Canon might have been in the camera game since 1933 but the now-legendary EOS range of cameras – and matching EF lenses didn't launch until March 1987. If it were a person, it'd be a millennial!
The EOS stands for Electrical Optical System, though it is not a coincidence it is also named after Eos, the goddess of dawn. The debut camera was the Canon EOS 650, which launched alongside the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. In the 36 years since Canon has gone on to manufacture a jaw-dropping 110 million EOS cameras and 160 million EF and RF mount lenses.
Canon cameras are renowned for being some of the best DSLRs and best mirrorless cameras in the world. From the groundbreaking Canon EOS 5D series launched in 2005 to Canon’s latest, top-spec mirrorless powerhouse, the EOS R3, Canon has always been an innovator pushing the boundaries of camera technology. From 2003 to 2022, Canon maintained the top share of digital SLR sales and, in March 2023, it produced its 110 millionth camera – a Canon EOS R6 Mark II. (The R6 II was originally released in November 2022, but is still being manufactured.)
• The best Canon RF lenses include a range of primes, telephoto, and zooms
Alongside the EOS system cameras, Canon has two lines of lenses – EF mount lenses for full frame and APS-C DSLRs and RF mount lenses for its mirrorless system. In total, Canon has an impressive 115 lenses in its EF and RF lineup including a range of telephotos, primes, wide-angles, macro lenses, and the specialist (and rather peculiar) 3D VR Canon RF 5.2mm f/2.8L Dual Fisheye lens.
There have been many stand-out moments for Canon along the way, such as the launch of the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM which was one of the world’s first lenses to have image stabilization – a feature that is now standard in almost all professional lenses.
As well as image stabilization, Canon has introduced lenses with silent focussing such as the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L, a SSC (super-spectra) and SWC (subwavelength structure) coatings which help to reduce chromatic aberrations and lens flare plus many of Canon’s professional lenses have focus locking, different focus modes plus a zoom ring lock to stop lenses accidentally extending when in transit.
It’s been two years since Canon launched the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM lens and in May 2023 one of these primes became the 160 millionth EOS interchangeable lens to be made. Though they might not be quite the round numbers that 100 million cameras and 150 million lenses were, both those milestones are even further in the rear-view mirror and Canon continues to innovate, inspire and take image-making tools to the next level.
Also check out the best Canon DSLR lenses which include a range of EF and EF-S mount lenses