Irish Independent - Business Week - - TECHNOLOGY -

CANON has fi­nally pro­duced a full­frame mir­ror­less cam­era. But is it worth the at­ten­tion of pro­fes­sion­als?

I re­cently got the new Eos R to test. Be­cause I own (and use) Canon’s 6D Mark ii and lots of lenses for it, I was in­ter­ested in how the new mir­ror­less model com­pared in qual­ity and us­abil­ity.

Here are some early con­clu­sions on the Eos R’s ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, in­clud­ing the rea­sons I would pos­si­bly con­sider buy­ing one (and one im­por­tant is­sue that might veto this).

As you’ll see from my head­ings be­low, I think a use­ful way of do­ing this is to com­pare it to the 6D Mark ii, which is prob­a­bly the Canon model you might con­sider buy­ing in­stead of the Eos R. in­valu­able at a wed­ding cer­e­mony, for ex­am­ple. For cer­tain sports events, such as golf, silent cam­eras are now the only va­ri­ety al­lowed for tee-off shots.

The Eos R’s touch­screen is a cru­cial draw, too: it flips out in the same way that Canon’s cur­rent 6D ii does. This gives huge flex­i­bil­ity, both for photos and video. (It’s the rea­son I bought the 6D ii ear­lier this year.)

But the touch­screen has one other trick: it can be used to se­lect your fo­cus point when you’re us­ing the viewfinder. In other words, when your eye is up to the viewfinder, your thumb can guide where you want the fo­cus to be by mov­ing it about on the touch­screen.

Pre­sum­ably, Canon chose this in­stead of the joy­stick used by some other pro-level cam­eras. This gives it a big ad­van­tage over the 6D Mark ii, which in­her­its the orig­i­nal 6D’s (pretty aw­ful, re­stricted) fo­cus se­lec­tion sys­tem.

It’s not flaw­less, how­ever: I found that it is some­times a lit­tle jit­tery or jumpy. I wouldn’t like to to­tally rely on it pro­fes­sion­ally – a joy­stick would be more re­li­able.

There is also a mar­ginal ad­van­tage in the Eos R’s shape and size: it’s slim­mer and lighter than any other full frame Canon cam­era be­cause of its mir­ror­less tech­nol­ogy. (Al­though some of that ad­van­tage is negated by the slightly larger, heav­ier na­tive lenses for it, or by the ex­tra length that the adap­tor adds when you want to use one of your ex­ist­ing Canon DSLR lenses.)

Is the Eos R a per­fect first full-frame mir­ror­less cam­era for Canon? Not by a long shot.

Canon has made one of those mad­den­ing moves by only putting in one mem­ory card slot. This guar­an­tees two things. First, cer­tain pro­fes­sion­als, such as wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers, will feel they can’t risk switch­ing to it yet.

Mem­ory cards rarely fail, but it’s a fear that hangs over many event pho­tog­ra­phers: their liveli­hood de­pends on that card. The sin­gle card slot also en­sures that Canon leaves the way open for a more ex­pen­sive mir­ror­less model next year with a se­cond card slot, mar­keted as the true pro­fes­sional mir­ror­less cam­era.

It’s a risk, though: Sony’s highly ac­com­plished A7 and A9 range have two mem­ory card slots. They re­cently over­took Canon in pro­fes­sional cam­era sales. The Eos R, unac­com­pa­nied by fu­ture dual-slot mod­els, won’t make much of a dent in this mo­men­tum.

Canon is also wor­ry­ingly be­hind on video tech­nol­ogy in its pro­fes­sional cam­eras. The Eos R shoots 4K res­o­lu­tion but at a ridicu­lous 1.7x crop, mean­ing no-one who needs 4K video will re­ally con­sider buy­ing it.

Price is also an is­sue. At €2,729 (with the mount adap­tor in­cluded) for the body only, this is al­most €1,000 more than a 6D Mark ii, and over €1,200 more than the ex­cel­lent mir­ror­less (though cropped frame) Fu­ji­film X-T3, which I re­cently tested at length.

The lenses, too, are ex­pen­sive. Canon’s new 24-105mm (F4) is €1,319 (but around €130 cheaper if bought with the cam­era body). Its new 28-70mm (F2) lens is an eye-wa­ter­ing €3,549. Granted, it’s a new fast speed for a zoom lens, but even still.

Speak­ing of lenses, this cam­era failed to work with one of my most im­por­tant lenses, a Tam­ron 150-600mm tele­photo. I rely on this lens a lot for wildlife and land­scape photos, in­clud­ing sun­sets and sun­rises.

This is an is­sue for me and would likely pre­vent me from buy­ing it.

I didn’t have any such prob­lems with Canon lenses, in­clud­ing the 16-35mm (F2.8), 70-200mm (F2.8) and 85mm (F1.2). And it should be pointed out that the adap­tor also works with EF-S (cropped) lenses, al­though I don’t own any of them. Lastly, it did seem to work fine with an­other Tam­ron lens I own, a 24-70mm (F2.8).

But the Tam­ron tele­photo zoom lens is­sue both­ered me. If there are go­ing to be is­sues with legacy lenses, I’d be re­luc­tant to com­mit to buy­ing this cam­era un­til I know that they might be ironed out or I’m ready to in­vest in a new lens ecosys­tem.

One fi­nal point about the na­tive

‘RF’ lenses for this ma­chine — they’re dis­con­cert­ingly huge. They’re so big, in fact, that they knock out any pos­si­ble porta­bil­ity ad­van­tage this cam­era should have be­cause of its mir­ror­less na­ture.

I don’t re­ally care that there is no in-body sta­bil­i­sa­tion (Ibis) in the Eos R, as few ri­val cam­eras have this.

So who is this cam­era for? It’s not re­ally for videog­ra­phers: Pana­sonic’s GH5 and GH5s still rule there, even if the Eos R’s flip-out screen is ex­cel­lent in this re­gard.

It’s not re­ally a pro­fes­sional cam­era for news me­dia as the lens range is still too small and there is still a ques­tion over com­pat­i­bil­ity.

So what does that leave? I would say semi-pro­fes­sion­als, en­thu­si­asts, video-blog­gers and hob­by­ists who want the ben­e­fits of a full frame sen­sor and who are also aware of the mir­ror­less ad­van­tages (EVF, silent shoot­ing, smaller size).

In other words, peo­ple like me.

I can for­give the EOS R its lack of 4K, sta­bil­i­sa­tion and su­per-high frame rate be­cause it has things that might de­liver slightly su­pe­rior photos for me than other cam­era sys­tems, like ex­cel­lent aut­o­fo­cus.

How­ever, this is a rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive op­tion for this kind of pur­chaser.

If the Eos R was the same price as the 6D Mark ii, I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend it over the DSLR model. It pro­duces ex­cel­lent results and has some solid ad­van­tages. But is it worth €1,000 more, when you could spend that on a re­ally good lens? (Or you just don’t have the guts of €3,000 for a cam­era body?)

That’s a much harder ques­tion to an­swer. I strongly sus­pect that the price might re­strain sales of this cam­era as it may get caught be­tween price­con­scious am­a­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als waiting for a se­cond card slot, bet­ter video and more lenses.

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