Why Aren’t Canon Fans More Excited About This New Lens?

Why Aren’t Canon Fans More Excited About This New Lens?

Canon’s RF mount has opened up new avenues when it comes to lens design, but the ludicrous prices of its premium glass close it off from huge swathes of potential customers. All of that might be about to change thanks to one tiny lens manufacturer.

Canon’s RF glass is nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of Canon fans, this means that the prices are prohibitive, making the thought of upgrading properly from EF completely impossible. This is not to say that they are overpriced; it’s simply that for the countless enthusiasts and semi-professionals who constitute such a large chunk of any camera company’s customer base, these are lenses that can only be dreamed of.

Adapters only go so far. Mirrorless promised us smaller and lighter systems — at least, that’s what Sony was keen to shout about when it launched the Sony a7 towards the end of 2013. While the adapters that fit your EF glass to your RF mount might work brilliantly, they are bulky. The thought of adding a 3.88 oz (110 g) adapter to a 5.64 oz (160 g) nifty fifty lens and a 1.07lb (485 g) body (EOS RP) will strike most people as daft.

Canon nifty fifty and EF to RF adapter

When the lens adapter weighs almost as much as the lens.

The alternative doesn’t work out well, neither financially nor in terms of how much weight you’re lugging around. The RF 50mm f/1.2 — the only 50mm prime available in RF mount — will cost you well over two thousand dollars and is almost exactly twice as heavy as the RP itself.

Borrowing Ideas From Sony

Clearly, the lens lineup will take its time to evolve, but Canon might be taking a leaf out of Sony’s book. Sony Facebook user groups are full of enthusiasts who love their a7 IIIs but then can’t afford to kit themselves out with a range of GM glass. Instead, you see fans endlessly singing the praises of the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, a lens that carved the price of the Sony GM equivalent in half and then some.

The premium glass put out by Canon is groundbreaking and, more importantly, headline-grabbing. Whether it’s an f/2 trinity of zooms (possibly?) or prime lenses so sharp that they threaten to scar your irises, Canon is pushing boundaries. If it wants to drag customers back from Sony, having third parties fill out the lens lineup might be a smart move.

The Humble RP

In the last couple of weeks, a few photographers have been singing the praises of the diminutive RP, suggesting that it is incredibly good value as a full-frame mirrorless camera. There’s certainly a lot to be said for it but, assuming that we’re discussing cameras that can still be bought off the shelf brand new, I would argue the Sony a7 II (currently $898) offers greater value for one huge reason: glass.

Shot on the fantastic Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8.

Shot on the fantastic Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8. More at andyday.com.

The lens lineup for Sony is vast. With its head start, the Sony ecosystem has been fully fleshed out, and the third-party manufacturers have played a major role. An a7 II in concert with the Tamron trinity will cost you a little under four grand. Right now, attempting the same with the RP using RF glass will set you back over eight.

Change Is Upon Us

What we saw this week was a sign that Canon’s lens ecosystem is about to change dramatically. Late last year, Samyang/Rokinon released the RF mount’s first third-party autofocus lens: the 14mm f/2.8. There was little fanfare and a muted response, probably because this isn’t a focal length that triggers much excitement. However, it was a mark in the sand.

Much more exciting is the brand new 85mm f/1.4. The average price of an RF-mount lens just dropped significantly as a result. For anyone wanting to shoot portraits of friends and family on an EOS RP, you can now snag a fast telephoto prime for $800 instead of $2,699. The Sony version drew high praise from Fstoppers' own Lee Morris last year: "for 40% of the cost, you are getting 90% of the results." Canon fans should be excited, and yet the news of the Samyang lens has barely mustered a comment.

The Samyang/Rokinon 85mm AF f/1.4 RF

The Samyang/Rokinon 85mm AF f/1.4 RF

I wonder if this muted response is because Canon users have limited experience of the quality of Samyang’s more recent products and consequently don’t expect much from a small third-party manufacturer. My guess is that this is about to change.

