Canon EOS R Review
Mirrorless full format system camera
The camera, which has a resolution of about 30 megapixels, is designed to meet the professional demands of photographers. The camera also offers 4K video recording and HDR video recording. The hybrid autofocus works with a total of 5,655 measuring points and should work quickly and reliably even in poor lighting conditions.
- High quality workmanship
- Informative shoulder display
- Convenient, new, flexible Fv recording mode
- Good connectivity with Bluetooth (GPS) and WLAN
- Very good image quality up to ISO 3,200
- Selectable USB charging function
- Strong crop for video recordings
- Unlike the competition, no sensor shift image stabilizer
Shortly after Nikon introduced its mirrorless Z-System with 35mm full-frame sensor, Canon follows with the EOS-R-System – also with a new bayonet. Unlike Nikon, Canon has been mixing with the EOS-M system in the mirror-less segment for quite some time now, initially not very successfully, but the recently released cameras are really good and also successful. The M bayonet, with its diameter of approx. 46 mm, seemed too small for a 35mm full-frame sensor to the manufacturer. The new EOS R bayonet, on the other hand, has an impressive diameter of 54 mm (only 1 mm smaller than Nikon Z) and thus enables a large rear lens in the lens and thus a favorable beam path to the large full-frame sensor in the camera. Especially in the picture corners this promises a lower light fall-off and a higher resolution compared to a smaller bayonet. However, the almost vertical impact of the beams should not only be important for the image quality, but also for the correct function of the dual-pixel autofocus, especially at the edges. The EOS R’s autofocus covers 88 percent horizontally and 100 percent vertically, so it works almost right up to the corners. The EOS R’s autofocus has an amazing 5,655 selectable AF positions and, according to Canon, is said to be the fastest autofocus in the world. The camera has to focus within 0.05 seconds and the autofocus works even in extremely low light: minus 6 LW according to Canon. No other autofocus system, not even that of a DSLR, offers this yet.
The newly developed full-frame CMOS sensor of the Canon EOS R offers 30.3 megapixel effective resolution and delivers the images to the new Digic 8 image processor. This has a so-called “Digital Lens Optimizer” function (DLO, as with Fujifilm), with which the imaging performance of the lenses is electronically optimized. The RF lens sends the correction data to the camera. For example, possible distortions should be corrected without affecting the recording speed. The EOR R can take up to eight continuous shots per second in full resolution, but then without autofocus tracking. With AF tracking, it’s five frames per second. The EOS R also offers noiseless triggering for discrete shots. The noiseless shots should be even quieter than before and above all have a better image quality (less noise). Otherwise, however, it is merely an electronic shutter. Unlike Sony or Nikon, Canon does not incorporate an optical sensor shift image stabilizer in its new camera. With the EOS-R system, the stabilization takes place in the lens instead (but of course both would be nicer or a stabilization inside the camera would help a lot with unstabilized lenses).
The EOS R is also designed as a high-quality production tool for the film industry, says Canon. It records 4K video material (UHD, 16:9) at 30 fps and offers extensive tone control, a rotatable and tiltable display and both focus peaking and the focus guide known from the Cinema EOS to support manual focusing. The EOS R also features Canon Log, a neutral contrast shot setting with up to 12 f-stops dynamic range at ISO 400, allowing you to highlight even the smallest details in bright and dark areas during post-production grading. FullHD recordings are possible with a maximum of 60 fps, so the EOS R is not suitable for FullHD slow motion. With 4K videos, however, Canon trims the recording area in the sensor, i.e. the EOS R cannot handle a so-called full-frame readout (in which the entire sensor is read out). Canon justifies this with the fact that this is the only way to achieve thermal stability in 4K recordings with the relatively small case. For the user, this means an apparent extension of the focal length by a factor of approx. 1.7. In terms of calculation, this actually amounts to 1.8. The difference, as reads in various places on the Internet, could result from the electronic image stabilisation. However, this in turn makes an excerpt, so that according to our understanding even 1.8 is likely to be effective.
The EOS R has only one memory space (like the Nikon Z 7, for which Nikon currently has to take some criticism). The power supply is provided by the well-known LP-E6N battery. Only this type can be charged via USB-C in the camera, but this requires a USB power supply with 3 A current at 5 V, which does not apply to many “mobile phone chargers”. The older type LP-E6 (without “N”) also works, but cannot be loaded into the camera. The battery life is indicated by Canon with 370 shots.
The electronic viewfinder with 3.69 million pixels is supposed to display the motifs true to colour even in darkness and of course offers 100 percent image field coverage. The magnification factor is 0.76 times. The EOS R’s freely rotatable and swivelling touchscreen is also beautifully large: with a screen diagonal of 3.2 inches (eight centimeters), it offers a fine 2.1 million pixels resolution.
The EOS R offers some new operating features. To the right below the viewfinder, still quite easy to reach with the thumb, there is a touch panel to which various functions can be assigned. Also new is another recording function called Fv, the “F” stands for “flexible”, the “v” for “variable” as usual at Canon. It is selected via the Mode button (the EOS R does not have a classic program selector wheel) and is placed between fully automatic and program automatic. The mode allows you to quickly set one or more of the aperture, exposure time, exposure compensation, or ISO sensitivity parameters manually. By the way, the settings are made via the various rotary knobs, the optical feedback is given, among other things, on the large monochrome display on top of the camera.
