Canon EOS R

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      Overall, Canon’s EOS R camera is a fine bit of gear that is very pleasant to use and delivers excellent image and video quality. It has a sensible, well-designed user interface that is straightforward to operate and provides plenty of customisation options.

      Full review

      Canon’s first full frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R, arrived on Photo Review’s desk late on Friday 9 November, just over two months after it was announced. Positioned to compete with the still-to-be-released Nikon Z6 and the Sony α7 III, the EOS R offers 30.3-megapixel resolution and introduces a new 12-pin RF mount, which has an inner diameter of 54 mm and a flange focal distance of 20 mm.

      Angled view of the new Canon EOS R camera with the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit lens and monitor extended. (Source: Canon.)

      We received the EOS R with two lenses, the RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM kit lens and the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM prime lens, which are the first lenses to be released. The RF 28-70mm f/2L USM  and RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM lenses are scheduled for release in December and we hope to be able to review them before Christmas or, if not slightly after. Also provided for us to review were the EF-EOS R Control Ring Mount Adapter and the BG-E22 battery grip, both released at the same time as the camera and initial lenses.

      Who’s it For?
      The price tag alone puts the EOS R into the serious enthusiast/ professional category where, depending upon which lens it’s paired with, it could cover a wide range of subject types and shooting genres. The maximum burst speed of eight frames/second (fps) offers potential for sports and wildlife photography, although it drops to 4.5 fps if continuous AF is engaged, which may be unacceptable to those who rely on burst shooting to get the shots they need. (For those who’d rather use single-shot mode, this won’t be an issue.)

      Aside from that, the new camera offers some advantages over the similarly-specified EOS 5D Mark IV, being both physically smaller (in all dimensions except depth) and 230 grams lighter. Most controls are similarly positioned and the menu system is familiar and logically arranged.

      There are also plenty of customisation options and the menu system makes them easy to access and apply. New programmable additions like the control ring on the lenses and the camera’s Multi-Function (M-Fn) bar extend the normal customisation options.

      Customisation
      The EOS R’s menu contains six pages of containing 23 Custom Function settings  plus a Clear all Custom Functions control that restores defaults. Pages 1, 2, 3 and 5 cover the 19 ‘standard’ functions found in equivalent Canon DSLR cameras, such as EV and ISO level increments, bracketing and shutter speed ranges and dial direction settings.

      Page 4 enables customisation of  the Main dial and Quick Control dial as well as the control ring on the RF lenses. The Main dial can be set to adjust the shutter speed (default), aperture value or an off setting, while the Quick Control dial adjusts apertures in M mode but can be changed to adjust shutter speeds, ISO (during metering) or switched off. There are eight options for the control ring, covering aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation settings as well as an off position. By default, it adjusts apertures while the metering button is held down.

      The touch-enabled M-Fn bar can be customised to adjust the following functions:

      Function Swipe Tap left/right
      ISO speed ISO speed Change value up/down, select Auto or Custom setting
      White balance WB/ Kelvin setting Change value, Auto ambience/white switch,  Custom setting, WB shift/bracketing
      Check focus/display information Magnify/reduce Change value, magnify/reduce, focus guide, MF peaking, electronic level, histogram
      Movie recording Sound-recording level, volume, aperture setting Change value, MF peaking, focus guide, pause movie servo AF, electronic level, histogram
      Flexible-priority AE  Select Fv by swiping Change value, reset, select
      AF Set AF method Change value, Eye-detection AF, AF frame size, touch & drag AF settings, focus guide
      User customisation Manual selection Manual selection
      Playback Swipe to browse images Rating, protect, previous/next image

      By default, no function is assigned to this bar. When functions are assigned, a safety lock is set by default to prevent inadvertent changes if the bar is accidentally tapped or swiped. Users can also choose not to assign either swiping or left/right tap functions to the bar and the bar can also be totally disabled.

      We found this bar could often be activated inadvertently but at other times it could be difficult to engage, leading to considerable frustrations. The abundance of alternatives the camera provides covered our main requirements so we ended up restoring it to the default setting.

      Build and Ergonomics
      At first glance, the EOS R is recognisable as a ‘serious’ camera, thanks to its large hand grip and lens mount and DSLR-like viewfinder housing. The shape of the camera body is reminiscent of the EOS M5, although the EOS R is larger and a bit less rounded.


      Front view of the EOS R body with no lens fitted, showing the large lens mount. (Source: Canon.)

      The front of the camera is uncluttered, with the only button being the lens release. An embedded LED that serves as the AF-assist/self-timer/remote control lamp is located between the top of the grip and the EVF housing, with two microphone holes beside it.

