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The state of the RF mount - A Year later
The recent lensrentals article got me pondering this article. It’s been just over a year for the Canon RF mount. As Canon themselves stated, this was the biggest announcement and shift in direction since the EF mount back in 1988.
On September 5th 2018, Canon announced the EOS R with 4 lenses;
- Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS Macro STM
- Canon RF 24-105mm F4.0 IS USM
- Canon RF 28-70mm F2.0 USM
- Canon RF 50mm F1.2 USM
And the dramatic shift of around half the entire camera industry was started.
The EOS R was shipped with firmware 1.0 and had promises of major firmware updates. Canon surprisingly delivered on this releasing 3 major firmware updates;
- Firmware 1.1 – Continuous shooting with a silent shutter (February 12, 2019)
- Firmware 1.2 – EyeAF with AI Servo and Movie AF (April 18, 2019)
- Firmware 1.4 – Significant EyeAF performance increases (September 12, 2019)
In early 2019, less than six months after the release of the Canon RF mount system, Canon announced 6 more lenses for the RF mount;
- Canon RF 85mm F1.2 USM
- Canon RF 85mm F1.2 USM DS
- Canon RF 24-70m F2.8 IS USM
- Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 IS USM
- Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM
- Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM
This brought the total lenses in the RF mount to 10 and completed the most important 3 lens set for professionals the F2.8 zoom trinity. The lenses were released throughout the year, with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 USM DS and the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 IS USM being the last to be released late in 2019.
Also in early 2019, Canon released, the second camera in the EOS RF lineup, the EOS RP. Built on a similar sensor as the 6D Mark II, Canon created the smallest and cheapest full frame camera released at the time.
The market this year struggled with the new camera mounts that invaded the camera space in late 2018 and 2019. I think the initial (hopes maybe?) thoughts that the Canon RF (and also the Nikon Z mount) would completely energize the market had a very narrow point of view. Granted it was the start of a transition from the EF mount, but it also started a period of hesitation as users on the EF Mount considered moving to a brand new mount, with brand new mount problems.
While we will focus on Canon in this article, most of what we say here also applies to Nikon as both mammoth camera companies switched their mounts at almost the same time. Canon faced the problem of an excellent 5D Mark IV and a very capable 6D Mark II in their full frame portfolio, armed with the largest lens collection for full frame in the EF mount. We tend to underestimate the resistance to change, and in this case, the resistance was combined with excellent cameras and lenses, and not a pressing need to switch systems. Also, combine this with people now holding off investing in the EF mount, and you have the beginnings of problems for Canon.
Ironically, I feel that Canon left it too late for the RF mount, and not because of Sony, but because Canon reached pretty much the pinnacle of achievement for the EF mount with the current array of full frame cameras. This creates the “last camera syndrome” where users simply don’t have a need to purchase a new camera.
I think this is important to always consider. We may shake our fists up at the sky over Canon (or any other company) limiting a camera, but we don’t usually consider that the company must release this camera and the next camera that will replace it. “Crippling” is commonly mentioned, but usually for the wrong reasons, one of the most important reason is the next model that is coming out to replace the current one. There always must be a compelling reason to upgrade or sales will suffer badly. With the EOS R and RP built along with the same sensor and technology as the 5D Mark IV and 6D Mark II, that compelling reason to upgrade was more limited.
In 2020, Canon has a perfect storm of conditions to market and advance the RF mount, and I would be stunned into insensibility if they don’t take advantage of it. There are 4 major events happening next year;
- 2020 Olympics in Japan
- Canon Expo
While CP+ and Photokina will now be every year, it’s important to note that this is the first PhotoKina in its new format, being held in late May instead of September. The Olympics in 2020 is held in Japan which makes it very important for the Japan-based camera companies to show their stuff. Canon Expo is held every 5 years, and Canon usually shows off advanced and novel applications of its technology. All in all, it promises to be a very busy, and important year for Canon.
So we will leave this with Canon’s MacCallum who stated;
We are working on cutting technologies such as 8K video, in-body Image Stabilization working in conjunction with Optical IS together, and so on for future EOS R models. We promise you will see a lot of exciting products and technologies. Stay tuned!
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