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Canon EOS R Review (Is This the Best Canon Mirrorless Camera?)

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The Canon EOS R is one of Canon’s full frame mirrorless cameras aimed at the prosumer. It now benefits from the ever-growing range of RF-mount lenses available. These include a good number of prestigious L-series lenses too.

In this review, we’ll look in detail at its specs and performance, and compare it briefly with others that you might consider.

Canon EOS R
Canon EOS R
A powerful full frame mirrorless camera. The dynamic range, low light performance, and AF system are excellent. And the video features make it a solid hybrid camera.
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Canon EOS R Overview and Specifications

Canon EOS R

Canon EOS R
Released 2018
Sensor Format Full Frame
Lens Mount Canon RF
Megapixels 30.3 MP
Autofocus Points 5,655
Maximum ISO 102,400
Frame Rate 8 fps
In-body Stabilization No
Video Yes

The EOS R wasn’t Canon’s first mirrorless camera. But it was the first to use a full-frame sensor. Also, it was the first camera built for Canon’s new lineup of RF mount lenses.

As Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, it is by no means perfect. But, it does have some fantastic features!

At its core, it has the same high-resolution, 30.3MP (megapixel), full-frame CMOS sensor found in the Canon 5D Mark IV. The sensor, combined with the speedy DIGIC 8 image processor, helps make the EOS R one of the most powerful cameras.

With the same sensor, you are getting the image quality of the EOS 5D Mark IV, but for a more attractive price. Additionally, you get a new way to capture scenes. There is an electronic viewfinder instead of the traditional optical viewfinder.

A few more essential features—it captures 4K video at up to 30p (frames per second) and shoots at speeds of up to 8fps. Plus, it is lighter and more compact than traditional Canon DSLR cameras.

One frequently asked question is if Canon has discontinued the camera. I don’t know where the rumor first started. But Canon is still making the EOS R and has no plans to stop.

Canon EOS R front

Who is the Canon EOS R For?

As a top-tier mirrorless camera, the EOS R is an attractive choice for many. The EOS R body has advanced features and an easy-to-use design. It’s terrific for professionals, beginners, and everyone in-between.

One group it’s catered towards is long-time Canon users who want a more compact camera. The EOS R is perfect because it’s noticeably smaller and lighter. But at the same time, you can keep all your old Canon lenses (EF).

With 4K capabilities, it’s also a solid choice for hybrid videographers who shoot videos and stills. While it’s not the best video camera on the planet, you can still comfortably do professional work with it. But if you primarily shoot video, I would opt for the more expensive Sony A7S III.

Key Features of the Canon EOS R

Let’s dive in and discover where the Canon EOS R mirrorless camera shines and where it falls short of expectations.

Mount and Compatibility

The new RF mount sticks to Canon’s standard 54mm diameter. Where it differs is the shorter 20mm flange distance. That is less than half the EF lens mount size with a 44mm flange distance.

This huge difference-maker gives Canon the ability to design and create smaller and faster lenses. Furthermore, this short and wide new mount allows designers to work with wider apertures, which we all want.

Another significant difference is the 12-pin electronic connection. For comparison, the Canon 5D Mark IV has an 8-pin connection. The upgraded contact system speeds up communication between the camera and the lens. Thus, there is faster data transfer.

Two areas where this is obvious are autofocus and image stabilization. Both are noticeably better on the EOS R than on older DSLRs.

Lenses and Adapters

One downside of the new RF mount is that a limited number of native lenses are available. But Canon is working hard on this and is debuting more lenses every year. Likewise, the number of third-party lenses available is low.

If you are looking for a general-purpose lens, go for the 35mm f/1.8 Macro. But professionals might prefer the 28-70mm f/2 USM lens. I enjoyed using both the 50mm prime and 28-70mm standard zoom lens. I liked them both for their sharpness, quality, and versatility.

Finally, with the help of an EF to RF lens mount adapter, you can unlock the entire lineup of Canon EF lenses. On top of that, there are also RF lens extenders of 1.4x and 2.0x.

Canon 24-105 lens

Sensor and Image Quality

The Canon EOS R has the same 30.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor as the Canon 5D Mark IV. It measures 36×24 mm and is slightly larger than competing full-frame cameras like the Sony Alpha A7 III.

With 30.3MP, the EOS R has a higher resolution than most competitors. The Sony A7R IV is the only one with a significantly higher pixel count. Additionally, it houses a potent Digic 8 image processor.