      A DC coupler cord connection is embedded in the inner surface at the base of the grip. Another two microphone holes sit on the opposite side of the EVF housing, just above the EOS branding.

      The lens mount dominates the front panel and, like the EF mount, the RF mount uses a three-tab bayonet fitting, although the tabs are in different positions to prevent EF lenses from being attached directly. The lens lock pin is in the same position as the EF mount’s, with the same amount of protrusion and movement and lenses are rotated to an angle of 60° for attachment or removal.


      This diagram shows how the RF mount differs from the existing EF mount. (Source: Canon.)

      Twelve contact pins (up from eight contacts in the EF lenses) provide superior lens-to-camera communication plus the ability to support large data transfers at much faster speeds than the current EF system. However, thanks in part to the retention of the 54 mm inner diameter of the EF mount, compatibility for existing Canon EF and EF-S lenses will remain when they are used via one of the mount adapters.

      Unlike some other mirrorless cameras, removing the lens shouldn’t expose the sensor. When the power is switched off, the focal plane shutter curtain covers the sensor, protecting it from both light and dust particles (although the latter can still get into the camera if they fall onto the shutter curtain and are not removed). Don’t change lenses with the camera powered-up as this retracts the shutter curtain, exposing the sensor.

      The reduction from a 44 mm flange back distance in the EF mount system to the 20 mm of the new RF mount provides scope for new lens designs that employ large diameter elements close to the image sensor. These new lenses should provide better control over optical aberrations, particularly towards the edges of the image frame.


      The top panel of the EOS R with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)

      Most of the key controls are located on the top panel of the camera, which also carries a monochrome LCD data display panel. The shutter button sits well forward on the hand grip, with a programmable multi-function (M-Fn) button just behind it. Pressing this button and turning the main control dial just behind it lets you adjust the ISO, drive, AF, white balance and flash exposure compensation settings.

      The  movie button (identified by a red dot) is located at the  place where the top panel steps down behind the main dial. Behind it is the button for lighting up the LCD data panel, with the M-Fn lock button to its right. The right side strap eyelet is located behind this button, with the combined Mode button and Quick Control dial inset into the rear of the panel between it and the LCD data panel.

      The Mode button replaces the traditional dial control. You simply press the button and rotate the dial to change shooting modes. The EOS R includes a new Fv (Flexible-priority) shooting mode that lets you switch between Av, Tv, exposure compensation and ISO with the Quick Control dial while using the main dial to adjust settings within the selected parameter.

      To the left of the LCD data panel is the EVF housing, which has a flash hot-shoe on top. The EVF has a 0.5 inch-type OLED screen with 3,690,000 dots and we found it better to use than the best optical finders we’ve encountered. It covers the full frame of the sensor at 0.76x magnification and has a 23mm eye point. Dioptre correction from -4.0 to +2.0 dpt is adjustable via a knurled knob on the left hand side of the housing.

      The power on/off switch is a dial that is semi-embedded in the top panel on the left of the EVF housing. Like the other dials, its edge is textured to provide a firm grip.


      The rear panel of the
      EOS R with the monitor reversed. (Source: Canon.)

      Like some of Canon’s DSLRs, the EOS R has a vari-angle LCD monitor, The 3.15-inch screen has a resolution of 2.1-million dots and a touch-panel overlay plus the same Clear View LCD II coating as was found on the EOS 77D’s screen. Seven levels of brightness adjustment are provided.

      The monitor has a touch-screen overlay and touch AF is supported. Unfortunately, there’s no joystick for selecting the AF area and the touch AF control can be hit-and-miss at times as well as easy to activate by accident.

      Above the screen on the left side of the EVF housing is the Menu button, while on the right side is a new Canon innovation, a customisable multi-function bar. This control can be customised to provide quick access to control a frequently-used camera setting (such as ISO or exposure compensation) and adjustments are made via a slide motion or a tap  at either end.

      To the right of the monitor lies the usual cluster of controls, with the AF start button, AE/FE lock button and AF point/Index/Magnify/Reduce button along the top edge of the thumb rest and the normal arrow pad, Info, Playback and Delete buttons around it. The Q/SET button in the centre of the arrow pad accesses the Quick Control display.

      The single memory card slot is located on the right hand side panel. While it has drawn some criticism, at least it accepts all types of SD cards, including UHS-I and UHS-II media. The left side panel has three lift-up covers that protect the USB  and HDMI  terminals as well as the microphone and headphone ports and remote control terminal.

      Like Nikon, Canon has stuck with an existing DSLR battery, the LP-E6N, which slots into the base of the hand grip. It’s CIPA rated for approximately 370  shots/charge or 450 shots/charge in Eco mode. A separate battery charger is supplied with the camera but you can also charge the battery in the camera via the optional PD-E1 USB power Adapter.

