Both Nikon and Sony have APS-C formats for their mirrorless mounts, so why hasn’t Canon followed suit? Many have speculated over whether an RF APS-C camera is in the pipeline, and Canon’s forthcoming lens might be the best evidence to date.
At its online presentation on September 14, rumors strongly suggest that Canon is planning to announce two new lenses alongside the much-anticipated EOS R3. The first is an RF 100-400mm IS USM telephoto with what is now believed to be a variable aperture of f/5.6-8. Canon Rumors reports that this lens will go on sale at $649.
What’s more interesting is the other lens that is likely to be unveiled: a 16mm f/2.8 STM. Thought to be compact in form, images have now emerged after, it is claimed, Amazon inadvertently posted the product page a week early. The other intriguing piece of news is the price: $299.99.
Compact glass for entry-level cameras are typically kit lenses with a fairly average zoom range and an uninspiring variable aperture that keeps down both the price and the size. What’s more unusual is a compact prime, and for a full frame sensor, 16mm would be particularly strange. Such a lens would offer a huge amount of width and would be out of place alongside the other affordable (relatively speaking) primes currently available for RF cameras: the 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM ($499), the 50mm f/1.8 STM ($199), and the 85mm f/2 IS Macro STM ($599). A 24mm prime lens would seem a far more logical option.So, why a 16mm lens? Speculation over Canon’s plans for APS-C and its mirrorless cameras have been rife even before the RF mount was announced. Sony already has its extensive range of crop-sensor cameras, and Nikon introduced its own APS-C bodies once a couple of its full frame mirrorless cameras were established on the market. APS-C offers slightly more compact bodies and a lower price point, which can be a useful means of drawing first-time buyers to the brand and locking them into an eco-system.
Without going over too much old ground, here is the source of the confusion: firstly, Canon’s M mount system doesn’t seem to have a future, but it’s still hugely popular in Asia. Would Canon introduce a second APS-C mount to add to the existing buyer confusion? Secondly, Canon is thought to be preparing an entry-level full frame camera that will be priced at less than $800, making APS-C seem pointless. Just to add another complication, some wonder if Sony might phase out its APS-C cameras, pointing to the a7C as evidence that the a6x00 line could become redundant. Does APS-C have a place given that sensors are cheaper and cameras are getting smaller regardless?
This 16mm f/2.8 prime lens is another curveball. If it were an "L" lens with a price tag to match, it would make a little more sense, but being so compact and with such a low price, it’s more confusing. Do landscape photographers or astrophotographers want a low-cost wide-angle prime?
A 16mm with an APS-C camera might be more likely. A crop factor of 1.6x would give the full frame equivalent of a 25.6mm lens — a decent walkaround focal length that would be a good option for travel. So, is Canon building up to launching an APS-C camera? Certainly, nothing in the rumor mills is hinting that a crop-sensor body is in the pipeline, but it’s hard to see how else this 16mm lens would otherwise fit into the current RF lineup.
Nikon’s recent success with the Z fc might nudge Canon further towards an RF mount APS-C camera. If Nikon is grabbing young customers — customers who evolve into wealthy prosumers — with a compact, retro-styled camera available in a selection of colors, it’s not inconceivable that Canon would come up with something of its own.
What do you think Canon’s 16mm f/2.8 lens means? Let us know in the comments below.