Regarding image quality, the sensor delivers images with a maximum resolution of 6720×4480. That’s massive! You should have no issues cropping, zooming in, or enlarging photos while editing.

In terms of dynamic range, it’s excellent. It has a score of 13.5 on the dynamic range test. That aligns with Canon’s other high-end cameras and professional full-frame cameras from brands like Sony and FujiFilm.

The EOS R has an ISO range like that of older DSLR cameras. It has an ISO range of 100-40000 (expandable to 50 to 102400).

Noise levels are comparable to all other Canon EOS DSLRs at every ISO level. As a rule of thumb, you can generally expect to shoot noise-free images up to ISO 12800 (6400 if you blow up your stills for large prints).

No Picture Stabilization

One crucial feature missing from the EOS R is in-body image stabilization. The decision by Canon not to include it is a bit of a head-scratcher. It has become commonplace in most new cameras.

While many Canon RF lenses adapted EF lenses feature stabilization technology, not all do. So take note if you use the EOS R with lenses without stabilization. Camera shake and blur are more likely to appear, decreasing image quality.

A couple embracing indoors
Shot with Canon EOS R

JPEGs, RAW Files, and Out-of-the-Box Images

One of the strong points of Canon cameras has always been their JPEG images. And this continues with the EOS R. The colors remain rich and vivid. Plus, in-camera sharpening has improved compared to other DSLRs.

The 14-bit Canon CRW RAW files are indistinguishable from the 5D Mark IV, meaning they are phenomenal. They are roughly 31MB in size and retain copious amounts of information in the highlights and lowlights.

As far as out-of-the-box image quality when shooting RAW—it’s good but not great. Amateur photographers will have no complaints and love the intense colors. But professional photographers will see better results after editing.

One of the additions to this new camera system is C-RAW imaging files (Canon compresses RAW files). They are something the Canon M50 first implemented. And the response was so positive that Canon decided to add them to the EOS R.

C-RAW files are 40% smaller than regular RAW files. They allow you to save space on your memory cards and subsequent disk space. Best of all, you won’t see any degradation in image quality unless you push the files by multiple stops in post-production.

Bright and airy shot of the exterior of a building
Shot with Canon EOS R

Focusing and Burst Mode

The Canon EOS R comes with a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system with 5,655 autofocus points. The AF system covers 100% of the frame vertically and 88% horizontally. It gives you outstanding performance across many different scenes and scenarios.

Using the EOS R for street photography, I found the dual pixel autofocus very good, even at high burst rates. Furthermore, this camera is fantastic in low-light situations and is now the industry standard.

If you’re familiar with Canon cameras, you will find the autofocus settings and modes on the EOS R similar to the Canon 6D Mark II and the 5D Mark IV.

There are seven primary AF area modes:

  • Face and tracking
  • Single (one-point) AF (small or normal)
  • Expand AF area (cross)
  • Expand AF area (around)
  • Zone AF
  • Large zone AF vertical
  • Large zone AF horizontal

Additionally, there is face and eye detection technology. It quickly recognizes subjects and accurately focuses when shooting at wide apertures. The only problem is it’s only available when using the Single AF mode.

Unfortunately, face and eye detection only work well when shooting static subjects. It’s perfect for portraits, lifestyle shots, and capturing families and couples. It struggles with active children or at events, such as weddings.

In those latter situations, it’s better to switch to Servo AF (continuous autofocus). It constantly checks and adjusts the autofocus in real-time and is ideal for moving subjects. Moreover, it does a terrific job of quickly locating and tracking subjects.

Bright and airy portrait of a female model sitting in a window with a guitar
Shot with Canon EOS R

Frame Rates

The Canon EOS R has a burst speed of 8fps when shooting continually. For a new camera, this is quite underwhelming. For example, most Sony cameras feature three or four different continuous shooting speeds, topping out at 11fps.

Worse yet, it only shoots at 8fps in manual focus and Single AF mode. As soon as you switch over to Continuous AF (where you usually want to be for continuous shooting), you have a max speed of 5fps.

The frame rate is limited even further in Tracking Priority mode or using the electronic viewfinder. It drops to a minuscule 3fps.

While the subject tracking feature works well in Servo AF, the slow burst rates do their best to hold it back. I suggest shooting with your shutter speed as high as possible to combat them.

Canon EOS R with video options on the back display

Video Features

Many filmmakers will choose this Canon camera because of its video autofocus capabilities. It houses a Dual-Pixel AF system that works splendidly during 4k filming. On occasion, the tracking hunts a little longer than I’d like. But it’s a success overall.

