Are Canon's EF lenses good enough for modern mirrorless cameras?

Canon EOS R6
(Image credit: Brian Worley)

It’s clear that Canon has moved on from DSLRs with a focus on mirrorless models. If you are planning on upgrading, then the best mirrorless camera (opens in new tab) is likely to be what you’ll choose, and that means a new lens mount. Don’t be too concerned, though, as the mount adapter lets you use all your existing EF and EF-S lenses on a mirrorless EOS camera. 

Many of you will look at your bag of lenses and wonder how you can afford a complete system change when, in reality, a mirrorless camera works fine with your existing lenses. RF lenses (opens in new tab) are often shorter in length, and cheaper RF options are lighter than equivalent EF lenses, but there are many more EF lenses than RF to choose from. The best Canon lenses (opens in new tab) guide has some of the best options.

When the EOS R was introduced I bought one, but kept most of my DSLR cameras, so it was good to have lenses that could be used on either system – and only EF lenses can do that.

Extension tubes allow lenses to focus closer than normal, but there are only EF versions. (Image credit: Brian Worley)

Great EF lenses, even older models, often get a new lease of life with a more capable AF system. Canon made sure that the EOS R cameras are bilingual – they communicate in EF lens and RF lens. The lens mount adapter is only a spacer and connector adapter it has no intelligence or optical elements. Some of the older lenses will restrict the max frame rate of the EOS R cameras, but they don’t limit the available AF modes and capabilities. It’s also much easier to manually focus a tilt-shift lens or macro lens with focus peaking and focus guides from the EOS R cameras than was possible using a DSLR’s viewfinder.

Checking with dealers who sell used equipment, it’s clear there’s a lot of quality EF lenses for sale at reasonable prices, so consider a used EF lens to go with your new EOS R camera. If you do choose to use RF lenses then you’ll get the modern optical tech combined with integration between the EOS R camera and lens. Plus Canon RF lenses feature image processors that work with the camera’s DIGIC processor to improve the quality of images taken. 

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Brian is a freelance photographer and photo tutor, based in Oxfordshire. He has unrivaled EOS DSLR knowledge, after working for Canon for over 15 years, and is on hand to answer all the EOS and photographic queries in Canon-centric magazine PhotoPlus (opens in new tab).

With contributions from