 becomes much more cost effective, since you are getting two cameras in one. Since many of the high-end 7DII users also own or purchase a full frame body, the out-of-pocket cost remains about the same or less. I can only judge by my own use and in my case, while I would have bought a 7DIII in a second, I find with the R5 that my interest in an R7 is almost non-existent. I wonder how many others feel that way and to what extent that has diminished the possible market for an R7. Add in a rumored high MP full frame R and it might further reduce the potential market for an R7.

Anyway, I enjoy playing this game with you and will wait and see what it stirs up.
 
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Czardoom

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I can only speak for myself, but I would definitely be interested in an RF mount APS-C camera. Unlike many of the 7D series users, I would much rather see an affordable crop RF camera that doesn't necessarily have all the bells and whistles of a higher end camera, but can still supply the added reach. I disagree that there would be numerous RF-S lenses needed. I think the only one that might be designed for APS-C, would be an ultra-wide. An 18-45 (or better yet 18-55 or 75) would be a standard zoom for APS-C and a nice wide angle for FF. Anything longer would be used for both. For example, I would be very interested in the new RF 100-400mm if I could pair it with a crop camera, but have no interest in it for an FF camera. The argument that one can use a FF camera in crop mode does have merit, but for many users the price point of the R5 is way to high.

While the M system cameras are something I have owned in the past, they just don't pair well with larger and heavier long lenses, in my opinion. So, for me (and presumably some others) looking for more reach, the M system doesn't cut it ergonomically and the R5 in crop mode doesn't cut it economically.
 

docsmith

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I'll play.

APS-C came about at a point and time that the cost of the APS-C sensor was sufficiently lower than FF to justify the R&D and manufacturing investment for APS-C cameras/lenses. Actually, APS-C predated FF by several years. My thought would be that the current price difference is not great enough to justify that investment in a RF mount APS-C system today. Canon will do their bests to keep costs down and centralized around a singular system.

As mentioned above, the APS-C mode on the R5 works great. I only use it when I want to save on file size or to save in cropping in post, neither of which are often, but still, it works well.
 

unfocused

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I disagree that there would be numerous RF-S lenses needed...
I agree.

There were only three EF-S lenses that appealed to serious users, the 15-85, the 17-55 f2.8 and the 10-22. With modern sensor designs, I'm not sure how necessary the 17-55 f2.8 is. In my view, they could get by with a 15-85 and a 10-22.

Although more expensive, the already existing RF 24-240 is actually a more flexible option than the 55-250 for a travel lens.
 
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old-pr-pix

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Likely none of us has access to actual sales statistics nor strategic marketing forecasts so we deal in hypothesis and speculation. I tend to agree with Neuro's analysis. The market for an R series APSC is likely small and mostly derived from current/former 7D series users. The M series is sound and selling well for many use cases - probably mostly serious hobbyists, casual shooters, vloggers and travelers. M series users likely aren't using long teles so lens coverage limited to 200mm is probably sufficient. Still it's possible to go really long with an adapter and EF lenses (however awkward and unbalanced). So the APSC format appears well covered for many (most?) users.

It seems that mostly it would be 7D/7DII shooters who would seek an RF - APSC body. The use cases would center on longer reach telephoto situations, fast focusing, sound weather sealing, high frame rates, i.e. wildlife and some sports. The 90D is actually a decent upgrade from the 7DII except for a few areas like weather sealing and perhaps focusing; but a mirrorless solution could offer lot more advanced technology.

