What Is Canon Missing?

It’s been about eight months since Canon launched their full frame mirrorless system. In that time, they’ve created or announced 10 lenses to be delivered by the end of 2019, as well as a second body. Despite the fast progress on building out the kit, Canon is missing a critical item.

While the EOS R has a number of competent features, it falls short of market leaders in sensor performance, autofocus, and handling. Despite the body’s shortcomings when judged against other high-end cameras, Canon is producing and developing very high-end lenses, clearly targeted at professionals and users who demand high quality. The only lenses that are even vaguely consumer oriented, in line with the new RP body, are the two mid-range zooms at 24-105mm f/4 and 24-240mm f/4-6.3 and their 35mm macro lens.

For any consumers using the R and RP, the only reasonable option for other lenses requires adapting EF or EF-S lenses. This removes any benefit inherent to the new mount. For example, the only RF mount 50mm currently costs more than the EOS R body it goes on, leaving adapting the only reasonable option. The RF mount lenses definitely deliver the performance, taking full advantage of the flange distance and size of the mount, but don’t make sense on the current bodies, on the basis of cost, size, or performance objectives.

Since it seems the lenses and bodies of the RF mount system are going different directions, it is clear that Canon is building towards a pro body. When that body is coming, however, is a mystery. It is rumored to feature a high-megapixel sensor, but it isn’t supposed to be announced until 2020, meaning early adopters of the system will have waited 18 months for a body deserving of the lenses.

When the body finally does come out, users should have a large number of native mount lenses to choose from, but given the incongruity of the system in its current state, sales may be lacking until then.

Both Canon and Nikon have taken very aggressive pricing actions on their mirrorless systems, with Canon marking down their R body by $300. Whether this is indicative of softer sales across the camera industry, price skimming on a new product category or a push by management to juice up the numbers of their lines remains to be seen.

Given that both Nikon and Canon have mentioned a push for higher-margin products, the more-expensive full frame cameras and lenses are clearly essential to their future plans. That makes the conspicuous absence of a pro RF mount body all the more surprising. It’ll be interesting to see what steps Canon takes in the future. Was this a soft launch of their RF mount production: launch the lenses, while they iron out kinks with the bodies, firmware, and lenses? When the pro level RF body does arrive, it’ll be very interesting to evaluate against the expected Sony a7R IV and any other mirrorless announcements that have occurred in the interim.

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Justin Punio's picture

Canon are putting lots of effort into beefing up the RF lens lineup, I fully expect there to be more of the non L lens to be coming to make the Canon EOS R and RP more attractive. The current RF lens are just waiting for that Pro body.

Alex Coleman's picture

Definitely- looks like they have lenses waiting for bodies and bodies waiting for lenses.

Paul Scharff's picture

Not to be snarky, but Canon has been missing any Oh-Wow introduction since the 5D2 in October 2008. I'm still with them because of my lenses and their interface, but I'd kill for a Canon with the IQ of a D850.

Tim Adams's picture

Exactly. Canon has been behind in sensor tech since 2008. I had shot with Canon since 2000, well not anymore. Last month I sold virtually all my Canon gear and went to Nikon with a D500 and D850. While mirrorless is intriguing, I need vertical grips and the ability to shoot in any weather. So far from what I am seeing I will be more than happy with the switch.

Ryan Davis's picture

I fully agree. I'd kill for a mirrorless version of the 5Ds, with a reasonable ISO range. Or just a 5ds mkii with a reasonable ISO range.

Thomas H's picture

I think we should simply acknowledge the fact that Sony's team made a sensational sensor technology, which is not easy to match. If it would be an easy task to duplicate, Canon would have done it. It is as if to beat Roger Federer to a 1st place in the rank list, while he was in his best years. So stop bashing Canon for the sensor tech. Of course they see the differences, they work with the Japanese dedication and skill, and yet, Sony's team did something what is a "world record" of sorts, and that opened them the door to the serious photography world. The winds of change. Sony is up, Lumix/Panasonic is up, Pentax is comatose, Minolta devoured, Canon in the trouble. Even if you/me/us like Canon, we have to appreciate the positive impact of competition on out favorite toys, or tools of trade.

Paul Scharff's picture

I agree. And Canon should have given up making sensors and bought them from Sony, like Nikon did and does. They'd probably still be ruling the market if they did.

Andrew Lodge's picture

They are missing the ability to care about their consumers.

