Serene Life

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I'm interested in buying a new lens for my Canon but am concerned the lens mount might be discontinued soon. The EF-S lens mount was invented in 2003, and the EF mount in 1987 (wikipedia). Electronics interfaces tend to change regularly (e.g. USB, iPod connector, VGA/DVI/HDMI).

Is there any evidence, official or unofficial, which would indicate what the future lifespan of EF and EF-S will be? Is there any historical precedent that could inform an understanding of the life cycle of lens mount systems? What about technical reasons that might necessitate a change?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by dpollitt, Itai, mattdm, Pat Farrell, John Cavan Jul 17 '13 at 3:42

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This is speculation and as such off topic. No official end of life info is available for this mount. Your "feeling" is incorrect in my belief, but that is just an opinion. The industry is moving towards mirrorless and ILC cameras which use different lenses, but I still don't see Canon dropping EF-S in the next 5 years. –  dpollitt Jul 17 '13 at 2:38
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Also adding as a comment as it is not an informed answer; however, realize that the EF mount was introduced to support auto focus, and EFS to allow for lighter/smaller lens on crop cameras. As long as Canon sells APC sensor cameras, they will sell EFS lenses. At some point it may be that DSLRs will fade as mirrorless cameras rise, but that is still some time off. The new cameras have to gain dominant market share before any realistic conversation about the end of EF/EFS mount systems makes sense. –  Patrick Hurley Jul 17 '13 at 2:54
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@dpollitt My apologies. I asked the question to learn from the experts here. The information in the answers provided so far is very valuable to me, and possibly others. If the best guess is Canon will never ever update EF/EF-S, that is a valid answer. If it’s 50 years from now, that is to. Next year, that too. If “we do not have and cannot have any idea” is the answer, that’s also useful to know. I have reworded my question to try to make it sound less speculative. If the question is genuinely off topic and unhelpful to the site, please accept my apologies and vote for its deletion. –  duozmo Jul 17 '13 at 3:39
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@Aphex5 - What can be said as fact is that camera technology changes FAR slower than computer technology. They aren't even in the same ball park. This is particularly true of lens systems. While they do change occasionally, such changes are very rare and generally only brought about by major tech changes (such as electronic focus). EF-s is simply the APS-C version of EF so it is probably a safe bet that EF-s won't go away until EF does. Even if EF went away tomorrow, the lenses currently in existence would stay current for probably atleast 5 to 6 years and would likely still be good in 20 –  AJ Henderson Jul 17 '13 at 4:47
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@Aphex5 Too much opinion IMO. "Never ever" is obviously false, "not this year" is obviously true, anything between is a random guess. The Canon FD mount lasted 16 years. The Nikon F-mount has lasted 54 years so far, the Canon EF-mount 26 years. Changing mounts is enormously expensive for the manufacturers, as they have no lenses for their new mount, and spend a decade or so to fill the catalog. They will change eventually, when forced to, but will hold on to their mount as long as possible. For EF-S, I'd be more worried that I might want a full frame camera within the next decade or so. –  j-g-faustus Jul 17 '13 at 5:13

2 Answers 2

It is very unlikely that Canon will dump the EF-S mount any time soon. As you note it was derived from the EF mount, which is significantly older but still going strong. In fact, Canon's introduction of the EF-M derivative last year, if anything, indicated Canon is nowhere near phasing out the system. Camera mounts are not replaced nearly as often as other sorts of "technology" in part because photographers put so much money into a given system (look at Canon's L lens prices and you'll see why people are unwilling to frequently move to new systems). Not only is it prohibitive in pricing for people to move around, every time a company breaks system compatibility, it provides a great opportunity for photographers to check out the competition, something no major player wants to risk. (You aren't going to be lured by a single cool Olympus body if you have thousands of dollars sunk in Canon gear.)

While the EOS/EF system has been around since 1987, that actually makes it a young system comparatively. Nikon's F mount goes back to the late 1950's, Pentax's K mount goes to the 1970's and Minolta's A mount (aka Sony α mount) dates to the earlier part of the 80's. While other players have introduced new mounts, the ones that did were smaller, less significant players which either did not have older mounts or had small enough existing user bases that the risks of introducing a new system were outweighed with the advantages of a blank slate.

