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Thoughts about Canon and 2020 - January Update
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Thoughts about Canon and 2020 - January Update

After some thoughts and musings, and active discussions with people, I felt this needed some revising and updating, especially after the C500 II and other information became available.  It also needed to be expanded to include more of the RF cameras, and why I think we’ll see more than people are anticipating.

I'm trying to decide if I should do this as a live document and update it as time goes on. That may be an interesting idea to do this year and into 2020.  These are my own thoughts, much of this information is still very much speculation at this time.

Okay, I decided to update it post the 1DX Mark III, see our comments and ponderings below..

So it's now January 2020 and Happy New Year! The 1DX Mark III is official! With that, we need to change our observations, and like we said, we're going to keep this live running and see how well we do.  (gulp!)  This will be a short update, the next big one will happen after the news starts to drop before CP+.

This has been a year of transition for Canon.  Starting with September 2018’s announcement of the RF mount, the announcement reverberated through the industry, and still we are feeling the aftereffects of both Canon and to a lesser extent Nikon both announcing new mounts.

Ending off this year, for the most part, will be setting up the preparation for 2020.   Next year will be one of those years where things just come together for Canon to make some serious splashes.  It’s marketing heaven for Canon, as they have upcoming in 2020;

  • CP+ in February
  • PhotoKina in May
  • Olympics in July-August (held in Japan)
  • Canon Expo in end of August-September

I would be very surprised if next year wasn’t one of the busiest years in recent Canon history simply because everything is aligning for that to happen.

I got an email in our inbox today (thanks) about another site’s thoughts about what is upcoming. I have slightly different takes on the subject, and now that we know what the 90D and the M6 Mark II have, I think that also helps us see into the future a bit with future products from Canon.

1DX Mark III

Almost everyone is stating that Canon will not say much about this until next year.

I would not be surprised to see a development announcement this year, similar to the 1DX.  The 1DX was announced on October 18, 2011 but wasn’t available until the following March.  Especially because Nikon is supposed to be announcing the D6 in this coming September.  It simply doesn't seem to make much sense that Canon would be completely quiet from the D6 announcement until sometime in 2020.

We haven’t heard much about this camera, with the exception that it is in trials, and is expected for the 2020 Olympics.

Having it available for the 2020 Olympics is pretty much a no brainer.  There’s simply no possible way that Canon is not going to go into next year’s Olympics without a new 1 series camera.

Update October 26;

Canon did announce a pretty fantastic 1DX Mark III in October, with an early 2020 release.

Update January 13;

Canon officially announced a pretty smoking 1DX Mark III with a 20MP improved sensor, and a new DIGIC called DIGIC X.

The EOS RF’s

This requires a preface, which was originally missing.

With Canon cameras, usually, we see the adaptation of ergonomics as being the dividing line between camera lines.

Consider;

  • The 1 series has always had its own ergonomics that no other Canon camera has.
  • the 7D and 5D sharing approximately the same ergonomics but have advancements over the more prosumer cameras such as more C storage banks, and dual use buttons on the top plate, as well as joystick, and dual card slots,etc
  • The prosumer 80D,90D have a simplified version of the 7D/5D ergonomics, notably a much simpler top plate button arrangement. (which personally drives me insane)
  • The 77D is meant to be a bridge between 80D/90D ergonomics and rebels, sitting squarely in the middle and sharing ergonomics from both.
  • Then we have the rebels, that have a much simpler control interface.

Now when we think of the EOS RF system, it’s probably a good guess that it’s ergonomics will end up being;

  • high performance 1 series RF camera – looks and feels like a 1 series camera
  • The “5D” series of RF cameras.  With advanced ergonomics, but like the 5D and 7D, not sharing the ergonomics of the 1 series.  This will most likely include a higher performance RF and a high-resolution RF, like the 5D and 5Ds.
  • The prosumer EOS RF, which is now the EOS R.  Ergonomically sitting under the “5D” series and above the consumer model.
  • The consumer EOS RF, which is right now the EOS RP.