Now, just to stir the pot for you Canon fanboys... when it became clear Canon wouldn't introduce a 7DIII, Olympus saw the opportunity to attract some of those 7D oriented sports and wildlife shooters. One limitation with the 7D series was always Canon's insistence on a fairly strong AA filter. Olympus didn't use an AA filter consequently they could claim 'sharper' images despite a smaller sensor. (When I first bought into the m4/3 system I compared OMD vs. 7D and found the OMD noticeably 'sharper'. YMMV) Olympus frame rate of 60fps (electronic shutter, focus locked) and 15 fps (mechanical w/focus) easily topped any Canon offering other than the 1DX. Canon had a clear edge in tracking (w/1DX series) but Olympus made big strides to fix that soft spot. Olympus brought out wildlife oriented PRO lenses - 300mm f4 prime (FOV equal to 600mm FF), 150-400 mm w/integral 1.25X (FOV =1000mm FF), stackable 1.4X and 2X converters for more fantastic reach, etc. Weather sealing on Olympus cameras equaled or exceeded the 1DXII and was superior to the 7D - Internet clips showed cameras working in the shower. Working pros touted lighter weight gave them more time comfortably in the field. Sophisticated software helped offset the low-light noise issues as did incredible IBIS. Cost was also a factor - $13,000 for a FF 600mm f4 vs. $2,900 for 300mm f4. In fact, some claim the main motivation for Canon to introduce the lower cost 600 & 800 f11 RF lenses was to try to recapture business lost to Olympus from migrating 7D shooters. [Before the howling starts, I fully understand all the arguments around true equivalence, but for long telephoto wildlife shooting shallow DOF is often a non-issue (actually, more DOF is frequently better) and noise gets addressed in post.]

My point isn't to push a sensor format, it is to point out another indication that Canon has taken a different route to attract 7D class users to the FF world. If you are a serious working wildlife pro who sells enough images to afford the best available FF gear (sports shooters are a different lot since many have gear provided by others) then Canon will fit you up with a 1DXIII or R3/R5 and some $13,000 glass. Those of us on a more limited budget can look forward to the R or RP replacements with f11 glass. The 7DII/90D with a 100-400 L II solution will fade away IMO.
 

Czardoom

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For long telephoto wildlife shooting, I also use Olympus. If people actually knew how good the Olympus cameras and lenses are, instead of being inundated with all the internet bullcrap that the m4/3rds system has to endure, Olympus wouldn't have had to sell the camera business. My opinion, of course.
 

YuengLinger

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Likely none of us has access to actual sales statistics nor strategic marketing forecasts so we deal in hypothesis and speculation. I tend to agree with Neuro's analysis. The market for an R series APSC is likely small and mostly derived from current/former 7D series users...

Now, just to stir the pot for you Canon fanboys... when it became clear Canon wouldn't introduce a 7DIII, Olympus saw the opportunity to attract some of those 7D oriented sports and wildlife shooters...
Very good insights, most of which I agree with completely. However, regarding Olympus, you might be underestimating older photographers' need for lighter gear. I was a member of a camera club, and even middle-aged, I was the youngest regular member by about ten years. We averaged 35 members each monthly meeting, and as they reached 70, they began to look for something smaller than the club favorite, the 7D. The body was not much smaller than a FF body, and the wildlife lens of choice was the 100-400mm. A few did have the better EF-S lenses already mentioned in this thread, but by in large they favored L series lenses. Many had gone to full-frame with the 5D III and 5D IV.

But as legs, hips, shoulders and hands began to succumb to the effects of age, within a two year period almost half the club had traded in their Canon and Nikon gear for Olympus. It really was astounding. And three or four just decided that i-Phone cameras were good enough.

I have no idea how big the enthusiast market is among people over 70 years old, but I can't imagine it is huge. The people in my camera club were rare birds who had disposable income and just could not stop getting out, could not give up photography--but they could not carry a 7D and lenses and a tripod anymore.

Personally, I hope to use full-frame until it is physically impossible for me, and I hope that is a good way off! But young photographers aren't going to save much weight or money with a robust, wildlife type of APS-C 7D body, in my opinion. I don't think Canon would make such a body that is significantly cheaper than, say, the R6. As Docsmith suggests, the production cost of FF over APS-C means Canon could offer everything the 7D had with a FF sensor. Perhaps number of Megapixels will be what distinguishes various lines, as it does with the R5 and R6 now?

But maybe many photographers believe that a smaller sensor gives more bang for the buck when paired with a super-telephoto lens, and Canon sees the continued marketing opportunities--even if the actual price of a mirrorless 7D would be very close to FF bodies. We'll see!
 
