I chose to put this as an opinion because I'm not a lawyer, and while my background is in engineering, we are talking about a rather convoluted subject matter. This topic can really only be answered accurately by lawyers familiar with the legislation. We won't know for sure until after December 28th, but in my opinion, there's no need to panic.

For those that aren't aware, starting on December 28th, 2023, all chargeable devices listed by the EU must use USB-C charging. This broadly includes all smartphones, tablets, cameras, and so on. Most people heard of this when Apple proudly invented the USB-C interface this past smartphone release cycle :) Just kidding about Apple, of course.

Circling around the internet is the idea that all DSLR sales will cease in Europe come December 28th, 2023, since very few of those cameras are chargeable by USB-C. This would be huge and affect both Canon and Nikon. If this applied to all cameras, Canon, I don't think had any chargeable DSLRs, and I'm not even sure there were any chargeable powershots either.

What is a chargeable device according to the EU? Well, basically any chargeable device in the categories of handheld mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, handheld videogame consoles, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds, and laptops with certain exceptions. Now when you see digital cameras, you are now thinking but Richard, it says digital cameras. we're in trouble! Not so fast.

We have to read the directive document and deal with the ensuing headache to get down to this snippet.

Part I

Specifications relating to charging capabilities

1. The requirements set out in points 2 and 3 of this Part shall apply to the following categories or classes of radio equipment:

2. In so far as they are capable of being recharged by means of wired charging, the categories or classes of radio equipment referred to in point 1 of this Part shall:

2.1. 

be equipped with the USB Type-C receptacle, as described in the standard ►M3   EN IEC 62680-1-3:2022 ◄ ‘Universal serial bus interfaces for data and power – Part 1-3: Common components – USB Type-C® Cable and Connector Specification’, and that receptacle shall remain accessible and operational at all times;

2.2. 

be capable of being charged with cables which comply with the standard ►M3   EN IEC 62680-1-3:2022 ◄ ‘Universal serial bus interfaces for data and power – Part 1-3: Common components – USB Type-C® Cable and Connector Specification’.

Now the bolded part is the important part. Older cameras aren't chargeable by wire, they simply aren't capable of it. At all. One could argue that even the battery chargers aren't chargeable by wire since they are direct to AC. The cameras are not chargeable, but the batteries are. A technicality perhaps? Certainly. But a very plausible one.

Now I could be making a lot out of nothing here, but I think this part is important, and it's important to remember the purpose of this legislation which is to ensure that all devices that are charged by a physical wire that get attached to the device are done so using USB-C.

To further stake claim that this is all a nothing burger.. In the EU directive FAQ, they mention that products on sale before harmonized standards are in place are still able to be sold.

once equipment is placed on the EU market, it can remain on the market even if the legislation changes in the meantime.

Of course, that's the FAQ and not the actual directive. It could be wrong. It should be mentioned that it's written throughout the directive that this is for products being placed in or on the market, implying it's for new products only and not for currently sold and marketed products in the EU.

If this directive were made in effect for older products already on the market, it would be a complete mess. Consider products like smartphones, Apple couldn't sell any iPhone older than the iPhone 15 in the EU market, and smartphone retailers would have to pull any older Apple or Andriod phone that didn't support USB-C off the shelves. Even worse, any and all devices that used Micro USB-B for charging would have to be pulled off store shelves, everywhere. Oh, and all this during the Christmas season too. We can all agree that governments overreach, but certainly not this badly.

As a side note, with current USB 3 specifications, some laptops can't be charged with PD, and they draw too much power (think high-end gaming laptops) – I think this legislation is far more problematic for them, but that's another subject altogether.

Let's assume that I'm Wrong, a shocking statement, I do realize. Several things get triggered if the EU demands that a device must comply with this regulation, and that includes not only USB-C support but also packaging and identification.

The easiest method around identification is simply to pull the batteries and chargers out of the cameras, and have separate EU packaging for the battery/charger combination. Or split up the battery from the charger and sell/bundle them in discrete packages with the specific EU labeling. Also, Canon could start to use batteries such as the ones created by SmallRig; that include a USB-C port directly, or if the EU accepts it, start shipping chargers that support USB-C.

Both provide possible solutions for older cameras that don't support direct-by-wire charging.

There seem to be a lot of details in both the directive and also in follow-up faqs that older products do not have to be re-engineered. The economic burden that would be placed on companies would be unnecessary and significant. The older products will cease to exist in time, leading to a less harmful transition over time. Even if Canon and Nikon have to re-invent things for the European market, the costs would not be that significant to change packaging or change how batteries and chargers are sold in Europe.