Canon's EF mount actually is aging quite well. At the time, Canon controversially killed its old FD mount, enabling it to move to a pure electronic mount system -- no mechanical link between the body and the lens -- for autofocus, whereas Nikon went through a long transition period wherein it used a mechanical shaft to achieve AF on its F mount lenses. Minolta (now Sony) and Pentax followed the same path as Nikon as far as a mechanical AF system, but in all cases, they've slowly moved to the sort of arrangement Canon used, retrofitting it on their old mounts. This leads to long term compatibility issues where some bodies can't use AF with some AF lenses, but avoided the one time pain Canon caused by starting a new system.

Why does all of this matter? Well, by Canon making that painful switch in the 80's, it set itself up for a very long life for the EF system. There isn't any need for a new mount. All of the sorts of electronics that become dated are either in the body or in a given lens, not the mount. The EF-S and EF-M subsets take care of the physical changes/opportunities that have occurred since the 1980's film era. The EF-S can offer advantages for crop body cameras like the Rebel series and xxD series, while the EF-M leverages the physical characteristics of compact non-reflex bodies to make smaller lenses. But the core electronic communication system remains the same, thus this isn't a progression towards a new system. You can mount a normal EF lens on an EOS M (EF-M mount) using an adapter and all the electronics work, because the contacts are the same.

In an nutshell: don't worry. No one can promise Canon won't do something crazy, but it is unlikely. If you have or plan to have a full frame body at some point (like the EOS 1D series, 5D series and 6D series), buy EF lenses. They'll work on any Canon body and thus are the most flexible. If you only plan on using crop bodies (like the Rebel, 60/70D and 7D), expect the EF-S mount to remain also for the long term, since they fit the vast bulk of the bodies Canon sells. Finally, if you want something tiny (right now, only the EOS M body), buying into EF-M lenses makes sense, but thanks to the official adapter, EF and EF-S lenses are perfectly safe bets too.

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That the EF mount has been around since 1987 should illustrate that manufacturers rarely change the mount system on their SLR line. And Nikon is still using a mount system introduced in 1959. This is mainly due to the strategy of the camera companies to retain their customer base through the customer's "investment" into a certain system. When Canon introduced the EF mount in 1987 and made the new system incompatible with the older FD system, they risked losing many customers invested in the FD system because those customers had nothing to lose by starting over with Nikon, Minolta, or Pentax instead of Canon.

There are no rumors of any kind that the EF mount is going anywhere soon. There are also no rumors that Canon will do away with the EF-S system in the near future either. As with many companies offering a tiered approach to their products, their sales volume is concentrated in the lower priced end of their product line: The Rebel/xx0D and Rebel/X000D bodies and the EF-S lens series. Because the connection between camera and lens in terms of AF and aperture is strictly electronic, there is plenty of room for technological advancement within the current limits of the EF system. Add to that the larger diameter that the Canon flange mount measures compared to the competition and there's no technical reason for a change in mount anytime soon.

If you plan on waiting until Canon replaces the EF-S mount with something else, you may have a very long wait. Even if they did release a new lens mount in the near future, it would mean your current camera body would not be compatible with the new system. And any body compatible with EF-S lenses can also handle EF lenses. In the past few years Canon has replaced their low end consumer DSLRs on a 1 to 1 1/2 year schedule. Their professional bodies are updated every 3-4 years. Their consumer lens line seems to have minor revisions every few years, but some of their current pro line lenses were introduced in the 1990s. At the same time, they have just completed a major update to their entire Super Telephoto series in the last 2-3 years and just recently released a new EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM Extender 1.4x model that, at $12K USD per copy, will sell in low enough volumes that it will take years to recoup the R&D costs of this lens. This complete update of the Super Telephoto line would seem to indicate that they are committed to the EF mount for the foreseeable future. The EF and EF-S mount system will likely continue to be a constant for years to come.

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