      A metal-lined tripod socket is located in the base of  the camera in line with the optical axis of the lens. There is also a covered contact point for fitting the BG-E22 battery grip plus a positioning hole to help you fit it. The body carries a ‘Made in Japan’ label.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The EOS R features a 36 x 24 mm CMOS sensor with 31.7 million photosites that deliver an effective resolution of 30.3 megapixels.  This puts it on a par with the EOS 5D Mark IV and a step above its nearest competitors, the 24-megapixel Nikon Z6 and Sony α7 III. The sensor is paired with the DIGIC 8 processor, which was introduced with the EOS M50.

      This combination enables the EOS R to provide a native ISO range of 100 to 40,000 with expansion to ISO 50 and ISO 102400 available. Continuous shooting is supported at up to eight frames/second with focus and exposure locked on the first frame or five fps with Servo AF.

      The Dual Pixel RAW function that first appeared in the EOS 5D Mark IV is also available in the EOS R. This allows photographers to fine-tune raw images containing dual pixel information with adjustments to sharpness (using depth information), bokeh and ghosting. The files must be processed with Digital Photo Professional software, which is available free of charge with the camera.

      The camera’s native aspect ratio is 3:2 but 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratio settings are available.  In-camera image cropping is also available, with the 1.6x crop reducing the image from 6720 x 4480 pixels to 4176 x 2784 pixels.

      Both JPEG and raw files can be recorded and the EOS R supports Canon’s CR3.RAW format, which was introduced with the EOS M50. It also provides the C-RAW lossy compressed raw format option. The table below shows typical image sizes for JPEG and raw files at the 3:2 aspect ratio, along with the number of frames that can be recorded on a 32MB SD card.

      Image quality Image size (3:2 aspect ratio) File size Shots / 32GB UHS-II card
      Large Fine 6720 x 4480 pixels 8.4MB 3570
      Large Normal 4.4MB 6770
      Medium Fine 4464 x 2976 pixels 4.7MB 6460
      Medium Normal 2.6MB 11,510
      Small Fine 3360 x 2240 pixels 3.1MB 9700
      Small Normal 1.8MB 16,040
      Small 2 2400 x 1600 pixels 1.6MB 18,830
      RAW 6720 x 4480 pixels 31.3MB 970
      RAW : DPR 55.2MB 520
      C-RAW 17.3MB 1770
      C-RAW : DPR 27.8MB 1000
      RAW+JPEG 39.7MB 760
      C-RAW+JPEG 25.7MB 1180

      In the continuous shooting mode, the EOS R offers a fairly generous buffer depth, with a claimed capacity of 100 JPEG frames (any size) or up to up to 47  RAW frames with a UHS-II card. Selecting the C-RAW format increases the buffer capacity to 78 frames, while the buffer depths for RAW+JPEG and C-RAW+JPEG are 39 and 56 frames respectively.

      Video

      To access the movie mode in the EOS R you must press the Mode button and then the Info button, which switches to the movie menu. The same button sequence toggles back to the stills shooting mode and in this mode you can also shoot movies by pressing the movie button, although the camera will default to Scene Intelligent Auto exposure mode with the settings that have been registered  in the movie quality menu. The default for PAL users is Full HD at 25 fps with IPB compression.

      Like most recent cameras, the EOS R supports 4K video recording, although not at the professional 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) level provided by the EOS 5D Mark IV. The highest resolution is the ‘standard’ 3840 x 2160 pixel 4K, with a maximum frame rate of 30 fps using the MPEG-4 AVC format with variable bit rate compression. This puts it behind the

      Shooting 4K video crops the frame by approximately 1.8x  but the 480Mbps maximum bit-rate should deliver good (but not quite professional quality) results.  Interestingly, the Full HD  and HD resolutions don’t receive the same amount of cropping, as shown in the comparison frame grabs below.


      Three frames from movie clips taken from the same position with the same focal length setting. The top frame is from a 4K recording while the middle and bottom frames are from Full HD and HD clips, respectively.

      With RF and EF lenses, additional cropping of 1.6x can be applied to simulate the ‘telephoto’ effect of shooting with an APS-C camera. This will apply at all resolutions. Engaging Movie digital stabilisation applies additional frame cropping, with the Enhanced setting cropping more than the Enable setting. Use of a Combination IS-compatible lens will provide the most effective shake correction by combining optical and digital stabilisation.

      A new Canon Log profile is available for internal or external recording and the latter enables 4K HDMI 4:2:2 10-bit clean output with support for the BT.2020 colour matrix. The EOS R also includes the same focus guide as Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras.

