The Canon EOS R marks a big shift in Canon’s high-end camera line-up. It’s a full-frame mirrorless camera intended to sit next to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. That is one of the most well-regarded DLRs for pros and amateurs with money to spend.
Unlike the EOS M5, a more affordable mirrorless model, it looks and feels like a traditional Canon DSLR. And thanks to the quality of today’s top electronic viewfinders, there’s no shortfall in the quality of the shooting experience.
It’s an obvious choice for Canon fans who already have a stack of lenses they can use, with the help of the often-bundled adapter. However, next to the Sony A7 III it’s just not as good for handheld low-light shooting, if that’s what you’re after.
Design and Handling
Just a short while ago, most mirrorless cameras were easily distinguished from DSLRs. FujiFilm’s X-series models, Sony’s A series clan and Canon’s own M models all have skinnier bodies and grips than traditional DSLRs.
It makes sense: mirrorless cameras are meant to be smaller, more portable. They are the sort of camera you might take on holiday or for a walk out with the family, where setting up a shot on a tripod for half an hour wouldn’t go down well with your fellow travellers.
The Canon EOS R looks and feels a lot like a DSLR. It’s smaller than the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, closer in scale to Canon’s APS-C sensors models.
However, it is immediately clear that making the EOS R as small as possible was not top of the design priority list. This is backed up by its initial lenses too.
The kit lens, an 24-105mm zoom with constant f/4 max aperture, is not compact or light. This is probably not a set-up that will encourage you to take your camera out more often. And at launch there’s no alternative to the Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, made for Sony’s A-series, which gets you close to this shooting style.
Portability of the launch lenses may not be great, but this is because Canon clearly wants the EOS R to appeal to its long-standing fans and semi-pro users. And some of its mirrorless APS-C models to date haven’t so far.
The Canon EOS R’s ‘classic’ sensibility comes with an impression of sheer quality. This camera is a joy to use.
Chunky settings dials that rest by your thumb and forefinger offer manual control more intuitive than that of most mirrorless cameras. And while the grip isn’t quite as ergonomic, it offers a very sure, controlled feel.
There’s one slightly odd control. A capacitive slider sits by the EVF, on the back. This is a programmable control you need to assign manually. It’s handy for access while using the viewfinder, but I’ll admit I haven’t found an unmissable use for it in my own shooting.