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Tuesday, 14 July 2020


I think a critical difference between the FD-EF transition and a projected EF-RF transition is that in the latter, all one's existing EF lenses continue to work on the new body with native functionality via adaptor.

Regarding pricing, I'm wondering if the inevitable cratering of R/RP prices, both new and used, is not a planned side effect of the R5/R6 launch, which will increase market share of the RF mount.

I'm certain there's no market for this, but I'll bet that if Canon (or another full frame system) produced a constant f8 (yes, f8) standard zoom lens (say 24-70-ish) they could do so and make it incredibly compact and give it superb sharpness (or whatever technical term is correct) across the whole frame and probably make it relatively inexpensive to purchase. But, who in their right mind would want a constant f/8 lens? Landscape photographers. Travel photographers who are comfortable also carrying a small fast prime lens for really low light. Anyone who actually wants more depth of field, not less, and is comfortable with higher ISOs--or, if the subject isn't moving, lower ISOs and stabilization.

As for Fuji, I've loved the system, but ultimately moved on to M43 simply because M43 offers an exceptional zoom lens in a tiny package--Oly 12-45 f4. In my experience (and I've had nearly all the Fuji zooms at one time or another), Fuji doesn't offer anything of comparable optical quality that small.

Hasn't everyone who went from DSLR to FFM changed lens mounts?
The shorter Back focus requires different native lenses, and mounting of the legacy lenses via an adapter.
In Canon's case there is a choice of Adapters, some of which ADD functionality to older lenses via the control ring.
You are correct that the FF lenses from anyone are not small in any absolute sense. But generally they are very good.
If size is your top priority, smaller sensor cameras work better for that.
I'm not so sure you are being realistic about price.
I think the 5D mk 4 came out at $3399 or there about, and sold very well. It's cheaper now but still not where you propose for the R5.
They already made the RP around 1k, that Mr Tanaka raved about.
The R5 will come down a bit too, like everyone else's cameras.

I think they did a good job. We still have to see that they perform in the real world, but if they perform as advertised, they will sell.
Nikon & Sony will be next, I'm sure they'll be good too, maybe better.
We'll see. You seem really negative about this one, Im not sure what you expected from Canon.

Agreed. Canon, Nikon and Sony seem to be largely neglecting APS/C, not many bodies and especially few smaller high quality lenses. I guess they are just ceding the territory to Fuji.

Canon could cause such a splash in the sports/action and wildlife world with a sealed sports M body and a couple of weatherproof M-line lenses.

This post pressed several of my hot buttons, but I won't get into what I think are somewhat wrong-headed economic observations.

Canon's pricing is Canon's own problem, but it does seem to me that the R cameras are more or less parallel to the Nikon Zs, and you can buy the lower-resolution Z6 (which is the one most people seem to like) for about $1800 body only. Canon may get there after people are finished being astonished by the ISIS claims and go back to being bored.

I understand that there are some legitimate reasons for large fast expensive high-quality lenses, but I really don't think that's what most reasonable people want or need. I think I'm about to dump my Nikon Z because Nikon refuses to bring out an f4 long zoom, the ordinary everyday go-to 70-200. Instead, they offer only an f2.8, and is as big as the old F-mount f2.8: a bazooka.

I think these companies are making what they hope to sell, rather than what they can, and they'll pay for it in the long run. A Z system (and an R system) needs compact zooms, and if you're inclined to whine about shallow depth of field, buy a fast prime for whatever your particular need is. But given the weight/speed/price tradeoffs, I think a very large portion of Z system users would take a slower, high-quality zoom. IMHO.

Okay, one observation on wrong-headed economics: Honda Accords sales are faltering not because they're in some middle-priced desert, but because they're sedans. Car companies are abandoning sedans, because equally-priced Swiss-Army Knife compact SUVs are eating the sedans' lunches, and you can buy those cars across all price ranges.

Makes sense that as the middle class declines, the market for middle-class products does, too. I've watched this in the car market, where makers pack more excess capability into a few prestigious products while common consumers, caring nothing for 500 horsepower, ask only that cars link well with their phones.

Guess where else this bifurcation of the market is occurring? Our dogs. I'm soon to be needing a new pet, and beginning to check out my options. Finding a mid-sized, reasonably priced puppy is much harder than the last time I looked, 15 years ago. Shelters are bare, except for an endless number of pitbulls, a few giant huskies and an armful of chihuauas. I'm sorry for those unwanted animals, but they're not what I want, either. Fairly common breeds I've enjoyed before, such as Keeshounds and American Eskimo Spitz, are sold out at pro breeders. When I can find one, they will cost several grand and probably require a trip out of state. Mutts? Forget about it, unless you want an unknown share of pit with that.

