Canon EOS R
After years of waiting for Canon to release their full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R was announced to much angst. It wasn’t the camera that people were expecting.
While the EOS R carries the same 30.3MP full-frame sensor as the 5D Mark IV, it also shoots 4K video with a 1.8x crop. It features Canon’s proprietary Dual Pixel AF system, which can focus down to an impressive -6EV (with a f/1.2 lens). But it also lacks in-body image stabilization (IBIS).
HANDLES LIKE AN ADVANCED EOS M
Nearly everything works better if you use the EOS R like a consumer camera — like Canon’s EOS M mirrorless series. That means shooting from the monitor, tapping on settings on the monitor, and touching the monitor to set focus.
If you try to use the EOS R like a pro DSLR with the electronic viewfinder (EVF), it unravels. There’s no AF joystick to change focus points.
The quick control dial to scroll through settings is gone. There isn’t even a Mode dial; the EOS R has a Mode button.
But it would be a pity if you only use the monitor because the EVF is brilliant. I was shooting in a dark room and the bright EVF was showing me details I couldn‘t possibly see with an optical viewfinder.
The M-Fn pad is a new idea that feels underdeveloped. The touch- sensitive stripe is next to the EVF and can be customized with some commands. But the commands are limited, and some aren’t available in certain modes. A control ring on the RF lenses is also new for Canon, but not a new idea. Customizations are also limited, and I never found a good use for it.
A new mode called Flexible-Priority AE (Fv Mode), however, nails the execution. In this mode, you can set the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation manually or automatically, independently or in combination.
THE COLOR RADIANT
We’ve come to a stage in sensor technology where nearly every modern APS-C or full-frame camera makes beautiful pictures. The EOS R is no exception.
The images shine with the vivid colors that Canon is known for. When paired with the new RF lenses, the pictures are full of detail and bite. ISO performance is excellent, and there’s a lot of latitude to push and pull even in high ISO JPEGs. Dual Pixel AF is swift and trustworthy, finding focus even in dark places.
But the EOS R is relatively slow when it comes to frames per second (fps). It can shoot up to 8 fps in AF-S mode, and up to 5 fps in AF-C. If you have ‘tracking priority’ enabled, that drops to 3 fps. It’s enough for everyday situations but puts the EOS R behind competitors like the Sony α7 III, which shoots up to 10 fps with AF and AE.
Video is the EOS R’s weakness. There’s noticeable rolling shutter when panning the camera and shooting at 4K with a 1.8x crop is limiting. The widest native RF lens now is the 24-105mm f/4. The crop turns that in a 41-179mm. You get a longer zoom but lose the option to shoot wide. If you shoot at 1080p, however, the EOS R uses the entire sensor without a crop.
The lack of IBIS remains the EOS R’s sorest point. It means shaky video footage if you don’t shoot with a gimbal or tripod. It also decreases your chances of getting sharp photographs at low shutter speeds.
But Dual Pixel AF in video is excellent. It’s not only accurate, it can transition between focal points smoothly, without the jerky hunting you see in some digital cameras. Auto exposure is also spot on and fast to adjust when transitioning between light and dark scenes.
NOT WHAT WE EXPECTED
The EOS R isn’t what I expected Canon’s inaugural mirrorless full-frame camera to be. I thought we’d get a miniaturized 5D Mark IV, but instead we got an advanced EOS M.
I have nothing against an advanced EOS M; in fact, the EOS R is quite delightful to use as an everyday camera. The Dual Pixel AF is dependable and the touchscreen is responsive. But $5,098 for the EOS R and 24-105mm f/4 lens is a lot to pay for a consumer body.
The best part about the EOS R isn’t even the camera, it’s that the camera unlocks the new RF lenses. They’re fast, transparent, and full of bite. Paired with the 30MP sensor, you get images full of color and life. And with an optional mount adapter, the EOS R also works with existing EF and EF-S lenses.
It’s telling that Canon’s development concept for the EOS R was “reimagine optical excellence” and not “reimagine imaging excellence.” To that end, I think they’ve succeeded: the RF lenses are more compelling than the EOS R. I’m hesitant about the EOS R, but excited to see what else the RF system has in store.
Images are rich with color and bite.
Even in a dim lobby, the EOS R locked onto the moving violinist’s face in 24 out of 24 shots.
Beautiful images, but handles more like a consumer than pro body.