The announcement has officially been made: Canon has released an APS-C RF-mount camera. In fact, it released not just one – but two – in the form of R7 and R10. It seems strange, since Sony and Nikon have had APS-C models for a while, but this is a big deal because Canon already has the EF-M mount and the EOS M APS-C line of mirrorless cameras. This begs the question, is Canon about to phase out the EOS M series?
Panasonic and Olympus ushered in a new era of mirrorless cameras with the formation of the Micro Four Thirds corporation and the introduction of the Panasonic G1. It was a bold move that was strangely rooted in Olympus’ failure to convert the original OM film to digital. This failure caused it to rethink what a modern digital camera is, when it released the Four Thirds E-1 in 2003.
The camera was a pro model targeted at journalists and sports shooters, but for a variety of reasons, it never worked. 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 monitor) and in doing so, simplified the physical design by allowing for the elimination of the mirror box and pentaprism.
While this may seem reasonable to us with the benefit of hindsight, it was a leader in technology at the time and its impact cannot be overstated, because every manufacturer released a new mirrorless system (and Pentax released two!), each with their own twist of what mirrorless should be.
Canon EOS M Line and EF-M Mount
Canon was hardly 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 equips my camera with an APS-C sensor (crop factor 1.5) for a satisfying combination of image quality and camera size. This was in contrast to Nikon’s use of a CX sensor (crop factor 2.7) which seemed like a good idea at the time but posed limitations on image quality and depth of field.
That said, what both Nikon and Canon have in common is their approach to mirrorless cameras: these are considered consumer products and it was never intended that mirrorless cameras would is targeted at working professionals. The thinking behind this strategic decision is twofold. First, the technological underpinnings of mirrorless cameras is sound, but their implementation is flawed. Relatively poor contrast-based autofocus systems and limited battery life mean they’re not ready for official time.
Second, DSLRs are making great money! They peaked in terms of shipment value in 2012 and became the largest camera segment in 2013. Why introduce a camera system that can eat away at your lucrative DSLR sales, while also performing. worse?
Then that all changed when Sony introduced the full-frame a7 in 2013; suddenly those clunky DSLRs seem like yesterday’s technology and – though not perfect – the future is clear to see.
All of this brings us back to the EOS M series and the two main issues in the transition to a full-frame mirrorless system. Firstly, the mount has similar specs to Sony’s E-mount and is designed for APS-C sensors. While you can squeeze a full-frame sensor inside – and Sony has done so – it has technical limitations compared to mounts specifically designed for full-frame, both Canon and Nikon Z-mount RF mounts.
If Canon is going to produce a full-frame mirrorless camera system to replace its DSLR cameras, it will not follow the path that Sony has taken, but start from the ground up to produce something that fits. The best are just designed to last. . Second, the existing line of lenses for the EF-M has disappeared very little and remains at just eight. Starting over with a new mount makes much more sense.
It may be time for Canon to decide to develop the RF mount, but probably around 2015 after seeing the success of the a7. Nikon and Canon face a dilemma: they both have APS-C and full-frame DSLRs, alongside separate, consumer-oriented mirrorless systems. What form should their new professional mirrorless systems take?
Sony has stepped in with APS-C and full-frame models, with lens systems designed for each sensor size completely interchangeable. It creates a flexible system that consumers enjoy. Nikon is following suit, implementing a “no basis” solution. It ditched its mirrorless System 1 and has made it clear it’s all about giving up its DSLR offerings. It’s a full Z system, with ASP-C and full-frame services, again, all fully interchangeable. In fact, the company made its intentions clear very early on, releasing its first Z-system cameras in 2018 (Z6 and Z7), followed by 2019 with the APS-C Z50.
Meanwhile, Canon is steadfast in its full-frame-only mantra, and it wasn’t until 2021 that rumors of APS-C surfaced, with the cameras due to launch in 2022. The clearly specified R7 caused quite a stir. impressed us at PetaPixel, while the R10 is a budget-friendly powerhouse.
Both can use full-frame lenses, though it appears – beyond the 18-150mm – specific APS-C models are in development. While Canon has significantly added the RF lens range, they don’t necessarily make sense for these new APS-C cameras for reasons of price, size/weight, or focal length.
Which APS-C in the future?
Given the history of Canon’s involvement in mirrorless cameras, it’s only natural what the company 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 growing. Tackling the second point first… it doesn’t seem like there will be an EOS or EOS M series development. In particular, the EOS DSLR line of cameras is in its final stages, and while Canon seems happy to continue production offer them to well-intentioned buyers, that’s the end of the line. Nikon’s withdrawal from the DSLR market could put another twist on the segment as sales may start to uncanny for Canon, however that is unlikely to lead to models new camera.
That has led the EOS M and Canon to persist in keeping the range going, even as the quad-camera lineup was last refreshed with the M50 Mark II in 2020. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that they sell. runs in Japan and regularly tops the BCN Sales Chart. In that sense, they both make money and gain popularity in an important domestic market. Are they making enough money to keep growing them? The release of two RF mount cameras and one RF-S lens indicates no.
Canon categorically denies that the EOS or EOS M series will be discontinued and that – at face value – seems to make economic sense. How long this is the case remains to be seen, but I’d be surprised if we see more cameras in these ranges exist beyond 2025. That’s a future of RF.