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Opinion: Canon is ceasing APS-C systems
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Opinion: Canon is ceasing APS-C systems

A rumor (and really one of many) has suggested that the EOS-M will go away in 2021 or at least soon. I think the better statement is that it certainly seems as if Canon is actively discontinuing APS-C all together. This gets skipped over because the larger story is that of the EOS-M system. This opinion is entirely based upon these rumors being true and what Canon may or may not be thinking.

While I have doubts that the rumors are true, let’s assume they are and the following as rumored happens in 2021.

  • Canon discontinues the EOS-M lineup.
  • Canon creates one or two RF APS-C Camera bodies. One we know is modeled from the R6.
  • Canon is creating no RF APS-C lenses.

If Canon indeed kills off the EOS-M system, it’s logical that the EF-S system isn’t far behind that, if it’s not done at nearly the same time. There was exactly one new camera body for each system last year and no new lenses. The last EF-M lens was the EF-M 32mm F1.4 in 2018, and the last EF-S lens was the 35mm F2.8 Macro and 18-55mm F4.5-5.6, both done in 2017. It’s really safe then to assume that the writing is on the wall for both the EOS-M and EF-S system. Especially when you consider that the EOS-M M50 has been Canon’s best selling camera worldwide for a long time now, if they are willing to kill that off, then they are willing to kill it all off.

There is actually far more incentive for Canon to kill off EF-S because at least that has migration to RF. After all, you can continue to use your EF-S lenses with an adapter on an APS-C RF camera body. There is no such possibility with EOS-M as there is no physical way to mount an EF-M lens on an RF APS-C camera. Killing off EOS-M means that they are willing to accept that some users may drift over to Fujifilm or Sony instead.

I know many are asking, but APS-C is popular. Yes, it is, but from Canon’s perspective, why are they doing APS-C as a general use camera? Three main reasons exist;

1. Cheaper sensors.

Nearly 20 years of sensor advancement most likely have reduced the sensors' cost, as the yields were part of the problem back in the beginning. The larger surface area of a full-frame sensor meant more rejects during manufacturing.

2. Cheaper mechanical and optical elements: shutter, mirror box, and optical viewfinder.

With mirrorless, the mechanical parts of a camera have been reduced to simply a shutter, and a shutter that is in a full-frame sized housing but for an APS-C sensor may cost almost the same as a shutter for a full-frame sensor in the same mount housing. The cost savings between APS-C and mirrorless now are most likely moot.

3. Smaller camera bodies and smaller/cheaper lenses.

With DSLR’s because of the larger mirror box assemblies and viewfinders, full-frame DSLR’s would be larger than APS-C cameras. However, with mirrorless, that is no longer the case. The EVF doesn’t care if it’s source is a crop sensor or a full-frame sensor. It’s simply going to be the same size. If Canon is producing RF APS-C Cameras, they are essentially going to be the same size as a full-frame camera. The only difference is the sensor size. There’s no difference in kit sizes between APS-C and Full-frame because Canon is rumored not to make any APS-C lenses for this camera.

Is there a point to APS-C? Why the RF APS-C Cameras then?

There is, though, the absolute need for telephoto reach, and this is the one segment of the APS-C user community that still has a driving need for an APS-C sized sensor-based camera, and this is most likely why we are going to see 1 or 2 APS-C RF cameras with little in the way of the ecosystem to support them – to support this need.  But in actuality, outside of that, if Canon can maintain low costs on sensor development, they have no real need to produce an APS-C ecosystem.

In Conclusion....

If these rumors are true, I think we can truly say, “It’s dead Jim,” and that APS-C is in Canon’s rearview mirror, and in reality, it’s been that way for at least 2 years now.

Of course, the rumors may be wrong. The rumor sources could be simply reading tea leaves that Canon isn’t doing any new releases for cameras or lenses, that Canon is burning it all to the ground. For instance, it may not be the case; Canon could simply be devoting every resource they have to the RF mount and placing APS-C “on hold” until they feel they have a solid foundation built. This is similar to what Sony did with their APS-C mirrorless lineup while building out their FE lineup.

I think this APS-C strategy rumored from Canon is a dangerous one. Sony, Nikon, and obviously Fuji are happily creating APS-C cameras and corresponding lenses. Canon will not be able to compete against those kit packages in either size or price, simply because of full-frame lenses. It also seems to go counter to what Canon’s DNA has been in the past: to produce as many cameras as possible to meet market segments and let the user decide.

I think 2021 will be an interesting year to see where Canon moves forward with APS-C. If the rumors are true, then I do believe we’re in for a far larger shakeup than what’s currently being reported.

Addendum;

This is getting a lot of comments (thank you for reading and commenting), but mostly about killing off the EOS-M system.  I'm not disputing that rumor or talking really about that rumor but what really the impact is if these rumors are true.  If you want to read my thoughts on the EOS-M rumor, go here.

When I state an APS-C system, I mean the ecosystem that makes up the entire solution for the customer.  An APS-C system certainly isn't an APS-C RF camera and ungainly full-frame lenses.  If Canon does indeed do this to the EF-S and EOS-M APS-C lineups, then there is no APS-C system left. Canon is simply hoping that over time, people just purchase a full-frame camera.

Canon has basically ceased all APS-C lens releases for 2 years now. That could because of the increased level of RF full-frame lens development, or that it's truly gone. 

If it's truly gone, and Canon pulls out of the APS-C market, this makes it a dramatic change in strategy for one of Canon's core businesses.  Canon in the past has created cameras and systems and lets the user decide on what they want to purchase.  They try to cover all markets and all possibilities because that is what makes them have around 50% of the entire market.  This would have them giving away the APS-C market to other companies.  Canon tries to find more markets to sell its cameras, it's never decided to simply give markets to their competitors.

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