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The company joins the likes of Samyang as a producer of affordable third-party optics that has withdrawn its Canon RF products from the marketplace with no official explanation as to why – though customers sharing their experiences with company representatives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

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.

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, while the Instagram response 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 Since it is not an open mount, Canon would be within its right to ask the products to be withdrawn unless the RF technology is appropriately licensed.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 and Amazon is still carrying the original Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 RF in the UK. If you want one, we'd advise buying it while you still can…

Read more:

Best Canon lenses
Best lenses for portraits
Best Canon cameras

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a 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 like 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, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. 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.