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Canon, wake up! Third-party lenses are photography’s lifeblood

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the war Canon is waging on third-party lenses, which is ridiculous, seeing as so many photographers rely on them in their everyday lives.

Third-party lenses; without them, I can guarantee that I would never have been able to have the career I’ve had in photography. I’m sure that this is the same for many thousands of creators out there too. Lenses from the likes of Tamron, Sigma, IRIX, Samyang/Rokinon and others paved the way for me to get my hands on high-quality optics that didn’t destroy my finances.

Third-party lenses helped me create images that simply wouldn’t have been possible without them. I owe my career to these companies and the lenses they manufacture. It’s part of the reason why I have such an affinity toward them now.

Yet, here we are in 2022, a time when photography has never been better, and we have companies out there *cough* Canon *cough*, who are actively trying to stop third-party lens manufacturers from developing lenses for their mount. Naturally, this move will have severe ramifications for Canon, and honestly, they deserve the fallout from this absolute PR cluster.

What happened?

Just in case you have no clue what I’m rambling on about when it comes to third-party lenses, I will enlighten you. Just last week, Tamron launched its first lens for Nikon’s Z mount. It was a massive day for Nikon and its fans. Third-party lens support is something we have long been calling for, so it was wonderful to see the ball rolling finally. Now, more photographers can buy quality third-party Z mount lenses at affordable prices. Overnight, the whole Nikon Z platform became much more desirable thanks to Nikon playing nice with third parties.

The next day, a report emerged on Photo Rumors that showed dialogue between a customer of Viltrox and a company spokesperson. Viltrox confirmed that Canon had told them to stop selling RF mount lenses immediately. After a bit of digging, it was revealed that Samyang RF mount lenses were also missing from multiple stores. As it turns out, Samyang had also been told to back away from Canon’s RF mount. And so, the third-party lens plot thickened.

Cease and desist

The official word from Canon suggests that Viltrox violated Canon’s RF mount patents, and that’s why the cease and desist was sent over to Viltrox HQ. This means that Viltrox reverse-engineered its RF mount lenses. Reverse engineering is nothing new, folks. It’s how most Sigma and Tamron lenses were made back in the days of the DSLR, and no camera manufacturer had a problem with it then. However, the stakes have never been higher, and profit margins have never been thinner.

Now, I understand this from Canon’s standpoint, too. Canon has worked hard on the RF mount and has undoubtedly spent a large chunk of change developing it. I am sure they see reverse engineering as a way for the company to lose money. Still, the company’s reluctance to work with third-party lens manufacturers should ring alarm bells.

The third-party lenses rabbit hole goes deep

Third-party lenses

This is not a good situation for consumers at all. This decision from Canon will ultimately lock down anyone who buys into Canon’s RF mount system to first-party lenses only. This is fine for those of you who have bottomless pockets. However, not everyone can afford Canon’s high-quality RF mount lenses.

This issue between third-party lens makers and Canon will automatically stop many photographers from buying into Canon’s system. Myself included. Sure, you can use an adapter to use old, large, heavy EF mount lenses on your mirrorless camera, but what’s the point? You buy into a new system so that you can use the new smaller, lighter, sharper lenses.

This whole issue goes much deeper than just Viltrox and Samyang, though. Sigma and Tamron have both been silent on the matter. Also, it’s incredibly odd to see Nikon getting one up on Canon when it comes to supporting third-party lenses. So, this, of course, makes the mind wander.

Is Canon simply refusing to work with third parties? Are they demanding licensing fees to develop for the platform? Who knows. However, what I do know is that the lack of third-party support for Canon RF mount cameras is alarming, and it’s putting the whole photography community on edge.

Third-party lenses are essential

Third-party lenses

I think we can all agree that third-party lenses are essential. While many photographers out there, again, myself included, use first-party lenses on our cameras, just having the option to choose a lens from the like of Tamron, Sigma, Viltrox, Samyang/Rokinon and others is nice to have. This especially rings true for those just embarking on their photographic journeys. How many wouldn’t be where you are today without third-party lens support?

The quality of third-party lenses these days is outstanding. Just ask Sony users about recent Sigma and Tamron lenses. They’ll tell you just how good the lenses are. Read our reviews, too. You’ll see that you don’t need to spend upward of $3,000 on a first-party mirrorless lens to get top results. This, I’m sure, is what scares Canon.

Third-party lenses

Is Canon so worried about the incredible quality of third-party lenses that will just stop others from playing in their yard? Do they really think alienating photographers is the best course to follow? All they need to do is look around the web at sites like ours and at opinions on Reddit and YouTube to see that they are making a grave mistake.

I hope, for everyone’s sake, that Canon wakes up and realizes that third-party lenses are the lifeblood of photography. If they don’t, they might find that the sales numbers of their cameras, which have been surging, will start to slow, and they’ll lose more ground to Sony and Nikon. We need to rally around as a photography community to ensure that Canon realizes just how crazy they’re being.

Do the right thing, Canon

Third-party lenses
Every major camera brand is embracing third-party lenses, except Canon.

By being so stubborn, Canon is doing nothing but hurting creators. Canon will turn away budding photographers, videographers, and seasoned pros to competing brands because of their insistence on maintaining a closed ecosystem.

Even Fujifilm has now seen the errors of its ways, and the photography community is better for it. So come on, Canon, do the right thing here. Embrace third-party lenses and invite more creators into the world of Canon mirrorless cameras. Everyone will be better off for it.

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Rafael Jones

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