We Used The Canon EOS R For A Day: Not Bad But Not Perfect

Did Canon get it right on its first attempt?

After years of lagging behind fellow camera maker Sony in the full-frame, mirrorless camera segment, Canon has finally unveiled their own take on the format with the EOS R. With so much ground to cover, Canon’s newest full-frame mirrorless camera has to be near flawless to stand any kind of chance of wooing back many of its loyal followers who have jumped ship and have gone with the offerings of other companies.

During its local launch at Shooting Gallery Studios, we got to try out the EOS R—and its variety of lenses—to determine if Canon’s new EOS R has what it takes to challenge the current mirrorless king.

The design of the body is well thought out

Despite being bigger than any of Sony’s A7 series cameras or Nikon’s Z6/Z7, Canon got it right with the EOS R’s ergonomics. You get a hefty hand grip that makes holding the camera comfortable even when using big lenses like Canon’s L-series. It is also heavier, but the compromise is a body that’s weather-proofed against the elements.

One nice design touch is the sensor cover that actuates and protects the sensor when it’s not in use. It comes in handy when you’re changing lenses, which prevents foreign debris from entering the sensor. It’s one of those features that sounds so simple and revolutionary it’s amazing that other brands hasn’t implemented their take on it.

As for the battery, the EOS R uses an LP-E6N battery—the same battery used by most Canon DSLRs like the 80D, 7D Mark II, 6D Mark II, and 5D Mark IV. The use of a tried and tested battery means better endurance for the EOS R as well as wider availability for spares.

The new controls have a slight learning curve

While the lens control ring and touch bar are meant for a seamless user experience—at least in theory—it takes time getting used to even if you’ve been using Canon’s cameras for years. They’re programmable but like with any new camera, you’ll have to spend time digging through the menu to map the controls according to one’s preferences.

The new layout ditches traditional controls like mode knobs and joysticks, and the vari-angle display has limited touch functionality as well. Canon could have improved this by giving full touchscreen functionality to the display or making the button mapping less cumbersome.

Got some old EF lenses lying around? You can seamlessly use them with the EOS R via an adapter.

Those with a collection of EF glass will love this camera

One of the main selling points of the EOS R system is that longtime Canon users can use their EF mount lenses with it via an adapter without affecting the EOS R’s speedy autofocus.

We slapped a 22-year-old EF lens (an EF 24-85mm 3.5-4.5 USM, which came out in 1996) onto the EOS R via the adapter to test this, and true to Canon’s word, focusing was what one would expect with the EOS R: fast and accurate with a high keeper rate.

The RF 28-70 F/2L USM is so huge it makes the EOS R look tiny and unstable for day-long shoots.

Most of the RF lenses launched are huge AND impractical

Among the four RF lenses introduced together with the EOS R, only the RF 35mm 1.8 Macro STM is small enough to keep the system lightweight. The other three lenses—24-105mm F/4L IS USM, RF 50mm F/1.2L USM, and RF 28-70 F/2L USM—are bigger than your usual mirrorless lenses, with the latter two being so big, it defeats the EOS R’s purpose as a lightweight professional full-frame mirrorless camera.

Aside from their humongous size, both the RF 50mm F/1.2L USM and RF 28-70 F/2L USM are very hefty that one might not last a full photoshoot without an aching back. Also, the RF 28-70 F/2L USM—the biggest of the four—requires a 95mm screw-in filter, which is not easy to find locally.

It lacks few features that pros normally look for in a camera

While the EOS R is marketed towards professionals, it lacks several features such as dual SD card slots (you only get one SDXC slot), in-body image stabilization (Canon has been stubborn in adding this feature ever since), full-frame 4K recording (the EOS R has a 1.7x crop when shooting in 4K) and an external flash port (you get one via the optional battery grip) among other things.

While there are reports of an EOS-1 level EOS R coming next year, the EOS R’s asking price is debatable: at Php 147,998, it is a steep asking price for a new model if you don’t factor in the freebies that come with every pre-order. For what it offers, the EOS R is a risky gamble unless you have a suite of EF lenses to use and is itching for a lighter mirrorless camera that adapts those lenses seamlessly.

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