Did Canon Miss the Memo That Says Mirrorless Lenses Are Meant to Be Smaller?

It seems as though Canon is having trouble understanding that Mirrorless cameras are supposed to be smaller and lighter.

When Canon introduced their new Mirrorless camera earlier on this year (the EOS R) one of the stand-out features was that the lens mount was so huge. While other manufacturers like Sony have made all things Mirrorless smaller, the latecomer to the Mirrorless party seems to have decided that bigger is better. In a recently released interview, Canon engineers seem to be having a sly dig at Sony by saying that lenses with smaller mounts are far less capable than those with larger mounts. 

Now that the Mirrorless wars are in full swing and all major parties have entered the battle arena, there of course is propaganda from each corner as to why their equipment is superior to the competition. Canon decided to stick with the same size 54mm mount that they have been using on their cameras since 1987, while Sony opted to use a 46mm mount for their Mirrorless cameras. This has enabled Sony (and Fujifilm, that uses a 44mm mount for X mount) to make smaller, lighter lenses that compliment their smaller Mirrorless camera bodies.

Mirrorless Rumors recently reported an interview where Canon engineers stated that they almost decided to use the same mount on the EOS R as they did on their earlier Mirrorless cameras. This would have meant that the EOS R would have used EF-M lenses. However, they decided that shorter flange distances, and larger mounts means less in-glass correction is needed. So in their eyes, bigger is better.

That’s all well and good, but honestly the whole point of Mirrorless is to make things smaller and easier to manage. The EOS R feels just like a DSLR in the hand. Yes, it’s lighter than the 5D Mk IV, but in terms of ergonomics the difference is very small.

The EOS R has dimensions of 136 x 98 x 84. The 5D Mk IV 151 x 116 x 76, while the Sony A7 III comes in at 127 x 96 x74. The 54mm RF mount dictates that the camera now has to be of a larger size to be able to mount lenses like the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L. While it does produce amazing images, it also weighs 2.09lbs! That’s more than half a pound heavier than the EOS R itself. This makes the whole system a little harder to use due to lenses being unbalanced with the camera body (not to mention Mirrorless is supposed to mean smaller and lighter).

Sony and the likes of Fujifilm however decided that smaller lenses are the way to go, and honestly these two companies produce some of the best optics available today. Sony’s Zeiss 50mm f1.4 weighs in at 1.71lbs, and Fujfilm’s 56mm f1.2 weighs just 0.89lbs! All three lenses mentioned produce spectacular images, and honestly it’s next to impossible to tell them apart unless you are pixel peeping at extreme levels. So does mount size really matter that much?

To be fair though, Sony’s G Master Lenses are pretty massive overall–the exception being their new 24mm f1.4 G Master Lens.

Could this be a case of Canon not having the technical know-how to shrink down their optics and still produce amazing results like Sony and Fujifilm can? Who knows. The one thing we do know is that Mirrorless cameras came with the promise of smaller, lighter lenses that are easier to manage. It seems as though Canon missed that part of the memo.

Is the EOS R a great camera? Yes! Are Canon’s RF mount lenses great? Yes! Can their lenses outperform the more compact, lighter options from Sony and others who use smaller mounts? They are all honestly on an equal playing field. Modern optics are almost completely flawless regardless of mount size and all will produce stunning images.

Companies talk up specs all the time, but it doesn’t always mean their guff is right. For me personally, Mirrorless lenses are supposed to be smaller and lighter. If I wanted to carry around extra weight I would have stuck with DSLR’s. Maybe one day Canon will read the memo about how Mirrorless lenses should be smaller.