      Users can choose between ALL-I and IPB compression for both 4K and Full HD, where frame rates up to 60 fps are supported. Audio recordings are Linear PCM for ALL-I or AAC for IPB. A UHS-II SD card with a V60 speed rating is the minimum required for ALL-I recording at 4K, but UHS-I cards can be used for IPB and lower resolution recordings. The table below shows the options provided.

      Frame size Frame rates Compression Recording time on 32GB card File size
      4K 30p, 25p, 24p ALL-I 8 minutes 3444MB/min
      IPB 35 minutes 860MB/min
      FHD 60p, 50p ALL-I 23 minutes 1298MB/min
      IPB 1 hour, 10 minutes 431MB/min
      30p, 25p, 24p ALL-I 46 minutes 654MB/min
      IPB 2 hours, 20 minutes 216MB/min
      HD 60p, 50p ALL-I 52 minutes 583MB/min
      IPB 2 hours, 42 minutes 187MB/min
      30p, 25p, 24p IPB 5 hours, 21 minutes 95MB/min

      An HDR movie mode is also available for shooting subjects with wide brightness ranges. It’s only available for FHD and HD resolutions with IPB compression. Some functions are not available in this mode.

      Time-lapse recording is supported with both 4K and Full HD resolutions and ALL-I  compression is used for all recordings. Users can also record HD movies with a high frame rate of 100 fps for playing back in slow motion.

      Key Features
      The autofocusing system is one of the highlights of the new camera and a very competitive feature. Featuring Dual Pixel CMOS technology, it has 5655 selectable points; much more than competing cameras’ systems. Focus sensitivity extends to -6EV, meaning the camera can focus in the dark, and AF speed is claimed to be 0.05 seconds, which is competitive with the fastest DSLR cameras.


      Manually selectable AF ‘points’ cover 88% of the frame width and the entire height of the frame. (Source: Canon.)

      The Dual Pixel RAW function ported across from the EOS 5D IV detects the phase differences between the signals from each photodiode pair and sends the combined data to the DIGIC 8 microcircuit and then to the primary RGB video processing system where the signals are combined. Once decoded, raw images can be fine-tuned with focus microadjustment as well as bokeh shift and ghosting reduction.

      Because all the photosites deliver the data stream, only a limited number of them can be used at a time, which means either the photographer or the camera’s AF system must select which area of the frame is most important for sharp focus. The camera provides plenty of options for setting AF areas, although with the default settings, the tendency to focus on the closest part of a scene can make it tricky to shift the AF points to the area you want the lens to focus upon, particularly with the RF 50mm f/1.2 lens.

      AF point and area selection relies upon a cursor system and photographers can adjust the size of the sampling area to match the AF needs for different scene types and situations. We’d have appreciated a joystick control like those provided on the Nikon Z7 and Sony α7M3, which provide greater precision and can be used while the camera is being held to the eye.

      The lens control ring is another feature that distinguishes the EOS R camera and associated RF lenses from previous Canon cameras. Situated close to the front of each lens, it can be customised to access aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensations settings. The ring is programmed to the desired function via the camera’s Custom Function menu.

      Click-stops are provided to give a sensory cue while adjustments are being made when the photographer is looking through the viewfinder. The direction of rotation can be set to suit user preference and users can choose whether the adjustment is made only when the shutter button is pressed half-way (to minimise risk of inadvertent changes) or without having to half-press the shutter button.

      Adjustments are passed to the camera via contacts in the lens mount and a microprocessor within the lens enables accurate lens control and image correction. This is especially important for the Digital Lens Optimizer feature of the RF system.

      The Digital Lens Optimizer applies real-time corrections for a number of optical aberrations and distortions with the aim of preventing loss of resolution and correcting lateral chromatic aberrations. These corrections are applied in-camera to JPEGs when the raw data is converted into JPEGs, and deliver improvements in fine detail and resolution They can also be applied to raw files when they are processed in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software.

      While the EOS R lacks in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) – a feature provided by competing cameras from Nikon and Sony – it does include technologies that can combine the optical stabilisation in lenses that include it (such as the RF 24-105mm lens) with electronic IS in the camera. Dual gyro sensors in the lens can transmit motion data to the DIGIC 8 processor, which also receives motion blurring data from the image sensor.

      High-speed algorithms in the processor generate a compensation signal to actuate the IS optical element in the lens to counteract the blurring. Electronic IS can be added when recording video clips. The lens IS system can correct yaw, pitch and roll motions, while  in-camera stabilisation can add extra yaw and pitch control while also correcting roll in the vertical and horizontal planes to provide five-axis correction.