Samyang has done nothing but impress me since I received the 35mm f/2.8 pancake lens to review a few years ago. I recently took delivery of the new E-mount 75mm f/1.8, and so far, I'm a little bit blown away. For me, portrait lenses are heavy and bulky; by contrast, this thing is tiny and still super sharp (expect my review in the next couple of weeks). If Canon wants people to get genuinely excited about the RP, a selection of Samyang primes will go a long way, and that's before we consider what the likes of Tamron and Sigma have in store.

Early outings in the forests of Fontainebleau with the new Samyang 75mm f/1.8 lens.

Early outings in the forests of Fontainebleau with the new Samyang 75mm f/1.8 lens.

Given the yawning gaps in Canon’s lens lineup, Samyang might be wise to follow the new 85mm prime quickly with an RF version of the 45mm f/1.8 that it makes for Sony. This is a highly-regarded nifty fifty (close enough) that launched for a mere $400 and is currently available for $329. Despite its low price, there’s little to criticize; in the words of Dustin Abbott, “I think Samyang really knocked this one out of the park.” Will Samyang make an RF nifty fifty before Canon does? R and RP shooters who have tight budgets or appreciate convenience should cross their fingers that Samyang has plans to bring more glass to the market as soon as possible.

What are your thoughts? Are you a Canon shooter waiting for more affordable glass? Are you a Sony shooter that loves Samyang and thinks that Canon fans should be far more excited by the prospect of a batch of sharp, lightweight lenses? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Log in or register to post comments

45 Comments

Tom Reichner's picture

Aren't these Samyang lenses all manual focus only?

As a wildlife photographer, I have no use for any lens that does not have excellent autofocus. Manual focus? Are you kidding me?

With manual focus lenses, you lose the entire market of people who shoot fast action subjects, such as wildlife, sports, and pets. You also lose all of the casual people who just like to take some nice photos from time to time, because that segment of the market depends exclusively on automated exposure modes and automatic focus.

So by failing to include good modern autofocus, Samyang has alienated the majority of the lens-buying market. The only part of the market that seems to be left are those who are serious enough about photography to deal with manual focus, but who shoot relatively stationary subject matter, such as portraits of people. How many photographers actually fit into that very limited genre? Very few, I would suspect.

Autofocus is so important that is is pretty much THE thing that most camera and lens buyers consider first, with all other features and capabilities a very distant second on the list of importance.

EDIT:

After writing my comment above, I did a little research and learned that this new lens actually has autofocus. Woo hoo! Now I am a bit embarrassed about what I had written originally, as it was based on a false assumption that the lens was manual focus only.

But perhaps the lukewarm reception of this new lens is because, like myself, most photographers have come to associate Samyang with manual focus, and don't realize that Samyang is finally making autofocus lenses now. If the autofocus is really really good - very fast and extremely accurate - then maybe Samyang will eventually get a reputation for making excellent autofocus systems for their reverse-engineered third-party lenses. But garnering that kind of reputation will take time, because they are so far behind when it comes to autofocus technology. It takes the market a while to be able to trust an old dog to do a new trick, and to do it as well as anyone else.

Tony Northrup's picture

This is an AF lens.

Christopher McGee's picture

My Samyang 135 f2 is the sharpest lens i own. The images are astonishing. Im excited about this RF 85....I own the EOSR as my main body and "impatiently" awaiting the R5 release.

Fra Kresch's picture

Dustin Abbot just posted a review of the 85 1.4. Frankly, it may be sharp and well corrected, but I don't like photographs he captured with it, they feel quite lifeless and flat. The image gallery is here: https://dustinabbott.net/2020/05/samyang-rf-85mm-f1-4-af-image-gallery/ (Edit: of course judging the lens rendering, not mr Abbott's ability.)

Andy Day's picture

Yep, this is why for me it's significant - it's an AF lens at a focal length that's way more popular than the 14mm released a few months ago.

Something I should have covered: it's not clear what level of sophistication Samyang will offer when it comes to RF autofocus. Some of the pins in the RF mount are the same as EF so that functionality is covered, but there's other data passed via the new RF pins that I don't know about, and Samyang might not have been able to tap into this aspect of the tech. This may mean that the AF won't be on a par with Canon glass. I guess we'll find out very soon.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

There are about fifteen autofocus lenses on Samyang's web site.

Michael Laing's picture

Different lenses are for different people I love the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Milvus but at f/1.4 it can be a nightmare to focus, on the D800.

