Do Canon's old EF lenses limit new EOS R mirrorless cameras?

Canon EOS SOS
There’s no restrictions with autofocus, which makes the Canon EF 100-400mm lens a great partner for sports and action with mirrorless cameras (Image credit: Brian Worley)

It is clear that no more DSLR models are coming from Canon, and the EOS R series mirrorless cameras are now the mainstay of the Canon’s line-up. One of the commonly-asked questions is about Canon lenses… Specifically, is it necessary to swap out older lenses for new RF versions? The short answer is no, you can use DSLR lenses on the Canon EF-EOS R mount adapter as EOS R cameras are fully able to communicate with EF and RF lenses natively. 

There are some additional benefits of RF lenses. They are often smaller and lighter than the direct equivalents from the EF range. But the advantage is not always clear cut… The EF version of the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM is a case in point; the RF 70-200mm f/2.8 version is much shorter and lighter, but it can’t be used with an extender while the older EF lens can. 

The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L lens, meanwhile, is smaller, lighter and has extra reach over the older EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens, yet the new lens has a slower aperture at many focal lengths and can only be fitted with an extender once it is zoomed to 300mm or more. This makes it harder to pack in a bag, as the teleconverter may need removing first. 

About Canon Pro: Brian Worley

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(Image credit: Brian Worley)

Brian is a freelance photographer and photo tutor, based in Oxfordshire. He has unrivaled EOS DSLR knowledge, after working for Canon for over 15 years, and is on hand to answer all the EOS and photographic queries in Canon-centric magazine PhotoPlus.
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The RF lens range is continually expanding, with some interesting new models not available in the EF range, so it’s worth watching and comparing lenses to see what best suits you and your photographic subjects. Remember that the RF lenses include additional processors that the camera can use to aid image quality while achieving the fastest continuous shooting rates.

A large number of lightly-used EF lenses have made their way into the second-hand market, where they are often excellent value. I have purchased a couple of EF lenses at good prices and use them regularly on my EOS R series cameras. I like the control ring mount adapter, as it adds a control ring in the same location for all my EF lenses.

Perhaps the best way to look at this is to remember that all EF lenses fit on a mirrorless EOS camera with the adapter, plus you can pick and choose from any of the RF lenses, giving you the choice of more lenses than ever.

Some RF lenses are unique. This portrait was captured with the RF 28-70mm F2L lens, which does not exist in the EF lens line-up (Image credit: Brian Worley)
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If this article was of interest you might also like to find out more about the best Canon cameras, along with the best Canon DSLR lenses or best Canon RF lenses for mirrorless bodies. 

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Brian Worley

Brian is a freelance photographer and photo tutor, based in Oxfordshire. He has unrivaled EOS DSLR knowledge, after working for Canon for over 15 years, and is on hand to answer all the EOS and photographic queries in Canon-centric magazine PhotoPlus.