Ben Bezuidenhout's picture

I live in South Africa and there is literally NO Canon support. The Nikon and Fuji reps do regular shows and visits.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

I'm also from South Africa, and I can confirm this. Even retailers complain about Canon, and not just their camera's.

Craig Westerson's picture

They haven't cared about there customers since they developed the EOS mount to be incompatible, even with an adaptor, with the FD mount, basically leaving all of us long term owners out in the cold.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Great job cloning the tinfoil-hat out of your profile picture! I can't even tell it was ever there!

Eric Salas's picture

If you look at his previous comments, you can tell he’s quite the special case.

Alex Coleman's picture

There's no mention of Sony in this article, while the only mention of another brand is against the backdrop of broader mirrorless markdowns.

This article judges Canon's RF mount strategy solely on its own merits.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

I wonder if Jan Kruize can actually make a comment without bashing Sony. The most biassed man on this forum complaining about the writer's bias. A wonderful world this is.

Graham Goodman's picture

And if Canon had only released low- to mid-range lenses, these articles would have been about their lack of commitment to full frame mirrorless.

What they are doing is entirely understandable. Making full use of their lens design abilities to declare intent while they make their mirrorless design capabilities mature.

Shank Brisket's picture

And curmudgeons bashed Nikon for releasing lackluster lenses with their Z cameras. It would be nice if entire lens line-ups could be available at launch but that's just not going happen kids.

Alex Coleman's picture

I've covered both Canon and Nikon's mirroless lens strategies in previous articles. As Canon reveals more of their roadmap, and particularly with the introduction of the RP, I thought it important to highlight the disconnect between Canon's lenses and bodies.

If they did introduce low/mid lenses to go along with their bodies, I personally wouldn't have a problem with the strategy, so that is a bit of a strawman.

Bjarne Solvik's picture

Pardon me but:

“The RF mount lenses definitely deliver the performance, taking full advantage of the flange distance and size of the mount, but don’t make sense on the current bodies, on the basis of cost, size, or performance objectives.”

All I have seen is some claims that a big hole in the camera makes for easy and small lens design? But Canons lenses are huge both in size and price, where are the benefits? Are the new Canon lenses better then Sony’s GM lenses, or smaller, or less expensive? Or Nikons?

I think it’s bullshit. It’s pathetic that that the only thing Nikon and also Canon? can bring to the table is a claim that a bigger hole outperforms Sony.

Shank Brisket's picture

Canon's (and Nikon) new lenses have drawn quite a bit of praise. Perhaps you're still suffering from sticker shock and have completely ignored the reviews? Calm down now.

Bjarne Solvik's picture

Funny :) just tell me how the larger hole will benefit me if I move to Nikon or Canon for that matter. I don’t think there are any added benefit compared to Sony’s lenses. But I suppose that’s why you hit on person and not matter in question. They all have good and expensive lenses, the hole size does not seem to matter. That’s the point. It a desperate pathetic lie.

Zack James's picture

To answer the matter, it’s not a big difference, f1.4 vs f1.2.

It’s not just the mount “hole” that’s bigger, the sensor is as well which is why the mount isn’t necessarily an improvement for just lenses, it’s necessary for the sensor. The e-mount is nice because it’s the same for crop and full frame but the Sony ff sensor is smaller and doesn’t need a bigger mount. So we kind of agree..

Bjarne Solvik's picture

Does not Nikon use Sonys sensor? How can it be bigger? :)
Also If you want there are several 0.95 lenses for Sony FE.
Just saying:) Nikon is still planing there.

Zack James's picture

I thought we were talking about Canon? They make they’re own sensors and chips. yes, it can be bigger..

Deleted Account's picture

Consider the RF 35mm f1.8 at $449. and the RF 24-105mm F4 at $899. at B&H. These fit the system and moderately priced and not too big on this camera. There is also a consumer RF 24-240mm F3.5-5.6 coming which should be not too expensive. So to say the system is too expensive for some is ridiculous. The 5D4 body is also pricey as are the F2.8 zooms, so if you want to save money then: variable aperature zooms, or low cost primes like 35mm f1.8, or F4 zooms are the way to go to keep price reasonable. These will be quality lenses, just not the price of the fastest primes or widest aperature zooms, or give the best bokeh, but will be there for the regular consumer to buy. If not today the adapter will fit all the EF lens and EFS too.

Alex Coleman's picture

The larger diameter and shorter flange reduce the limitations imposed on lens designers. They can get larger elements closer to the sensor. It can enable a larger range of motion for IBIS elements. It can open up the possibilities for adapting other brand's lenses.

