Canon confirms 3rd party RF mount lenses allowed on case-by-case basis

Aug 18, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Canon confirms 3rd party RF mount lenses allowed on case-by-case basis

Aug 18, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Well, this might be a little bit of good news. It seems that Canon is easing up on its position regarding 3rd party manufacturers making RF mount lenses. Don’t get too excited just yet, it’s not a free for all.

Canon has said in a recent interview, however, that they’re going to be considering 3rd party lenses on a case-by-case basis. It seems that Canon is taking a similar position to Nikon.

Canon does a 180 (sort of)

Canon’s previous position was “Nope!” whenever it came to the idea of 3rd party lenses for the RF mount mirrorless system. Suspicions began when Samyang’s RF autofocus lenses suddenly seemed to quietly disappear in 2021.

The following year, Viltrox told a customer that Canon had ordered them to stop selling their Viltrox branded autofocus RF mount lenses. This was later confirmed when Canon Germany issued a statement citing patent infringement.

Since then, it appears that the door’s been mostly closed to third-party manufacturers. Although Canon has been quietly mentioning one or two new or upcoming RF mount lens announcements from third-party manufacturers over the last couple of months.

This is the first time, however, we’ve seen official word from Canon that their position has changed since the incident with Viltrox and the public backlash they received in return. It’s not much of a surprise. That decision last year steered a lot of people away from Canon as a brand for future camera consideration.

Canon is opening up RF mount

In a transcript of an interview published on Weibo, Canon executives spoke about a number of topics. The interview’s conclusion – at least, the snippet that was posted – they were asked about third-party RF mount lenses.

In short, the company says that they have worked to license the RF mount to some third-party manufacturers already. This doesn’t mean it’s open season and anybody can do it. They also say these things are judged on a case-by-case basis.

Canon has also opened the RF bayonet to third-party lens manufacturers through licensing. Now if we receive a request from a third-party lens company to open the mount, we will study whether to license it according to Canon’s own business planning and strategy.

Kazuka Yonei, Canon

He iterated that Canon seems determined to complete its own lineup of native RF mount lenses, although it seems Canon is a little more open than they have been in the past.

They’re still in charge, though

Canon still, obviously, holds all the keys (and patents). They get to decide which companies get to make lenses that talk to their cameras. They also get to decide which lenses those companies get to make for their cameras.

So, it’s entirely possible that Canon could just turn around and go back to their “Nope!” default position whenever somebody asks. However, I think that would be a silly move.

I’m choosing to see this as a potential positive rather than just a short-term marketing stunt that’ll quietly blow over in the hopes that people forget. Because if it’s the latter… Canon can’t think people are that dumb, surely?

You can read more of the interview on Weibo.

[via Canon Rumors]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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