One decision of Canon frustrated me so much that I stopped working on CanonNews, that was when it finally came out that Canon was aggressively preventing third-party lens manufacturers from developing the RF mount. I honestly didn't want anything to do with Canon after that, until Craig talked me into writing for all you fine people again.

This opinion was hinted at and briefly discussed the last time I did an opinion, but with new rumors circulating over Canon “opening” the mount, I decided to have at it again.

Part of me wonders to this day was, what was it that Canon was really going after the vendors for because this is basically what they were doing;

  1. Use the EF protocols for autofocus and emulate an existing EF lens. In case you didn't know Canon RF camera bodies can seamlessly switch between the EF protocol and the RF protocol.
  2. Use the RF mechanical mount
  3. Use the RF electronic interconnects that are attached to the lens that provide the communication between the lens body and the camera body.

The first item is what every single third-party company has been doing on the EF mount for the last 30 years. So it's not as if Canon can start going after them, and nor could they go after the new guys making lenses with the EF protocol.

The second item is the mechanical RF mount design and it is patented by Canon, but they are obviously not going after the thousands of vendors that are using the mechanical mount. I also really doubt that Canon has them all licensed as well. Every vendor that makes anything from a dumb adapter to a teleconverter uses a manufactured copy of the RF mount. Also, all the manual lenses in existence would tend to indicate that they really don't care about the physical RF mount being copied for third-party lenses. So this seems to be not to be not a problem either.

For the third Canon, as well, has allowed extension tubes and extenders to be developed and sold using the RF mount, so again, it's obvious that even the physical electronic connections between the RF camera and lens or adapter aren't something that Canon considers infringement.

So what is it? Because there is nothing different than Samyang making an EF lens and supplying an RF adapter, it is them making an RF lens that still utilizes the EF protocol. I have to stress this. If the third-party vendors are using the EF protocol, there really is nothing different than an EF lens.

I will readily admit that I'm no patent lawyer, but the entire case sounds like these third-party companies simply wanted to avoid litigation with Canon, knowing that Canon loves taking little guys to court over patent infringement. It could simply be not worth the fight and easier just to shut down manufacturing RF lenses.

All this is what really annoyed the living daylights out of me about this and still does.

Another nagging issue that I have going forward is which lenses are officially sanctioned by Canon and which lenses are not. Are we left in the dark and not knowing which third-party lens may get the rug pulled out from underneath it (We hear you Samyang)? Will there be any sort of branding? This could lead to a ton of issues, as lenses that are not licensed could be canceled at any time, depending on Canon's lawyers.

I talked to Craig about this, and he raised some good points on this topic. So grudgingly I'll get off my soapbox for a bit here. Here are some arguments that Canon might have some very valid reasons to do this with the RF mount.

We don't know what the costs were to Canon to support the EF mount third-party lenses. There had to be many support calls to Canon when a lens would suddenly stop working after a firmware update, or if a lens experienced odd incompatibilities with various cameras. Craig said people would contact him for information on this and I think I even had one or two emails asking for help now that I think about it as well. You can't tell me that people were contacting us, and not flooding Canon's support with questions. Canon could be basing this all on their experience with the EF mount and deciding that they don't need this while they are fledging out the mount and significantly new technology at the same time.

There is also the loss of reputation if a future change to a Canon RF camera causes lenses to stop working, or even worse, partly work correctly. We have seen this on even Canon lenses where IBIS would act funky with Canon lens or another and required the lens to have firmware updates. Elements such as IBIS are extremely complex. I have lost count of how many patents Canon has on IBIS and the careful control over IBIS functionality while maintaining image quality in all scenarios. It could be that Canon wants to license the mount to specific lenses because they want to certify that the lenses will function correctly across the wide variety of RF camera bodies and RF feature sets.

There are also aspects such as DLO which is heavily controlled by Canon and whatever mystical level 90 software wizards they have working on DLO and that most likely cannot be reverse-engineered correctly.

So I could be an old man yelling at the clouds over this, there could be a ton of very valid reasons why Canon was hesitant against having unlicensed third-party lenses with the RF mount. The problem is – we haven't heard Canon suggest that any of them are the actual reasons.

