The Dead-end of Canon M Has Been Reached

Well, I've been writing this for some time: Canon's M-mount didn't make a lot of sense once the RF-mount was introduced, as the incompatibility between the two Canon mirrorless mounts didn't provide for a logical upsell or upgrade position from crop sensor to full frame. Both Nikon and Sony use the same mount (Z and E, respectively) for both their APS-C and full frame cameras, which is a much more logical and traditional approach. 

bythom canon r7+lens

With the introduction of the Canon R7 and Canon R10 and the rumored discontinuation of the M6 Mark II, the M-mount now appears to be on life support. No new M-mount lenses have appeared in a some time, though third parties have filled in some of that gap. Both the new R7 and new R10 models introduced today use Canon APS-C sensors, but with an RF lens mount up front, not an M-mount. While both cameras are more upscale and DSLR-like than the M's have been, I think it's only a matter of time before Canon works their way down to the M50 style camera in the RF mount. Again, rumors have it that the M6 Mark II has been discontinued—and the M5 disappeared long ago—and I suspect we'll see discontinuation slowly work its way downward in the M lineup until nothing is left. 

The US$1499 R7 appears to be the long-rumored 7D Mark II "replacement" (in mirrorless form). This 32.5mp camera is 30 fps (electronic shutter, 15 fps mechanical), and supports 4K/60P video, though the 60P is at line-skipped or cropped. Autofocus is dual-pixel and has similar subject recognition and tracking to the R3. The image sensor is stabilized (up to 7 stops CIPA with certain lenses) and we get an articulating Rear LCD. The camera uses two UHS-II card slots and is powered by the LP-E6NH battery. Overall, the R7 body is not particularly downsized from the full frame R sizes, though it does lose some modest breadth, height, and weight from the full frame models. Once again Canon is playing with ergonomics, though, with a large thumbwheel now appearing at the top of the rear.

Meanwhile, the US$979 R10 is the new RF entry-level camera, sporting a 24mp dual-pixel image sensor that supports 4K/30P video normally, or 60P with a 1.56x crop, and a maximum of 23 fps (electronic shutter; 15 fps mechanical). The focus system is basically the same as on the R7, again derived from the R3 advances. One UHS-II card slot, and the R10 uses the LP-E17 battery. The R10 body is more downsized and lighter than the existing R bodies, though you might not immediately notice that from photos.

Along with the R7/R10 announcement we get two new (oddly specified) RF-S lenses: the 18-45mm f/3.5-6.3, and the 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3. I write "oddly specified" because 18mm on Canon's 1.6x APS-C format means these work out to be 29-72mm and 29-240mm effective focal lengths. In other words, neither of the new kit lenses give you very much of a wide angle, a trait that Canon's been getting away with for some time in their video and crop sensor lineups, but now one that appears headed towards formalization (the M lineup has a 15-45mm lens, which would be 24-72mm effective ;~). Even the recent RF-mount 16mm f/2.8 STM doesn't quite get you to 24mm effective on the new cameras.

Canon, of course, says that APS-C cameras in the M-line and DSLR line will continue, but one naturally wonders how much lifespan those models have. The news here is that the R7/R10 trump all those models in (1) video capability, (2) focus performance, and (3) frame rate (and for many, buffer). The DSLR-styling of the new models makes the Sony A6### models look as oddball as they are in ergonomics. 

What's missing, of course, is lens choice. Sure, you can mount full frame RF lenses on the R7 and R10, and you can mount old EF lenses via an adapter. But in terms of compelling APS-C lenses, Canon is starting with...well, two not overly compelling kit lenses. This has been my complaint about Canon's APS-C efforts since the beginning: lens choice has been minimal and not particularly engaging. The R7 and R10 are now up against Fujifilm's complete lens lineup as well as Sony's about-to-grow lineup. At least the two new EF-S bodies seem reasonably compelling, but exactly what do you want to stick on the front? Yikes the EF-S line looks lean. Even when I consider regular RF lenses I only find three more that "feel" right for the new bodies.

That said, I'm sure that the R7 and R10 will do well. Against Nikon's Z50 the R10 looks better, though the Z50's lenses look better. Against Sony's A6###, Canon can now claim to have caught up (and perhaps passed) the tech giant in most ways, though again the lens situation needs a lot of work. Against Fujifilm...let's wait until next week before we tackle that question, as Fujifilm is about to make their own APS-C announcements. 

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