CANON’S ALL NEW EOS R MIRRORLESS SYSTEM
AFTER WE’VE WAITED
for at least a couple of years for Canon and Nikon to get their acts together with full-35mm format mirrorless camera systems, both have launched within a couple of weeks of each other… emphatically ending Sony’s long honeymoon in this sector. Nikon was first with its Z series and, just 15 days later, Canon unleashed its EOS R system.
EOS R is based around an all-new RF mount which has an inner diameter of 54 millimetres and a flange back distance of 20 millimetres. It’s a three-claw bayonet fitting with 12 contact pins. The system launches with one camera body and four lenses, with the emphasis on pro and enthusiast-level users (which makes sense given Canon already has consumer-level ‘APS-C’ M mirrorless cameras). There are more “f2.8 L zooms” in the pipeline, but no word on timing.
The EOS R body is SLR-styled similar to Nikon’s Z cameras with a magnesium alloy bodyshell that’s fully weather sealed and features a top panel info read-out and dual input wheels. A brand new control is a multi-function touch-bar, located alongside the EVF eyepiece, which is swiped either left-to-right (or vice versa) to make settings adjustments for one of 40 assignable operations. The EVF itself is a 0.5-inch OLEDtype panel with a resolution of 3.69 megadots and a magnification of 0.76x. The camera’s TFT LCD monitor screen is fully articulated with an 8.01 cm screen adjustable for brightness and with touch controls. There is no built-in flash and no PC flash terminal, but the latter is provided on the optional BG-E22 battery grip. The good news is that Canon’s venerable LP-E6N/E6 battery pack is retained in the EOS R.
The sensor is a Canon-made CMOS device with a total pixel count of 31.7 million (30.3 MP effective) and incorporates the ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ architecture. It appears to be very similar to the sensor in the EOS 5D Mark IV and retains an optical low-pass filter. Number crunching is by Canon’s latest generation ‘DiG!C 8’ processor.
Images can be captured in the 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios, as well as the ‘APS-C’ format. RAW files are captured with 14-bit RGB colour. The maximum image size is 6720x4480 pixels at the 3:2 aspect ratio. The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 100 to 40,000 with expansions either side to ISO 50 and 102,400. Continuous shooting is possible at up to 8.0 fps with AF/AE locked to the first frame or at 5.0 fps with between-the-frames adjustment. The typical burst lengths are quoted at 100 frames for maximum quality JPEGs and 34 RAW files (47 with a UHS-II speed card). The EOS R sticks with the SD memory card format with, like the Nikon Z cameras, only a single slot, but it does have UHS-II speed support.
The ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ system provides phase-difference detection measurements and provides virtually full frame coverage using a massive 5655 points. Area modes include Zone AF, Expand AF and 1-Point AF. There are subject tracking and face recognition modes. Sensitivity is quoted as down to -6.0 EV at ISO 100 and f1.2, and a low-light assist lamp is built-in.
Exposure control is based on 384 measuring zones with evaluative, selective area and spot modes, the latter linkable to the active AF points. Like with Canon’s higher-end D-SLRs, the EOS R has a ‘Scene Intelligent Auto’ mode for automatic subject/scene detection and which supplements the standard ‘PASM’ offerings. The shutter speed range is 30-1/8000 second (plus B) with the options of a sensor-based ‘electronic’ shutter (for silent shooting) or the hybrid ‘electronic first curtain shutter’.
The feature set is pretty similar to that of Canon’s higher-end D-SLRs and includes a set of eight ‘Picture Style’ presets (plus three customisable), a multiple exposure facility, multi-shot HDR capture, multi-shot noise reduction, the ‘Highlight Tone Priority’ and ‘Auto Lighting Optimiser’ processing for dynamic range expansion, a dual-delay self-timer, both WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity, and the same ‘Dual Pixel RAW’ capture options as were introduced with the EOS 5D Mark IV. ‘Dual Pixel RAW’ (DPRAW) uses both photodiodes for image capture, so these files are twice the size of the standard RAW files, but the very slight variation in perspective between the two sets of image data is used to enable some slight adjustments. The processing options are called ‘Image Micro-Adjustment’, ‘Bokeh Shift’ and ‘Ghosting Reduction’, and they all use the offset at any given point in the two images to enable small corrections to be made by applying shifts of varying magnitudes.
Not surprisingly, the EOS R records 4K video at either 25 fps (PAL) or 2 4fps in the Ultra HD resolution of 3840x2160 pixels and with the option of either ALL-I or IPB compression. Full HD video is recorded at 50 fps (PAL) and HD at up to 120 fps for slow-mo effects. The HDMI output can be 10-bit 4:2:2 colour with C-Log to optimise dynamic range. The camera has built-in stereo microphones, plus stereo audio in and out.
The four RF mount lenses announced at the launch are a 35mm f1.8 Macro IS STM, a 50mm f1.2L USM standard, a 28-70mm f2.0L USM zoom and a 24-105mm f4.0L IS USM zoom – with obviously more to come and, of course, and an EF-EOS R mount adaptor. EF-S lenses can also be fitted via the adapter – in which case the camera automatically switches to the ‘APS-C’ format – but not EF-M models. There are, in fact, three mount adaptors; the other two have similar mounting options, but one adds the multi-function control ring that’s a feature of all the RF mount lenses, and the other incorporates a drop-in filter holder and is bundled with either an ND or a circular polariser. Canon says that over 70 EF and EF-S lenses are supported by the adaptors. The control ring can be assigned to apertures, shutter speeds, ISO settings or exposure compensation.
Interestingly, Canon is emphasising what’s possible with lens designs for going mirrorless with a full-35mm sensor rather than simply making a smaller camera body, although the physical comparisons with the EOS 5D Mark IV show just what a difference dropping the mirror box and the pentaprism viewfinder makes.
Local availability is from now for the R body, 24-105mm zoom lens and both the standard and control ring mount adapters. Everything else follows through to December, including the balance of the announced lenses and BG-E22 power grip. The drop-in filter adapter is slated for 2019. The EOS R body is priced at $3349 and the kit with the 24-105mm lens at $4949. It will also be available packaged with the 28-70mm f2.0L zoom and priced at $7549. For more information visit www.canon.com.au