New in the operating concept of the EOS-R system is also a flexible adjustment ring on the lens. This can be assigned any function (as with Nikon’s new Z-lenses, by the way), classically the aperture, of course, but if necessary also the exposure time or the light sensitivity (ISO number) of the camera or other. Matching the new EOS R system camera, four RF lenses were introduced, all of which will be available this year as well.
The RF lens bayonet allows a fundamentally new optical design of the lenses. According to Canon, the 20 mm support dimension and the bayonet diameter of 54 mm have made it possible to develop new lenses that were previously impossible. The new RF 50mm F1.2L USM is the fastest lens in its class. Canon also promises exceptional detail, sharpness and clarity, as well as exceptional low-light performance.
Last but not least, the new RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM is a fast 35mm macro lens ideal for street, travel and close-up photography. It offers a natural wide-angle perspective, an extremely short focusing distance and Hybrid IS. Focus, aperture and IS drive system have been optimally integrated. The RF 35 mm is the only one of the four RF lenses not to be an “L” lens (“L” is Canon’s premium class including splash water and dust protection, recognizable by the red ring), but it is comparatively inexpensive: the lens, which will be available from December 2018, costs 549 Euro RRP.
Of course, the EOS R can also be used with the previous EOS EF lenses. There are three or four (not quite clear) different lens adapters for this. One of them (“Control Ring Mount Adapter” for almost 220 Euro) also has the described additional adjustment ring. The previous EF lenses can thus be operated on the EOS R like a native RF lens. The simpler version (“Mount Adapter” for almost 110 €, from October 2018) without the control ring costs only half as much (this adapter should initially be included free of charge with both the body and the kit with 24-105mm lens, how long the action is valid is not known). A third adapter is available in two versions: This has a plug-in filter supplied either as a variable neutral density filter or as a circular polarizing filter, but no control ring. The prices: 449 Euro for the version with variable neutral density filter and 329 Euro for the version with polarizing filter, both available from February 2020. The filters as well as a transparent filter should also be available separately, prices are not yet fixed.
A BG-E22 portrait and battery handle for the EOS R is also coming onto the market. This takes up two batteries, so that the battery life approximately doubles (the battery from the camera must be removed for operation with the battery handle). The handle has its own charging electronics, the batteries used in it can be recharged at any (powerful) USB charger that can deliver at least 3 amps (e.g. B. at current notebook chargers with USB-C plug). On weaker chargers, the battery handle doesn’t charge (nor does the camera, by the way, as we were able to try out). The handle also features portrait format controls and a flash sync socket. The BG-E22 comes onto the market in October 2018 with a recommended retail price of 329 euros.
New is also a small flash with the type designation Canon EL-100 on the market (the EOS R has no built-in flash). It is a compact, 190 gram light flash unit with swivel reflector, which is operated with only two AA cells. The flash has a manual zoom reflector with two positions corresponding to 24 and 50 mm lens focal length. In the 50mm position, it achieves an ISO100 guide number of 26, which is not bad at all as a small always-along flash for the camera bag (or jacket pocket). We have no information about price and availability at the moment. Of course, the EOS R also works with all other Canon EOS system flashes.
The Canon EOS R is the DSLR market leader’s first mirrorless full-frame system camera. With a resolution of 30 megapixels, Canon is pushing into the gap between the 24 megapixel and over 40 megapixel models from Sony and Nikon. Canon is also not lumpen with the equipment including video function and high-resolution electronic viewfinder. But our test reveals what the EOS R is good for in practice, in operation and in image quality.
Ergonomics and workmanship
Right from the first touch one notices that the Canon EOS R is a high quality camera. Their housing is made of a robust and lightweight magnesium alloy. Nevertheless, it already weighs a good 650 grams without a lens and is ready for use, more than twice as heavy with the F4 fast RF 24-105mm zoom. The housing is also protected against splash water and dust by numerous seals. As usual with Canon, the camera is a real hand flatterer. The handle is perfectly shaped so that even larger lenses can be held easily. Canon even offers a portrait handle, which adds the missing flash sync socket to the camera.
The interfaces of the EOS R are all located on the left side of the case and are closed by three rubber covers, so that you only have to “open” the interfaces you actually need. On the one hand, a remote release cable can be connected via a 2.5 mm jack. The USB-C interface allows both data transfer and charging of the battery, but an external charging cradle is also included. However, the USB interface is very choosy when it comes to the power source. We couldn’t find a USB-A charger (or power bank) where the EOS R charges. It worked slightly better with USB power supplies and Powerbanks with Power Delivery (PD) via native USB-C interface (the Aukey Powerbank models PB-Y7 and PB-Y14 as well as the car charger Aukey CC-Y1 worked). However, the camera often had to be “persuaded” to recharge by opening and closing the battery compartment lid once. But by no means every power bank with USB-C and PD charged the EOS R in our test. It’s a shame the camera gets so picky. The lithium-ion battery is sufficient for at least 370 CIPA-standard shots (in practice, this can be more shots depending on use), but a percent accurate residual charge indicator can only be found in the menu.
