Canon may have nixed third party autofocusing RF glass, but many Canon shooters point out that using EF-RF adapters still gives one a wide variety of lenses. But relying on older EF (DSLR) lenses to bulk out one’s kit carries one very real drawback: older lenses.
While some of the older DSLR lenses are quite sharp and produce beautiful pictures, they also tend to be bigger, heavier, and don’t feature the latest advances in lens tech.
In some cases that means slower autofocus or poor/noisy video performance.
Compare that to using a Sony Alpha camera, or even Nikon and Fujifilm at this point with modern third party options, and you’ll likely see the EF tradeoff in its true form.
Let’s look at some real world examples.
Sigma’s New Contemporary Lenses
Sigma was been on a rampage producing some new, modern designs that are noticeably smaller and lighter than any of those focal lengths have been at given apertures. (For Sony mostly, but possibly also coming to Nikon or Fujifilm.)
Notably, the 28-70mm Contemporary lens opens to f2.8 constant aperture, yet is only 4″ long (4.9″ fully extended) and weighs a surprisingly low 470 grams. That, I believe, is the smallest 2.8 midrange zoom lens on the market.
Compare this to the 24-70 Art lens for EF mount, which is a very stout and heavy lens at over 1000 grams, the Art lens is as heavy and nearly as bulky as 70-200 lenses.
Also worth noting: the 28-70mm Contemporary sacrifices nothing in autofocus accuracy or speed.
Sigma continues this trend with lenses like the the 16-28mm f2.8 and even the 100-400mm, which for such a telephoto is not a particularly large lens.
Tamron Has Similarly Small Offerings At All Focal Lengths
Tamron’s legendary 28-75mm f2.8 G2 lens (A063) isn’t quite as small as Sigma’s 28-70 Contemporary, but does clock in at a convenient 4.6 inches (117.6mm) and a comparably light 540 grams.
Tamron’s autofocus in this lens is also incredibly quick and quiet.
Tamron also offers a 70-180mm f2.8 weighing only 810 grams, with a barrel far less broad than Sony’s or Canon’s 70-200 f2.8 lenses.
This makes having a walk-around session with such a telephoto far more comfortable than is often the case otherwise.
Samyang/Rokinon’s New Tiny Lenses
Samyang (or Rokinon in the US) carries a variety of very small lenses that punch above their weight class in optical quality while remaining extremely light.
One very well-reviewed lens example is the Samyang AF 45mm f1.8 prime. It’s only 56mm long and weighs a mere 162 grams — which adds practically nothing to the weight of the camera body.
Samyang also offers other budget-friendly primes, such as the 18mm f2.8 ultra-wide which has also garnered many positive reviews.
While some of Samyang’s offerings don’t have a quiet autofocus, the above two lenses do and make wonderful walk-around lenses for their fields of view and negligible weight.
Canon EF Lenses Via Adapter, Comparatively…
By definition, EF lenses are last-gen and meant for DSLR cameras. Cameras that, by the way, are no longer being developed.
(Sold yes, but Canon and others have confirmed there will be no further development on new DSLR models going forward.)
DSLR lenses tend to have deeper mounts, adding overall length. These older lenses are also built using last-gen technology, which in general tends to mean the lenses are bigger and heavier for a given level of performance. And from what I’ve seen, have longer (worse) minimum focusing distances.
And remember, the EF-RF adapter itself is 110 grams and adds an inch to the length of the lens.
So yes, technically using EF adapters does significantly broaden one’s lens selection using an RF mirrorless Canon camera. If one is purely after image quality and options, particularly used, this isn’t a bad way to go.
But using EF lenses also means using outdated lenses and not leveraging the latest lens technology. How much that matters will vary person to person, but as time goes on will likely become a more and more noticeable tradeoff.