Every waking moment, another full-frame mirrorless camera is released. Not one to miss the boat, Canon steps up their game and delivers its very own Canon EOS R, equipped with the also new RF mount.
The Canon EOS R is basically the dream of every (Canon-loving) photographer just two years ago — lightweight… capable… coming with edge-to-edge focusing… and even lenses that dwarf the existing EF lineup… Truly an immaculate piece of equipment.
Yet, I didn’t think much of it, other than a sneak peek of what Canon has to offer in the mirrorless world. It didn’t seem to be that much of an upgrade as compared to its APS-C brother, the Canon M50 — both are packed with features geared towards budding enthusiasts and continue to face heavy video cropping issues.
In all honesty, the Canon EOS R seemed like a necessary move that Canon simply had to make to keep up with the likes of Nikon and Sony.
My sentiment changed after just one week of use.
Body and Handling
The first touch tells you enough about a camera’s handling. The Canon EOS R provides a beefy grip, giving you a firm, comfortable hold on it — and (more importantly,) the assurance that it won’t easily slide out of your hands. The camera’s light build of 660g (with battery) is easily felt, being much easier to hold for longer periods as compared to its weightier counterparts, such as the Canon 5D series.
Those familiar with Canon’s recent releases will find a few changes on the Canon EOS R’s body and button layout; a new dot-matrix display replaces the conventional LCD top screen, a dedicated movie recording button is introduced, and the mode dial now allows you to adjust the aperture.
The last of which was when my experience became slightly sour. Transitioning between videos and stills were now finicky. Gone were the days where you could switch easily between the two modes. Now, you would have to press the ‘mode’ button after pressing ‘info’. Oh, the horror of an additional button! Why couldn’t Canon just have followed what they did with the 5D Mk IV?
I harbour mixed feelings about the Canon EOS R’s viewfinder. Surely, it is sharp and clear with minimal lag, but the exclusion of a thumbstick meant that the only way to switch focus points would be through the touchscreen.
Touchscreens are the future, right? Yes, but the future isn’t always better. When you have your eye on the viewfinder, you will inadvertently find your nose rubbing across the touchscreen. Uh-oh. There goes your focus. It’s a nice inclusion, but something that you have to be prepared to work around. The touchscreen works great on the Nikon Z 7, and in principle should do well on the Canon EOS R, too.
The Canon EOS R’s autofocus is accurate and snappy. Even in Continuous-servo AF, we had close to zero shots out of focus. Face Detection worked well even in low-light situations, and Eye Detection performed respectably (though only on Single-servo).
Canon released a firmware update for Eye Detection to be available in Continuous-servo AF, which performed satisfactorily. In order to keep up with a moving subject on the Canon EOS R, I had to bump the tracking speed to the maximum — as the saying goes; when it comes to autofocus, no one is better than Sony.
Included in the Canon EOS R is the feature to switch focus between multiple faces. This is where its touchscreen functionality shines through — sliding your finger across the touchscreen brings up a box which tells the camera exactly what you want to focus on, a nifty trick that saves time on shoots.
Image quality on the EOS R is — as with any Canon product — expectedly decent. One can always rely on Canon’s colour science for the best skin tones and overall colour in video. Skin tones look natural and great straight out of the camera, and great shots can be expected even up till an ISO of 5,000.
It was a pity that In-Body Image stabilisation was left out of the Canon EOS R. Admittedly, IBIS is not a function you would frequently use, but having the ability to shoot long exposures hand-held and stable videos with prime lenses is definitely a great-to-have — especially in a mirrorless make.
It is worth noting that the Canon EOS R comes with the same sensor as the 5D Mark IV, which makes it a great option when upgrading from the 5D Mark III.
The EOS R proves to be more than a mere token camera Canon rushed out to get in the mirrorless race with Nikon and Sony, and performs its intended job exceptionally — an all-rounded camera that is also Canon’s entry into the mirrorless market.
A lightweight camera that easily holds its ground against counterparts from other brands, the Canon EOS R can likely serve as a backup — or even an upgrade — for photographers who are out and about, and on assignments for prolonged periods of time.
As with all other cameras, the Canon EOS R comes with its own kinks, and could certainly use improvements in a couple of areas (as well as a secondary SD card slot). For what it’s worth, its new RF mount certainly looks promising, and while there’s no knowing what the future holds, I’m banking in on it.
If you want to hear more of our thoughts on the Canon EOS R, you’re in luck. Head on to our YouTube channel for our full review, which includes its very useful sensor door!
Photos by Darren Choing and Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team