Canon, What Are You Doing?

Canon has said the quiet part out loud: it doesn’t want you spending your money on anything other than Canon products. This is a huge mistake, and I am advocating for the company to rethink this strategy.

Earlier this week we confirmed that Canon had issued cease and desist orders to at least one third-party lens manufacturer, namely Viltrox, to demand that it stop marketing RF-mount lenses with autofocus. . The request must have been very strongly worded, as Viltrox seems to have removed all RF lenses from its library out of an abundance of caution.

Viltrox reverse-engineered Canon’s RF mount and autofocus communications because it didn’t have many options if it wanted to supply lenses to Canon shooters because Canon doesn’t license its mount. That’s why we haven’t seen Tamron or Sigma produce RF lenses: Canon wants complete control over the optics of its mirrorless system. Canon was not happy that Viltrox could make autofocus work with its RF mount and forced it to stop producing these lenses.

Canon hasn’t publicly said as much, but it’s pretty obvious that the reason the company isn’t licensing its RF media and going after anyone the other way with legal threats is because of the money. Canon wants to be the only one selling the cameras and lenses to its customers.

I think most photographers were okay with the understanding that at least for the early years of the system, no third-party lenses (which are usually much cheaper than first-party options) would be available as the company has proven the viability of the new mount and built its own range of lenses. But ultimately, we expected there to be a choice, as there has been in the DSLR space for decades.

Well, not if Canon has anything to say about it. This is a terrible and short-sighted plan from Canon.

The first camera I owned was a Canon Rebel. As I was very young and didn’t have a job, I had to be very selective about which camera body I would buy in order to still have some money to buy the lens of my choice (I don’t wasn’t a fan of the kit lenses that came with cheaper cameras at the time). I ended up buying a Sigma lens and used that combination for years before I could upgrade to a first party 5D and Canon lens.

I stayed in the Canon system and continued to buy Canon. To this day, I continue to photograph Canon.

canon dslr

But if Canon had done then what it is doing now, I would have looked elsewhere for the simple fact that I couldn’t afford Canon.

Sony has for years licensed its E-mount to third-party manufacturers, which is why there are so many third-party E-mount options available. We confirmed earlier this week that Nikon is doing the same, which is why Tamron is set to release its first Z-mount lens later this year.

Canon is now the only one of the “big three” camera makers not only not to allow its mirrorless support, but to outright ban third-party support for its systems.

The message that sends to potential buyers isn’t particularly welcoming, and that’s a big mistake on the part of the company that has dominated the DSLR space thanks in large part to its affordable entry-level cameras that have been enhanced by a rich and diverse set of manufactured lenses from various manufacturers.

It’s not like third-party lenses entirely replace first-party glass. For me and many others, third-party optics were a bridge we took until we had enough money to get some coveted redline lenses. They were something to aspire to.

Canon, this reeks of shameless corporate greed, and your customers are too smart not to notice. There is still time to fix it. Do the right thing.


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