Full frame EOS EF never really had a consumer camera.  The 6D was basically the prosumer camera (it shared basically the same ergonomics as the 80D/90D).  What I’m speculating here, is that unlike the EF full frame models, Canon has created a consumer camera line, the EOS RP which never existed in the full frame EF arena.  Thus the RF camera line should have one additional camera model than the full frame EF camera line.

Update October 26, 2019;

We still haven't heard that much about the future of the EOS RF mount camera system. Much that we state in here I think still fits.  A good notable that with the 1DX Mark III's performance in liveview, we have some preliminary potential numbers for a "5D" series of RF cameras.

I'm kind of alone in the working theory that Canon won't just create a high MP camera, they'll also create a lower MP's working professional camera.  So much confusion over what is a "pro" camera. Some think it's a 1 series, some thing Canon will just do one camera to rule them all.  I may be totally wrong in this, but I don't think ergonomically Canon's high end prosumer and professional cameras could be matched by one single RF camera.  Consider.  The 5D series has been great for Canon, the 1 series is their flagship and a symbol of their corporate excellence.  Are they really going to drop both of them and just do "one RX" camera?

Consider if the 1DX Mark III is between 26 and 30MP, and if the notes are correct that is done with a single DIGIC this time (Canon didn't mention dual DIGIC's).

That gives us, for a "5D-Like" and a "5DS-Like" camera relative performance of;

a 40MP mirrorless of around 10-15 fps max
a 80MP mirrorless of around 5-7 fps max

We now know that they can upscale to a full frame sensor with the performance shown in the 32.5MP M6 Mark II.

Update January 13

Much of what we thought remains true, I'm not going to change what we thought before. We're starting to hear more rumors that what we suggested just may happen.  There still are questions over the maximum processing that Canon could do with a high resolution camera, but we have some theoretical numbers based upon DIGIC X and the 1DX Mark III's sensor speed.

  • a 40MP mirrorless camera of around 10 fps
  • a 80MP mirrorless camera of around 5fps

Both seem pretty doable.  We question whether or not a 5 fps camera really can make it when the A7R IV shoots at 10fps.

High Resolution EOS R “EOS Rs”

This is a hard one and still is for Canon.

While it may seem a trivial matter to take the APS-C 32.5MP and upscale to full frame, there are still hurdles that Canon must cross before this becomes a simple straightforward process.  As far as we have been made aware of, Canon is still using 300nm on its full frame sensors, while the APS-C sensors are using 180nm technology.  Canon would have to not only scale up the sensor, but also the ability to create full frame sensors with at least 180m technology in house.  While that may be more of a process issue for Canon, it may also cause some angst.  The birth of the 1DX Mark II saw Canon move from 500nm to 300nm for full frame sensors, I’m not sure how easy and inexpensive it will be to change it for the next series of full frame sensors.  There are benefits though, the 180nm process also supports four metal process, which includes copper to assist with smaller geometries, lower power requirements and faster sensors.

We have discovered the patent application that describes the 83MP sensor.  However, it’s still all well and good to describe the sensor, it’s another matter to actually build it.

With the Sony A7R IV, the days of high-resolution cameras being slow and only good for landscapes has passed us.  Personally, I don’t think Canon can do anything but make this a high-performance camera as well as high resolution.

Some of the good news is that we do have a new upper limit to what DIGIC and current Canon sensor technology can do in terms of raw fps performance, since the M6 Mark II tops out at 32.5MP at 14FPS (those specifications alone may make for a nice 5D-like EOS R), however that still only achieves around 6fps at 82.5MP.  Respectable, but not exceptional.  I’m not sure how well that would be received against a 61MP at 10FPS camera as its main competition.  A dual DIGIC camera may take it up into the realms of 10fps, but that also would have its own problems such as power requirements and battery life.

So, there may not be a simple straight path to a high resolution camera quickly.  That’s not to say that Canon won’t move quickly – The 90D and the M6 Mark II shows clearly that Canon was tired of losing on the “spec sheet wars”.  32.5MP at 14fps will be very nice bullet points (of course removing 24fps video shows that Canon still hasn’t fully learned that lesson).

Another reason for this high resolution EOS R, and it needing to have a high FPS is the 7D.  If Canon is not going to make an APS-C RF with a high FPS, then this really needs to have a good FPS in crop mode to at least service sports and birders that are focal length limited.

