0

Context

Odd question but looking at the market, I see Tamron/Sigma making lens for first-party companies such as Canon, Nikon and Sony.

For manual lens such as Zeiss ( for Canon/Nikon) I see that they aren't competing with Canon/Nikon directly since all the lens provides is EXIF/IPTC data so that wouldn't impact the native lens that they sell directly. (Also, the price range is different (Otus) or they are made for video (Milvus)).

Question

Is there a reason why Canon and Nikon allow third party makers to make lenses that provide similar specs to first-party lens such are AF, IS and aperture control when they sell for less? It seems that Canon/Nikon could block Sigma and other 3d party lens makers just with firmware updates, not that everyone would be happy about it.

It seems that Tamron/Tokina does license Nikon lenses.

  • 1
    Personally I do not think this is a very useful question, as it requires one to understand the marketing motivations (or lack thereof) to take action that is theoretically possible, and the litigation and consumer reaction for each, all of which are highly speculative and do not actually yield either a testable result or something actionable for the OP to use. – Linwood Mar 3 '16 at 20:02
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about theorizing the motivation for various companies' business decisions rather than about taking pictures. – Michael C Mar 3 '16 at 20:14
  • A niggling point, perhaps, but I doubt there's any scenario where a company can prevent a third party from "making" anything. The sale of goods is where things can get questionable. – Dan Wolfgang Mar 3 '16 at 22:10
7

Is there a reason why Canon and Nikon allow third party makers to make lens that provide similar specs to first-party lens such are AF, IS and aperture control when they sell for less?

Controlling a product line that has the support of many third parties is much more profitable than trying to build and sell every product yourself. Canon and Nikon don't just sell cameras and lenses, they control platforms that enjoy the support of hundreds of other companies. It makes them market leaders and establishes them as the best choices for most consumers, who want to know that they cameras and lenses that they buy now will be supported in the marketplace for a long time to come. That means that they sell more cameras, which translates to selling more lenses and accessories. Every manufacturer wants to control the platform, but only a few get to do that.

Both Canon and Nikon lenses have excellent reputations, and neither has to fear competition from lower priced manufacturers. They may lose some sales at the low end to lower priced manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron, and at the high end to companies like Zeiss, but having the support of those companies makes their entire product line that much more attractive and established.

  • "They may lose some sales at the low end to lower priced manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron..." ??? Two words Global Vision. Since 2012 Sigma's Art and Sports series lenses have been competing with Nikon and Canon in segments of the lens market that no one is describing as low end. Tamron is getting there as well. – Michael C Apr 5 '17 at 14:56
4

Canon filed their patent on the EF mount in 1987, so it expired in 2007. Additionally, clean room reverse engineering to adapt to an interface is not protected by patent.

Canikon could block sigma or related just with firmware updates

They could, but this would also break compatibility with older Canon lenses. Many 3rd party lenses and adapters mimic an older EF lens.

  • Patents and copyrights are not the same thing. A patent would protect from reverse engineering unless the use was changed by the new design. (in this case companies license the mount design out to other agencies to increase customer appeal.) Or the mount its self expires as a patent so others are free to duplicate it. – Matthew Whited Mar 3 '16 at 19:41
  • "They could, but this would also break compatibility with older Canon lenses." Not necessarily. Everything Canon "hides" in the firmware of their lenses and batteries is not used functionally in the communication protocol between camera and lens (or battery). They often update lens and battery protocols that DO disable older third party lenses/batteries without also disabling their own older lenses/batteries. Occasionally they accidently do cause compatibility issues with their own older stuff. – Michael C Apr 5 '17 at 15:38
1

Allowing 3rd party components increases the acceptance and popularity of a system. As long as Canon, Nikon, etc. are confident and able to produce great(er) lenses for their own system, they can only win.

0

This would make users wary of applying firmware updates, and from a support perspective, that is the last thing you want when you are marketing anything software driven. That will keep you from fixing honest mistakes and making your customers happy.

In some jurisdictions, intentionally(!!!) breaking functionality that already existed (and that does not cause eg a safety problem, like which can be the case with third party batteries) via such an update might entitle customers to a refund, or might even be considered sabotage.

Also, availability of old and/or third party lenses can be a marketing argument - a manufacturer wants to keep his own current offerings AHEAD of these (as is often done by not actively supporting certain new features for such equipment combos, especially in lower tier models), but not lose that advantage. This is a bit like legal loopholes, which might look like an accident, but which are really meant to allow those that are determined to do something to still be free to do so, while keeping "every idiot from doing it, to the point of unsustainability".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.