After several months with the first Canon full-frame mirrorless camera, I have to admit I struggle when forced to use the “old” Canon 5d mark IV or even the top of the line, the Canon 1 D X mark II. In the early days – the Canon EOS R was introduced in October 2018 – dozens of videos posted on YouTube by “experts” focused on “flaws” of various nature, both hardware and software: a single card, cropped 4K resolution and new ergonomics on the camera body. While I watched them carefully – ultimately Canon invited to the launch event in Hawai’i industry “experts” – it turned out that those initial feedback and impressions were finalized to create views to their channels, rather than providing unbiased reviews of the EOS R and its amazing RF lenses. Lesson learned, at least personally: don’t pay too much attention to the “experts” and rely more on feedback from real users (very helpful user group on Facebook).
This is how I would position the EOS R and related RF lenses:
- it’s a prosumer camera, and consequently will fall short of the logical expectations of the pro community;
- ergonomics are amazing, once you get used to the new logics associated to the camera;
- RF lenses – as proven by a series of recent announcements – truly represents a game changer for Canon and the competition as well;
- Canon nailed it, big time, delivering a “perfect” compromise between R&D and sales needs, considering that product cycles for a camera manufacturer are much longer then mobile phones;
- Innovative products won’t change the future of the ICL segment (InterChangable Lenses), in constant decline in total units and with Sony gaining market share at the expense of Nikon and Canon. That said, the new R system will offer Canon a great weapon to recover from a late start in the mirrorless segment.
Six months later and after introducing the cheaper EOS RP, Canon announced six new RF lenses planned to be released in the second half of 2019 signaling her commitment to the new RF mounth and de facto suggesting future innovations will be tightly linked to the R system.
A great [prosumer] camera
Not the typical super compact mirrorless, the EOS R is an excellent compromise between ergonomics, weight and usability. The grip is conveniently sized and the overall feeling is reassuring, combining the typical robustness of a DSLR (even though not fully weather resistant as the 5D mark iv and the 1 D X mark ii) and the manageability of a smaller body. The electronic viewfinder is a beauty in its own, and it will be hard for me to get back to a traditional one. I like the flexibility offered by the tilt screen, even though selecting focus points by gently tapping on the LCD will require some retraining considering years of productive familiarity with the joystick, not present anymore. I managed to find my preferred setup after testing several solutions. I use the multi-function bar – a subject of heavy criticism by industry “experts” – to round-robin among all different focusing options, with a single tap on the left side to activate/deactivate eye detection and the right one to turn screen multitouch on/off. Love it and find it extremely productive.
The 30.2Mbps sensor is the same of the iconic and popular 5D mark IV, with enhanced performance thanks to the Digit8 processor. A higher resolution would have been an additional plus, but almost certainly Canon will release a high res (50+Mbps?) mirrorless replacement of the 5DS R in 2020.
A single SD slot? Two would have been much better (or a logical choice), but this is nothing that can be fixed short term. Never had a single card failure in my entire life, but haven’t reverted to WiFi real-time backups because – to be honest – none of my work is so relevant.
The lack of in body image stabilization, another frequent criticism among pros. While conceptually correct, IBIS is not a typical Canon prerogative and a feature that would have added some hundred dollars to the retail price. based on several rumors, it will be added to a pro R body in 2020. before then, all new RF L series lenses will feature IS.
A “perfect” product
Let’s be honest: no matter how innovative a new piece of hardware is, it won’t ever be perfect. That’s true for cameras, laptops, monitors, drones and any other gizmo. I currently find the EOS R to deliver more value than any other Canon cameras, and I’m personally looking forward to replacing my EF L lenses with the more advanced RF L versions. Here some shots taken with the 24-205mm lens while in South Africa, not my ideal lens but a convenient solution when traveling for business.
Techno Geek. Book author. Lover of running, tennis and digital photography. Vice President EMEA in GoDaddy in the United Kingdom.
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