While I see this camera coming in 2020, it has no real importance for the Olympics, so it could come at any time. The Olympics is the 1 series show.  It may be something that Canon pushes back to the Canon Expo.  Because there is a ton of stuff that Canon needs to get done before the Olympics, and there’s only so much they can release.

Update October 26; 

Still no more particulars with this camera, Canon has been working in IBIS for over 2 years, and seems to have a new generation of full frame sensor as shown by the 1DX Mark III ready for mirrorless.  A 83MP full frame "Rs" could conceivably shoot at around 5 - 7 fps, assuming the 1DX Mark III is using a single DIGIC.  Assume the lower end of the scale though, because the sensor would be more tailored for dynamic range and image quality versus speed.  At least we know that Canon somehow managed to solve the performance issues surrounding the previous generation of sensors (ie: the sensor in the EOS R,RP,etc) with the 1DX Mark III's sensor.  No reason this isn't coming.  With rumors of a 61MP "Z9" coming out and the A7R IV selling VERY well, it makes me think this is sooner than later.

Update January 13; 

Well, we know know that a single DIGIC X powers the image processing of the 1DX Mark III - but is that enough for an 83MP beast of a camera? I guess that depends on whether or not Canon things 5 fps will sell.  Maybe they'll come up with a crop burst mode to help things along.  That may also make the transition easier for those 7D users in limbo.  83MP for landscape full frame, and up to 12 fps in crop mode just may be the answer to a lot of thorny problems.

“5D” EOS R

I think this one is coming. The common thought is that the EOS R is it.  However, Canon purposely left room above the EOS R.

Much of the ergonomic and body development can and probably will happen in conjunction with the High Res EOS R.

From an educated guess, this higher performance, “5D” EOS R would have;

  • Dual card slots
  • Possibly an updated EVF now that 5Mdot EVF’s are out
  • Faster AI Servo and continuous shooting speed than the EOS R (3-5 fps)
  • Much faster burst FPS than the current EOS R (8 fps)
  • Possibly the 1DX Mark III generation of sensor
  • IBIS

We now know that DIGIC 8 can move data quickly. It can process at 32.5MP / 14 images per second with AF.  This if scaled to full frame would offer a significant performance increase over the EOS R.

We haven’t heard much about this camera, but as we discussed in our EOS RF overview it would seem odd for Canon to skip it.  Especially when there is so much pent-up demand for the camera.

I see this camera coming after the high performance EOS R, and I’m not sure it may stretch into 2021 before we see it.  There’s a lot of cameras that Canon “needs” to do, and only so much time for them to do it.

I think we can tell from the firmware updates the EOS R has received that Canon is aggressive on pushing out the EOS RF platform and getting it competitive in the marketplace.

Update October 26;

I still think this one is coming, and with the new 1DX Mark III sensor, this camera, if the 1DX Mark III is doing it's work with a single DIGIC, could shoot at somewhere around 10-15fps even at 40MP.  Assume the lower end, because the sensor would be more tailored for dynamic range and image quality versus speed. The rest of the necessary parts to build this camera would be shared with a "Rs", or high MP version of the same camera.  I don't think Canon is going to do a 2K A7 III or A7 IV like camera, but more a higher MP version of that camera. Again, Canon never likes to match cameras, but find markets "around" them.  A 36-40MP high fps camera would sit nicely between Sony's and also Nikon's product line.

Update January 13;

Still thinking it!

1 Series RF Camera

We now know that this is coming in 2021, and I’m sure there will be marketing leaks throughout 2020 with the Olympics.

This camera will most likely be dependent on Canon releasing super telephotos.  Expect to see this camera when Canon starts to roll out it’s RF super telephoto primes.

With Sony releasing the A9 II that will certainly up the game for sports photography next month (October 2019), the pressure will be on both Canon and Nikon to respond.

We have very little in the way of details, but with at least three possible DIGIC’s controlling a 1 series camera, it’s hard to predict on just how fast and able this camera could be.

Even with just simply DIGIC 8, what we have seen from the EOS R and EOS RP firmware 1.2 is excellent tracking ability.