      Accessories
      Aside from the lenses, four of which are being introduced with the new camera, the most important accessories will be the three mount adapters that will enable photographers to use legacy EF lenses on the EOS R body. The most useful is likely to be the Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R (RRP AU$349), which includes the new control ring that is found on RF lenses. This adapter was supplied for us to review.

      The other two adapters are the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R (RRP AU$199) , which simply provides direct mechanical and electrical coupling between the EF lens and the current (and any future) EOS R camera. Canon will also offer a Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter EF-EOS R but it won’t be available until 2019. The expected RRP is AU$599 and it features a dedicated drop-in filter slot that accepts Canon’s polarising, variable ND and clear protective filters.

      We ran some Imatest tests with our 13-year-old EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens attached to the EOS R body via the Control Ring Mount Adapter and found the lens performed well on the EOS R body. Naturally, its performance wasn’t as good as the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens but, given the improvements in technology and lens design over the time period between the lenses, the old lens delivered similar performance to what we found on the EOS 5D II in our original tests. While this represents a sample of one (so it’s not statistically valid), we feel owners of a suite of EF lenses could be confident they will work at least as well on the EOS R body as they do on any Canon DSLR camera.

      Unlike Sony’s mirrorless system, which uses the same lens mount for both full-frame and AP0S-C cameras, users of Canon’s EOS M system will find the upgrade path from basic entry level mirrorless into more serious mirrorless cameras is blocked. According to the Canon News website, because of the differences between the RF mount and the EF-M mount, which has a diameter of 46 mm and an 18 mm flange focal distance, there will ‘never be an EF-M camera to RF lens adapter, nor will there ever be a RF APS-C camera that can use EF-M lenses with an adapter’.


      The BG-E22 battery grip. (Source: Canon.)

      The other key accessory is the new BG-E22 battery grip, which accommodates two high capacity LP-E6N batteries (not included) and provides external battery charging via the PD-E1 USB Power Adapter (the release date of which is still to be confirmed). It also includes a PC terminal to allow a traditional wired studio flash to be used with EOS R. We weren’t able to evaluate the grip because no additional batteries were provided.

      Performance
      JPEG images captured with the review camera were  nicely exposed and had natural-looking colours plus plenty of detail and decent dynamic range coverage. CR3.RAW files were even better and provided a wider dynamic range for photographers to work with, as shown in the paired images below.


      A comparison of two versions of an image taken with the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, which covers a very wide brightness range; on the left is the original JPEG, while the image on the right is a CR3.RAW file converted into JPEG format with Adobe Camera Raw.

      The results of our Imatest evaluations showed resolution met expectations for the camera’s 30-megapixel sensor with both JPEG and CR3.RAW files. We ran tests with both of the lenses supplied with the camera  (which are reviewed separately) but have used the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens as the basis for this review since that’s the lens most purchasers of the camera are likely to acquire.

      Our Imatest tests showed the review camera to be capable of exceeding expectations with both lenses we tested on the camera. Although the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens delivered outstanding results both around the centre of the frame and towards the periphery, the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens was able to exceed expectations with JPEG files around the centre of the frame with the 35mm, 50mm, 70mm and 85mm focal lengths at apertures between f/4.5 and f/8. Edge resolution fell slightly below expectations across this range.

      JPEG resolution remained high from ISO 50 through to ISO 400 before a gradual decline through to ISO 51200, followed by a steep drop at ISO 102400. Results for CR3.RAW files followed the same general pattern but with higher resolution across the ISO range, as shown in the graph of our test results below.

      Imatest showed colour accuracy to be very good, with constrained saturation and a few modest colour shifts. Raw files converted into TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw had slightly better colour accuracy than JPEGs and close-to-natural saturation levels.

      Long exposures at night plenty of detail and natural-looking colour reproduction, the latter persisting through to the ISO 102400 setting.  Noise was visible from ISO 25600 on and shadowed areas began to block up at around ISO 12800.

      Softening was evident in shots taken at the two highest ISO settings. The sample images below show the deterioration in image quality between ISO 6400 and the ISO 102400 settings.


      ISO 6400 50mm focal length, 5 seconds at f/11.


      Crop from the above image at 100% magnification.


      ISO 102400, 50mm focal length, 1 second at f/11.


      Crop from the above image at 100% magnification.

      Having no flash, we could only test the review camera with tungsten, fluorescent and warm-toned LED lights.  The auto setting provides two options: ambience priority (which retains warm colour casts) and white priority, the latter reducing warm colour casts in favour of a whiter balance.

      Like the EOS 5D IV, the EOS R provides two auto white balance settings: ambience priority and white priority. The former is the ‘normal’ auto mode, while the latter aims to keep white areas in the subject as close to white as possible. There was a visible difference between them for both the incandescent and warm-toned LED lighting, with both showing much weaker warm casts. although they weren’t completely removed.

