Canon in 2023: lenses the world has never seen before, and some creative cameras too

Canon RF 24-105mm f/2.8 IS USM Z lens on a Canon EOS R5
(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

All right. It’s not been a big year for Canon camera launches. But while the Canon EOS R100 uses yesterday’s tech at bargain prices, it could prove to be THE starter camera for a whole generation of photographers and Canon’s most important mass market camer for years.

But it has been a very big year for lenses. If we list all of the new RF lenses here, we’ll never get to January, never mind all the way to December.

It’s also the year when Canon said it wouldn’t ditch the EOS M series and then did, and said it would say yes or no to a new retro camera and then asked fans what film camera they would like to see revived. And at time when other camera makers are becoming more and more conservative and predictable, Canon is still doing things which are clever, unexpected and just plain weird.

So let’s get started.

January 2023

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

2023 was filled with important launches and announcements from Canon, but to kick the year off Reviews Editor Gareth Bevan looked back to the past with his review of the iconic Canon Canonet G-III QL17, with its fiddly focusing and illegal battery (today)! From premium compact to practical point and shoot, Gareth also dug out his Canon AF35ML for a 2023 re-review and found a happy snapper with a rather good lens.

Canon doesn’t just make cameras. Continuing the analog theme, Sebastian Oakley reviewed the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II, a flatbed film scanner that can also scan 25mm and 120 film. At the other end of the imaging pipeline, meanwhile, Canon announces a new imagePROGRAF TC-20 large format printer that can print up to A1+ but is designed to fit into regular home/office environments.

Camera fans don’t have to wait long for news, though, as we report that the Canon EOS R8 could arrive in February along with a new RF-S 11-22mm ultra-wide-angle lens.

February 2023

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

What’s the fastest RF mount lens you can get? It’s not a Canon. It’s the new Voigtlander NOKTON f/1.0, which is faster even than the mighty Canon RF 50mm f/1.2, though the Voigtlander is a very different sort of lens aimed at retro shooters chasing a particular ‘look’. Meanwhile, Matthew Richards posted our Canon RF 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM review, Canon’s budget RF ultra-wide optic, and a review of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM, Canon’s surprisingly affordable fast prime for the RF mount.

The big news for February 2023 was the much anticipated arrival of the Canon EOS R8, reported by Dan Mold, and Gareth’s full Canon EOS R8 review, where he praises the tech but questions some ergonomic choices. The EOS R8 is an important camera for Canon, but how does it fit in to the range? Our Canon EOS R8 vs EOS RP and EOS R8 vs EOS R6 Mark II comparisons spell out the differences.

The EOS R8 was not the only new camera in February. We also posted our Canon EOS R50 review. This is the RF mount successor to the EOS M50, and our Canon EOS R50 vs EOS M50 Mark II comparison spells out the changes.

March 2023

(Image credit: Canon)

After all the excitement of February, we wanted to catch up on what might be coming next, and it wasn’t great news for Canon EOS R5 fans as it looked as if the rumored Canon EOS R5 II might be replaced by a simple firmware update. It turned out to be not THAT simple as firmware update v1.81 brought an amazing 400MP pixel shift mode to the EOS R5. The EOS R3 got a firmware v1.40 too, enabling it to remember and prioritize up to ten faces. 

That’s not all. Canon confirms the EOS R1 will be the "most premium model”. This much-anticipated flagship model is “being worked on”. Also being worked on is Canon’s already extensive RF lens range, though the company says it won’t catch up with the EF mount until 2028. The good news (of a sort) is that Canon is not saying a blank “no” to licensing third party RF lenses, but will approve them on a case-by-case basis. We did manage to score an early hands-on review of the Canon RF 135mm f/1.8L IS USM.

Canon was also digging in over older tech in March, with the claim that DSLRs still make up a third of the market, that it is not killing off the EOS M range because it’s still in demand (yeah, right).

April 2023

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Editor James Artaius runs some tests on the new Canon EOS R5 400MP pixel shift mode, and the results are good. Mostly. It’s Canon’s first attempt at multi-shot high-res shooting and it clearly works best on a tripod and with a good lens.