The USB-C interface also promises more than it delivers when it comes to data transfer. The Canon EOS R connects via the PTP protocol and allows read-only access to the memory card. A selection of photos can not be moved to the computer and deleted on the camera. At around 40 megabytes per second, data transfer does not even reach USB-2 speed. A good card reader is therefore a very sensible investment, because it can easily achieve at least five times as fast data transfer rates.
There are also some video interfaces with Mini-HDMI (Type C) and two 3.5mm jacks (for microphone and headphones). Even a small thread for attaching a cable strain relief or kink protection is available. Canon has to put up with some criticism for the decision to give the EOS R only a single memory card slot. After all, the SD memory card slot is compatible with SDHC, SDXC, UHS I and UHS II. One should use the latter memory cards with at least 150 MB/s writing speed, if one doesn’t want to slow down the camera, because in practice, with a 299 MB/s fast Sony-SF-G memory card, we easily reached a writing rate of more than 140 MB/s with serial pictures.
Canon uses a 3.69 million pixel OLED and an extremely large viewfinder image (0.76x magnification) for the viewfinder. Thanks to the dioptric correction it can be used without glasses if the vision is not too bad. With glasses on your nose, you can’t completely see the viewfinder image. Conditionally, the possibility of making the viewfinder image smaller provides a remedy.
The viewfinder eyepiece protrudes a good bit backwards, so that you don’t have to stick your nose to the touchscreen and operate it comfortably with your eye on the viewfinder. Due to the fine resolution, one sometimes forgets that one looks through a video viewfinder. It shows its strengths, for example, when the ambient light fades and you have a night vision camera in front of you. You can see more details than with the naked eye. Only the refresh rate is likely to be even higher. You can choose between 30 or 60 frames per second. This certainly provides for a smooth viewfinder image, but for action scenes 100-120 frames per second would be even better, as you get them for example with Fujifilm.
The electronic viewfinder also helps with operation. After pressing the M-Fn button with the front dial, you can scroll through various settings and adjust them with the rear wheel. The fade-ins do not cause you to lose sight of your subject and, depending on the option, you can observe the effects directly in the viewfinder image, for example during white balance.
The rear touchscreen, which is a good eight centimetres in size, can be swivelled and rotated so that it is suitable for taking pictures from every conceivable angle. It works with LCD technology and resolves fine 2.1 million pixels. Without setting brightness records, it illuminates sufficiently against the sunlight with almost 650 cd/m². In addition, Canon consistently implements the touch control, whereby with one exception you can completely dispense with it. This exception will certainly be seen by many as a shortcoming: The Canon lacks an AF joystick. Instead, the touch screen is used to place the autofocus field(s), of which the camera has over 5,000 distributed to the edge area. By the way, Canon is particularly proud of this and stresses that the new large bayonet was necessary for this, among other things, because the autofocus requires light beams that are as vertical as possible for reliable operation at the edges.
The touch screen also allows the autofocus fields to be shifted when looking through the viewfinder. You can select which screen area is used for this and whether the positioning should be relative or absolute. Our subjective impression is that this works better, faster and more precisely than any AF joystick. However, the complete menu can also be operated via the touchscreen if desired. This eliminates the need to scroll through the menu tabs, as you can jump directly to the desired menu area with a fingertip. Also when confirming or selecting setting points, the direct tipper on the desired option proves itself without having to move the cursor first.
The Canon EOS R also offers many buttons and control wheels. The sensible presettings can also be adapted to the needs of the photographer. This also includes the new touch control panel on the back of the camera. It is modern, fun and can be freely occupied. But at least in practice it can’t really convince all along the line. If you use it without the lock function, you can easily operate the camera unintentionally. With lock, however, the necessary unlocking again annoys. But you can also manage without this control panel, whereby some traditional photographers might have preferred an additional control wheel with push function.
Also new is the adjustment ring on the lenses. It sits right in front and is preset with the exposure correction. The ring snaps into place, but it is as soft as butter and can thus be adjusted unintentionally at this exposed position. Perhaps Canon should have placed the ring at the back, especially as this would be more logical in the sense that there is an EF bayonet adapter with this adjustment ring, which then sits at the back instead of the front of the lens. To move the ring to the same position on the native lenses would have been quite conclusive. Speaking of adapters: The EF adapter with integrated filter insert is very smart. In this way, the otherwise empty space is used sensibly.
The small display on the top of the camera with switchable display content also proves to be practical. This gives you a good overview of the most important recording settings. In addition, the display can be illuminated in contrast to the keys, so that it can also be easily read in the dark. When switched off, however, only the recording program is displayed. There is a good reason for this, as we will explain in the next section.
Instead of a classic program selector, Canon has given the EOS R a mode button that is recessed in the top of the thumbwheel. If this is pressed, the recording program can then be selected. The Info button switches between the video and photo modes. The EOS R only offers motif programs indirectly, i.e. in fully automatic mode, which works with a motif recognition function. The scene modes cannot be set manually. Canon is committed to creative photographers who like to take control of certain or all exposure parameters. There is a classical program automatic with program shift, an aperture and time automatic and of course a manual exposure program with optional ISO automatic and of course a mode for a classical bulb long time exposure.
A completely new feature is the Fv mode, which is intended to make operation easier. This flexible program (for which the F stands for) allows you to change individual exposure parameters at any time, you can easily switch between automatic and manual selection. This combines all classic creative programs in Fv mode, be it aperture priority, program priority, aperture priority or manual mode, with or without ISO priority. One simply selects the exposure parameter and sets the value with the rotary knob, whereby the respective automatic belongs to the settings. In addition, there is also the option of saving your own camera settings and quickly recalling them via the user programs.