Tack on 2 more years of firmware development and camera development and this will be a solid camera when it comes out.

Update October 26;

A 1DX Mark III can shoot at 20fps with AF in liveview.  Can't imagine what Canon could do with a mirrorless 1 series camera body and multiple DIGIC's.  I'm also wondering if Canon isn't ready for a 1 series RF.  Could we see a development announcement next year with early 2021 release?

Update January 13;

Canon still has a power management issue before they can really come up with a 1 series RF camera.  Current 1DX Mark III gets around 600 shots on its huge battery in liveview mode - and EVF requires more power than the LCD.

Canon RF lenses

The RF 70-200 F2.8L IS USM and 85mm 1.2 DS was both expected to be released this year.  The 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM is expected to be formally announced in December and released then.   It’s unknown where the 85mm 1.2 DS is, but it certainly still may be formally announced this year, and delivery pushed into next year.

The rest of the RF schedule, we’ll probably hear about in January or February next year, I think Canon liked having the entire year to show off prototypes and keep the discussion active with respects to the RF mount.  I don’t expect to see them change from that. While it’s not a roadmap that everyone else is doing, it’s as far of a roadmap as I could see Canon being comfortable with.

What’s up for Canon in 2020 in terms of RF lenses? It’s hard to say at this point, we know they’ve been busy patenting a TON of new lenses.  All of which there will be business decisions made on the priorities to release the new lenses.  With the F2.8 “trinity” completed by the end of 2019, I would hope that looking over at the Nikon Z will encourage Canon to think that the F4.0 trinity would be a good one to fill out (especially when lenses like the EF 70-200 F4, 16-35 F4 have been huge successes for Canon. I mean really who doesn’t have at least one of these lenses?).  There will be primes, and I’m sure at least one lens that shows, “this is what we can do” lens as well.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see more consumer lenses as well, since the EOS RP has to be considered an important camera for Canon leading into the future.

A macro is also an obvious omission so far from the Canon RF lineup, and we do have a new rumor as of the date of this article, that Canon will come out with some sort of unique Macro for the RF system in 2020.  We haven't seen any unique macro RF lenses appear in patent applications, but have discovered the 90 and 100mm 2.8 macro patents.

We also have the Olympics, and the RF mount should be in Canon's plans as well for the Olympics.  It wouldn't surprise me if Canon releases at least telephoto zooms for the RF mount. Right now the longest lens will be 200mm.  Don't expect that to continue into the 2020 Olympics.  We have seen RF super telephoto patents (here, here and here), but I wouldn't expect them until 2021 when the 1 series RF camera is launched.

I can’t see any work done on Canon EF-M lenses may not get much love either.  It would be nice to get another more upscale kit lens, and perhaps another portrait prime (a 50mm 1.4 should be low hanging fruit there), but we haven’t heard a thing about any.  At least now with Sigma and Viltrox producing EF-M primes later this year (October – November 2019), EOS-M users have some options.

Canon may consider doing some “Olympic” lenses such as an update on the 200-400 or some other super telephoto lenses or zooms for the EF mount, simply to go with a 1DX Mark III at the Olympics.  Other than that, the EF mount will most likely get not a lot of love or attention from Canon.

Canon EOS-M M5 Mark II

I don't believe that the M6 Mark II replaces the M5 as well.  I personally feel that if the M6 Mark II was to officially replace the M5 and the M6, Canon would have named it something different than an M6 Mark II.  Occam’s razor folks.  I know some are thinking because the EVF comes bundled that replaces the M5.  No, it could simply mean that Canon feels that including the EVF will help sell M6 Mark II’s.  This wouldn’t be the first mirrorless camera to have an external EVF included with the bundle.

When?

Canon’s normal releases come out in January to February before CES or CP+.  CP+ will be huge, because it’s the Japan show leading up to the Japan Olympics. It’s not going to get bigger than this.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the M5 Mark II closely follows the M6 Mark II (but in reverse order) and is released before CP+ in 2020.