It seems that Canon is creating the best quality lenses possible, or ones that haven't been created before, like the 28-70mm f/2. Whether that makes sense given the introduced bodies is a question posed by this article- but based on testing, I don't think anyone argues that Canon and Nikon's new mirrorless lenses are technically weak performers.

Thomas H's picture

Dear Alex, there is no "larger diameter" in Canon's case. The RF flange diameter is identical to EF diameter, see Canon's White Paper section 8 for details. They simply kept the same diameter. It was already the largest 35mm mount diameter of them all. All electronic connection, seemingly future safe. Only Nikon made the diameter jump, the F mount was really very historic.

Rk K's picture

Canon is missing a decent, even somewhat competitive body. I don't see them investing the billions required for a new sensor fab either (or for rolling a new high end image processor), they would never be able to recover it.

Dave Morris's picture

Who cares what Canon is missing? If it makes bad tools then just pick up a Sony or any other camera that works for you and shoot with it.

Alex Coleman's picture

Switching entire systems can be a serious consideration for many photographers, and I imagine many would want to understand what potential upgrades exist for their current system. I think the roadmaps provided by these manufacturers are a step in the right direction, while they also provide a great discussion point for users.

Dave Morris's picture

Just buy a Sony body with an adapter then. Personally I can't see anything too serious about that. If you won't like it — you'll sell it.

Nothing personal but it's just a very silly conversation. All our cameras and lenses are awesome. We have god-like technology. Canon, Nikon, Pentax – it doesn't matter. Even the phone in your pocket is superior to what Henri Cartier-Bresson had at his disposal.

So is that really Canon that prevents you from creating meaningful works of art and escaping the misery of writing endless nonsense for another mediocre and doomed website?

Alex Coleman's picture

I don't argue that Canon's gear would preclude photographers from accomplishing the shot.

I'm examining the business and product management side of Canon's mirrorless line, by exploring how the disconnect between their launched lenses and bodies may impact sales.

As I already mentioned, for many photographers, the kit is a significant outlay of cash. Just like any other large purchase, it pays to consider its value now and in the future. Upgrades and availability are a significant part of that.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

sometimes it is also funny to remeber that the current cheapo mirrorless cameras are blazing fast and have super power af in comprehension to pro dslr 10 years ago. maybe sometimes the photographer is just not good enough. especially with af. there are so many test with different winners, maybe they are all really good and close and it is more up to the user, who to setup the af and how he gets around with the system.

Roland Ayala's picture

I recently evaluated EOS-R for myself, despite being one of most hated cameras. I like that Canon is leading with great lenses as compared to the route Nikon took, and fully expect that Canon will follow-up with a body that justifies the new lenses.

That said, no amount of online reviews could prepare me for how bad the ergonomics on the R (and I presume RP as well). It's as if Canon went out of their way to put button placements in the most unexpected and awkward of places. In time, brain and muscle memory will learn to adapt but a hallmark of any good design is for it to be natural and intuitive. The R is not that IMHO.

On a positive note, the autofocus is as good if not superior to just about anything out there (modulo eye-autofocus). And, I'm very partial to the colors SOOC that Canon delivers, and R does not disappoint here either. That said, I decided to pass on the R and wait to see what Canon brings in late 2019/2020. At 2K, I think the R is too poor of a value, and resale will be horrendously bad once Canon delivers a pro variant (and it they don't soon, then I wouldn't want to be more bought into Canon ecosystem anyway).

Alex Coleman's picture

I agree with a lot of your points- if you're looking at Canon's mirroless lenses based on their performance, you'll be let down by their current mirrorless bodies. Given the current state of the roadmap, it seems like it'll be 4+ years before they have a fleshed-out consumer and pro-grade mirrorless lineup.

Grant Beachy's picture

They are missing a pro mirrorless body around 30mp that volume shooters can use day in and day out. We don't need 75mp (or honestly 30mp most of the time) but we would kill for great ergonomics with weather sealing and the focusing abilities of the R (which are completely superior to the 5d mkIV). The lenses are going to be next level, skip the statement camera and make a great one, and I'll be there for it.

David Pavlich's picture

This!! I'm fairly certain that there's an R MkII or something similar that will quench the appetites of those of us that want what you've outlined. It will be very 5DIV like, but with all the advantages of the R; good weather sealing, 2 card slots, durable, etc.

