Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera Review

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Canon brand is widely regarded as the most conservative and traditional. It can be said that it is also the most successful. It is therefore not surprising that the Japanese company became Canon, the last of the three giants Nikon and Sony to enter the category of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Canon launched the EOS R in early September 2018. 

This is a 30.3MP mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor, similar to the CMOS chip of the two-year-old 5D IV DSLR. Canon’s biggest competitor Nikon introduced two full-frame mirrorless cameras: 45.7 MP Z7 and 24.5 MP Z6. And of course, Sony has dominated the full-frame mirrorless product line in recent years.

Is this Canon coming to the party late on purpose? Is the idea to win the game slowly and steadily, or is it a fast and furious method? Maybe, but after this evaluation with Canon R over the past few months, I think that although the sensors of EOS R are obsolete, Canon’s new full-frame mirrorless camera is the most innovative of all the cameras. One of the designs. 

Performance of Canon EOS R

In many ways, the Canon EOS R feels like a mirrorless 5D IV. Along with sharing essentially the same CMOS sensor, the Canon R can also shoot 4K video at 30P with Canon Log and 10-bit, 4:2:2 HDMI output. On the downside, like the 5D IV, it shoots 4K video at a 1.7x crop factor, not at full frame. The Canon R also does not have in-body camera stabilization (IBIS), which is a feature available on the new Nikon Z-series mirrorless cameras.

There are things the EOS R can do that the 5D IV can’t, however, including focus peaking, which lets you see a live view highlight of what’s in focus in a shot. There’s also the EOS R’s excellent 3.2-inch, side swiveling display, which I found to be a lot more useful than the Nikon Z-series cameras’ fold-back (i.e. articulating) screen. The Canon EOS R shoots bursts of Raw or JPEG images at 8 frames per second, which is slightly faster than the 5D IV and has a much larger buffer for Raw images, at 65 shots vs 19 for the 5D IV.

On the other hand, like many mirrorless cameras on the market (aside from some of Sony’s newer models, which have improved), the Canon EOS R’s battery life is mediocre, capable of shooting around 370 images on a single charge. In real-world use, I often found a half a day of shooting with the EOS R was all it took before the battery went on life support. You’ll definitely want to bring some extra charged batteries with you in the field.

The dodgy battery life also seems to be behind a decision by Canon not to offer a way to have both the rear screen and the 0.5-inch OLED EVF on at the same time. This was an issue for me because I found that the eye proximity sensor below the EOS R’s EVF to be a split second slow, which caused me to see a black screen on the EVF before I could shoot.

In many ways, Canon EOS R feels like a mirrorless 5D IV. In addition to sharing basically the same CMOS sensor, Canon R can also record 4K video at 30P with Canon Log and 10-bit 4: 2: 2 HDMI output. The downside is that, like 5D IV, it shoots 4K video with a crop factor of 1.7 rather than full-frame. The Canon R does not yet have a built-in camera stabilizer (IBIS), a feature available in the new Nikon Z series of mirrorless cameras.

EOS R can do a number of things that 5D IV cannot, including focus peak, which allows you to view the focus in the highlights in real-time. In addition, there’s the EOS R’s excellent 3.2-inch side-rotating display, which I found much more useful than the folded-over (i.e., hinged) screen of Nikon Z-series cameras. The Canon EOS R continuously shoots Raw or JPEG images at 8 frames per second, which is slightly faster than 5D IV and has a larger buffer for Raw images. When taking 65 photos, 19 photos are needed than 5D IV.

On the other hand, like many mirrorless cameras on the market (except for some of Sony’s new model enhancements), the Canon EOS R’s battery life is average and can take around 370 photos on a single charge. With actual use, I often find that using EOS R for half a day of photography can support battery life. You definitely want to have some extra rechargeable batteries with you.

Canon has decided not to deliver the functions of the rear screen and the 0.5-inch OLED EVF at the same time, which seems to be the reason for the low battery life. This is a problem for me because I discovered that the eye-distance sensor under the EVS of the EOS R rotates for a second, causing me to see a black screen on the EVF before shooting.

Sometimes when I type on a computer in the home office, I will find deer or other game in our backyard and want to take pictures quickly. Due to Canon R’s small EVF delay, I missed the opportunity a few times. I want to emphasize “very small” because most people may not notice it, so I asked other camera critics, most people don’t think this is a problem. EVF delay is a particular situation inherent in mirrorless cameras, which may be another reason for the crowd of DSLRs to switch to mirrorless because they have left the optical viewfinder.

In other respects, EVF is an advantage, especially the same high quality as Canon EOS R, which allows you to see the effect of camera adjustments in real-time before pressing the shutter button. I like to use autofocus (AF) for eye detection on the Canon R’s EVF, which allows me to see the AF point following the model’s eyes as it moves through the model.

