Canon EOS R

Canon re­leases a brand new EOS R sys­tem, with a full-frame mir­ror­less EOS R cam­era, four new RF lenses and three adapters

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It’s a brand new Canon cam­era, full-frame, mir­ror­less, 30MP, 5655 AF points and more – read our full test ver­dict

How does the EOS R fare as Canon’s first full­frame mir­ror­less body? Should you re­place your Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, or your 6D Mark II? Let’s see…

We got to play with a pro­duc­tion sam­ple of the Canon EOS R, test­ing it out un­der chal­leng­ing light­ing. Pos­sess­ing a sim­i­lar sen­sor to the EOS 5D Mark IV – the first of a num­ber of sim­i­lar traits be­tween the two mod­els – the EOS R boasts 30.3 ef­fec­tive megapix­els.

It also of­fers the same Dual Pixel RAW func­tion, utiliz­ing the sen­sor’s dual pho­to­di­odes to cre­ate a larger Raw file, which opens up some in­ven­tive post-pro­cess­ing op­tions to achieve max­i­mum sharp­ness, in­clud­ing: mi­cro­fo­cus ad­just­ment, bokeh shift and ghost­ing re­duc­tion.

The EOS R em­ploys a phase dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion sys­tem built into the im­age sen­sor, which it­self makes use of Canon’s Dual Pixel aut­o­fo­cus tech­nol­ogy. It boasts a stag­ger­ing 5655 fo­cus points. This puts it way ahead of the hy­brid aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem fea­tured in the Nikon Z6 and Z7, which com­bines a com­par­a­tively scant 273 and 493 fo­cus points re­spec­tively with a con­trast de­tect AF sys­tem.

Canon is proud of its work­ing range of EV -6 to 18 in One-shot AF, and we were able to put that per­for­mance to the test. Shoot­ing in dim, al­most non-ex­is­tent light­ing con­di­tions, the EOS R’s AF still man­aged to per­form very well in the cir­cum­stances.

“We’ve got the world’s first cam­era with low light fo­cus­ing down to EV -6,” we were told by Canon’s prod­uct spe­cial­ist, Barry Grif­fin. “I’ve been in a test room with a can­dle­light, and it’s been fo­cus­ing so quick for me.”

And if you want an idea of just how dark EV -6 is, it equates to an ex­po­sure of 30 secs at f/2.8 us­ing ISO1600. On top of that, the EOS R stands right now as the fastest fo­cus­ing cam­era on the mar­ket. “With the tech­nol­ogy we’ve got here, we can state that cur­rently we have the world’s fastest aut­o­fo­cus­ing sys­tem,” Grif­fin con­tin­ued. “We’ve got it down to 0.05 of a sec­ond.”

The new mount was an in­evitable part of cre­at­ing a full-frame mir­ror­less cam­era

The cam­era fea­tures the usual ar­ray of aut­o­fo­cus meth­ods, such as Face+track­ing AF, as well as eye track­ing AF in S-AF.

new RF lens mount

The Canon EOS R has been be­stowed with a new lens mount and cor­re­spond­ing lens lineup. The RF mount has a di­am­e­ter of 54mm, the same as the cur­rent EF mount, though EF lenses are not na­tively com­pat­i­ble; more on that be­low.

The new mount was an in­evitable part of cre­at­ing a full-frame mir­ror­less cam­era. But Canon is promis­ing that this will en­able it to make lenses that sim­ply weren’t pos­si­ble with the 31-year-old EF mount.

In ad­di­tion, the new tech­nol­ogy – com­priz­ing a 12-pin data sys­tem, a shorter 20mm back fo­cus and the new DIGIC 8 pro­ces­sor – en­ables faster com­mu­ni­ca­tion and com­pu­ta­tion, re­sult­ing in su­pe­rior per­for­mance from a num­ber of legacy EF and EF-S lenses when used on the EOS R.

While half of its ini­tial lens lineup is sta­bi­lized (see New RF Lenses over the page), the Canon EOS R it­self fea­tures no in-body im­age sta­bi­liza­tion (IBIS). It’s cer­tainly the sin­gle big­gest missed trick, com­pared to Sony’s, Nikon’s and Olym­pus’s Ibis-equipped mir­ror­less cam­eras. Canon might po­si­tion its lack of any IBIS as a con­scious de­ci­sion – most DSLRS don’t have it.

Par­tic­u­larly when shoot­ing at EV -6 on a f/1.2 lens is lit­er­ally the EOS R’s call­ing card. Shoot­ing and test­ing in such low light con­di­tions, we missed crit­i­cal fo­cus on more than a few shots, un­for­tu­nately, us­ing the 50mm that would have been on the money with IBIS.

