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These third-party Canon RF-fit lenses are being pulled from sale – but why?

Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 RF
(Image credit: Viltrox)

Chinese manufacturer Viltrox has become the latest third-party manufacturer to pull its Canon RF lenses from sale.

The company joins the likes of Samyang as a producer of affordable third-party optics that has withdrawn its Canon RF products from the marketplace with no official explanation as to why – though customers sharing their experiences with company representatives paint an interesting picture. 

• Looking for the best Canon RF lenses? Start here! (opens in new tab)

Conspicuously absent from the Viltrox website is the Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 RF II, a fast $400 prime lens with autofocus and a native Canon RF mount. According to a user on the DP Review forums, all mention of the lens – including its product page and firmware update section – vanished around two weeks ago.

Another user apparently followed up the issue by contacting Viltrox on Instagram, whereupon a representative explained that Canon had told the company to stop selling RF lenses.

"We have been told by Canon to stop selling all RF mount products, so we will not release RF related information on the official website," reads the exchange, as shared by DP Review (opens in new tab).

Has Canon demanded that third parties stop selling RF lenses? (Image credit: Viltrox)

"We're not the first company to be stopped. If Canon opens up permissions [sic] in the future, there may be changes."

This certainly jibes with rumors floating around last year, when Samyang likewise suddenly stopped selling Canon RF products, removing their listings from its website in June 2021. 

Similarly, no official word was forthcoming, with only the company's Facebook and Instagram accounts giving any sort of explanation when asked why the RF products had been dropped. 

"Due to technical difficulties, we are currently unable to provide you with this information," came the ominous reply on Facebook (opens in new tab), while the Instagram response (opens in new tab) was a mysterious yet at least confirmatory "Yes, Samyang has stopped producing these lenses," (though interestingly, Samyang's sister brand Rokinon continues to sell them).

It seems entirely likely, particularly given Viltrox' comment about 'opening up permission', that these third-party companies had not officially licensed the RF mount from Canon – probably reverse-engineering the lenses instead. Since it is not an open mount, Canon would be within its right to ask the products to be withdrawn unless the RF technology is appropriately licensed.

Either way, B&H is currently still selling the Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 RF II (opens in new tab) and Amazon is still carrying the original Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 RF (opens in new tab) in the UK. If you want one, we'd advise buying it while you still can…

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.