The European DSLR market in 2022 was around 29 billion yen or around 200 million USD and over 600,000 camera bodies. Currently this year to September 2023, it's 360 thousand cameras and 100 million USD. In other words, it is a large enough market that I'm certain Canon and Nikon aren't going to simply walk away from it. Nor should they have to kill it either. In my opinion, time will kill off the DSLRs, not the EU.

Source: EU Directive 2014/53 // EU Directive FAQ // Image Credit:  Mishaal Zahed on Unsplash

Go to discussion...

96 comments

  1. Sorry, but a reasoned, fact-based analysis has no place on the internet in 2023.

    (Seriously, thanks for this write-up.)

    One other factor to consider is that the EU directive was also intended to reduce e-waste during product upgrade cycles. Forcing manufacturers to pull their legacy products off the market, to remove non-compliant components, would have the opposite effect.

    Most people heard of this when Apple proudly invented the USB-C interface this past smartphone release cycle ;)

    I don't recall Apple making that particular claim, but they do tend to have a very strong "reality distortion field" surrounding their announcements. To be fair, I don't believe USB would have taken off anywhere near as fast as it did without Apple standardizing on it, to the exclusion of all legacy ports, starting with the orignal iMac in 1998. The Wintel PC marketplace had always been more focused on compatibility with legacy software and peripherals, and no single Wintel manufacturer had enough market dominance to unilaterally make such a change. I'm old enough to remember the Wintel PC COM port change from 25 to 9 pins in the early 1990's, and that was painful enough with all of the incompatible pinouts and adapters.
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  2. There isn't anything inherently wrong with USB-C and the effort per se, it's just the issue associated with existing electronic items. Apply the rules moving forward on new products but don't penalize existing users and functional devices. Seatbelts or airbags were wonderful precedents, for reference, and the technologies were implemented properly. Next.
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  3. USB-C is a mess of a standard.
    If the EU is going to mandate USB-C PD then they should be part of the standards body.

    To be fair, all consumer product "standards" seem to start as a mess, evolve as a mess and end up a mess.
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  4. Wouldn't they allow for already manufactured products to keep the older designs? I think this because with other laws, there will at least sometimes be a "grandfather " clause to make exceptions for this type of thing. For example, there was a bar and school near each other and then a law was made about not selling alcohol near schools, but because they were already there the law couldn't affect this particular situation.
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  5. I don't recall Apple making that particular claim, but they do tend to have a very strong "reality distortion field" surrounding their announcements. To be fair, I don't believe USB would have taken off anywhere near as fast as it did without Apple standardizing on it, to the exclusion of all legacy ports, starting with the orignal iMac in 1998. The Wintel PC marketplace had always been more focused on compatibility with legacy software and peripherals, and no single Wintel manufacturer had enough market dominance to unilaterally make such a change. I'm old enough to remember the Wintel PC COM port change from 25 to 9 pins in the early 1990's, and that was painful enough with all of the incompatible pinouts and adapters.
    The iMac was a relatively small piece of the overall PC market in 1998 and the USB standard was developed by a consortium that didn't even include Apple https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB . Intel did most of the development work, but all big boys in the PC world were on board. My recollection is that USB came on the scene pretty much simultaneously across all PC manufacturers, including the Taiwan Mobo manufacturers. Everybody was ready for something simpler than the RS 232 serial port. Apple was still pushing IEEE 1394 (firewire) in 1998, so the iMac using USB likely had more to do with the death of firewire than it did with the industry wide acceptance of USB.
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  6. even if you don\'t know the law, just common sense would inform you that laws cannot be applied retroactively unless deemed a safety hazard. And even then it would have to be a severe hazard. Like a car from 10 years ago will not pass emissions regulations today. That car has to be able to pass the regulations from when that car was manufactured. The EU cannot say that you can no longer use your iPhone with Lightning or your Canon camera because they don\'t have USB Type C ports. when they were created, maybe USB-C was not available at the time. That would be like changing the rules of citizenship. If you were made a citizenship 20 years ago but now the rules have changed on how to obtain citizenship, they cannot revoke your citizenship. You earned it by following the rules at the time you obtained it.
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  7. even if you don\'t know the law, just common sense would inform you that laws cannot be applied retroactively unless deemed a safety hazard. And even then it would have to be a severe hazard. Like a car from 10 years ago will not pass emissions regulations today. That car has to be able to pass the regulations from when that car was manufactured. The EU cannot say that you can no longer use your iPhone with Lightning or your Canon camera because they don\'t have USB Type C ports. when they were created, maybe USB-C was not available at the time. That would be like changing the rules of citizenship. If you were made a citizenship 20 years ago but now the rules have changed on how to obtain citizenship, they cannot revoke your citizenship. You earned it by following the rules at the time you obtained it.
    Some of the stuff California does tends to cross your "they can't do that" line :ROFLMAO:. Always good to remember that when a government turns authoritarian, they can do what they darn well please (at least until the next revolution).
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  8. Like a car from 10 years ago will not pass emissions regulations today. That car has to be able to pass the regulations from when that car was manufactured.
    You may still own it and drive it, just not everywhere you would otherwise be allowed to, at least in the EU. If you own an Euro 4 diesel car, it generally won't be allowed into the centers of large German cities.
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  9. You may still own it and drive it, just not everywhere you would otherwise be allowed to, at least in the EU. If you own an Euro 4 diesel car, it generally won't be allowed into the centers of large German cities.
    Similar in the UK - but you have to pay for it. Some laws are retroactive.
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  10. Sorry, but a reasoned, fact-based analysis has no place on the internet in 2023.