And talking of good lenses, Canon announces its new RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM telephoto zoom. With that maximum aperture and a 3x zoom you can expect it to be expensive – and it is, with an expected retail price of $9,499/£11,499.99/AU$26,999. Oh, and it weighs 2.6kg.

Still on the subject of lenses, it looks as if Canon might indeed be relaxing its grip on the RF lens mount, with the announcement of the Meike 85mm f/1.4 lens, which Meike says is "approved" by Canon. This is all a bit odd as you would have thought an 85mm f/1.4 would be right in Canon’s own territory and would be a primed (ha ha – sorry) candidate to get blocked.

It’s a good month for Canon, though, as it scores 5 TIPA awards, including Best Camera Innovation (Canon EOS R3) and Best Professional 8K Hybrid Camera (Canon EOS R5C). We also review the Canon MAXIFY GX4020/GX4050/GX4060 big-tank printer, which is pricey to buy but could save you a lot on inks later.

May 2023

(Image credit: James Artaius)

As James Artaius reviews the Canon EOS R100, the new cheapest model in the EOS R line-up, the DCW pundits think this is a momentous day in camera history. James says “Canon's new camera is gonna sell like crazy” and Peter Travers, editor of Canon magazine PhotoPlus, says “I predict Canon’s R100 will be the biggest EOS camera for 20 years”. We’ll see!

This is also the month when Canon dropped the odd but engaging PowerShot V10. This pint-sized vlogging camera might be basic, but at least it’s different! This prompted us to take a look at some of Canon's more unusual cameras. Weird or wonderful? You decide. 

Otherwise, it was a month of new Canon lens reviews. We tested the Canon RF 28mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens and the cheap, tacky but strangely useful Canon RF 24-50mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM retracting kit lens, as sold with the EOS R8. Matthew Richards even found time to revisit the oddball Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM DSLR lens released a decade ago. Back in the land of mirrorless, we hear a new Canon RF 200-500mm f/4L IS USM is due later this year.

June 2023

(Image credit: Canon)

June 2023 marked a historical landmark for Canon as it reported the manufacture of 110 million cameras and 160 million EF/RF lenses to date. Canon also picked up eight IF Design Awards, six of them for imaging products including the Canon EOS R7 and Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro. We also go to hear more rumors about the upcoming Canon EOS R1, which will be like "nothing currently out there".

Back with our feet on the ground, we took a long look at the Canon EOS R100 launched last month and how it compared with Canon cameras already on the market, notably the Canon EOS R100 vs Rebel SL3, a head to head of two key entry-level Canon cameras, with the Rebel SL3 representing Canon’s DSLR heyday and its new mirrorless alternative. We also compared the specs of the Canon  EOS R100 vs R50 – with Canon now offering no fewer than four APS-C RF mount cameras, the buying decisions are growing more complicated.

July 2023

(Image credit: Asobinet)

July was pretty quiet for new product launches, but the Canon rumor mill was in full swing. We hear that the Canon EOS R5 Mark II has been spotted out in the wild, though as yet we have no definite information about this camera or its specifications – though in a further story we report that the Canon EOS R5 Mark II could hit 60MP and might offer 8K 60p video.

Beyond that, our regular trawl of patent applications revealed that Canon is working on a next-generation autofocus with a new kind of linear focusing motor, and a set of three new 85mm f/1.4, 75mm f/1.4 and 100mm f/1.4 prime lenses. Meanwhile, third-party lens maker Tamron has filed a patent for a 17-50mm f/4 RF mount lens, suggesting that Canon will at least consider licensing its RF mount to independent lens makers.

August 2023

(Image credit: Canon)

Will Canon make a retro styled RE-1 like Fujifilm’s X-series or the Nikon Zf? Asked this very question in an interview, Canon declined to say yes or no, which has led to suspicion that it might. It’s a bit of a stretch, but who knows? Canon does do some pretty quirky stuff, as we found out in our Canon PowerShot Pick and Ivy Cliq+2 review

The Canon EOS R5 replacement rumors go on (and on, and on) and now suggest there might be two new cameras. But before you get too excited, one of them could simply be an update to the EOS R5C, the R5’s more movie-focused sibling. We also hear (again) that the EOS R5 Mark II might have a 60MP sensor, that might also offer multiple resolutions like the Leica M11.

