Canon Discontinues EF Lenses and Patents Ludicrous Zooms

Canon EF 1200mm
Canon EF 1200mm LensCredit: B&H
DSLR lenses are disappearing, with Canon discontinuing all but nine EF primes. This update comes on the heels of a Canon patent featuring some incredible new zooms. 

We’ve been covering the slow death of DSLR bodies and lenses for a bit now. Sony recently pulled the plug on its A-mount, and now it seems like Canon is slowly following suit. 

Even though Canon had said it planned on making consumer-level DSLR bodies, its range of lenses for this format has been reduced. 

But as the old tech starts disappearing, the photography sleuths have uncovered some Canon patents that may blow your socks off.

Let’s dig in a bit deeper. 

EF Lenses All But Gone

While Canon has quietly discontinued many of its EF lenses over the last year, a new report by PetaPixel suggests the end might be close for Canon’s DSLR lenses altogether. 

A Japanese photographer, Kimio Tanaka, tweeted the other day and compared Canon’s offering of EF lenses between January and February 2022. 

For those that don’t speak Japanese, Twitter translated the following from Tanaka. 

“The number of interchangeable lenses for Canon single-lens reflex cameras is decreasing due to ‘rapid acceleration.' Comparing only the lineup of EF mount and single focus lenses in just one month, the number has (decreased) from 21 to 9 lenses.”

Tanaka ended the tweet with, “I'm sad as an EOS single-lens reflex user…”

So are we, bud, so are we. 

Much like Sony with its A-mount, the entire affair was handled without any fanfare, leaving the 12 discontinued EF lenses to die a quiet death. 

But rumblings of these shifts in lenses have been happening for quite some time, so this shouldn’t be news to many shooters. The writing was on the wall. 

However, that doesn’t mean that Canon has left a void in its lens lineup for its new mirrorless cameras. 

This leads us to—

Meeting Unreasonable Expectations

Canon Rumors pointed over to Keith Cooper at Northlight Images, who dug up a few Canon patents on several RF zoom lens designs. 

The consensus?

An RF mount superzoom might be just over the horizon. Something that Canon Rumors called a “mythical lens that forum posters sometimes use as an example of unreasonable expectations.”

Cooper found the following lens ranges in Canon’s US patent application:

  • 24mm f/4 – 400mm f/6.5
  • 24mm f/4 – 300mm f/5.6
  • 28mm f/4 – 500mm f/7.2
  • 33mm f/4 – 600 f/7.2

Canon RF Lens Patent
Canon RF Lens PatentCredit: US Patent and Trademark Office

But how is Canon able to meet these unreasonable expectations?

In part, possibly due to overcoming the space requirements of DSLR camera bodies. Lenses made for the now dying format were forced to sit quite a distance from the film plane or sensor. At least when compared to mirrorless cameras. 

This distance introduced engineering challenges in getting light perpendicular to the sensor. More glass had to be used to focus the light just right. 

Mirrorless cameras borrow from the foundation developed by rangefinder cameras and decrease the distance between lens and sensor. In turn, reducing those pesky engineering hurdles. 

Rangefinder Camera
Rangefinder CameraCredit: Clay Banks

Now, we’re not lens engineers ourselves, we just use them to make movies, so Canon could be using some new tricks in developing these lenses.

However, a 33-600mm zoom lens is truly a ludicrous focal range, and if Canon can pull it off, they’d have a leg up on Sony. Currently, Sony only has a 70-350mm and 200-600mm, at least according to B&H.      

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Your Comment

6 Comments

Wonder what this means for their cinema cameras moving forward.

If they aren't making any more EF lenses, I doubt the next C300, C200, C500 etc models will be EF mount. If they commit completely to RF mount it would be interesting. The C70 might have been a trial run before going all the way with the next generation.

February 13, 2022 at 8:35PM, Edited February 13, 8:35PM

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Unfortunate that the manufacturers are discontinuing the DSLR lines. But that is standard electronics industry procedure. As new tech emerges old tech is not supported for very long. Much different than the days of film when a good basic body would last for ever with proper care and maintenance.

As for the new lens patents, the 24-300 has just a slightly greater reach than the current RF 24-240 which I have and really like. My question with the other lenses is how good are they at what price? Are they going to trade image quality for price and target the consumer market who are going to buy the less expensive R body which I’ve heard is expected to sell for less than $1000?

February 14, 2022 at 11:11AM, Edited February 14, 11:11AM

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Donald Arneson
freelance photographer
74

Just as well I bought spares. But this is a bit of a shock. I thought these would go on for a lot longer.
It's not just DSLRs I use these for. I put a 20mm on my FS5 with a speedboster and get 14mm @ f2. It's for a very specific use.
This trend will only accelerate.

February 14, 2022 at 9:34PM, Edited February 14, 9:35PM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
506

Canon has more than a "leg up" on Sony.

There are millions of EF lenses around, and they will live for a long time. The houses on the other hand will have a premature death because of software limitations. The market is not getting bigger; what do other people do with their money?

February 15, 2022 at 5:06PM, Edited February 15, 5:06PM

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Agreed. EF as a mount isn't dead by any means, and I expect plenty of other companies to making them for quite awhile yet. It's pretty short-sight move IMO. I mean, an EF mount will attach from anything from today or even 30+ years ago (I've got a couple of old Canon SLR film cameras around that's what they use too).

February 17, 2022 at 1:35PM

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Douglas Bowker
Animation, Video, Motion-Graphics
385

This is very unfortunate, but not for the obvious reasons. Using an EF lens on a mirrorless R mount enables you to use behind the lens filters on cameras which do not have filter wheels. A big problem for non cinema camera users.

March 14, 2022 at 5:22PM, Edited March 14, 5:22PM

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Malcolm Matusky
Producer
162