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old-pr-pix

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Being one of those 'older photographers' myself I totally concur with the preference for lighter gear. I started with medium and large format, migrated to 35 mm film, next digital and lastly added m43. I have also become somewhat of a 'inadvertant collector' having now Canon FF, Canon APSC, Fuji APSC, Olympus & Panasonic m43 cameras and lenses all at the ready. I don't have justification for all that gear other than much of it is older (like me!) and has modest value (other than the "L" lenses) so I keep it like old friends. The m43 stuff is what I use for almost all jobs (the few there are these days) except wide-angle stuff where the 3:2 aspect ratio of FF and APSC just seems a more natural fit than the near square 4:3 format. Today I shoot mostly for fun, not profit. Hand me any camera and I'll have fun with it! Tell me I have to carry it around all day and I will definitely prefer my Olympus E-M5II or my SL-2 or better yet my G-15. That said, I still dream of going back to medium format and that new Fuji GFX-50S II might settle my GAS, but I sure don't want to carry it around - maybe just studio work?
 
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Michael Clark

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Every other Canon series, from the xxxD and xxD models below the 7-series to the 5- and 1-series models above it received more frequent updates.

I seem to have missed those more frequent updates to the 5Ds and 5Ds R series...
 

AlanF

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More seriously though, I've found that personally I have no problem using the R5 in crop mode when I need more reach.
Please explain how it gives you more reach in crop mode. It says this also on official Canon sites:

EOS R5: Larger resolution even in 1.6x crop mode
The 1.6x crop mode on both cameras uses part of the image sensor to achieve 1.6x more reach on any given lens https://snapshot.canon-asia.com/india/article/en/eos-r5-vs-eos-r6-5-key-differences-to-note

and I am confused.
 
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Antono Refa

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My guess is that making a high performance R camera with 20.2MP * 1.6 ^ 2 = 51.7MP full frame sensor would be easier and more profitable than making an R7 & RF-S lenses, all the more so with the market shrinking long term, and short term parts shortage. Apparently the price difference between APS-C & FF sensors isn't that big either nowadays.
 

neuroanatomist

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My guess is that making a high performance R camera with 20.2MP * 1.6 ^ 2 = 51.7MP full frame sensor would be easier and more profitable than making an R7 & RF-S lenses, all the more so with the market shrinking long term, and short term parts shortage. Apparently the price difference between APS-C & FF sensors isn't that big either nowadays.
They’d need an 82 MP FF high-performance R-series camera to just match (not exceed) the 90D in terms of pixel density (‘reach’).
 

Antono Refa

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They’d need an 82 MP FF high-performance R-series camera to just match (not exceed) the 90D in terms of pixel density (‘reach’).
Is the 90D a 7D replacement?

If owners of 1D X mark III can do with 20MP, and R3 owners are expected to do with 24MP, I see no reason why Canon would have to match the 90D's pixel density.
 

neuroanatomist

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Is the 90D a 7D replacement?

If owners of 1D X mark III can do with 20MP, and R3 owners are expected to do with 24MP, I see no reason why Canon would have to match the 90D's pixel density.
Since there was no 7DIII, the 90D was the de facto 7DII replacement.

i’m not one of those clamoring for an APS-C R-series body, both those doing so for ‘more reach’ want the highest pixel density they can get, so I doubt they’d be satisfied with 50 MP.

Consider that the R5 plus the 800/11 puts more ‘pixels on duck’ than the 7DII + 1.4x + 100-400, yet 7DII owners are still asking for an APS-C R. I don’t think they’re going to get one, but they are asking.
 
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AlanF

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Is the 90D a 7D replacement?

If owners of 1D X mark III can do with 20MP, and R3 owners are expected to do with 24MP, I see no reason why Canon would have to match the 90D's pixel density.
You might not see a reason but you are not speaking for everyone. However, 24 Mpx in an APS-C I can live with, or even 20.
 

Antono Refa

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You might not see a reason but you are not speaking for everyone. However, 24 Mpx in an APS-C I can live with, or even 20.
I never claimed speaking for everyone. Canon doesn't have to match the 90D's density, exactly because there are customers like you who could live with 20MP.
 

Antono Refa

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i’m not one of those clamoring for an APS-C R-series body, both those doing so for ‘more reach’ want the highest pixel density they can get, so I doubt they’d be satisfied with 50 MP.
Canon released a 250MP APS-H sensor a year ago, so why not an 80MP FF sensor now? Could be supply problems, but I doubt its demand.