Back on terra firma, Matthew Richards reviews the spectacular Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM and Canon launches the PIXMA TS7650i and PIXMA TS7750i 3-in-1 printers with a unique twist on ink supplies – you can now buy your inks on subscription. 

September 2023

(Image credit: Peter Travers)

September brought a lot more lens chatter, with a report that Canon would open up its RF lens mount by the end of 2023, alongside with another report that as many as 10 new RF lenses would arrive over the next six months. ‘Reports’ are not the same as announcements, of course, but more like rumors which have gained added weight. If Canon wants to achieve the same number of RF lenses as its old EF mount, it’s going to have to step things up – though the RF lens range is already pretty well formed.

Canon has shown itself to be pretty bold and innovative with its RF lens designs, too, such as the insane 28-70mm f/2 or the equally insane-seeming (but for the opposite reason) RF 800mm f/11. But if you think an 800mm f/11 is too slow to be any good for anything, think again – Peter Travers’ RF 800mm f/11 telephoto tips might just change your mind.

October 2023

(Image credit: Future)

September was quiet… too quiet. October 2023 makes up for it with a larger than usual dose of Canon randomness. First of all, Canon patents a new wearable camera that looks more like a necktie. Apparently designed for industrial and maintenance workers, its snake-like neck loop is certainly… different. Canon has also patented a motorized tilt shift lens. Normally, these are adjusted with mechanical rack and pinion drives, but the use of motors could leave you with your hands free for handheld tilt-shift photography. Interesting! Canon has also shown a prototype 360 camera that can shoot 8K 30p, though it will go up against stiff and established competition from Insta360 and others.

There’s also been some backpedalling. After saying it was not going to discontinue the EOS M series, Canon quietly retires the last EOS M model to its website’s ‘discontinued’ section. And after declining to say whether it was going to make a retro camera or not, Canon has asked customers in Asia what retro film camera it should bring back.

It’s been a busy year for Canon printers too, as Matthew Richards reviews the Canon MAXIFY GX6550 with its up-front ink costs, and the Canon imageFORMULA DR-M1060II A3 scanner – A4 scanners are common, but large format scanners? No!

The biggest news of the month though is the Canon RF 10-20mm f/4L launch, as reported by Dan Mold. It’s the world’s widest rectilinear autofocus lens, and Dan follows up with a glowing hands on review.

November 2023

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

You might have missed it amidst all the Black Friday madness, but there were some important Canon lens launches in November. First off, Gareth posted his Canon RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM review. 200-800mm? That’s amazing! F9 at 800mm? Also amazing, though in a less good way. Also amazing is the new Canon RF 24-105mm f/2.8L IS USM Z. You though your 24-104mm f/4 was handy? This one is a whole f-stop faster, and the ‘Z’ describes its first hybrid design for both stills and video. (Just don’t call them ‘Z’ lenses, Canon says.) 

The 24-105mm f/2.8 is impressive but specialized, and Canon’s third lens launch in November is much more mainstream – and more important, even. The Canon RF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM is an ultra-wide zoom AT LAST for Canon’s APS-C EOS R range which, until now, boasted more cameras than lenses.

December 2023

(Image credit: Cosina)

And so we arrive at the end of the year, breathless and exhausted. But Canon is not done with us yet. Matthew Richards finds out if Canon’s baby printer is worth putting on your Christmas list in his Canon Ivy 2 Mini Photo Printer review, and Lauren Scott reviews the Canon HF G70 camcorder. Yes, that’s right, a camcorder. Dinosaurs became extinct but camcorders are still a thing. 

We finish off with news of Voigtländer's second RF mount Nokton. Its Nokton 40mm F1.2 Aspherical is manual focus only, but looks barely larger than the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8.

And lastly, Canon expert Brian Worley asks “Do Canon's old EF lenses limit new EOS R mirrorless cameras?” Now that’s a good question. There will be lots of Canon DSLR owners wondering if it’s worth putting their old glassware on a new RF mount camera… and the news is good!

So that’s it for Canon’s year in 2023. You thought you were in for a short read, but A LOT has happened in the Canon world in just 12 short months. If 2024 turns out anything like 2023, then get ready!

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Rod Lawton
Contributor

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com