The video ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the EOS R are gen­er­ally very good… but it suf­fers from the same 1.7x crop as the 5D Mark IV. Though Canon has po­si­tioned the EF-S mount com­pat­i­bil­ity as a sort-of so­lu­tion to this is­sue. “You can se­lect the op­tion of go­ing in the 4K to go­ing to a crop mode, and what this does is give you sim­i­lar to a Su­per 35mm ra­tio,” Barry Grif­fin ex­plained to us. “So as a B cam­era to any pro­fes­sional video cam­eras on the mar­ket, like the Cin­ema EOS range or any other brand’s pro video range, you will have a sim­i­lar ra­tio.”

The EOS R shoots 4K up to 30fps. It also shoots 1080p (Fullhd) video up to 60fps, and 720p (HD) video up to 120fps. In­ter­nally on a UHS-II SD card you can record at 4:2:0 8-bit with Rec. 709 colour space; ex­ter­nally you can record at 4:2:2 10-bit with Rec. 2020 to de­liver true HDR. C-log comes in the cam­era as stan­dard, so out of the box you can get up to 12 stops of dy­namic range – and that’s avail­able both in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally.

How’s the han­dling?

The EOS R’s size and weight are the first sur­prise, par­tic­u­larly for those

used to mid- to high-end DSLRS. Weigh­ing 660g body only, with mem­ory card and bat­tery, it’s 75% the weight of the Canon 5D Mk IV, the DSLR whose tech­nol­ogy it largely shares. In prac­ti­cal terms it’s al­most the same size as the 6D Mk II. It feels more svelte in the hands, but you won’t be sav­ing a mas­sive amount of space in your kit bag.

It has a low-pro­file ‘pen­taprism’ hous­ing on the top for the elec­tronic viewfinder, and a good-sized grip on the right side of the body. It also bears a top plate that slopes down at an an­gle, and is in­stantly rem­i­nis­cent of past EOS cam­era de­signs – it’s all very Canon.

Al­though the lay­out will be largely fa­mil­iar to Canon DSLR users, there is a new cus­tom­iz­a­ble M-FN Bar. Like the Touch Bar on the lat­est it­er­a­tion of Ap­ple’s Mac­book Pro, the M-FN Bar sup­ports four types of in­put: left, right, slide/ swipe and press com­pletely. This fea­ture has the po­ten­tial to be gen­uinely use­ful – eg a quick swipe to change to your pre­ferred shoot­ing op­tion – but we found it’s easy to ac­ci­den­tally brush against it.

How many af points?

So, how do you se­lect one/some of the 5655 fo­cus points if there’s no joy­stick? Thank­fully, while look­ing through the EVF, you can drag your thumb across the LCD screen to move your AF point. The ‘Touch & drag AF set­ting’ en­ables you to choose whether the left or right half of the screen be­comes your ‘drag­ging pad’. In­stinc­tively you will prob­a­bly choose the right-hand side, so that you can use your thumb as if it were con­trol­ling the thumb­stick. Un­for­tu­nately, the cam­era’s er­gonomics make this much slower and more cum­ber­some than we had hoped.

The OLED sta­tus dis­play on the top of the EOS R is a wel­come ad­di­tion, how­ever, with so much in­for­ma­tion and feed­back avail­able through the EVF, it does feel rather like a holdover from the old school DSLR way of think­ing.

Else­where, the twin-dial con­trol sys­tem is pretty con­ven­tional – ex­cept for one ma­jor dif­fer­ence: there’s no mode dial. You can still scroll through the usual M, Av, Tv and P op­tions, but it does re­quire an ex­tra cou­ple of clicks and keep­ing an eye on the OLED panel – it’ll take a bit of get­ting used to.

The elec­tronic viewfinder is fan­tas­tic, but the EOS R has a spe­cial ad­van­tage over its ri­vals, in the form of its fully ar­tic­u­lat­ing rear screen, great for vw­er­ti­cal shoot­ing and bet­ter, more creative an­gles.

The new full-frame mir­ror­less EOS R is at the heart of the new EOS R sys­tem

The EOS R gets a new cus­tom­iz­a­ble M-FN Bar that works on touch: we found it very sen­si­tive in­deed

Very low light con­di­tions are no prob­lem for the Canon EOS R with ISO40,000 as its top na­tive set­ting!

The new Canon full-frame mir­ror­less EOS R fea­tures a top LCD plate just like higher-spec EOS DSLRS

With over 5000 AF points, you should never miss the sub­ject of your fo­cus, even when edge con­trast is hard to de­tect

With a 30-megapixel full-frame sen­sor, the EOS R has packed much of the EOS 5D Mk IV’S tech­nol­ogy in­side a smaller body

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