The shutter achieves a shortest exposure time of 1/8,000 second, even noiseless releases with electronic shutter are possible, because the mechanical shutter is not very quiet, although the EOS R has no oscillating mirror. The mechanical shutter should only be preferred for fast-moving motives, as the rolling shutter effect of the EOS R is not insignificant. In contrast to the competition from Sony and Nikon, the Canon EOS R does not offer an image sensor with movable bearings for image stabilization. Thus, one is dependent on the optical image stabilizer of the lenses, but Canon does not install it in every lens.
The exposure bracketing function offers many possibilities, even if its operation was incomprehensibly divided into two menu items located far apart from each other. The number of shots in an exposure bracket is preselected in the C.Fn menu, which is responsible for basic, individual camera settings. Here you can choose between 2, 3, 5 or 7 shots. In the exposure-compensation menu item (or when the key function is assigned accordingly), the exposure bracket can then be activated with a turn of the control dial and the spread can be set. Up to 3 EV exposure distance is possible as well as the combination with exposure correction. This gives the photographer the flexibility needed for manual HDR shooting. But the EOS R is also capable of composing HDR images directly in the camera. The HDR exposure distance is determined either by an automatic or by the photographer in the range from 1 to 3 EV. However, a panorama function is missing just like an interval function, which is only available in 4K video mode.
The Canon EOS R records moving images in a maximum 4K resolution at up to 30 frames per second. In Full HD and HD, the possible frame rates double to 60 and 120 frames per second, respectively. Actually, the video function of the Canon EOS R reads very well from the data sheet. We have already mentioned the HDMI, microphone and headphone interface, and unlike the photo mode, there is an image stabilizer independent of the lens, even if it works purely digitally. The microphone level control including display and the various log functions for image processing as well as the high data rate of up to 480 Mbit/s also sound good, HDR videos are also possible. However, the 4K video function has a big catch: the image angle trimming is considerable with a factor of 1.8. Thus one loses much wide angle, even if one gains thereby at “Telereichweite”. For future cameras, Canon should definitely work on using the entire sensor to capture the video image. What is definitely missing for video recording is a zebra function. In practice, the relatively strong rolling shutter effect is also disturbing.
Canon’s dual-pixel CMOS autofocus works really fast in the new EOS R with the right lenses and focuses in about 0.2 to 0.3 seconds. In addition, there is a release delay of approx. 0.06 seconds, which also occurs without focusing. The dual-pixel CMOS AF works with the normal pixels directly on the sensor, which are split for focus measurement and can be read separately. Canon even claims that it is the fastest autofocus currently offered by a mirrorless system camera. We cannot agree with this on the basis of our measurement. Although the Canon EOS R is faster than the Sony Alpha 7 III, both are beaten by the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7, at least in the single AF. In practice, however, the autofocus felt fast.
There are, however, one or two hooks. The autofocus works according to Canon still up to phenomenal -6 EV, which so far no other autofocus system creates, also none of a reflex camera, but if light and contrasts diminish, it is over with the high speed. The same applies depending on the adapted EOS lens. Here the lens is the limiting factor, which one notices. Depending on the model, the autofocus is sometimes faster, sometimes slower. The larger the masses to be moved, the slower the reaction. Especially in comparison to the native RF lenses you will notice the difference. In the AF-C mode there are also restrictions, so this is only possible with slower continuous shooting speed.
With pre-focussing, the series picture performance is good, but it doesn’t set any records. Eight frames per second were measured in JPEG as well as in Raw. In JPEG up to 70 images are possible in quick succession (Canon claims it’s 100), in Raw we got 43 images (47 according to Canon). After that, the speed of the series dropped to very irregular just over four frames per second. There are pauses again and again and then further fast image sequences. After all, the UHS II SD memory card is written at just over 140 megabytes per second, so the buffer is emptied quickly and the camera is always ready to react. Thus, at five frames per second with AF-C, very long image series are possible.
By the way, the raw data format is the quite new CR3. It offers, among other things, the possibility of storing the dual pixel information after appropriate activation in the menu. This costs considerably more memory, but a slight focus correction is still possible after the shot. Perfect for studio shots of portraits, for example, if the focus is not 100 percent in spite of eye autofocus. If you want, you can convert the raw data directly in the camera into JPEG, but without subsequent correction of the sharpness level.
Practical functions are the fade-in grids, the focus magnifier and focus peaking to support manual focusing, the live histogram and the fade-in of a 3D spirit level. There is no integrated flash, but at least a TTL flash shoe is available to the photographer.
The lens program of the new system is still a bit thin, but already offers some highlights. This includes, for example, the 50 mm F1.2, which is already crisp and sharp with an open aperture. It also impressed in the first practical test with its soft bokeh, the beautiful sharpness to unsharpness gradient and the crisp resolution in the sharpness plane. The fact that the Canon EOS R can focus precisely on the image plane is a real strength of a mirrorless system camera. Front and back focus problems of DSLRs are now a thing of the past. The sharpness is perfect. In portraits, the face recognition including the eye autofocus supports the photographer, whereby the latter, according to our impression, doesn’t work quite as optimally as in the case of the competitor Sony, the eyes are not so often clearly recognized. Here the good eye of the photographer and his “craftsmanship” are still in demand.