Another selling point of the Canon EOS R is the video color output. Contrary to Sony cameras, the color palette is bright and vibrant for all colors—especially reds.

Two more pluses are the battery life and the articulating screen. With a battery life of up to four hours, it blows the competition out of the water. The Sony A7 III can only film for around two hours.

In addition, the flip-up, articulating screen is terrific for vloggers and YouTubers.

Now to the negatives. The biggest problem with video in this camera is the lack of built-in stabilization. You can always use a stabilized lens, but I’ve found that they still deliver more camera shake than I would like for handheld recording.

Another complaint I have is that once you start recording, the histogram disappears. Many filmmakers like to view this information as they shoot and make adjustments accordingly.

Lastly, I have to mention the rolling shutter. It’s nonexistent during 1080p recording but pops up way too often when filming in 4K.

Pros:

  • 4K/30p capture video quality
  • 1080p full HD up to 60p
  • Fully-articulating rear LCD screen
  • Great battery life (up to four hours when filming)
  • Applies a crop of 1.8x for 4K

Cons:

  • No in-body image stabilization
  • Digital image stabilization crops even more if turned on
  • Rolling shutter is typical in 4K
  • No specific button for filming

Although the Canon EOS R video capabilities are reasonable, it can’t keep up with the full-frame cameras from Sony and FujiFilm. Those companies have had years of trial and error to improve their mirrorless systems. The EOS R is Canon’s first crack at it. And I expect them to take giant steps forward with future iterations.

Canon EOS R articulating screen

Body and Handling

You will love the Canon EOS R design if you switch from a Canon DSLR. It has the same classic look and feel as Canon DSLRs. But two significant differences are its size and weight.

It measures 136x98x84mm and weighs only 660 grams. While it’s not as small as some of its top competitors, it is lighter and more compact than traditional Canons like the 5D Mark IV.

Overall, it’s a durable full-frame camera that feels well built. That’s thanks to its sturdy magnesium alloy construction and a weather-sealed body. While I wouldn’t take it out in a full-on rainstorm, it has no issues with light rain, a little water splash, or dust.

Looking at the buttons and controls of the EOS R, it’s very similar to previous Canon cameras. It has two control dials and all the standard buttons.

But one excellent new addition is the M-Fn (multi-function) Bar. It’s a touch bar next to the EVF that is super customizable. You can choose to use it as two separate buttons or set it as a swipeable bar that scrolls through as many camera settings as you assign it.

So far, the M-Fn Bar is a controversial feature that’s received mixed reviews. People tend to either love it or hate it. Personally, I admire the creativity and forward-thinking on Canon’s part. While the feature has its flaws (it can be sensitive), it shows Canon isn’t afraid to think big and be bold.

Finally, I’d like to highlight the rear touchscreen LCD. Canon has long had one of the best touchscreen operating systems in the world. And the EOS R has adopted the same industry-leading screen and controls.

Canon EOS R back

Alternatives

When it comes to new mirrorless cameras, there are many competitors in the price range of the Canon EOS R. Let’s check some of them out:

  • Sony A7 III—was also released in 2018. With a 24.2MP sensor, the resolution is slightly lower, but its video capabilities are superior.
  • Fujifilm X-T4—is Fuji’s top-tier full-frame mirrorless system and one of their most popular cameras. It comes in two colors and features a 26.1MP sensor.
  • Nikon Z 7—is a solid camera ideal for resolution junkies. It boasts a giant 45.7MP full-frame sensor but has a higher price tag.
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9—only has a 20.9MP full-frame sensor but can produce JPEGs with a resolution of 80MP. It’s excellent for photographers who don’t like editing.

Canon EOS R specs comparison with Mark IV

Verdict

Canon did a fantastic job dipping its toes into the full-frame mirrorless market with a highly compelling camera. But I would like to see two things in future camera iterations—in-body stabilization and un-cropped 4K video.

While it has flaws, recent firmware updates have improved the camera’s speed and ease of use. Additionally, price drops have made it a desirable choice for professionals and amateurs alike.

So is the EOS R worth buying? Absolutely! But we’ll leave this Canon EOS R review in your hands to decide if it’s the camera for.

Scores

Measurement Score
Main Features 80%
Extra Features 80%
Construction and Durability 87%
Handling and Ergonomics 73%
Value for Money 80%
Total Score 80%
Canon EOS R
Canon EOS R
A powerful full frame mirrorless camera. The dynamic range, low light performance, and AF system are excellent. And the video features make it a solid hybrid camera.
Shop 2 Offers
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