Canon is Actively Working to Bring Third-Party Lenses to RF Mount

Canon RF Mount

Canon is well aware of the requests to see third-party lenses that are equipped with autofocus, like those made by Sigma or Tamron, on its mirrorless RF mount, and while nothing is set in stone yet, the company is in active discussions to make it a reality.

To this point, Canon has put a line in the sand that prevented third-party lens manufacturers from producing autofocus-equipped optics for the RF mount. It is so serious about protecting its intellectual property that it issued cease and desist letters to companies who were reverse-engineering the mount.

“Canon believes that these products infringe their patent and design rights and has therefore requested the company to stop all activities that infringe Canon’s intellectual property rights,” the company said in September of 2022.

Now in 2024, Canon remains the only major camera manufacturer to not allow third-party lens makers to produce fully supported lenses for its mirrorless cameras, but that might change soon. In an interview with PetaPixel at CP+ in Yokohama, Japan last week, the company’s executives stated that Canon is more open to the idea than in previous years.

Canon EOS R7

“There is a slight change from last year,” Go Tokura, Senior Managing Executive Officer and Deputy Head of the Imaging Group at Canon tells PetaPixel.

“[Since we have] launched more than 40 lenses and our product lineup has become more versatile and based on that, our communication with the third party has been seeing more progress from last year.”

When asked how much progress exactly has been made, Tokura responded, “More than 50%.”

“I know that is still ambiguous, but what I mean this is that at least we are starting the discussion,” Tokura adds.

Why Canon Has Not Thus Far Allowed Third-Party Lenses

A common question regarding third-party optics is why Canon has been so unwilling to allow companies, even reputable ones like Sigma and Tamron, to make optics for its RF mount. When asked, Tokura provided an unexpectedly honest answer: it’s just business.

“So basically, the reason why we have not been collaborating or partnering with a third party is because of our business strategy. Our business strategy says that we are not going to partner with a third party. And the reason why we came up with that strategy is because of the business that we are doing. So our business is that if we have some technology, we try to lock them up inside of our company and try to make a profit out of that. That’s the basis of our business,” Tokura says.

“And I think this is not just limited to Canon, but the other companies as well. But it’s been six years since we launched RF and we have come up with quite enough product lineups for the body and over 40 lenses. And so the business environment has changed around RF. And so based on that, we have considered expanding our new horizon to this business as a strategy. So that’s the reason why we started discussion with the third party list manufacturers.”

Canon R5 C

Photographers might not like hearing that Canon made its decisions based purely on what would be best for its business, but it does make sense from that perspective. As a market leader, Canon did not feel the need to look outside its walls to encourage photographers to buy into the RF mount — the company’s cameras are among the best-selling globally and Canon currently says its the number one mirrorless option in the United States. There is no need for it to try and entice photographers to RF through broad support for more third-party lenses when it is already popular.

Still, Canon understands that additional choice for optics is important to photographers which is why it is currently in discussions to open the RF mount. While that doesn’t mean Sigma or Tamron lenses will be released for Canon’s mirrorless cameras in the very near term, there is reason to be hopeful it could start within the next couple of years.

Image credits: Canon