    (Seriously, thanks for this write-up.)

    One other factor to consider is that the EU directive was also intended to reduce e-waste during product upgrade cycles. Forcing manufacturers to pull their legacy products off the market, to remove non-compliant components, would have the opposite effect.



    I don't recall Apple making that particular claim, but they do tend to have a very strong "reality distortion field" surrounding their announcements. To be fair, I don't believe USB would have taken off anywhere near as fast as it did without Apple standardizing on it, to the exclusion of all legacy ports, starting with the orignal iMac in 1998. The Wintel PC marketplace had always been more focused on compatibility with legacy software and peripherals, and no single Wintel manufacturer had enough market dominance to unilaterally make such a change. I'm old enough to remember the Wintel PC COM port change from 25 to 9 pins in the early 1990's, and that was painful enough with all of the incompatible pinouts and adapters.

    If it were not for the fact that every single PC I had since my first one had USB built into it, I'd maybe believe that, but Apple was barely alive in 98 to standardize anything
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  11. even if you don\'t know the law, just common sense would inform you that laws cannot be applied retroactively
    Banning sales is not considered retroactive.
    It happens all of the time.
    I think in this case stores can sell what they have but they can't order any more.
    I am not sure what it means for wholesalers.
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  12. I bought the battery grip for my R just to get USB-C charging. Do you have any idea how wonderful it is to be out in the field and just use one cable for your camera, laptop, external storage, phone, battery bank, flashlight, light panels, etc? PD can do up to 240w now, more than enough for everything in your photography bag.

    It's absurd it took a multinational government to force a member of the USB-IF Board to actually use the connector that they helped force onto everyone with their USB-C only laptops. But now that we're here, we're getting the real benefit of cheap things moving off of the abomination of Micro USB. Even the cheap $5 Lume Cube clones are on USB-C with PD support now.
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  13. Similar in the UK - but you have to pay for it. Some laws are retroactive.
    No-go zones for cars in certain areas is not an example of retroactive legislation - just say'in. (I taught rule making at Law School)
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  14. If this forces Canon to stop doing what they’ve been doing with the 1-/3-series chargers for the LP-E* series batteries, that would be a good thing.

    The new LP-E19 batteries work in the old cameras, but can only be charged in the new LC-E19 charger, which is very expensive. As the piece points out, old cameras can’t charge batteries in the camera. So someone who wants to replace a battery for their old camera with a new Canon-branded one has to also buy a new charger, with the old one becoming e-waste. I have two such chargers which will become useless to me when my last LP-E4N dies; fortunately I have an LP-E19 charger from a newer camera.

    If the law means the battery must have a USB-C port, this solves the problem. If it allows Canon to stick a USB-C port on the charger and still require a new charger, it doesn’t.
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  15. This is a non topic. This EU directive is aimed at reducing E-waste and there is nothing wrong with that. Many consumers complained about the terrible lack of industry to agree on a hardware plug. USB-C is the most advanced and versatile hardware connection for this purpose. This EU government allowed the industry ample time to change the DC charging connections. Like with the implementation of the many other EU directives the industry dragged their feet in the allowed transition period and then started crying when the hard implementation dates arrived. The directive is law, it will be enforced by authorities and consumers alike. At least in the EU we can hopefully say goodbye to the crappy and very vulnerable micro USB and the well designed but proprietary lightning connector. Cheer up! It’s called progress.
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