However, the 50mm F1.2 is larger and heavier than the 24-105mm standard zoom. The 28-70 mm F2 is even bigger, even though it is certainly an attractive lens. A pre-production model that we could already try out was sharp and drew a beautifully soft bokeh. Those who like to carry the high weight will get a unique lens for a not exactly low, but quite reasonable price. The bread and butter lens 24-105 mm F4 doesn’t need to hide its optical performance, as we’ll tell you in the image quality section below. Here, too, the photographer gets a high optical performance even with an open aperture.
Canon has equipped the EOS R with good connectivity. In addition to WLAN, there is also Bluetooth for a permanent, energy-saving connection to the smartphone. Even geotagging is child’s play, as the camera can access the smartphone’s tracking system this way. But even without a smartphone, geotaggers don’t stand in the rain, because Canon offers a GPS for the flash shoe. WLAN is always used when large amounts of data need to be transmitted: for example, photos taken from the camera to the smartphone or when remotely controlling the camera from the smartphone, where a live image is available just as the control of the recording parameters.
For our test we had the Canon RF 24-105 mm 4L IS USM at our disposal, which is offered together with the EOS R in a set for almost 3.500 Euro.
The RF 24-105 mm 4L IS USM achieves a very high resolution for the EOS R’s 30 megapixel sensor of just over (at wide angle) or (at medium and long focal lengths) just under 70 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) in 35mm equivalent, even with the aperture open in the center of the image. When fading down, the resolution practically doesn’t increase any more, but diffraction only starts very gently. Even at F11 65 lp/mm are no problem and only at F16 the resolution drops below 60 lp/mm. On the other hand, the resolution at the edge of the picture is lower. In Tele, the marginal drop is highest with an open aperture of just over 40 percent, with only just under 40 lp/mm being reached here. At wide-angle and medium focal length, on the other hand, it’s around 55 lp/mm, a remarkable value for a full-frame zoom. The highest edge resolution is achieved at medium focal length on F8 with just under 60 lp/mm, in telescope position the edge resolution does not approach 50 lp/mm.
With the exception of the distortion, the Canon EOS R is good at ironing out optical errors. Thus the edge darkening is small and colour fringes play practically no role. Distortion correction, on the other hand, can only be activated optionally and is therefore deactivated in our laboratory test at factory setting. This provides a better edge resolution, but also more distortion, which is just over two percent ton shape in wide-angle and just under two percent cushion shape at medium and long focal lengths. Although the cushion distortion is somewhat smaller in magnitude, it is more noticeable to the human eye because lines bent inwards at the edge appear more unnatural.
Up to and including ISO 800, the signal-to-noise ratio is at a good level of over 40 dB, only above ISO 6,400 is it below the critical value of 35 dB. While color noise plays no role, the brightness noise increases visibly above ISO 6,400, but remains fine-grained. Up to ISO 1.600, noise reduction does not lead to any visible or measurable loss of detail, but even at ISO 3.200 they are more measurable than visible. At ISO 6.400, sufficient details are also drawn, although even the finest textures become somewhat softer. At higher sensitivities, on the other hand, the images become visibly softer; here the image sensor reaches its limits. Above ISO 25.600 there are again noticeable picture quality losses, the maximum of ISO 40.000 without and ISO 102.400 with extension should not be used. Thus, the Canon EOS R is about on the level of the slightly higher resolution Nikon Z 7, the lower resolution competitor models Nikon Z 6 and Sony Alpha 7 III, but the Canon above ISO 3.200 does not have much to oppose and is about an ISO level worse. That’s not a huge difference, but it’s sometimes crucial in available-light recordings.
There’s nothing to criticize about the Canon EOS R’s tonal value and colour processing, it really does very well here. The split tonal value curve provides crisp contrasts in JPEG without negatively affecting the dynamic range. Up to twelve f-stops are no problem at all. In the range from ISO 100 to 6,400, the Canon moves at or above eleven f-stops, only above ISO 25,600 does the dynamic range drop to a good eight f-stops. The output tonal range moves up to and including ISO 800 at a very good level of over 224 of 256 possible brightness gradations, up to ISO 6,400 the value remains good with over 160 levels.
The colour deviations of the Canon EOS R are extremely small and concern almost exclusively the saturation with more muted yellow and more lively red tones. The actual color depth moves up to ISO 800 at a very high level of over eight million color gradations, even up to ISO 6,400 it is with over four million still twice as many as would be necessary for a good value. Only above ISO 40,000 does the value drop below two million colour nuances.
The Canon EOS R makes a good impression. The metal housing is not only high quality and splash-proof, but also ergonomic. The handle is in place and the controls are within easy reach. Canon combines traditional and modern controls, but they could still be fine-tuned. The performance is adequate for the price, so the camera takes fast serial pictures with sufficient endurance and very high writing speed and thus low waiting times. Only the autofocus could sometimes work more reliably with moving subjects.