On the other hand, Canon R’s touch and sleep autofocus function caused problems. This function allows you to select the focus point via the camera’s LCD touch screen. However, being the dominant person in the left eye, I noticed that when the nose hits the screen, the focus changes unintentionally. Photographers with a dominant right eye may not encounter this problem because their noses protrude from the side of the camera when shooting. This is still a difficult world for left-handers!

Once you’ve mastered the Canon R’s quirks, you can use it to photograph the camera. I tested it at a press conference in Hawaii where I took a lot of photos of the model, and then spent a few days on the streets of New York City. This is a good camera for street photography. It is fast, responsive, and quiet, even if it is unobtrusive.

As mentioned earlier, EOS R is a large mirrorless camera, especially when used with an RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens, which has caught people’s attention. However, Canon’s dual pixel CMOS autofocus (AF) system with 5655 manually selected AF points is very fast and accurate, allowing me to quickly photograph people on the street without paying attention. Overall, thanks to Canon R’s Digic 8 image processor, one of the fastest full-frame mirrorless cameras I’ve tested.

On the other hand, when I tried shooting with Canon R’s high waist and framed my Streetview photos with the rear screen, the annoying proximity sensor used for EVF was causing problems so people wouldn’t notice I was taking photos. Sometimes my shirt, camera strap, or sometimes my hand accidentally goes through the EVF, causing the rear screen to lose power, so I can’t see what I’m shooting.

Like almost all reviewers, I am disappointed that the Canon EOS R only offers an SD card slot. Both Canon and Nikon seem to have made a wise decision to reserve additional card slots on the new full-frame mirrorless cameras (Nikon Z7 and Z6 have only one XQD card slot), but the reason isn’t clear.

I think these two companies plan to release high-end “professional versions” of these cameras. The camera has two slots to increase sales of the next generation mirrorless mirror. However, if you want to have two card slots on a full-frame mirrorless camera at this point, you should use Sony.

On the other hand, Canon EOS R has the function that Sony mirrorless users want: when you replace the lens, the camera will automatically cover the sensor, so there is no dust, dirt, and other debris on the bare sensor. This solves the problem that seems inherent when mirrorless cameras are equipped with bare sensors, and it is also strange why no company has previously proposed this feature.

Camera Handling of Canon EOS R

Mirrorless cameras were once considered smaller and lighter photo options for older digital SLR cameras, which are smaller and more powerful. The new Canon EOS R and Nikon Z7 and Z6 prove that this is no longer a legal selling point. I always think the statement “mirrorless camera doesn’t hurt” is very picky especially when you put an important lens on the front of the camera. Today, with larger and more robust full-frame cameras such as the Canon EOS R), the distance between the mirrorless and DSLR has been significantly reduced.

One of the best design choices for Canon EOS R is a large and comfortable grip. The EOS R has the same grip as DSLR, making the camera body about the size of a DSLR with a fever. In fact, when I pick up the camera bag, I often confuse EOS R with Canon 6 D because they look very similar. The higher curved pentaprism of mirror 6D is the main distinguishing feature.

Not that I’m complaining. One of my biggest knocks against Sony’s Alpha line of mirrorless cameras is their minuscule grips that leave my pinkie finger dangling awkwardly off the bottom of the camera. This is not an issue with the Canon EOS R, which feels safe and stable in your hand. But the bigger grip does make the camera, well, bigger.

The Canon EOS R is also not lightweight, only tipping over the body at about 24 ounces. When you attach the RF 24-105mm F4 L ISM lens (99 1099), which I have run most of my shooting, you add an extra 1.54 pounds of weight. The entire setup is still smaller and lighter than the Canon 5D IV with similar lenses but is equivalent to the 6D Mark II.

None of this strikes a chord with the Canon EOS R in my book, as I prefer to shoot with a larger, more balanced camera. Those who were expecting the smallest and most portable thing will probably be disappointed. This is the area where Sony’s rival Alpha Mirror-equipped cameras are one step behind.

I’m not complaining. One of my biggest shocks to Sony’s Alpha series of mirrorless cameras is the small grip, which makes my little finger clumsily hang over the bottom of the camera. Canon EOS R is no problem, you can feel safe and stable. But more grip makes the camera bigger.

The Canon EOS R is also not lightweight and the scale is only about 24 grams (body only). When you add an RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens (when I took most shots), weight increased by 1.54 pounds. The whole setup is still smaller and lighter than Canon 5D IV with a comparable lens but comparable to 6D Mark II.

In my book, these are no blows to the Canon EOS R, as I prefer to shoot with a larger, more balanced camera. (However, those who expect the smaller size and a high degree of portability may be disappointed.) I also like EOS R’s dust and weather resistance and robustness. This is the area where Sony’s competitive Alpha mirrorless cameras fall behind.

As mentioned at the beginning of this review, Canon EOS R has one of the more innovative mirrorless camera designs, but I don’t like some of these options. Canon seems to consciously decide to minimize the buttons and knobs to keep the EOS R clean and modern. Therefore, you will spend a lot of time changing and confirming the settings on the 3.2-inch LCD variable-angle touchscreen on the back of the camera.

