Canon in 2023: A Mixed Bag for the EOS R System

Canon 2023 Year in Review

Canon’s EOS R system finished 2022 with a bang, with Canon introducing the excellent EOS R6 Mark II camera and RF 135mm f/1.8 L IS USM lens. The momentum carried into early 2023, with two new cameras and a pair of new lenses. After that, Canon slowed down, although some late-year announcements set the stage for a strong return to form in 2024.

Canon Launched Four New Cameras This Year

In February, Canon debuted the Canon EOS R8. This excellent full-frame camera is a great choice for many amateur photographers, and the EOS R50, an APS-C camera built for beginner photographers.

Neither the R8 or R50 are built with high-level enthusiasts or professionals in mind, and Canon’s catering to amateur photographers continued with the company’s other two camera announcements this year.

Canon 2023 Year in Review
Canon EOS R8 | Credit: Canon

In May, Canon announced the EOS R100, a compact APS-C camera with a true entry-level price under $500. Unfortunately, the camera missed the mark.

Canon also announced the PowerShot V10 camera in May. While not an EOS R-system camera, this all-in-one compact is worth mentioning because it signals Canon’s latest attempt to carve out a market share in the vlogging space. Unfortunately, it is a relatively poor camera despite its stylish design.

Canon’s cameras in 2023 offer nothing to excite advanced or pro users. As the company finally sent its EOS M-series off into the sunset, photographers have been left wanting a bit more in the EOS R system. Could the long-rumored EOS R1 finally arrive in 2024? And if so, will it sport a global shutter?

Canon Introduced Interesting RF Lenses This Year

While Canon’s cameras didn’t scratch the itch for pros, the company’s lenses sure did. But before getting to Canon’s most exciting lenses, the company announced a couple of new kit-style zoom lenses alongside the R8 and R50 cameras in February.

The Canon RF-S 55-210mm f/5-7.1 IS STM offers APS-C photographers an equivalent zoom from 88-336mm, while the RF 24-50mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM is a compact standard zoom lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras. They are decent lenses at palatable prices.

Canon 2023 Year in Review
Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM | Credit: Canon

At the other end of the spectrum is the Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens announced in April. The lens is built for professional photography and has a price to match. The lens offers more reach than the typical 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens. Canon says it is an ideal zoom for indoor sports, motorsports, fashion, video, photojournalism, and event photo and video work. This performance is not cheap, as the lens is available for $9,500.

Canon returned to the well of affordable lenses with its next optic, the RF 28mm f/2.8 pancake lens. The $299 lens is compact, lightweight, and a “good little lens,” per PetaPixel‘s review.

After an entirely silent summer, Canon returned to the news wire in October with the RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM ultra-wide-angle zoom lens. The red-ringed lens is a groundbreaking optic and the widest autofocus zoom lens of its kind. As it turns out, it’s also amazing.

That is the end of the line for Canon’s lenses in 2023. Well, sort of. Canon announced three more lenses last month, but if the a9 III doesn’t get to influence Sony’s 2023 grade, then Canon’s RF-S 10-18m f/4.5-6.3 IS STM, RF 24-105mm f/2.8 L IS USM Z, and RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM zoom lenses don’t get to make the grade for Canon either.

However, while these lenses don’t impact PetaPixel‘s grade for Canon this year, they are worth mentioning in a bit more detail since they’ll be available to Canon shooters in early 2024.

The Canon RF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM is the widest APS-C lens in the EOS R system and a welcome addition to a system lacking APS-C lenses.

Canon 2023 Year in Review
Canon RF 24-105mm f/2.8 | Credit: Canon

As for the RF 24-105mm f/2.8, it is another “first of its kind” for Canon. The world’s first 24-105mm zoom with an f/2.8 aperture, the lens will also offer Power Zoom capabilities with an optional accessory. It will surely be a smash hit for portrait, event, documentary, and photojournalism photographers and videographers.

The Canon RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 lens is built for nature, wildlife, and outdoor sports photography and is yet another example of how Canon uses the RF-mount design to develop and engineer novel mirrorless lenses.

Grading Canon’s 2023

On the camera side, the Canon EOS R50 and R100 APS-C cameras are fine, at best. The R50 is undoubtedly the better of the two, although I’d hope so, given that it costs $200 more.

The full-frame EOS R8, on the other hand, is genuinely exciting. The camera, currently on sale for $1,299, is Canon’s lightest full-frame RF-mount camera and delivers impressive performance.

Canon 2023 Year in Review
Canon EOS R100

Ignoring the PowerShot V10 since the focus here is primarily on Canon’s mirrorless cameras, the company’s 2023 cameras offer many options for the frugal photographer. Unfortunately, they’re not all great options.

While new flagship cameras are exciting and flashy, most photographers don’t shell out $4,000-plus for a new camera, and Canon’s EOS R system desperately needed new affordable camera models.

Within that context, Canon’s cameras earn the company a C-plus for the year. As lovely as the R8 is, the R100 is just as disappointing.

Even ignoring the trio of new zooms slated to arrive in a month or two, Canon hit a few home runs with its lenses this year. Alongside affordable new cameras, Canon also introduced many low-priced new lenses, including the RF 24-50mm f/4.5-6.3 and RF 28mm f/2.8, which are surprisingly good.

Canon 2023 Year in Review
Canon RF 28mm f/2.8

The Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM and RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM lenses are significantly more expensive and are unsurprisingly good. They break new ground in terms of their zoom ranges and optical designs and offer professional photographers fantastic new native RF-mount options to choose from. The RF 100-300mm f/2.8 will become popular for sports photographers and photojournalists, while the RF 10-20mm is a slam dunk for landscape shooters.

Canon 2023 Year in Review
Canon RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM

Canon’s 2023 lenses are deserving of a respectable A-minus. I like that Canon does interesting things with its lenses, even if its cameras don’t quite channel that same innovative spirit.

Overall, Canon’s 2023 was a mixed bag. Canon shooters are still desperately waiting for an EOS R5 successor that can go toe-to-toe with the Sony a7R V and a hypothetical EOS R1 that will answer the Sony a1 and Nikon Z9. However, regarding lenses this year, Canon did great work and laid the foundation for a solid start next year.

PetaPixel definitely has high expectations for Canon in 2024, but its performance in 2023 gets a B-minus.