Finally, Canon and Nikon have entered the full-frame mirrorless market, five years after Sony’s released their first the Alpha A7, writes Noel Campion. In that time, Sony has produced three generations of the A7 and is now the world’s biggest seller of full-frame mirrorless cameras.
This year, others have followed including Panasonic, in this all-important segment in an industry that has seen a serious decline in sales, mostly thanks to the increasing prevalence of smartphone cameras.
In the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time and taken several thousand shots on the Canon EOS R. I have to be honest in saying that I’ve always been a Canon fan and I’ve owned several bodies including some 35mm film models.
The 30.3MP, EOS R isn’t Canon’s first mirrorless camera, they’ve had several APS-C size bodies, but they’ve been slow to ditch their DSLR lineup until now. This isn’t to say that Canon won’t release another DSLR camera, but I believe the days of the flip up mirror and optical viewfinder are numbered.
All the major manufacturers have gone down the mirrorless route and in my opinion, the advantages of modern mirrorless cameras far outweigh most of what a DSLR has to offer in most areas. That isn’t to say that great cameras like the Canon 5D IV or others have become rubbish overnight, but anyone considering an upgrade is more likely to transition into a mirrorless body.
Most of my time was spent taking photos and some video, so I’ll start with my experience with stills. The autofocus system in the EOS R is impressive overall. It has 5,655 autofocus points with a coverage of 88% horizontally and 100% vertical. Using the rear LCD screen to select autofocus points is a pleasure, but it also means you can keep a subject in focus almost all the way around the frame.
The rear screen is 3.15-inches with 2.1 million DPI. It really is excellent for reviewing images, navigating through the menus. It’s also fully articulating, meaning it can flip around to face you if you’re recording yourself. The only time I found this useful is when I was near the ground with the camera trying to take a vertical shot, but users like vloggers will find this an essential feature.
The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is also excellent. It’s bright, has a massive field of view and you can quickly move your AF point from one side of the screen to the other using your thumb and dragging it across the rear LCD. I would have liked the option of having a dedicated joystick for this as well, but instead, there’s a Multi-Function Bar on the back.
This is a small, touch-sensitive strip, which can be customised for things like ISO, white balance, focus features, and display info. Unfortunately, after persevering for a while, I gave up on the MF Bar as it was too frustrating and just fiddley. In the end, I disabled it.
Perhaps this feature could be improved with firmware in time. The last full-frame camera I reviewed was the Sony A7III, which had a very limited touch-screen. The Canon EOS R’s rear screen is exceptional by comparison. You can fully utilise the screen to select menu items making it much quicker to navigate the UI.
For some, the fact that the EOS R only has a single card slot will be a deal-breaker and professionals like wedding and event photographers will give this camera a miss for this reason alone. Not everyone will care, but this is an expensive camera and should have a dual-card slot.
One of the reasons people have always loved Canon cameras is their ergonomics and how well they handle. The EOS R has a massive grip that feels great to hold. The button layout feels very different to the other
The button layout is okay, but certain positions feel a little awkward. The buttons themselves feel great with just the correct amount of tactile response.
Canon only supplied me with the 24-105 f4 L IS USM but they do have a few other new RF mount lenses. This is a great lens, super sharp and with image stabalisation. However, unlike a lot of the competition, the EOS R doesn’t have any in-body stabalisation. IS lenses are generally bigger and heavier, but if you want to use some of your old lenses and adapt them onto the EOS R, they won’t become stabilised. That being said, the IS on the 24-105 is good and I was able to get sharp images a much lower shutter speeds than I would if it wasn’t stabalised. Thanks to the new mount on the EOS R, the RF mount, Canon have a new lineup of lenses albeit limited for now. However, they’ve also released adaptors that will allow you to mount older EF mount lenses. All of their new lenses have a new focus on the lens, which can be mapped to things like ISO or aperture.
One of my pet hates with mirrorless cameras is sensor dust. This happens very easily because each time you change a lens, the sensor is exposed and will attract dust particles from the air.
The EOS R combats this by closing the front curtain. Genius Canon.
Another advantage of mirrorless cameras like the EOS R is totally silent shooting. However, it comes with some caveats - you can’t shoot burst shots or flash.
In terms of image quality, the EOS R excels. I shoot in RAW plus JPEG and the latter produced excellent results straight out of the camera. I mostly use Lightroom to process my images and the EOS R has an incredible dynamic range where you can pull incredible levels of details out of shadows and highlights. Low light performance and noise levels are also well controlled.
Briefly, video tops out at 4K and 30fps, but there’s a massive crop of 1.75x. This means that a 24mm lens is effectively 42mm. That being said, the little video I did capture looked great. Rolling shutter effects are also very noticeable in panning shots and 120fps slow motion is limited to 720p. However, it can deliver 4K video output in 10-bit over HDMI to an external recorder.
I really loved using the EOS R. It’s such a pleasure to use and the image quality is superb. This is Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera and while it may not be perfect, there’s a lot to like, but it would be difficult to recommend it to a lot of professionals.
Canon EOS R Body+Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, €2,730 store.canon.ie