I also have the Nikkor 105mm f/1.4e, which has 95% of the image quality and autofocus, It is my go to lens for work but despite the 105mm being more practical, when ever I get the chance I go back to the Zeiss 85mm because it is so nice when you get everything right.

Tony Northrup's picture

I'm glad to see lower cost third-party AF lenses (though I think this is just their DSLR lens with a built-in adapter). However, by my math, only around 2% of Canon shooters are on the RF platform. There really aren't many using it. Maybe it's even a little crazy to develop lenses for such a small number of buyers.

Andy Day's picture

Or there are very few on the RF platform because people are waiting for affordable glass..? 😁 Samyang might be about to clean up.

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

Really funny how we have guys able to change their whole camera system every years or two, but whines like selfish childs because Canon EOS R lenses are "too expensive".

Really boys, do you have a brain ? Or too deep pockets is really only usefull to showcase how bold you are ?

Frankly, you will tell I am a silly boy with small desires, but you should really think again about your behaviour. Whatever Canikon release, it is never enough or alway too much something.

And frankly, I don't understand why we have to cope with so poor opinions.

Go ahead, take pictures, instead of crying for problems that are not problems.

Andy Day's picture

I'm not really sure what you're talking about or who you're referring to. Nor do I understand why you are so angry about this. It's a bit strange.

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

Yeah, of course, you are right !

Nobody is whining about how much too expensive/heavy/large Canon R lenses are, nor how Canikon mirrorless system do not have enough native lenses whereas their system are younger than that wonderfull and fully (really?) featured SONY alpha system (pssst, did you notice that system is still lacking in some area versus EF or F lenses system, but don't brag it too loud)...

No, really, it does not exist at all. You are right ! It is just my imagination.

This article do not talk about that Canon lenses that are too expensive or too heavy for the market, and how in fact custormers really don't need them, as cheaper and lighter alternative exist or will exist, but no exactly the same...

No, of course...

Every thing is fine.

Keep going ! Do not mind.

You do not even have to assume whatever you are writing.
Internet writers and youtubers are never wrong, they are perfect and omniscient.
And they are far more clever than any manufacturer on earth, till the same manufacturer give them all the goods for free, or just a free trip to try new devices.

yeah, I know, I AM STRANGE. Not you.

Tom Reichner's picture

I don't know what you are talking about. The kind of behavior you describe is something that I simply do not see from photographers. I think you've created a straw man. And now you are very angry at that straw man that you created in your mind! Kinda funny, actually.

Geir Anders Rybakken Ørslien's picture

I'd be interested to know how many of the EOS R and EOS RP buyers are going by adapted EF glass only. I'm considering the upcoming R5 to replace my 5DMkIV, but the RF glass will have to wait. Looking forward to better AF accuracy, though. The Sigma ART lenses have been an AF nightmare on my different 5D's, should be a non-issue with mirrorless.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

I have an EOS R and no RF glass. I use the adapter and my EF glass and it works perfect. I'll eventually get some RF glass when the selection and price drop. But as long as my EF glass works, and should for the foreseeable future, I'll keep using it.

Indy Thomas's picture

I think a lot of mirrorless lenses will be re-barreled DSLR lenses just because the economics of designing a clean sheet lens is impractical in terms of time to market and the life cycle of the current line up. The 14mm Rokinon/Samyang that I used was a startlingly good lens for a silly cheap price. They are definitely aiming for the big leagues with their newest lenses. They will be the Godox of third party glass IMO.

Tony Tumminello's picture

"though I think this is just their DSLR lens with a built-in adapter"

Doesn't seem to be the case here. Both the autofocus and manual focus 85mm f1.4s for the EF mount and manual focus 85mm f1.4 for the RF mount are 9 element, 7 group designs while this upcoming lens is an 11 element, 8 group design which appears to be the same design as the autofocus Sony version.

Spy Black's picture

"...(though I think this is just their DSLR lens with a built-in adapter)..."
"..." Maybe it's even a little crazy to develop lenses for such a small number of buyers."
I suspect it's a DSLR optic as well repurposed, and that is the answer to your own question. When you have a stock item that can easily be modified for a new market, all it does is improve your odds of selling it. Doesn't mater how small that market is. That market will obviously also eventually grow. Win/Win on Samyang's part.