Today, dogs are weapons, and dogs are jewelry. Where have those fluffy, sturdy, friendly pets gone?

That "middle-marching drummer" you speak of (Fuji) is a critical part of my remaining photography days and is the reason I want to find a "tiny" 26MP body like an XT-30 to be a sensible companion to my new FFM monster Panasonic S1R. While I have - at the moment - the huge & heavy 24-70 F2.8 lens with it, it's simply unreasonable to carry the combo any distance beyond a few miles, so the big rig will have to hand off to the Fuji for all day affairs. So I agree whole heartedly with you that I hope they stay alive & strong. I'm sure Canon, Nikon, Sony, and now Panasonic too, would love to kill 'em off!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm happy I joined the FFM world, but even if I was 27 I wouldn't want the physical aspects of that world to be all that was available to me. Thankfully, Sigma has shown it is possible to produce a very nice sized FFM optic in their "contemporary" 45mm F2.8, which I bought too. If they produce some wider angle companions to that lens, the big 24-70 will be gone!

Regarding pricing of the new FFM cameras & lenses, they are all crazy. My camera was purchased in mint condition for 60% of list. Let the rich buy first and be a good vulture a short time later!

The camera market seems to be in a death spiral. Competition drives research and development. Costs are spread over fewer units. Prices go up. Sales decline further because fewer people can afford the product. Rinse and repeat.

Comparing Leica's manual focus 35 to Zeiss' electrical focus, autofocus 35 is kinda fun, but take a look at the size of Olympus' electrical focus, autofocus 60 macro (still quite useful for E-Bay product shots). Since it is 120 mm-eff, I put a real 120 mm FF macro lens alongside for comparison. That naval cannon is a Leica S APO-Macro 120, mounted on a svelte SL2. See https://flic.kr/p/2jmj7sG .

But I took the picture with a much more sensible rig, a Leica CL with its 60 mm (90 mm-eff) macro lens. Here's a comparison of the CL and macro with the Olympus Pen and macro:
https://flic.kr/p/2jmj7FY . APS-C really cuts things down in size. Using the big 120 for the second picture required hoisting a bigger load, but I could take it handheld at 1/10 sec. IBIS and OIS are great! N.B., the little Olympus 16 MPx series all have excellent IBIS, too. I'm hanging onto those.

As you may be aware, I'm with you on compactness. I have always loved compact gear, for forty years now. My first two serious cameras were a Konica TC ("Terribly Compact", I think) and Pentax ME Super.

And yes, unlike the old days, nobody needs 1.4 lenses for the same of the light now.


The compact Leica Summilux-M 35 f1.4 you linked retails for only $5895. (The goat scrotum leather carrying bag is extra.) The objectively better performing Leica SL 35 APO Summicron f2 (Peter Karbe told Hugh Brownstone that it’s his best performer ever) is huge by comparison, and retails for $800 less than the relatively diminutive M sibling. Either lens can be used on the L mount cameras; the M lens with adapter. The SL lenses could have been smaller, but Leica decided to create production economies by standardizing the barrel size and some internal elements across their range of SL Summicrons. The extra space for what otherwise could have been a smaller SL 35, says Karbe, allowed him to extract the ultimate performance (smaller size means more more design obstacles and higher costs for similar performance). Autofocus also certainly adds to the SL lens size compared to the manual focusing M lenses, which also need to be smallish to avoid VF blockage. The SL competitive market is also robust, unlike for the RF based M, which has little or no competition or price constraints. Lots of factors to consider when determining lens size, including internal product line distinctions to avoid cannibalizing sales.

I've heard film sales are through the roof. Could that be a response to the insane prices camera makers are asking for new FFM cameras? A nice Nikon FM3A and a couple of lenses and a fridge full of film for way less than a new R5 and a decent lens on the new mount. You do the math...

Am I the only person who thinks of half dressed boys waving fans over the evil queen in some cheesy historical drama when I hear that term?

The entire DSLR group is a dead man walking, not just the mounts. The new mounts give Canon and especially Nikon new and significantly better option in lens design. The new lenses that will come over the next years will (already are) better than they have ever been.

But thats not to say DSLR and their mounts won't be around for the rest of our lives, just like a small numer of people still shoot view cameras with film, it will be a minority within 5 years.

if these new Canon cameras are intended for the professional market (are they?) then their prices are less relevant, as the cost becomes a business expense. But I take your point completely about the hi-fi gear (and many other consumer items).

