Canon to open RF mount by end of 2023, "will finally catch up with Sony" (report)

Canon RF mount
(Image credit: James Artaius)

This could be big: Canon will open the RF mount to third-party lens manufacturers by the end of the year. 

That's according to a new report that could transform the current camera landscape. If true, it would mean that major lens manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron and Samyang (Rokinon) would be able to produce RF lenses with full electronic compatibility – meaning, principally, autofocus. 

• Right now, the best Canon RF lenses are native Canon lenses

Currently, brands like Sigma and Tamron have steered clear of the RF mount entirely. There are a number of manufacturers making third-party lenses, but these have been exclusively manual focus – with the exception of Samyang, which made headlines when it was reported that Canon had requested it to pull autofocus RF lenses from sale.

It became apparent that Canon has effectively closed the RF mount to other companies, at least in terms of electronic support, meaning that only "dumb" lenses (manual-focus only, with minimal or no communication or EXIF facility) could be produced by third parties. 

Canon recently confirmed that it is considering lens applications on a case-by-case basis, with the new Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1 Aspherical being the first lens with full electronic communication (though, crucially, it is still a manual focus optic).

This could all be about to change, though.

"A source just told me something very interesting about Canon: apparently they will open offically their RF mount to third-party lens manufacturers," reported Mirrorless Rumors. "This will happen by the end of the year." 

The site notes that this will help Canon in the mirrorless battle against Sony, which has a long-established stranglehold thanks to the open nature of its E Mount.

"What this means is that Canon will finally catch up with Sony. Sony already did this for a very long time on the E Mount, it's also a reason why the E Mount system has so many interesting lenses… Well, this is going to change and this will play in favor of Canon, so that Sigma and Tamron and Chinese manufacturers can develop lenses that have full electronic support on your Canon RF camera."

It was also mentioned that this would put pressure on Sony and its conservative firmware strategy, which has seen consumers frustrated by the lack of meaningful updates for its cameras – something that we've literally just been complaining about here at DCW! 

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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.