Two weeks ago, DPReview forum member Stig Nygaard made a post in the Canon EOS R Talk forum inquiring why the product page and all accompanying information surrounding Viltrox’s AF 85mm F1.8 lens for RF mount cameras was no longer available.
Over the following days, various forum members speculated the reason all mention of the product was removed, with many coming to the same conclusion – that Canon must’ve told Viltrox to cease selling the product or face some kind of legal consequence. As it turns out, that appears to be exactly what happened, according to a Viltrox representative.
|The original forum post from Stig Nygaard.|
Two days ago, on August 27, DPReview forum member lowkeyguyo shared a post with an image showing a conversation he had with a Viltrox representative on Instagram. In it, the Viltrox representative said the company has ‘been told by Canon to stop selling all RF mount products.’ As such, it ‘will not release RF related information on the official [Viltrox] website’ and suggests people who need firmware updates for Viltrox’s RF mount lenses email ‘email@example.com’ instead.
The representative went on to say it’s ‘not the first company to be stopped’ and says it would reconsider ‘if Canon opens up permissions in the future.’ In a comment to DPReview, a Canon representative said ‘No comment at this time.’ We have also contacted Viltrox for further information
|The follow-up post from lowkeyguyo with a screenshot showing the Instagram DM conversation he had with a Viltrox representative.|
Assuming the information from the representative is true, it’s still unclear why Canon would issue such a warning. Past reports have suggested Samyang received a similar notice from Canon after announcing its 14mm F2.8 and 85mm F1.4 AF RF-mount lenses. It’s unclear whether third-party lens manufacturers using electronic connections with Canon’s RF-mount alone is the issue or whether it’s the code, reverse-engineered or otherwise, enabling AF that’s causing the issue.
As it stands, with Viltrox’s 85mm F1.8 AF lens out of the discussion, only manual RF-mount lenses remain available to purchase from third-party manufacturers (barring second-hand sales elsewhere). This alone suggests some kind of limitation with either the code required to power the AF functionality inside the lenses or an issue with using the electrical contacts at all.
|The Viltrox 85mm F1.8 AF lens uses the 12-contact array used by first-party Canon RF mount lenses.|
DPReview forum member antonio-salieri notes the lens’ metadata shows it as a Canon EF 85mm F1.8 in captured images, which could suggest Viltrox is illegally using older EF-mount code from Canon’s own 85mm F1.8 lens to power the AF protocols in its AF lens. This, however, has not at all been proven and likely never will be, unless Canon or Viltrox explicitly come out and say as much.
What is clear is that unless Canon reverses course and starts licensing its AF protocol technology to third-party manufacturers, it appears as though any third-party lenses with native RF-mount AF support won’t be making it to market.
Interestingly, the Viltrox AF 85mm F1.8 RF II Lens for Canon RF is still available to purchase from B&H Photo for $399, although it’s not clear how much longer you’ll be able to purchase it.