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
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