Considering how comfortable we use touchscreens in many aspects of our lives (smartphones, tablets, ATMs, self-checking), this seems like a sensible and forward-thinking move from Canon along with EOS R. However, if you’re in a hurry to change the camera settings, aggravate this situation and I am usually anxious when shooting.

To take one example, ISO is something that I’m constantly fiddling with when shooting in mixed lighting conditions. There’s no dedicated ISO button on the Canon EOS R, so you need to bounce into the camera’s menu to change it. Bummer.

There are many ways to customize the buttons on the EOS R, and there are many new ways to change the setting on the fly, including customizable control range on the new RF lens, which allows you to change the aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation and yes. Can assign to, ISO (If you want to use any existing Canon EF, EF-S, TS-E and MP-E lenses with the EOS R, one of the three mount adapters are selling for the Canon R which Control color feature included.

There’s also a quirky multi-function bar on the rear of the camera, which I never fully got the hang of. These customizable features all helped, and the EOS R definitely got easier to use the more I shot with it, but what’s wrong with a few more buttons? Or how about a mode dial? A 5D Mark IV-like joystick? There’s plenty of room on the camera. Canon seems to have overthought this one.

As an example, I always liked ISO when shooting under mixed lighting conditions. There is no dedicated ISO button on the Canon EOS R, so you have to go back to the camera menu to make changes. Idiot

There are many ways to adjust the buttons on the EOS R, and you can also change the settings directly via a variety of new methods, including an adjustable control ring on the new RF lens, which you can specify to change the aperture, shutter speed, change exposure compensation. If you want to use current Canon EF, EF-S, TS-E and MP-E lenses on EOS R, one of the three mount adapters sold by Canon for R include the control ring function.

There’s also a quirky multi-function bar on the back of the camera, which I have never quite mastered. These customizable features have helped. The more I shoot with it, the EOS R will certainly become easier to use, but what’s the problem with a few buttons? Or how about the mode button? Joystick like 5D Mark IV? There is enough space on the camera. Canon seems to be ahead of schedule.

Image Quality of Canon EOS R

Overall, I lowered the image quality of the Canon EOS R to 24.2 MP for the Sony A7 III, which lowered the retail price by about, but for the Sony A7R III by 42.4 MP. We are still testing Nikon Z7 and Z6, so I can’t directly compare the image quality of these two models, but what I want to say is that the Canon EOS R’s autofocus system is faster than these two Nikon.

Since they actually use the same sensor, the images of the Canon EOS R are very similar to Canon 5D IV photos, which means they are excellent. EOS R managed to take every detail out of the image captured by the 30.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor, giving the photo a rich, almost medium format quality.

Like the 5D IV, the EOS R has Dual Pixel Raw (and regular Raw) image capture, which allows you to make minor adjustments to focus, bokeh, and ghosting after shooting. For example, if you want to brighten blurry eyes without reducing image quality, this will come in handy.

However, I don’t really need to use it as Canon R can usually be used. Color results are accurate but not boring. In my opinion, Canon’s color science is unparalleled and one of EOS R’s strongest selling points compared to its competitors, especially when you’re shooting portraits and needing realistic skin tones. However, like Canon’s high-end cameras, red looks slightly saturated, but not unpleasant.

In low-light shooting, the performance of EOS R is about the same as that of 5D IV, but there will be some brightness noise at higher ISO sensitivity (EOS R itself delivers ISO 100-40,000, extends 50-102,400), but color noise is very high small. In reality, this means that even in challenging light, you can take clear, smooth images with resolutions up to ISO 12800.

As can be seen from some of the images in this review and the test photos we first checked with the camera in September 2018, the dynamic range is excellent. In high contrast settings, both highlights and shadows contain many detail areas. Using Canon EOS R under almost all lighting conditions will make me feel comfortable, as I am sure I can learn from the camera’s Raw and Dual Pixel Raw images in the later period. Restore the details in the image.

As a camera, however, the EOS R is disappointing, mainly because of the 1.7 times cropping factor when recording 4K video. It turns out that it can only record 120 fps at 720p resolution, not Full HD, and you have a camera with excellent performance but poor performance (2016), far behind most current competitors.

Final Discussion

The Canon EOS R has many advantages, including a fast and accurate autofocus system; excellent image quality; a sturdy yet comfortable body, one of the best grips in the category of full-frame mirrorless cameras; and Canon’s premium color Science, essential for serious portrait photographers. However, I am dissatisfied with the overall usability of the EOS R, and I cannot highly recommend Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera. 

The choice of design options and usability peculiarities are endless, making the Canon EOS R hard to fall in love with at first. Even after months of shooting, I still suffer from the menu-driven settings of EOS R, the speed of activating EVF is very slow and the layout is strange. While the Canon R has the advantage of clear image quality, it seems like a camera best for early adopters, ironically this model has come too late for the mirrorless party.

Last update was on: August 4, 2020 6:44 am

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