      As expected, based on previous experience with Canon cameras, the normal auto setting was able to deliver neutral colour rendition under white fluorescent lighting.  There’s no white balance pre-set for LED lighting and the presets for tungsten and fluorescent lighting tended to over-correct.  Like most modern cameras, the EOS R provides Kelvin temperature adjustments along with plenty of in-camera adjustments for tweaking colours on-the-fly, which are straightforward to use.

      We found autofocusing to be fast and accurate with both the lenses we tested, even in very low light levels – provided the correct AF mode and AF point array were selected. Tracking AF was surprisingly good with the 24-105mm kit lens and we noticed no extraneous camera noises in the soundtracks of video clips recorded while shooting moving subjects.

      For our timing tests we used a 64GB Lexar Professional SDXC  2000x UHS-II card, which is rated for 300MB/second and is one of the fastest cards we have. The review camera took just over two seconds on average to power-up ready for shooting, which is quite a bit slower than the equivalent DSLR camera.

      Average capture lag was approximately 0.2 seconds, which was reduced to 0.11 seconds when the lens was pre-focused. Variations in the average times were found, depending on whether the monitor or the EVF was used for shot composition. However they were so small (less than 0.05 seconds) as to be considered negligible.

      Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.35 seconds, which is much less than we found when testing the EOS 5D IV. And, unlike that camera, the EOS R will record a follow-up shot while the previous one is being processed. It took an average of 0.25 seconds to process a single JPEG file and 0.27 seconds for a raw file and 0.3 seconds for a RAW+JPEG pair.

      In the high-speed continuous shooting mode, the camera was able to record 134 Large/Fine JPEGs in 19.5 seconds, which equates to just under seven frames/second, slightly below the specified frame rate. It took 12.5 seconds to clear the buffer memory.

      For raw file capture, the camera recorded 71 shots in 10.2 seconds before pausing, which is the same rate as we found with JPEGs.  It took nine seconds to process this burst. Swapping to RAW+JPEG mode reduced the buffer capacity to 55 frames without changing the frame rate. It took 10.3 seconds to clear the buffer memory.

      Dual Pixel Raw shooting is only supported at low frame rates and files appear to be processed on-the-fly. We measured an average frame rate of 2.5 fps in this mode with both CR3.RAW files alone and for RAW+JPEG pairs.

      Conclusion
      Overall, Canon’s EOS R camera is a fine bit of gear that is very pleasant to use and delivers excellent image and video quality. It has a sensible, well-designed user interface that is straightforward to operate and provides plenty of customisation options.

      Buyers of new full-frame cameras will now be able to choose between three brands: Canon, Nikon and Sony, all of which will have similarly-priced models available before Christmas (once the Nikon Z6 goes on sale). Panasonic’s S1 and S1R cameras aren’t due until the second quarter of 2019. Sony, which has commanded this market for most of the past five years offers a well-developed ‘family’ of α7 cameras, most of which are into their third generation.

      There are also more ‘native’ Sony lenses to choose from with 25 Sony lenses and an interesting array of third-party offerings. However, our experience with the EOS R and control Ring Adapter shows legacy EF lenses can be used on the EOS R body with little or no loss of performance and only a small increase in size and weight due to the adapter.

      Sony is also further down the professional video path, which Canon and Nikon catering mainly for ‘pro-sumer’ videographers. Canon provides higher bit-rates than Nikon and supports HDR video recording. It also provides a wider range of touch controls.

      One important issue arises, however: Canon now has two mirrorless camera lines with incompatible lens mounts, one full-frame and the other cropped-sensor. It’s difficult to see how this dilemma can be handled. Will both survive and, if so, how well will they be supported?

      Recently, both Canon and Nikon have tended to neglect their cropped-frame formats, simply adding features trickled down from more up-market cameras. Neither has put much investment into lenses, which are critical to keeping customers loyal to the brand.

      Sony, in contrast makes most of its lenses usable on both its full-frame and cropped-sensor bodies, which means lenses can have a long market life and justify investing in them. Nikon doesn’t have a cropped-sensor mirrorless camera and, thus, has potential to develop a compatible system.

      Unlike Sony, Canon is not expected to make any cropped-sensor cameras that can use RF mount lenses. And, although rumours suggest Canon has at least two new APS-C mirrorless cameras in development,  without on-going investment in bodies and lenses, the EOS M line could eventually disappear.

      Which brand you choose will depend largely on the lenses in your existing system, how well the system meets your needs and how much you’re prepared to spend. The EOS R and its lenses are relatively pricey, with the body listed in the Canon online shop at AU$3349 and the body plus 24-105mm lens at AU$4949.

