Compared to say Sony and Panasonic, Canon has been a little late to the party with a mirrorless full frame camera, but now we have it, the EOS R that uses the new RF mounting system.
And the EOS R has a top pedigree, being built around the highly successful and prized 5D Mark IV EOS dSLR unit and its 30 megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS system.
They weigh about the same too, that is, they are heavy, which, if using primarily for video with its 4K 30p video capability, is something to bear in mind. Because as we have said many times, the ergonomics of the dSLR body shape are simply not suited to (in our opinion) or anywhere near as good as those from a dedicated camcorder for this task. Ergo, you’ll need extra bolt on bits most likely.
Canon says the EOS R is its lightest full frame camera, but it has still managed to make it weather sealed to 6DF standard by the way.
First and foremost is the new mount of course. Do we need yet another mount type is the obvious question? You could almost say the RF mount is actually an upgrade from the older EF mount as it is the same diameter (54mm) but is only half as deep. There is a new 12 pin connection incorporated, Canon says improves data transfer speeds.
The drawback of course is that if you have invested a shed load of money in EF lenses over the years, as many have, then you are screwed in this department; you’ll need to replace them with RF mount beasts or spend money on the Canon EF-EOS R adaptor (about AUD $199)
We were sent a 50mm prime and 24mm-105mm telephoto, and these performed beautifully.
Canon also say the new design and higher data transfer rate means the image stabilisation now better compensates for vibration and at the same time, deals with lens aberration and diffraction.
One thing that is truly new, and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it, is the M-Fn bar, a swipe / tap area to the right of the viewfinder
Also incorporated is the C-RAW file format, which gives a 40% smaller file than Canon RAW with no discernible loss of quality under normal circumstances.
As mentioned, 4K video is available, albeit with a 1.83x crop applied, sort of stuffing up decent wide angle shooting. We also noticed some rolling shutter issues (as have other reviewers after researching this), so there is still a place for post applications such as ProDAD’s Mercalli.
Frame rate is limited to 30fps and output is in 10-bit 4:2:2 C-Log over HDMI. You can also capture C-Log footage internally, but with 8-bit 4:2:0 files.
The position of the right hand on the EOS R I found a little problematic. Sure, I have a dicky wrist with a rather large lump on it to boot, but unlike my 5DS, the fingers just didn’t quite fall naturally on to the front and rear dials and shutter release while cradling the body in my left.
I know this is a personal thing, but I do suggest you have a play before purchasing, as not being comfortable with a camera in the long term does become a Big Thing in my experience.
Now onto the M-Fn bar. This area can be customised to act as a pair of buttons as well as a swipeable control. Canon provides some presets or you can define your own.
Other “standard” buttons are of course also customisable, but on the EOS R, the Q Menu is not.
Swipe commands include autofocus, ISO, White Balance and when recording video, mic level, headphone level and aperture. There are plenty more options too. A safety lock is incorporated (that you can turn off), necessitating in touching the M-Fn bar for 2 seconds to make it operable.
The ol’ standard LP-E6N battery can be used in the EOS R as can the olderLP-E6, although the latter has a lesser life and cannot be charged in the camera. For in camera charging, a USB-C slot is offered. Some reviews I read made a point that the EOS R is fussy about the actual charger used with some not working. There is a genuine Canon one (as against the supplied external charger) apparently, listed at USD$190, but this does not appear on the Canon Australia website at this stage.
Viewfinder / Flip Out Screen
The electronic viewfinder is a 3.69 million pixel OLED screen that is especially bright and clear. The dioptre control is easy to get at, not needing a pointy thumb belonging to a 2 year old. There is no tilt or extension on the viewfinder though sadly. The flip out 3.15” 2.4 million dot LCD is touch screen enabled including “drag focus” and rotates through 270 degrees.
The EOS R has 5655 AF point positions and an AF working range of EV-6 to 18. Continuous shooting up to 8 frames / second is supported as is time lapse video in either 4K or FHD resolution. Wi-fi and Bluetooth are incorporated and recording media is to either SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards that are UHS-II and UHJS-1 compatible.
There is no faulting the image quality of the EOS R; it is, as you would expect from Canon, superb. And that after all, is the end game, everything else runs secondary.
The EOS R has all the features (some with limitations admittedly), yes the lenses are simply brilliant and yes it is after all a Canon so build quality, back up service and so on will be excellent.
Therefore yes, there is a lot to like about the EOS R, but my biggest issue is with the ergonomics, they just do not suit my way of doing things and I know this is a personal thing as I mentioned before.
I need to add it really does not matter whether it is this EOS R, a 5D or indeed, any dSLR type model from any manufacturer – I am old school and feel the swing to this type of camera for the “filmic” look and shallow depth of field is simply overblown in importance and that ergonomics are FAR more relevant.
In other words, give me a proper, ergonomic camcorder any day.
At the time of doing this review, the Canon Australia website lists the EOS R (which is $3299 for the body only) as “out of stock”, so obviously many, many people do like it.
It’s just not my cup of tea, but that does not take away from what makes the EOS R good – the image quality.
And THAT is what we all want at the end of the day, yes?