There is some room left on the M6 Mark II that could easily be used to create a flagship mirrorless APS-C for Canon;

  • Video performance including; ALL-I and 24fps 4K and 1080p options
  • Deeper buffer than the M6
  • Headphone Jack
  • Corded Remote capable
  • EVF (3.7Mdot EVF similar to EOS R)

None of those options are out of the realm of possibility. It's up to Canon to decide on what the M5 Mark II will have, or if it will even exist.

Canon 7D Mark III

I’m not sure what to make about this camera.  I think the fast demise of the EF market shocked Canon, and this probably put many future plans on hold.

This may be a camera that Canon does quickly.  Simply taking what the 90D has and giving the camera a 7D set of ergonomics and AF performance.  They could, of course, go further, with multiple DIGIC to handle iTR and raw performance of the camera, consider they have to work on this technology anyways for the 1DX Mark III coming out.

From what I’ve seen of the 90D while it’s an exceptional upgrade from the 80D, there are just too many little things that could have been easily added to the 90D that would have made it more acceptable to 7D users.  The 90D ergonomically sans joystick is basically in all purposes an 80D upgrade, not some hybrid mix of 7D and 80D.

Only Canon knows how many 7D Mark II’s have sold, and if it’s worth while making a new one.

I think if we’re going to see this camera it will be between now and the 2020 Olympics. I think if Canon doesn’t release this camera before the Olympics, there’s probably a pretty good chance it’s never coming.

How about the rest?

There are some consumer models coming up, updated Rebels, and possibly a M100 EOS-M upgrade.  There should be also an upgrade to the EOS-M M50 on the horizon.

Canon will move quickly to take the new APS-C sensor and leverage that through the entire system, much like they did with the 24MP DPAF sensor.

There could be other surprises, like a high-performance RF camera. Again, it's the Olympics, anything is possible really, it just depends on how much time and capability that Canon has left after releasing the 1DX Mark III.  A high-performance RF camera would certainly fit into Canon's future plans, probably even more so than 1DX Mark III.

Update October 26;

We got the M200 already this year.  That's it for this year, unto the next year.

Summary

I'm going, to be honest. It's all really speculation right now.  Canon is facing problems as they have never faced before (well probably since the EF mount got established). 

Sony’s new A7R IV and A9 II will certainly up the game as far as Canon (and Nikon) catching up to mirrorless technology.  However, firmware 1.2 from all reports, seems to have almost caught up to Sony’s latest generation of AF.  It does need more AI to determine faces with glasses/sunglasses and animal eyeAF, however, Canon is moving quickly.

I'm sure many of Canons’ plans are on fast track, and they are planning to respond quicker and more nimbly to issues then they have done in the past (for instance the firmware updates to the EOS R).  Canon also has clamped down on most of the leaks (the one from Canon Australia leaking the everything about the 90D and M6 Mark II was embarrassing for Canon. I'm sure someone got into a lot of trouble over that).  Expect some surprises.

While they are focused on profit, profit comes from doing many little things that amount to greater overall gains for Canon. It doesn't just come from "mirrorless full frame" as what seems to be the narrative lately.

They are also facing one of the largest marketing opportunities in the last 20 years in 2020, and the competition will certainly be gunning for top spot as well.  Sony has shown to be a remarkably nimble and technologically advanced camera company - and Canon is going to have to start taking things seriously if they wish to continue to hold #1 spot in the industry.

I think personally it's going to be an exciting time to watch what happens in the industry.  The 2020 Olympics is a once in a lifetime event for the Japanese companies, and it's going to be fun to watch what happens.

At the end of the day, we benefit by getting better and better equipment.

Update October 26;

Much like the 1DX Mark II was a precursor for a better sensor in the 5D Mark IV - I think we'll see that next year the 1DX Mark III is the precursor to many good things to come from Canon.  The 1DX III"s performance with LiveView shows that the next generation of sensors are going to be quite good for mirrorless.

Update January 13;

All signs point to an exciting year for Canon, focused primarily around the RF mount.  We're also seeing signs and hearing rumors that RF mount support may be coming this year from Sigma. Hopefully, once the big third party lens manufacturers start to release lenses for the RF mount, the others will quickly follow.  The E (or FE) mount has a ton of third party options available to it - all of which are fairly easy to migrate to the RF mount.

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