Canon's long-awaited EOS-R camera is eye-friendly and thumb-resistant

Te Canon EOS R is the company's first full-frame, full-frame mirrorless camera. It is built around the same 30.3 MP CMOS sensor as the 5D Mark IV, but features a new RF lens mount with an internal diameter of 54mm and a flange distance of 20mm. According to Canon, this shorter frame means smaller, more responsive lenses.

This is an important camera for the market, especially since it happened almost simultaneously with the Nikon Full Frame without a mirror, but that EOS R did not her downsides. Although some aspects of the EOS R are known to Canon shooters, some rather radical design changes may require some adaptation. Let's dive in.

Key specifications:

  • CMOS Dual Pixel Full Frame CMOS Sensor
  • 3.9M OLED viewfinder
  • Fully articulated rear LCD
  • DIGIC 8 processor, which can shoot up to 8 frames per second
  • ISO range from 100 to 40,000 (expandable to 102,400)
  • 5,655 manually selectable AF points
  • Video UHD 4K 30p from a 1.83x sensor harvest
  • Single slot for UHS-II SD card
  • USB 3.1 charging in the camera

New and notable features:

The main change brought to the EOS R lies in its redesigned RF lens mount. The new mount incorporates a 12-pin communication system, making performance between the new RF mount lenses and the camera body faster and more accurate than the usual EF lenses used on its digital SLRs. Canon also claims that EF lenses will work exactly like on a DSLR when they are adapted to the RF system due to its compatibility with earlier versions.

On the body, there is the addition of the M-FN bar. This is a brand new customizable bar located to the right of the viewfinder that allows taps and scans to control specific camera functions. Another novelty is the control ring knob located at the front of the new RF lens range. Together, they replace the knob usually located on the back of Canon's other high-end cameras.

The Dual Pixel AF mode, a system that uses separate pixels on the sensor to get a more accurate focus, is now available for video recording and allows C-Log footage to be captured internally, but it remains a refractor factor of 1.83 times on 4K footage.

Control layout

The main dial to control the shutter speed is in a familiar place at the top right of the camera. A little below this one, you will find the commands allowing to modify the opening. In particular, it lacks a dedicated ISO button at the top of the camera: although you find the setting to change it by clicking the M-Fn button (this is also where you can find commands for settings such as your shooting modes, AWB, AF and exposure compensation).

The mode button resides at the top of the rear wheel, the button to start recording a video is slightly above. You will also find controls for LCD panel lighting and locking on the top of the camera. On the right rear of the AF-On camera, AEL / FEL and the AF point selection button are all in familiar places. Q and Set are combined into a button located between four customizable direction keys, which allow you to get closer to the functions of the wheel located on the back of a DSLR. The Info button, the trash bin and the image revision move to the right side of the camera body.

In the field

The EOS R is lighter than a DSLR, but its grip is substantial and it's like being in a high-end camera. The menus are intuitive, but the ergonomic changes on the body took a while to get used to.

After long hours of shooting with the EOS R, we were able to make some updates without which we could not have done without it. The good thing about the camera is that everything is highly customizable – so there are certainly ways to find a solution to the problem that we have not found ideal. Let us dive into some of them.

The new M-Fn bar was without a doubt the most frustrating aspect of this camera. Even if at first, it seemed like a clever function to control a number of camera functions, but this poses problems. First, the investment is better in theory than in practice. It is next to the viewfinder, which means that you may accidentally touch it at some point. You can set it up so that it is necessary to activate the tap, which takes longer, or activate immediately, which increases the risks of accidentally pressing. I tried to customize it to control various functions of the camera, but whatever its settings and operation, I found that it slowed me down and resulted in missed shots. Eventually, I found that I was the happiest with the EOS R when the M-Fn bar was completely off.

The touch-sensitive AF interface of the EOS R is one of the most convenient features because it allows you to move an AF point with your finger while looking in the viewfinder. However, there are other ways to select your AF point. The default settings require you to press the focus button, and then use the front and rear dials to move the point on the screen. The arrow keys at the back of the camera can also handle this task. Although slightly less accurate than using dials or buttons, touching and dragging is certainly the fastest way to select a new AF point. In low light situations, the autofocus was fairly accurate, but not as fast as the 5D Mark VI.

The customizable control ring on the new lenses is also helpful. Since there is no dedicated ISO button (it is hidden under the M-Fn button), I switched between the fact that the ringtone controls this and my opening. You are less likely to accidentally activate it than the M-Fn bar, and the clicks recorded during the move allow a touch experience when changing settings.

The WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity of the device seems much faster than that found in other Canon compatible WiFi devices. A fully charged battery will last a whole day of shooting. The new range of RF mount lenses designed for the camera is sharp and fast. And if you use the control ring mount adapter, you can use your old glass. More importantly, the camera images are really beautiful.

Image quality

Although the camera has a lot of quirks, the images that it produces are beautiful. The new lens line certainly has something to do with it, but the JPG files out of the camera provide a nice contrast, a clean look and a very effective color management. Even in low light conditions, with a higher ISO sensitivity of 8000, the quality is quite acceptable, even when you're watching pictures close up.

The final result

The EOS R may not be quite the "mirrorless 5D" that some photographers were hoping for, but it's still a good option for high-end amateurs or as a backup. There are certainly quirks in the design, but as we mentioned, there are alternatives. As Canon has stated, this new range has never been designed to replace the popular DSLR range of professionals.