To be fair to Canon; the RF mount isn't a closed mount. Vendors can be approved to license and use the mount and I would assume the RF protocols with select lenses. That by definition means it's not a closed mount. But Canon certainly hasn't made it open and readily available to everyone without some measure of control. That also means that Canon may also assist them in the development of the lens firmware. So it could very well end up meaning that what third-party lenses we get – won't have the caveats that we used to get with third-party lenses with the EF mount.

All in all, all this confusion boils down to Canon being themselves and staying quiet, ignoring the masses, and doing their own thing. They could certainly head off a lot of angst by effectively communicating on this (unless it really is they are just mean greedy corporate overlords).

One of the reasons why the EF mount was the most successful in the history of cameras (in terms of cameras and lenses sold) was the rich third-party support it enjoyed and we all want to see the RF mount have the same success.

I hope that Canon is carefully considering ensuring that we have more third-party support and that the path to releasing and licensing is smooth and optimized for the third-party vendors, and also a means to which we can identify lenses that Canon has officially granted a license. I hope that we eventually learn more about the mount licensing model and see some excellent third-party lenses for the RF mount.

Go to discussion...

541 comments

  1. I don’t get why people are really pissed at this, it’s their mount, their company. I guess they can do what they want? I purchase rf lenses so I have no issue with this.
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  2. "The second item is the mechanical RF mount design and it is patented by Canon, but they are obviously not going after the thousands of vendors that are using the mechanical mount. I also really doubt that Canon has them all licensed as well."

    It is patent law that they cannot legally prevent anyone making something that fits on to the mount. They can stop someone making the Canon patented mount but anyone has the right to make fitments for it without requiring a licence. This applies to cameras, vacuum cleaners, you name it. They cannot legally stop anyone reverse engineering the communication protocols if they it do independently without seeing the Canon protocols but devising their own code.
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  3. I don’t get why people are really pissed at this, it’s their mount, their company. I guess they can do what they want? I purchase rf lenses so I have no issue with this.
    That's your opinion and you are entitled to it. But, those who are pissed off have an equal right to their opinion and for good reason as well. As I pointed out in the last post, Canon can't do everything they want but are restricted.
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  4. I have no horse in this race. As my signature says, I have lots of lenses (and even more if you count lenses I used to have but sold). I've only ever had one 3rd party lens, a Rokinon 14/2.8 (technically, I've had two of them but the first one was optically defective so I exchanged it).

    I know there were many 3rd party EF lenses sold, I don't know how much of an impact that had on Canon's EF/EF-S sales. Would people who bought a Sigma/Tamron 17-50/2.8 lens bought the more expensive EF-S 17-55/2.8 if the 3rd party options weren't available, or would they have just stuck with the 18-55 kit lens? My guess is that the 3rd party lenses didn't have a huge negative impact on Canon's sales.

    Some have argued that readily available 3rd party lenses for the RF mount would increase R body sales. Again, not sure it would make much difference. Canon has already become the #1 MILC brand without 3rd party AF lenses for the RF mount.

    The cost of Canon to support bodies having compatibility problems with 3rd party lenses is something I hadn't really considered, but it makes sense that it's significant, and probably more than offsets (in a bad way) any additional sales they would get from facilitating 3rd party lenses.

    It does make sense that the threat of legal action from Canon is sufficient to cause a 3rd party vendor to avoid making RF mount lenses. Even if they believe they'd ultimately win, there are a lot of jurisdictions that battle would need to be fought in, and it would not be cheap.
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  5. I don’t get why people are really pissed at this, it’s their mount, their company. I guess they can do what they want? I purchase rf lenses so I have no issue with this.
    You are right of course, which is why I voted with my wallet and switched systems. Now I get to enjoy great lenses like the amazing Viltrox 75mm f/1.2 which is my fav portrait lens to date. Canon does get to make their choices. And I make mine. Win/win I guess?
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  6. exactly! You get the system you want, Canon continues to dominate the market.
    Who dominates does not matter to the customer. I'm not a shareholder. I'm a photographer. I liked my Canon when I had it. Sadly they chose to abandon an enormous userbase. And the system they put in front of us is way behind the competition's offerings in the crop sensor space. So yeah, moved on, they literally do not offer a competitive product for photographers like me.
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  7. Who dominates does not matter to the customer. I'm not a shareholder. I'm a photographer. I liked my Canon when I had it. Sadly they chose to abandon an enormous userbase. And the system they put in front of us is way behind the competition's offerings in the crop sensor space. So yeah, moved on, they literally do not offer a competitive product for photographers like me.
    That’s the point. Well, except for the ‘abandoning an enormous user base’ claim – you, personally, are not an enormous user base, and you have no data on how many people besides yourself your opinion represents. But I can promise you that it’s not an ‘enormous’ number of users.