When that happens, you'll see some of us move to it. However, until in happens, there's nothing that would make me move from my 5DIV.

Jason Levine's picture

4 years of technological advancements

Deleted Account's picture

While the RF 50mm is expensive at $2K, I think the RF 35mm f1.8 IS is not high cost at around $450. at B&H Photo and a reasonable price for a prime which you do not need adapter. Also the RF 24-105mm f4 is discounted $200 now to $899. (from 1099. orig.) which is a reasonable price for an F4 native mount lens. These 2 are decent low (moderate) cost lens for RF mount. There should be more consumer lenses coming. Isn't there a RF 24-240mm lens coming of variable aperature which should be consumer priced, coming out this year.

Alex Coleman's picture

I think Canon's consumer mirrorless has the same problem Nikon's DX lineup has- photographers don't need 10 flavors of 24-XX consumer zooms (in Nikon's case, it was a proliferation of 18-xx lenses).

Even looking at those 3, Canon's consumer R lenses have no wide option, and nothing even slightly serious for tele. Is an RP user really expected to buy adapters and EF mount lenses to make it work, or splash out on their pro-grade 70-200 f/2.8?

Deleted Account's picture

The Canon RP is a consumer or prosumer camera for hobbyist and semi-pro use or as a second body for a pro to adapt lenses to. The regular non pro buying RP is not likely to add any pro glass as they do not have the budget and will more likely either adapt lenses or buy the $450 RF 35mm lens or add RF 24-240 lens once that is available. For now they can adapt EF 24-105mm F3.5--5.6 lens which is about $400 bundled with RP. Canon wants pros to buy the more expensive R camera. Also for wide option, you can adapt the Canon EFs lens 10-18mm lens, however at a cropped resolution. Adapter allows both EF and EFs lenses to body. Adapter is not that bulky to add.

As far as offering different price point DX for Nikon, that is because consumers are very budget conscience and pick the price point they want. So one only DX would not work at all. Nikon offers 3xxx, 5xxx, and 7xxxx in DX for upgrading features and price points. Smart to do so, as you cannot lump the buyers into one category. 3xxx users at that price point will not buy a 5xxx or 7xxx as do not want to spend this money. (ask my brother in law :) . Buyers of 5xxx and 7xxx are willing to spend these prices at these price points for features. Nikon knows this and are right.

Uneducated buyers will also buy a lower priced Sigma 18-250mm zoom in Sigma over a superior C lens 18-200mm Sigma (for only $100 more in price), and have no clue that the shorter zoom is sharper is an other example. Educated buyers know better. Trade off in how much zoom you want vs. quality. Shorter is always better. All in one longer zoom is more convenient for general masses, but not sharper.

Paul Douglas's picture

Sony biggest draw is adapted lens options, Canon and Nikon seem reluctant to encourage but is proving to be a poor strategy in the long term. Always holding stuff back, trying to be too clever for their own good. Canon especially need to realise the consumer is now King once again.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

*** warning, old man rant

As a small business owner that wants the largest ROI on my gear, I'm fine with waiting. These ridiculous comments about Canon not caring or not being wowed are hilarious. I've had the Mark IV from day one and can only hope the pro version of the mirrorless comes in 2020 with all bugs tested and modified. I honestly see my self shooting on that camera for at least one more year. Fucking kids these days care about the DR, lazor sharp focus, eye autofocus, mirrorless and switch systems left and right instead of grinding it out with old gear. Stop this mobile phone style obsession with needing to upgrade every year or two. Put some roots into your current gear and dial that shit in. If you're legitimately switching because you're having focusing issues or any other excuses to get the shot, maybe it's not the camera... 99% of clients give zero fucks on what your shooting with. It's your book, who and what you've shot and more importantly that they continue to hire you for future jobs.

g coll's picture

I agree and I'm still using the mkiii and it's great. I was going to get the mkiv but like you ill look forward to the pro version of the mirrorless when it comes out. Unfortunately the new breed of photographer is obsessed with what you described - DR, eye autofocus etc. They watch Peter McKinnon and then think they know everything.

Roland Ayala's picture

So true. You're spot on.

Josh G's picture

100% agree.

Marcus Joyce's picture

The pro body argument is stupid. The 5d iv is plenty professional for plenty of photographers and it's a slightly slower 5d iv in a mirrorless.

And it's going to be a stupidly expensive wtf price which will be out of reach of the majority and despite any amount of logic reasoning won't justify it.

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