Canon last week announced that it has ceased research and development for EF-mount lenses for its EOS DSLR line, after a 30-year run and more than 130 million lenses sold. The camera maker plans to focus its new product R&D on its new mirrorless EOS RF-mount cameras and lenses.
This move indicates that Canon is taking a major, if inevitable,
step away from DSLRs in favor of Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Cameras. As a
trend for photo industry watchers, it’s dramatic news. Mirrorless cameras from
Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Fujifilm have been grabbing market share, while
Nikon and Canon were dragging their feet. They’ve both caught up now.
In practical terms, however, this news won’t have any effect on current and near-future Canon DSLR users and buyers. Here are three reasons why you can keep calm, and keep shooting with Canon DSLRs—if you choose:
• 76 lenses are currently available: Canon currently has 16 APS-C sensor compatible and 60 full-frame sensor lenses for its line of DSLRs. It’s a mature lineup, and there are plenty of lenses in the pipeline.
• 18 Canon DSLRs: Over 18 DSLRs are currently available from Canon. Models include the beginner-oriented Canon EOS T5i, the enthusiast Canon EOS 77D, and the popular pro-level Canon EOS-5D Mark IV. Some have even said that Canon has too many DSLRs, causing consumer confusion.
• Indie Lenses Abound: There are dozens of lenses made by independent lens manufacturers, such as Sigma, Zeiss, Rokinon, Tokina, and Tamron. Even if they were all to follow Canon’s lead (to be clear: none of the manufacturers we talked to have announced that they’re giving up on EF mount lenses), there are so many new lenses available now, that Canon DSLR users needn’t worry about their optical sources drying up.
A bit of Canon lens mount history
This isn’t the first time Canon has “abandoned” a popular mount. In 1987, Canon introduced the EOS system; the EF mount, with its autofocus feature, replaced the manual-focus FD system. This system which included the Canon AE-1 camera, the best-selling 35mm SLR ever made. But autofocus technology and electronic contacts that passed focus and exposure information from lens to camera made the FD system obsolete, and by the early 90s, Canon users had switched to the EOS system and EF mount lenses.
Over the next 30 years, you could say the EF mount was an unqualified success, with over 130 lenses sold to date, according to Canon. It’s been a good run—and it clearly isn’t over.
Back to the Present…and Future
What is Canon’s game plan? We can take some educated guesses. There are currently two mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras available from Canon: The M and R lines.
The Canon EOS M: Built around an APS-format sensor, the M-line uses EF-M-mount lenses, which still utilize a variation of EF-mount technology. Currently available cameras include the basic Canon EOS M6; the ultra-sleek EOS-M100, and the popular EOS M50 and EOS M5, which have a more traditional, DSLR-like form factor and sport electronic viewfinders.
The Canon EOS R: Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, with its 30mp sensory is positioned to compete against the Sony Alpha a7 III. It’s an advanced amateur to pro-level camera, and the first model in what Canon is indicating will be the camera line of its future. The Canon EOS RP is a lower-resolution (26mp) camera priced to attract advanced hobbyists.
Bottom line? Expect more R lenses from Canon that will have enhanced picture-taking capabilities in the coming years.
Buying Advice: Should I Switch to Mirrorless?
Canon DSLR users may be wondering whether it’s time to switch to a mirrorless model. Given the fact that Canon just introduced a new flagship DSLR (buying tip: it’s predecessor, the Canon 1D X Mark II, is sure to be available for less to make room for its successor), Canon’s overall commitment to DSLRs seems to remain solid. So, if you prefer a DSLR, there’s no need to worry.
If, however, you see the benefits of Mirrorless and the current Canon’s EOS R fits your needs, Canon has deliberately made it as easy as possible for you to transition. Three different EF to R lens adaptors are available so you can use your current lenses and needn’t trade them in for native R lenses:
Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS-R: This basic adaptor lets you use any EF or EF-S lens with an EOS R camera.
Canon Control Ring Mount Adaptor EF-EOS R: This adaptor has a programmable control ring around the base that lets you control aperture, focus, or other functions.
Canon Drop-in Filter Mount Adaptor: This adaptor lets you place in a filter between lens and camera, rather than in front of the lens. It’s great if you’re using ND filters…but you should still have an ND filter in front to protect the front glass element.