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The Canon EOS R mirrorless camera has been around for quite some time now, in fact, the Internet now has plenty of full-fledged review articles and videos about the camera and its overall ecosystem. Hence, in this article, I will just talk about the camera from the perspective of a photographer.

Canon EOS R

Impressions - Canon EOS R Mirrorless Full-Frame Camera 1

I received the Canon EOS R kit which includes the EOS R body and the versatile Canon RF 24-105 f/4 L IS lens. The camera is Canon’s answer to the public’s demand for the high-end full-frame mirrorless system. It uses the new RF mount and the sensor is from Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. So, you can pretty much expect the same image quality of the 5D Mark IV but at the lower price point. The RF mount significantly reduces the flange distant while keeping the same EF-S mount diameter. That enables the possibility of creating lenses with unprecedented specifications. Something like the 28-70 f/2 L USM lens.

Key specifications of EOS R:

  • 30MP CMOS full-frame sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus
  • 3.69-million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 2.10-million dot 3.2″ fully articulated touchscreen LCD
  • DIGIC 8 processor
  • Up to 8 fps continuous burst shooting (5 fps with continuous-AF, 3 fps with Tracking Priority AF)
  • UHD 4K 30p video (1.8x crop factor)
  • Canon Log (10-bit 4:2:2 over HDMI or 8-bit 4:2:0 internally)
  • 1x SD card slot (UHS-II)

First Impressions

Out of the box, the solid and dense build quality gives the camera a robust impression. Despite the smaller & thinner body, the grip itself remained full size which is the key factor that makes this a wonderful camera to hold. Then again, even with a compact body, the most crucial problem for each and every mirrorless system is the lens size.

The one we have mounted on is the Canon RF 24-105 f/4 IS lens and it instantly throws off the balance.

The button placement around the camera shows that the EOS R is designed to support single-handed use. That is what I initially thought of until I actually used the camera. The buttons and dials are within the reach of your right thumb and fingers, then again, it is a lot more challenging as I try to reach the buttons while holding the camera+lens single-handedly. Especially when the preview button is located at the far bottom.

Now, this problem can be easily overcome by supporting the camera using your left hand, then manage the controls using your right hand. What I believe Canon should really change for their mirrorless system is the power switch placement.

For DSLRs, since the sensor is not always draining power to support live view, I don’t really mind where the power switch is located since I usually left the camera turned on throughout my shooting session. Mirrorless, however, is another story. I have this habit of powering them off to preserve the battery for extra shots. By having the power switch within the reach of the right finger/thumb means I can power on the camera the moment I pick up the camera.

Impressions - Canon EOS R Mirrorless Full-Frame Camera 2

Continuing the controls topic, the newly introduced M-Fn touch-sensitive “bar” is said to be able to assist photographers in more intuitive control. I painstakingly studied through the manual only to realise how troublesome the touch-bar can be. First of all, it can be either customised to work as two individual buttons or as a swipeable control. I appreciate the thought of putting in a new innovative control but I must say that professional photographers will not tolerate the ambiguity of the touch control. Good news is that the M-Fn control can be disabled in the settings and the rest of the controls are relatively straightforward if you’re used to a Canon system.

Using The Camera

Canon EOS R Samples
1/1000 f/4 ISO 100

The EOS-R came at the most appropriate time as I am attending my brother’s convocation during that weekend. While it is a shame that I don’t have enough time to get myself familiarise with the overall features of the camera, nonetheless, I enjoyed discovering them throughout the weekend.

The autofocus is precise and quick. Touchscreen focus is extremely useful for live view shots and videos but the lack of thumbstick for AF point adjustment is kind of a hassle when it comes to taking pictures using the viewfinder. Pupil Detection AF is extremely useful when it comes to portraits. It is accurate, fast and most importantly, allow me to focus (no pun intended) on framing the shot. The downside? It is only available in Single AF mode. Speaking of which, the Continuous AF mode has the tendency to hunt a little bit, so it is something to take note of if you plan to use the camera for something fast action.

Some users swear by Canon’s colour science and I’m not going to doubt it. Portraits are looking exceptionally pleasing even right out of the camera. I believe the slightly warmish tone breaths life into the photographs. The sensor also performs marvellously in the low light situation.

Canon EOS R Samples

Depending on your preferences, I personally found that even at ISO 12800, the photos are still looking remarkable.

Impressions - Canon EOS R Mirrorless Full-Frame Camera 3

The fully articulated touch screen has proven to be extremely useful no matter if you’re taking photos from awkward angles or monitoring your video shots. It will always be the better option compared to the tilty-flippy screen from Sony.

Battery life, as I mentioned earlier in this review, is not great. While it shares the same battery pack as its DSLR counterpart, that doesn’t mean it could have the same battery life as a DSLR due to a mirrorless system’s working mechanism. Expect somewhere around 400 shots per full charge. You could charge the camera through the USB-C port. However, I must point out that is not the smoothest experience I had. First, it may not always detect a plugged in power-bank and secondly, it is painfully slow.

Wrapping up my first impression

Canon EOS R

The EOS R as the Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera is a great “first step” for the company. We all know that the first generation product will always have its quirks – the button ergonomics are not polished enough and the features often left something to be desired which in this case video functions. But we have to specifically point out the exceptional photo quality produced from the 30MP sensor with spot-on focus. Besides, their new RF series lenses are promising at this point.

Retail price for this kit? RM14,688. Yep, that is not something I would say consumer friendly. But if you’ve been using the Canon system forever and currently in the market looking or a high-end full-frame camera that does not dons the “Sony” badge, this is probably the one you should have a look at apart from Nikon’s Z series.

The kit that we have here is also available at Amazon at $3,199. It’s $600 off now!


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