    The fact that Canon continues to dominate means their choices are the right ones for the majority of camera buyers. Canon doesn’t care that you’ve switched systems. Neither does anyone here, for that matter.

    You feel they abandoned you, and you say you’ve moved on. Continuing to bitch about Canon here suggests that although you’ve bought other gear, you have failed to move on.
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  8. That’s the point. But the fact that Canon continues to dominate means their choices are the right ones for the majority of camera buyers. Canon doesn’t care that you’ve switched systems. Neither does anyone here, for that matter.
    So why do you keep bringing it up? Why does market share matter when I'm discussing something on topic to the actual article: Frustration of Canon users over Canon keeping the RF mount closed to third parties?

    The article isn't about market share. It isn't about your opinions of who cares or not. I care. I was a Canon user. I switched. This was one reason (the other was ending the M line before an adequate replacement existed). I don't claim others are superior and I'm not getting into a brand war. I'm pointing out that the topic of the article resonates with me, as it's part of why I switched (as did several friends of mine, but anecdotes are not data and Canon's market is likely secure).

    But hey, if you don't want to hear on topic remarks you can feel free to block me. Go have your brand wars with people who care about that sort of thing. I just take photos.
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  9. So why do you keep bringing it up? Why does market share matter when I'm discussing something on topic to the actual article:
    You asked, “Win/win, I guess?,” and I replied with the fact that Canon is winning in terms of market share. Sorry that facts offend you.
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  10. You asked, “Win/win, I guess?,” and I replied with the fact that Canon is winning in terms of market share. Sorry that facts offend you.
    Um, how is that relevant to the topic? It's not even a response. Nowhere did I say otherwise. It's like someone explaining why they are a Cleveland fan and someone responding "The Yankees have 27 rings baby!" as though that has anything to do with the fact that they are just talking about something else. You aren't even busy debating here, you are just replying with a non sequitur.
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  11. Um, how is that relevant to the topic? It's not even a response. Nowhere did I say otherwise. It's like someone explaining why they are a Cleveland fan and someone responding "The Yankees have 27 rings baby!" as though that has anything to do with the fact that they are just talking about something else. You aren't even busy debating here, you are just replying with a non sequitur.
    Can you save me some time and not bother responding since there's no debating?
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  12. One decision of Canon frustrated me so much that I stopped working on CanonNews, that was when it finally came out that Canon was aggressively preventing third-party lens manufacturers from developing the RF mount. I honestly didn’t want anything to do with Canon after that, until Craig talked me into writing for all you fine

    See full article...
    Which third party lenses do you want?
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  13. Um, how is that relevant to the topic? It's not even a response. Nowhere did I say otherwise. It's like someone explaining why they are a Cleveland fan and someone responding "The Yankees have 27 rings baby!" as though that has anything to do with the fact that they are just talking about something else. You aren't even busy debating here, you are just replying with a non sequitur.
    You said Canon made choices, and went on to say they abandoned an enormous user base (despite the evidence to the contrary). It's not a debate when one person fabricates information (politics notwithstanding). You go right on living in your fantasy world where people other than you care about the choices you made.
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  14. You said Canon made choices, and went on to say they abandoned an enormous user base (despite the evidence to the contrary). It's not a debate when one person fabricates information (politics notwithstanding). You go right on living in your fantasy world where people other than you care about the choices you made.
    You may wish to look up the marketshare of the M line, the M50 alone was nearly 15% of the market for a while. That's enormous by any standard, and larger than many other camera manufacturers in their entirety.
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  15. Which third party lenses do you want?
    Viltrox 13mm f/1.4, 27mm f/1.2, 75mm f/1.2, most Sigmas are very good (I loved them on my M50) and Tamron makes some compelling zooms.
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  16. You may wish to look up the marketshare of the M line, the M50 alone was nearly 15% of the market for a while. That's enormous by any standard, and larger than many other camera manufacturers in their entirety.
    It's been said many people replace bodies approx. every five years. guess when the M50 first came out and when it became clear canon wouldn't be making more M line?
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