Christian Fiore's picture

This is a true mirrorless lens from the ground up. The DSLR version was OK at best optically, but the mirrorless version can compete with the best out there for any type of camera. Sharp from wide open, with smooth bokeh, minimal aberrations, and excellent AF. Not the best AF, at least as far as what Sony's AF is capable of, but still very capable.

VINICIUS YUZO ZUCARELI's picture

I think most didn't bother because they moved with their EF lenses with seamless adapting.

I want to move to R eventually, and I intend to keep using EF lenses.

Jerome Brill's picture

You kind of have to have an audience first. Certainly some have switched over. Adapting older lenses seems to work pretty well but it's even more expensive than Sony to buy native and with less options. This lens is a step in the right direction though. I think Canons next camera will be pretty good but is that enough in this economy?

Marc CORBI's picture

First I would not buy any lenses designed for a too narrow mount like the FE (based on apsc size) adapted to RF mount.
Then I already own a Samyang 14mm AF in EF mount, which is far from being impressive in the corners on my 5Dsr.. no need to try a FE lens adapted to EF mount which can be only worse in the corners.

So for my EOS R, I prefer to wait for real RF mount design .. and probably not from samyang (I don't expect anything blazing from them).

Christian Fiore's picture

"I would not buy any lenses designed for a too narrow mount like the FE"

You're going to have a hard time buying anything third party, then. Just like with third party DSLR lenses, which were built to accommodate the smallest FF mount, Nikon F (same size as Pentax's APS-C mount), first, and then the electronics, barrel length, and mount itself were changed to fit the other brands with larger mounts. You'll see very, very few lenses only made to fit CaNikon's larger mounts, if any. Though at least most will be built to work with Canon's longest in the industry flange distance.

J. Law's picture

My concern is that Canon hasn't licensed out the RF autofocus protocol, as far as I know. Which means Samyang had to reverse engineer it.

Seeing how many years it took for Sigma and Tamron to competently reverse engineer the EF protocols (and, by comparison, how fast and accurate the Sony E mount autofocus is with a licensed protocol) I am not the most confident about Samyang's autofocus.

But if it's shown to be fast and accurate, I will definitely be buying.

Daniel Lee's picture

Most things indicate both Canon and Nikon don't share their AF algorithm so I think all third parties will have a trouble on the RF/Z mount again. The days of the Sigma lottery may return.

Indy Thomas's picture

I think the notion of mirrorless lenses being either lighter or better is misleading.
While the potential of a new design free from the limitations of a mirrorbox sounds good, we have yet to see the fruits of this manifest itself in any product that is not already equalled in performance in the DSLR version.
A short flange distance is irrelevant for lenses 50 mm and longer while wide angle lenses encounter their own challenges with short flange distances. Olympus noted this so many years ago when they argued strenuously for tele-centric lens designs that would present the image to the sensor with the least angularity at the edges of the sensor.

Another factor in this discussion is the demand for fast lenses with eye popping performance wide open. This does not make for smaller lenses. The Canon RF 85 1.2L is a a quarter pound heavier than the EF 85L II. While it is demonstrably better, it ain't smaller or lighter.

honderd woorden's picture

Quality mirrorless lenses aren’t lighter, but there is no DSLR version of something like the RF 28-70mm F/2L so “the fruits of the manifest” are already there.

Fra Kresch's picture

But the 28-70 is ergonomically almost absurd on the R (even the 15-35 and 24-70 2.8 is). 5D with a EF 24-70 is slighty heavier than the R with 24-70, but at the same time it feels lighter, because the R is simply front-heavy.

Indy Thomas's picture

Actually, if you read almost every article extolling the virtues of mirrorless lenses there is not one that does not mention the "potential" of clean sheet designs. Among the virtues are the potential compact designs that could emerge as a consequence of not having to design around a mirror box.
As for the 28-70 f2, there is zero reason that could not have been introduced as a DSLR lens. In fact, I would argue that they already had a design for it in their inventory and just re-barreled it to add a halo lens to the R system so that consumers would realize that Canon were serious about the mount.

More comments