For videographers, on the other hand, the camera is less suitable, just because of the high crops and thus wide-angle loss in 4K resolution, and the autofocus is not yet completely convincing here either. Although the battery life does not set any records, it is sufficient. However, the camera is very selective when it comes to recharging with USB chargers and Powerbanks. The Canon EOS R is at the cutting edge of image quality. It not only provides high resolution, but also good performance at higher ISO sensitivities and offers high input dynamics with extremely neutral, nuanced colors. The choice of native lenses is still small, but thanks to the different EOS adapters, one of which is even included in the scope of delivery at the beginning, the choice can be significantly extended.
Canon EOS R Practical Test
With the EOS R and very interesting lenses such as an F1.2 50 mm high speed and an F2 28-70mm high speed standard zoom, Canon presented its new mirrorless full format system. This gives the very fresh Nikon Z6 and Z7 as well as the previous top dog Sony with the Alpha-7 and 9 family further competition. We were already able to try out a series camera with the 24-105 mm F4 standard zoom and the fast 50 mm.
According to Canon, its main competence lies in the construction of very good lenses, which it wants to show with the new models. From our point of view, this is the biggest distinguishing feature in comparison to Nikon and Sony. But also the camera makes a round impression and pursues new as well as modern concepts with the operation, without putting thereby old Canon bunnies before puzzles.
The EOS R is a high quality constructed camera, whose housing is made of a robust and light magnesium alloy. As usual at Canon, the camera is a real hand cuddler, the handle perfectly shaped, so that you can also hold the big and heavy light giants without any problems. The rear touchscreen swivels and rotates, making it ideal for shooting from any angle. In addition, Canon consistently implements the touch control, whereby with one exception you can completely dispense with it. This exception will certainly be seen by many as a shortcoming: The Canon lacks an AF joystick. Instead, the touch screen is used to place the autofocus field(s), of which the camera has over 5,000 distributed to the edge area. Canon is particularly proud of this and emphasises that the new, large bayonet was necessary for this, among other things, because the autofocus requires the most vertical light beams possible for reliable operation at the edges.
The touch screen also allows the autofocus fields to be shifted when looking through the viewfinder. You can select which screen area is used for this and whether the positioning should be relative or absolute. Our subjective impression is that this works better, faster and more precisely than any AF joystick. However, the complete menu can also be operated via the touchscreen if desired. This eliminates the need to scroll through the menu tabs, as you can jump directly to the desired menu area with a fingertip. Also when confirming or selecting setting points, the direct tipper on the desired option proves itself without having to move the cursor first. Ultimately, we operated the camera mainly via the touch screen and the two multifunction wheels and occasionally via one or the other button, depending on what was closer or more logical. The EOS R gives the photographer all the freedom he needs.
Speaking of freedoms: The user interface of the EOS R can be adapted almost completely to the needs of the photographer. This is an advantage if you prefer your individual camera. Only if someone else uses the camera or wants to help with the operation, this sometimes leads to confusion. So the medal always has two sides. Since you usually use your camera yourself, we think that the advantages of being able to customize it the way you like it outweigh the disadvantages, especially since you don’t have to, because the control panels are pre-programmed in a meaningful way.
The new touch control panel on the back of the camera can be described as an interesting experiment. It is modern, fun and can be freely occupied. But at least in practice it can’t really convince all along the line. If you use it without the lock function, you can easily operate the camera unintentionally. With lock, however, the necessary unlocking again annoys. Fortunately, it’s easy to get along without it. In our opinion, the new adjustment ring on the lenses also has a certain aftertaste. It sits right in front and is preset with the exposure correction. The ring snaps into place, but it is as soft as butter and can thus be adjusted unintentionally at this exposed position. Perhaps Canon should have placed the ring at the back, especially as this would be more logical in the sense that there is an EF bayonet adapter with this adjustment ring, which then sits at the back. To move the ring to the same position on the native lenses would have been quite conclusive. Speaking of adapters: The EF adapter with integrated filter insert is very smart. In this way, the otherwise empty space is used sensibly.
Canon’s dual-pixel CMOS autofocus is exciting, with the new camera and lenses working really fast. It works with the normal pixels directly on the sensor, which are split and readable separately for focus measurement. Canon even claims that it is the fastest autofocus currently offered by a mirrorless system camera. At least we cannot contradict this at the present time, without laboratory measurement. In practice, the autofocus felt really fast. Nevertheless, there are a few hooks. According to Canon, the autofocus still works up to phenomenal -6 EV, which no other autofocus system has been able to do so far, not even a single-lens reflex camera, but when light and contrast fade, the record speed is over. The same applies when you adapt EOS lenses. Here the lens is the limiting factor, which one notices. Depending on the model, the autofocus is sometimes faster, sometimes slower. The larger the masses to be moved, the slower the reaction. Especially in comparison to the native RF lenses you will notice the difference. Compared to a Canon DSLR, which we couldn’t pull, the problem shouldn’t exist, because the focus drive is always in the lens anyway, which is the limiting factor.
Furthermore, the Canon EOS R is anything but a sports camera. Although the autofocus is fast, the continuous shooting performance is not particularly high. It is not clear whether the power combination of CMOS sensor and image processor or the autofocus is the limiting factor. At five frames per second, however, the EOS R does not win a flowerpot on balance. Here Sony shows with the Alpha 9, which works silently and without interruption of the viewfinder picture in the continuous shooting mode, where the bar hangs.
