On 5 September 2018, Canon announced a major new product to its line-up: the EOS R full-frame mirrorless. In so doing the Japanese company created a whole new lens line-up: EOS RF.

So what does this mean, what RF lenses are available, and does it matter for those with existing EF lenses?

What EOS RF lenses are available?

Launch day is 9 October 2018, when there will be four EOS RF lenses available. Each of these lenses fits with the new 54mm diameter, 12-pin RF mount without the need for an adaptor.

  • RF 50mm f/1.2L USM -- £2,350 / €2,730
  • RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM -- £1,120 / €1,320
  • RF 28-70mm f/2L USM -- £3,050 / €3,550
  • RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM -- £520 / €600

Unlike full-frame EF lenses, the RF lenses are designed to cater for the shorter 20mm flange back distance of the EOS R. This opens up new imaging and resolution resolve possibilities at a smaller scale than DSLR equivalents. But they come at a considerable price, as you can see above.

Future EOS RF lenses roadmap?

Canon alluded to details of future EOS RF lenses at its launch event in London on 5 September 2018. However, in addition to the four existing lenses, mount adapter and control ring mount adaptor, the 2019-2021 schedule only detailed the presence of a drop-in filter mount adapter (for polarising and ND filters, as separate products).

We're confident that there will be more RF lenses in the coming three years, but it's surprising that Canon isn't bigging up its new range that bit more. After all, the launch event tagline was Capture The Future.

All EF lenses via adaptor

In UK And Europe, the EOS R - which is priced £2,350 / €2,730 - will only ship with an EF lens adaptor included in the box. Canon's hope here is that existing customers will be pleased all its existing EF and EF-S lenses will be compatible from the off.

We, however, read it as a bend in confidence: if the new RF lenses are so great, then why not simply offer the option to include the adaptor or not? It can be bought separately for £200 / €240, however, which is equally perplexing (who will need two?).

What of Canon's future? EF-M, EF-S, EF and RF

The other consideration with RF is that it's pitched at the high-end; Canon already has a mirrorless range, the EOS M, which is designed for the consumer market and there's no cross-over between the two. Mirrorless doesn't mean direct compatibility: EF-M won't function with RF and there's no adaptor available.

The big question, really, is what the EOS R means for the future of Canon? Will this be the end of its commitment to the 31-years-old EF lens line-up, as it pushes the future? Well, not just yet. Alongside the EOS R launch, Canon also announced the world's lightest 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 lenses for EF mount, cementing its commitment to existing EOS DSLR users (they'll work with the EOS R via an adapter, of course).

For 2018 and beyond Canon is spinning a lot of lens plates: EF-M consumer mirrorless; EF / EF-S for consumer and high-end DSLR users; and RF for high-end mirrorless users, which dips a foot into the company's future. How it'll pan out we'll have to wait and see, as with mirrorless pressing Canon's DSLR business from both sides, it looks to spell the future...