Who wants to buy another digital camera? The Canon 5D III or IV work fine if you shoot Canon. These aren't any smaller when you add the bazooka lenses.

You know what I would buy new? A Pentax LX, Rolleiflex 2.8, or Bessa 667.

Digital cameras just get old.

Well, first I cannot understand the emphasis placed on weight. I'm 67 and hauling around my Canon5DsR and a 24-70 plus a 12-24 plus a 70-200 is not a significant burden. And I'm not in great shape. Secondly, you should try to understand the "perceived value theorem". This states that the higher the price, the more value people place on an item. It is a well researched idea and should always be incorporated in any purchase.

In he mirrorless marketplace the word compact "compact" seems to have taken a marketing-double-speak meaning of "dense" (as in, large and heavy but compacted) in contradistinction to "small" and "lightweight".

Sums all that up nicely


Thom Hogan: "My initial take is this: Canon got the relaunch of RF mostly right.The camera market is a game of leap frog, and because lenses establish some form of lock-in, it's always played for the long term.

That's where we are today: Frog C leaped. Both Frog N and Frog S seem to tightening their leg muscles. I think we'll see some more leaps."

Hi Mike. Great article. As we're on 'size matters' matters, so to speak: https://j.mp/2AYv1kn
The reason for the comparison - I just got a great deal on a Canon 35mm IS F2 EF lens. It produces stunning performance on my 5D MKIV and with the critically important stabilization. The perfect 'walk around' lens? But can I really walk around all day with it? Tried it on a forest walk last weekend and nope. Apart from anything else, the possibility of smashing the camera and lens into something when casually hauling it around the woods or hills is great.

Oddly enough one of the strengths of the Sony mirrorless system is the availability of small lenses for the E mount from third party manufacturers. There are (comparatively) tiny manual focus lenses from the usual suspects Zeiss and Voigtlander, and also new comer Venus optics. Tamron has a line of small auto-focus lenses for the E mount too, including a trio of small f2.8 zooms.

While Sony is concentrating its lens design efforts on the Otus inspired trend of size no object lenses to compete with the Sigma Arts, it has intelligently shared its mount with third parties. Anyone without a closet full of legacy canikon glass will find it hard to justify acquiring R or Z mount cameras.

Canon have EOS-M for you, Mike. Seriously. You might as well rail against Fuji's GFX range: irrelevant to your priorities.

A lovely 32 MP EOS M6 for under $1000, just add a quality 35mm-e ƒ/2 pancake for $250, and sweet ƒ/1.4 AF primes equating to 50mm-e and 90mm-e in the 250g and $400-500 range.

What's wrong with that? How is Fuji the only one in the space you approve?


The Canon RF mount lenses are, on average, about 35% more expensive than the EF equivalent.

For example the 70-200 f2.8 and 85mm f1.2.

So it is clear that Canon are trying to increase margins across the roadmap from DSLR to mirrorless. Unfortunately for them, their 'R' converter works flawlessly from my experiences!

Mike - calling the new 85mm f/2 lens compact has some merit - by today's standards. I recall looking at a lineup of fast Sigma primes sitting in a display case a couple of years ago, and was shocked at the size of those behemoths. The days of the petite f/1.8 primes found on SLRs in the 1970s and 1980s are definitely long gone. Some of the reasons for this likely have to do with the more telecentric lens designs needed to maximize image quality on digital sensors. Others might have to do with motors needed to focus and control the aperture. But the small maximum aperture being found on the long end of a lot of zooms is one way to bring down the size of lenses as well, especially long-tele zooms. I suppose that sits nicely with equivalence freaks who maintain that the f/2 aperture on a m43s camera is really f/5.6 (or whatever) compared to an FF camera. I mean, why buy a fast lens for a small sensor when you can just buy that f/8 or f/11 lens for the "FF camera that you know you really want"? ;-)

Hi Mike

I'm totally confused by this desire for larger and larger optics for hand held photography. On another site, here's been a lot of waxing lyrical about the new Pentax DFA* 85mm f1.4, which is huge but add the essential lens hood and it looks like a bazooka. Some of the purchasers have posted 3/4 length portraits taken at f1.4, where the near eye is sharp enough to see the bloodshot but due to shallow depth of field, even its eyebrow is out of focus let alone the further eye. A second shot had the near eye out of focus but only half of the distant eye in focus. IMHO such extreme shallow depth of field
makes the lens unfit for purpose as a portrait lens at f1.4, although it was nice at f4 and smaller but I don't understand the point of designing such a large lens with such a fast maximum aperture if the laws of physics make it unfit for purpose and if the lens is only going to be used at f4 and smaller, why not make the maximum aperture f2.8, still keeping the sharpness but dispensing with all the extra glass and weight? I really don't understand it? The only explanations I can think of to justify it, is an obsession with big is better and bokeh mania pushed to the extreme. perhaps somebody else could explain the reasoning behind this large aperture philosophy? Please.