Speaking of viewfinders, Canon, like Nikon, uses a 3.69 million pixel OLED and an extremely large viewfinder image. Also with the EOS R, the viewfinder protrudes a good deal to the rear, so that you don’t stick your nose to the touchscreen and can still operate it comfortably with your eye on the viewfinder. Due to the fine resolution, one sometimes forgets that one looks through a video viewfinder. It shows its strengths, for example, when the ambient light fades and you have a night vision camera in front of you. You can see more details than with the naked eye. The electronic viewfinder also helps with operation. After pressing the M-Fn button with the front dial, you can scroll through various settings and adjust them with the rear wheel. The fade-ins do not cause you to lose sight of your subject and, depending on the option, you can observe the effects directly in the viewfinder image, for example during white balance.
This simplification of operation is continued with the new Fv mode. This flexible program (for which the F stands for) allows you to change individual exposure parameters at any time, you can easily switch between automatic and manual selection. This combines all classic creative programs in Fv mode, be it aperture priority, program priority, aperture priority or manual mode, with or without ISO priority.
The new lenses also deliver what Canon promises. Even the F1.2 with a fast 50 mm aperture is sharp and not as soft as you are used to with such lenses. The 50 mm captivates with its soft bokeh, the beautiful sharpness to unsharpness gradient and the crisp resolution in the sharpness plane. Of course, this requires extremely precise focusing, where the EOS R shows its strength again. Since it is a mirrorless system, the focus is directly in the image plane, making front and back focus problems of DSLRs a thing of the past. The sharpness is perfect. In portraits, the face recognition including the eye autofocus supports the photographer, whereby the latter, according to our impression, doesn’t work quite as optimally as in the case of the competitor Sony, the eyes are not so often clearly recognized.
Where there’s light, there’s shadow. This applies especially to the weight of the fast lenses. The 50mm F1.2 is larger and heavier than the 24-105mm standard zoom. The 28-70 mm F2 is even a huge debris. The lens was unfortunately only a pre-production model, so that we were allowed to try it out, but still have to wait for a series device with a final evaluation. But it made a similar good impression as the 50s. Crisp and sharp and with a beautifully soft bokeh. Those who like to carry the high weight will get a unique lens for a not exactly low, but quite reasonable price. The bread and butter lens 24-105 mm F4 does not need to hide its optical performance. Here, too, the photographer gets a high optical performance even with an open aperture.
What lasts long will finally be good, you might say. The Canon EOS R makes a round impression. One does not have the feeling of holding a first attempt in “new territory” with corresponding quirks in one’s hands, but a mature and developed product. With this camera Canon is aiming more at the demanding amateur photographer and less at the professionals, especially the sports professionals. This is where the EOS R still has a long way to go to get close to the sports DSLRs. The lenses, however, are very promising, especially optically Canon shows its strengths. This makes the EOS R definitely also interesting for professionals who want the highest optical performance. The fact that the EF adapter (at least initially) is part of the scope of delivery of the new EOS R is certainly also a wise decision and makes it easier to switch to the mirrorless system, which can also be used parallel to the DSLR without any problems, as each of the systems still has its strengths and weaknesses.
|Sensor||CMOS 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)31.7 Megapixel (physical)
30.3 Megapixel (effective)
|Pixel pitch||5.3 µm|
|Resolution (max.)||6.720 x 4.480 (3:2)|
|Video (max.)||3.840 x 2.160 30p|
|Lens||Canon RF 24-105 mm 4L IS USM (zoom lens)|
|Video viewfinder||EVF, 100 % field coverage, 3,690,000 pixels resolution, 0.76x magnification (sensor-related), 0.76x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt), 0.76-times magnification (sensor-related), -4.0 to 2.0 dpt)|
|Monitor||3.2″ (8.0 cm)|
|AV connector||HDMI Mini Output (Type C)|
|Automatic motif control||yes|
|Bulb long time exposure||yes|
|Exposure metering||Matrix/multi-field measurement (384 fields), center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement|
|fastest shutter speed||1/8.000 s|
|Synchronous time||1/200 s|
|Flash connection||Flash shoe: Canon, standard centre contact|
|GPS||external, permanent smartphone connection|wired or plug-on receiver|
|Remote release||yes, cable release, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet|
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
|Number of measuring fields||5.655|
|Speed||0.25 s to 0.37 s|
|AF auxiliary light||LED|
|Dimensions (mm)||139 x 98 x 84 mm|
|Weight (ready for operation)||651 g (housing only
)1.339 g (with lens)
|Tripod socket||in optical axis|
|Zoom adjustment||manual on lens|
|Battery life||370 shots (CIPA standard)|
|– = “not applicable” or “not available”|
This test of the Canon EOS R with Canon RF 24-105 mm 4L IS USM was made with DXOMARK Analyzer.
