The announcement fell and it’s now official: Canon has released an APS-C RF mount camera. In fact, it released not just one – but two – in the form of the R7 and R10. This might sound odd, considering Sony and Nikon have had APS-C models for a while, but it’s a big deal because Canon already has the EF-M mount and EOS M APS-C mirrorless range. This begs the question: is Canon about to abandon the EOS M range?
Panasonic and Olympus ushered in the new era of mirrorless cameras with the formation of the Micro Four Thirds Consortium and the release of the Panasonic G1. It was a bold move that curiously had its origins in Olympus’ failure to take the original OM film to digital. This failure led him to rethink what a modern digital camera should be, launching the Four Thirds E-1 in 2003.
The camera was a professional model aimed at journalists and sports shooters but, for various reasons, never took off. Fast forward to 2008, and Micro Four Thirds is the same system but without the mirror box. It replaced the optical viewfinder with an electronic viewfinder (or rear screen), and in doing so simplified the physical design by allowing the mirror housing and pentaprism to be removed.
While that might make sense to us in hindsight, it was state-of-the-art at the time and the impact can’t be overstated, as every manufacturer released a new mirrorless system (and Pentax released two !), each with its own version. what the mirrorless should be.
Canon EOS M range and EF-M mount
Canon was quick to join the mirrorless party, following Sony (2010), Nikon (2011) and Fuji (2012) with the release of the EOS M in 2012. Like Sony and Fuji, it equipped its camera shot from an APS-C sensor (crop factor of 1.5) to achieve a pleasing combination of image quality and camera size. This contrasts with Nikon using a CX sensor (2.7 crop factor) which might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but limited image quality and depth of field.
That said, what Nikon and Canon had in common was their approach to mirrorless: these were considered consumer products and there was never any intention for a mirrorless camera to be aimed at professionals. in activity. The thinking behind this strategic decision was twofold. First, the technological underpinnings of mirrorless cameras were solid, but their implementation was flawed. Relatively poor contrast-based autofocus systems and limited battery life meant they weren’t ready for prime time.
Second, DSLRs were making a lot of money! They peaked in shipping value in 2012 and became the largest camera segment in 2013. Why introduce a camera system that would cannibalize your lucrative DSLR sales, while underperforming?
Then that all changed when Sony introduced the full-frame a7 in 2013; suddenly those bulky DSLRs seemed like yesterday’s technology, and while they weren’t flawless, the future was clear to see.
This all brings us back to the EOS M range and the two main issues with transitioning to a full-frame mirrorless system. First, the mount has similar specs to the Sony E mount and was designed for an APS-C sensor. Although you can fit a full-frame sensor inside – and Sony has – it has technical limitations compared to specially designed full-frame mounts, which are both the Canon RF mount and the Z mount. Nikon.
If Canon were to produce a full-frame mirrorless camera system to replace its DSLRs, it wouldn’t be following the path taken by Sony, but starting from scratch to produce something that’s both top-notch and built to last a long time. . Second, the existing range of lenses for EF-M was extremely small and still only has eight. Starting over with a new mount made a lot more sense.
Enter the RF Mount
One wonders when Canon decided to develop the RF mount, but probably around 2015 after seeing the success of the a7. Nikon and Canon faced a dilemma: they both had APS-C and full-frame DSLRs, as well as separate, consumer-oriented mirrorless systems. What form should their new professional mirrorless systems take?
Sony had already taken the leap with APS-C and full-frame models, with lens systems designed for each sensor size and fully interchangeable. It was a flexible system that consumers appreciated. Nikon is following suit by implementing a “ground zero” solution. It has already discontinued its mirrorless 1 system and made it clear that it is almost abandoning its DSLR offerings. It’s the Z system all the way, offering ASP-C and full-frame offerings, again all fully interchangeable. In fact, the company made its intent clear from the start, launching its first Z system cameras in 2018 (the Z6 and Z7), following them in 2019 with the APS-C Z50.
Meanwhile, Canon has stuck firmly to a full-frame-only mantra and it took until 2021 for APS-C rumors to emerge, with cameras arriving in 2022. The well-specified R7 impressed us at PetaPixel, while the R10 is a budget – friendly powerhouse.
Both are capable of taking full-frame lenses, although it would appear – in addition to the 18-150mm – that specific APS-C models are on the way. Although Canon has beefed up the RF lens lineup considerably, they don’t necessarily make much sense for these newer APS-C cameras for reasons of price, size/weight or focal length.
What future APS-C?
In light of this history of Canon’s involvement in mirrorless cameras, it’s natural to wonder what the company now plans to do with its EOS, EOS M and RF APS-C cameras. That’s a lot of APS-C cameras and lenses to keep selling and developing. Dealing with the second point first… it would seem likely that there will be no further development of the EOS or EOS M lines. producing for willing buyers is the end of the line. Nikon’s exit from the DSLR market could put an extra spin on this segment, as sales might curiously start to pick up for Canon, but that’s unlikely to lead to any new models.
That leaves the EOS M and Canon’s persistence in keeping the lineup alive, even though the four-camera lineup was last refreshed with the M50 Mark II in 2020. One reason for this may Be that they sell well in Japan and regularly top the BCN Sales Ranking. In this sense, they both make money and are popular in the important domestic market. Are they making enough money to keep developing them? The release of two RF mount cameras and one RF-S lens suggests not.
Canon adamantly denies that the EOS or EOS M ranges will be discontinued and that, on the face of it, seems to make economic sense. How long that will continue to be the case remains to be seen, but I’d be surprised if we saw many cameras in these ranges survive beyond 2025. That’s an RF future.