That Yamaha tweaked my nostalgia. I had a Yamaha receiver from around 1970 which gave good service for many years. It had the same look and the same well-designed controls. Well done Yamaha for not changing a good thing.

Your statement about the illogic of emphasizing fast optics for already fast sensors makes so much sense Mike. One of the poignant aspects of the passing of Olympus is the fact that just six months ago they released a zoom with precisely the design philosophy you describe. It’s a beautiful, tiny, well built zoom, 12-45mm, with a slow f/4 constant aperture. Judging by the reviews it’s so small and sharp it’s like having a variable prime.

I’m a die hard Olympus user and lament their passing. The folks at Olympus just think differently than at the Canikon juggernauts.

In my opinion they are very overpriced. It is cheaper to make a mirrorless camera. To state the obvious - no mirror mechanism, no focusing array and no mechanical adjustments necessary to the non existent assemblies. So why so expensive? I think Canon are aiming these cameras at existing Canon users at least initially, who have been waiting a long time for a good mirrorless option. I assume that there is an adapter available for EF mount lenses. Otherwise I can't see what they offer over Sony or Nikon other than that 8 stops of IBIS. Which I admit is outstanding if true.

I'm with you on the question of why we are offered big, heavy lenses for what should be compact systems. That was part of what put me off Olympus a year back. Their Pro lenses were good, but MASSIVE. (The other part that put me off was the over-the-top complex menus.)

So I moved to the Leica CL – a simple interface for my simple mind. The three zooms that Leica makes are a bit on the expensive side, and have a minimum spec in terms of max aperture, and zoom range. So, just not lust-worthy for many folks. However, I find that they take advantage of the ISO capabilities of the CL very well, and are of very high optical & mechanical quality. So all in all, I am very happy with my move from Olympus. I also really like the look of the Sigma series of 'Contemporary' APS lenses that are now on offer for the CL: 16, 30, and 56mm all at f/1.4. Can't wait to try them out.

The cheaper Yamaha integrated amp does not appear rated to drive 4 ohm speakers. A more important omission than the illuminated meters for my purposes since I have 4 ohm bookshelves.

I really don't have much to contribute to this conversation, but I don't think we can shut down the economy and mail out free money by the bucket load and not expect to see rampant inflation. Your view of the value of money is recent history. It's gone. Over. In the past. Welcome to 2020.

My lens is bigger than yours, my camera is bigger than yours. More expensive than yours? Well of course because my system is better than yours.

$900 for an amp, and that is the low end! I for one, cannot imagine paying in the neighborhood of 2% of an average annual income for a part of a sound system. And that is the low-end line!

But then, I have tin-ear syndrome. I consistently get 1/5 right on the Tidal should I get hifi streaming or not test, and that with $100-ish headphones.

[Well, in fairness, $900 is at the high end of the low end. The low end lineup starts with the A-S301 at $349, which is certainly reasonable. --Mike]

Regarding lenses, I must point out that Sony has introduced compact high performance lenses (55/1.8, 35/2.8), continues to do so (35/1.8) and has recently come out with 24/1.4 and 20/1.8 that are compact compared to the competition with similar apertures and performance levels. Zeiss and Samyang also have some compact lenses in their selection. So it's not all huge lenses despite some perposterously sized examples.

On the trend to slower lenses, I find that there's also a technical reason why I myself has moved to that direction. Namely, modern lenses tend to have higher contrast and MTFs than older lenses, leading to looks where the focal plane is more distinctly defined than previous (ever try to focus a 1970s f1.2 lens on a modern camera? it's not easy to say where exactly the focus plane is). Combine this effect with higher resolutions than previously and the somewhat unsharp areas become more distinct in the resulting image, something that I often find undesirable when the interesting parts of an image do not lie in a single plane.

With older equipment, f1.4 was soft, the image grainy and the achievable resolution and rendering of detail rather low, which meant that the difference between in focus and slightly out of focus became less obvious.

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