Several reports surfaced recently of companies pulling RF mount autofocus lenses due to pressure from Canon. That pressure – if it exists – may come in the form of intellectual property suit threats, or merely the threat of withdrawing supplier business from the vendors.
The major first party camera and lens makers frequently outsource lens elements, coatings, parts and even full lenses from third party makers, even as they compete. In the past five years, several third party makers have started to produce lenses that in some cases are better than those offered by Canon. The picture below shows the canon RF mount speed booster, along with two competitors, both of which are markedly superior in some cases. The Viltrox variant may no longer be available, if the rumors prove true.
Making things even muddier, Japanese technology firms rely more on trade secrets enforcement in addition to patent protections, so there could be innumerable circumstances that would allow a legal claim that we can’t necessarily predict.
Tamron and Sigma have long indicated that they were intending on eventually coming out with Z mount and RF mount products respectively, but they’ve held fire. [Update Tamron is to come out with its first Z mount lens soon.]
Samyang pulled a very highly respected 85mm f/1.4, a copy of which we managed to get for the Camnostic office, and other RF mount lenses. Now Viltrox is reportedly telling customers it will suspend sales of RF autofocus lenses.
Third parties hadn’t yet reverse engineered the RF standard, but rather exploited that mount’s backward compatibility with the older EF mount, which has long been reverse-engineered.