- High quality workmanship
- Informative shoulder display
- Convenient, new, flexible Fv recording mode
- Good connectivity with Bluetooth (GPS) and WLAN
- Very good image quality up to ISO 3,200
- Selectable USB charging function
- Strong crop for video recordings
- Unlike the competition, no sensor shift image stabilizer
Canon EOS R Datasheet
|Sensor||CMOS sensor 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)31.7 megapixels (physical) and 30.3 megapixels (effective)
|Pixel pitch||5.3 µm|
|Picture formats||JPG, RAW|
|Colour depth||24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)|
|Metadata||Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard (version 2.0), IPTC|
|Autofocus mode||Phase comparison autofocus with 5,655 sensors, autofocus working range from -6 EV to 18 EV, contrast autofocus|
|Autofocus Functions||Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Area Auto Focus, Tracking Auto Focus, Manual, AFL Function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (10x)|
|Focus control||Depth of field control, dimming button|
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Monitor||3.2″ (8.0 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 2,100,000 pixels, brightness adjustable, tiltable 270°, rotatable 180°, with touch screen|
|Info display||additional info display (top) with illumination|
|Video viewfinder||Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 3,690,000 pixels, 0.76x magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)|
|Exposure metering||Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 384 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 3% of the image field), AF-AE coupling|
|Exposure times||1/8,000 to 30 s (Auto
)1/8,000 to 30 s (Manual)
|Exposure control||Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual|
|Bracketing function||Exposure bracketing function with maximum 7 shots, step size from 1/3 to 3 EV, HDR function|
|Exposure compensation||-3.0 to +3.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV|
|Sensitivity to light||ISO 100 to ISO 40.000 (automatic
)ISO 50 to ISO 102.400 (manual)
|Remote access||Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
, remote control from computer: certain functions
|Picture effects||Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Portrait, 4 more image effects|
|White balance||Auto, Clouds, Sun, Fine Tuning, Shadows, Flash, Fluorescent Lamp, Incandescent Light, Kelvin Input, Manual|
|Color space||Adobe RGB, sRGB|
|Continuous shooting||Continuous shooting function max. 8.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 100 stored photos, 47 consecutive images at RAW, 5 frames per second with AF tracking|
|Self-timer||Self-timer every 10 s, special features: or 2 seconds|
|Shooting functions||AEL function, AFL function, live histogram|
|Flash||no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: Canon, standard center contact
|Flash range||Flash sync time 1/200 s|
|Flash functions||Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, High Speed Sync, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Flash Exposure Compensation from -3.0 EV to +2.0 EV|
|Image stabilizer||no optical image stabilizer|
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
|GPS function||GPS external (permanent smartphone connection|wired or plug-on receiver)|
|Power supply||no power supply connectionUSB charging function|
|Power supply||1 x Canon LP-E6 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V, 1,800 mAh
)1 x Canon LP-E6N (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,865 mAh)
|Playback Functions||Red eye retouching, crop images, rotate images, protect images, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 10.0x magnification, image index, slide show function with fade effects, zoom out|
|Face recognition||Face recognition|
|Picture parameters||Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction|
|Special functions||Electronic Spirit Level, Grid Display, Orientation Sensor, Live View, User Profiles with 1 User Profile and 22 Options|
|Ports||Data interfaces: Bluetooth, WLANUSB type
:USB 3.1 SuperSpeedPlusWLAN
: available (type: B, G, N)
|AV connectors||AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C
)Audio input: yes (3.5 mm stereo microphone jack)
Audio output: yes (3.5 mm stereo jack (3-pin))
|Supported direct printing methods||DPOF, PictBridge|
|Tripod socket||1/4″ in optical axis|
|Features and Miscellaneous||DIGIC 8 Image ProcessorSensor Cleaning SystemTouch
8-bit (Internal Memory), 4K/Full HD/HD YCbCr 4:2:2 BT.709 8-bit (HDMI Output), 4K YCbCr 4:2:2 BT.709/BT.2020 10-bit (HDMI Output)
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D||139 x 98 x 84 mm|
|Weight||651 g (ready for operation)|
|included accessories||Canon IFC-100U USB cableCanon
LC-E6E Charger for special rechargeable batteriesCanon
LP-E6N Special rechargeable battery power cable
|optional accessory||Canon AC-E6N AC AdapterCanon
BG-E22 Rechargeable Battery HandleCanon
CBC-E6 Charger for Special BatteriesCanon
DR-E6 Battery Compartment Adapter CableCanon
GP-E2 (GPS Receiver)
Canon MR-14EX Macro FlashCanon
MR-14EX II Macro FlashCanon
MT-24EX Macro FlashCanon
MT-26EX-RT Macro flashCanon
Speedlite 220EX Small additional flashCanon
Speedlite 270EX Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
Speedlite 270EX II Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
Speedlite 320EX Slip-on flash with swivel reflector
Speedlite 380EX Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
Speedlite 430EX Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
T Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
Speedlite 550EX Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon Speed
lip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon Speedlite 580EX
II Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon Speedlite
T Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorCanon
Firmware update 1.4.0 for Canon EOS R: improvements in eye and face detection
Thanks to the update, the two cameras now recognize faces from further distances or when they are smaller in image detail than before. The precision and display speed of the corresponding marker frames in the live image is also improved. In addition, the tracking autofocus (AF Servo) should now work better. In addition, the update fixes the vulnerability in the PTP protocol that became publicly known in mid-August, which enables attackers to encrypt images on the memory card, for example. Firmware 1.4.0 for the EOS R also fixes a problem where the AF frame size could not be changed in the Servo AF settings. On the EOS RP, however, Update 1.3.0 fixes an issue where the main dial icon might not appear when the zoom in/out button is pressed during image playback. The updates can be downloaded from the Canon website and installed on your own using the instructions provided there. If you need help, contact your dealer or Canon service.