      If you shop around you can save approximately $200 on the body and a little more on the body plus lens kit at reputable local re-sellers. B&H had the body only listed at US$2299 (around  $3185 Australian), to which you would have to add AU$330.43 tax and $51.33 for the cheapest shipping so you’d end up paying more for the camera. The kit that includes the 24-105mm lens is listed on B&H’s website at US$3399 (AU$4708.97), which when tax and shipping are added, will end up costing around AU$5235 at the current exchange rate. Again, you’d be better off shopping at your local camera store.

      SPECS

      Image sensor: Approx. 36 x 24 mm CMOS sensor with 31.7 million photosites (30.3 megapixels effective), pixel pitch approx. 5.36 μm square, RGB  primary colour filters, fixed low-pass filter, 3:2 aspect ratio
      Image processor: DIGIC 8
      A/D processing: 14-bit
      Lens mount: EF-R (EF and EF-S lenses compatible via Mount adapter EF-EOS R)
      Focal length crop factor: 1x
      Image formats: Stills: JPEG (Exif 2.31/ DCF 2.0, DPOF 1.1), CR3.RAW (14-bit Canon original, 3:2 aspect only), Dual Pixel RAW capture available, C-RAW,  RAW+JPEG; Movies: MP4 [Video: MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 with variable bit rate, Audio: ALL-I – Linear PCM; IPB – AAC]
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6720 x 4480, 4464 x 2976, 3360 x 2240, 2400 x 1600; 4:3 aspect: 5952 x 4480, 3968 x 2976, 2976 x 2240, 2112 x 1600; 16:9 aspect: 6720 x 3776, 4464 x 2512, 3360 x 1888, 2400 x 1344; 1:1 aspect: 4480 x 4480, 2976 x 2976, 2240 x 2240, 1600 x 1600; Movies:  4K – 3840 x 2160 (29.97, 24, 23.98 fps); Full HD – 1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, 24, 23.976 fps), HD – 1280 x 720 (119.9, 100, 59.94, 50 fps, 29.97)
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-based; In-camera Digital IS available for movie recording
      Dust removal: Self cleaning sensor unit plus dust Delete Data acquisition and appending
      Shutter (speed range): Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter with electronic first curtain, mechanical second curtain, electronic shutter (slot rolling read out) and mechanical first and second curtain options  (30 – 1/8000 second plus bulb); flash synch at 1/200 sec.
      Exposure Compensation: +/-3 EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps (stills and movies)
      Exposure bracketing: +/-3 stops in 1/3 stop  or 1/2 stop increments
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Intervalometer: Yes, in Time-lapse movie mode (4K and FHD resolution available)
      Focus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF System using phase detection pixels built onto imaging sensor; operates to -6EV; AF-assist beam is available (max. range 4 m at f/5.6)
      AF points: Maximum 5655 points when selected with cross keys
      Focus modes: One-Shot AF, Servo AF and manual focus;  Face + Tracking, 1-point AF, Expand AF area, Zone AF;  5x or 10x magnification for manual focusing (stills only)
      Exposure metering:  Real-time metering with image sensor, 384 zones;  Evaluative (AF point linked), Partial metering at centre (6.1% of live view), Centre-weighted average and Spot metering (2.7% of live view) patterns; metering range – EV -4 to 18
      Shooting modes: A+ (Scene Intelligent Auto), Fv (Flexible-priority AE), P , Tv, Av, Manual, Bulb, Custom (x3)
      Picture Style modes: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (x3)
      Creative Filter modes: Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Fish-eye Effect, Water painting effect, Toy camera effect, Miniature effect, HDR, Art standard, vivid, bold, embossed
      Image processing: Highlight Tone Priority (standard and enhanced) Auto Lighting Optimiser (4 settings) , Long exposure noise reduction, High ISO speed noise reduction (4 settings + Multi Shot NR)
      Colour space options: Adobe RGB, sRGB
      ISO range: ISO Auto (100 – 12800), ISO 100 – 40,000 in 1/3 stop or 1 stop increments with expansion to ISO 50 or ISO 51200, ISO 102,400; ISO 100-1600 with flash, ISO 400 fixed for Bulb exposures
      White balance: Auto (Ambience Priority / White Priority), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten light, White Fluorescent light, Flash; Custom, Colour Temperature (2500-10000 Kelvin ; +/- 9 levels of WB compensation on B/A and M/G axes. WB bracketing
      Custom Functions: 19
      Customisable dials:  Main dial, Quick Control dial, control ring
      Customisable M-Fn bar: Shooting functions – ISO speed, WB, check focus/Display info., movie shooting, flexible priority AE, AF, user customisation; Playback functions – Function shortcut, jump display; Safety lock- Enable / Disable
      Flash: External flash only
      Flash modes: E-TTL II Auto metering;  Slow synchro, Safety FE, Flash mode, Wireless function, Flash zoom, Shutter synchronisation and Flash exposure compensation modes available; FE lock supported
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3 EV in 1/3  or 1/2 increments
      Sequence shooting: Max. 8 frames/sec. (5 fps with Servo AF)
      Buffer capacity: Max. 100 JPEGs, up to 47  RAW (with UHS-II card)
      Storage Media: Single slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (Compatible with UHS-I and UHS -II standards)
      Viewfinder: 0.5 inch-type OLED EVF with 3,690,000 dots, approx. 100% FOV coverage, 0.76x magnification, 23mm eye point, -4.0 to +2.0 dioptre correction, 45 items of data can be displayed
      LCD monitor: Vari-angle 3.15-inch Touchscreen LCD (TFT) with 3:2 aspect ratio, 2,100,000 dots; 100% FOV coverage, brightness adjustment (7 levels), Clear View LCD II coating
      Live View modes: Live view image with exposure info, basic info or full info; grid overlay (3 formats), histogram (brightness/RGB), electronic level, multi-aspect ratios, hints & tips
      Playback functions: Single image (with/without info), info display (lens, histogram, WB, Picture Style 1/2, colour space/noise reduction, lens aberration correction 1/2, record of sent images, GPS, IPTC data), index display (4/9/36/100 images), protect, erase, histogram (brightness & RGB) highlight alert
      Interface terminals: USB 3.1 (Gen. 1) Type C, HDMI (Type-C connector), Bluetooth 4.1, 3.5 mm stereo mini jack
      Wi-Fi
      function: Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g/n), (2.4 GHz only, 1-11 ch), with Dynamic NFC support, Bluetooth 4.1 low energy technology
      Power supply: LP-E6N rechargeable Li-ion Battery Pack; CIPA rated for approx. 370  shots/charge (450 shots/charge in Eco mode); automatic battery check (6 levels), power saving (7 options for display off, 5 options for auto power off, 2 options for EVF off)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 135.8 x 98.3 x 84.4 mm
      Weight:  580 grams body only; 660 grams with battery and memory card

      Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167; www.canon.com.au.

      TESTS

      Based on JPEG files:

      Based on CR3.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw:

       

      SAMPLES


      Auto white balance ambience priority mode with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance white priority mode with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance ambience priority mode with fluorescent lighting.


      Auto white balance ambience priority mode with warm-toned LED lighting.


      Auto white balance white priority mode with warm-toned LED lighting.


      ISO 100, 50mm focal length, 30 second exposure at f/4.


      ISO 200, 50mm focal length, 25 second exposure at f/5.


      ISO 1600, 50mm focal length, 15 second exposure at f/11.


      ISO 6400, 50mm focal length, 10 second exposure at f/16.


      ISO 12800, 50mm focal length, 6 second exposure at f/18.


      ISO 25600, 50mm focal length, 4 second exposure at f/20.


      ISO 51200, 50mm focal length, 5 second exposure at f/18.


      ISO 102400, 50mm focal length, 1.3 second exposure at f/22.


      ISO 200, 50mm focal length, 1/1000 second exposure at f/9.


      ISO 200, 50mm focal length, 1/640 second exposure at f/7.1.


      ISO 100, 50mm focal length, 1/50 second exposure at f/10.


      ISO 100, 50mm focal length, 1/15 second exposure at f/8.


      ISO 102400, 50mm focal length, 1/200 second exposure at f/10.


      ISO 100, 67mm focal length, 1/200 second exposure at f/6.3.


      ISO 100, 45mm focal length, 1/250 second exposure at f/8.


      ISO 100, 77mm focal length, 1/320 second exposure at f/8.


      ISO 400, 24mm focal length, 1/13 second exposure at f/6.3.


      Still frame from 4K video clip taken at 25 fps with ALL-I compression.


      Still frame from 4K video clip taken at 25 fps with IPB compression.


      Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken with 50p, ALL-I compression.


      Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken with 50p, IPB compression.


      Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken with 25p, ALL-I compression.


      Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken with 25p, IPB compression


      Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken with 25p, IPB ‘Light’ compression


      Still frame from HD 720 video clip taken with 50p, ALL-I compression.


      Still frame from HD 720 video clip taken with 50p, IPB compression.


      Still frame from HD 720 video clip taken with 25p, IPB compression.

      Additional image samples can be found with our reviews of the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lenses.

       

      Rating

      RRP:  AU$3349; US$2299

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 9.0
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Image quality JPEG: 9.0
      • Image quality RAW: 9.1
      • Video quality: 8.9

       

      Buy