Review of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

Canon has, at least in recent years, been a bit boring with their product announcements. Whereas Sigma is developing incredible lenses pushing what we once thought was once impossible, and Sony is adding focus points by the hundreds with each new announcement, Canon has just sort of coasted along, adding minor adjustments and tweaks with each new DSLR and lens announcement. As a result, Canon more than anyone else was mocked when news leaked of an upcoming mirrorless system. Their first entries into the mirrorless world with the Canon M series of cameras and lenses were far from impressive, and never really got much attention from both consumers and Canon itself. So with the new Canon EOS R, has Canon finally brought a fighter into a market already saturated with Sony and Fujifilm? Yeah, I think so.



The Canon EOS R is equipped with a 30-megapixel Dual Pixel full frame sensor, a DIGIC 8 processor allowing for 8fps shooting speeds, and an incredible 5,655 individual AF focus points. While 5,655 feels like an unlimited number of focus points, the reality is that it only covers 88% of the display and sensor plane on a horizontal axis (and ~100% vertically) – but you’re really splitting hairs if you call that a notch on the negative side – it’s still the best in class and a huge upgrade from the Canon of 5-6 years ago with only 60 or so.

Additionally, the Canon EOS R has a fully articulating LCD, as well as a 3.69M dot OLED viewfinder. On the video side, Canon offers UHD 4K video at 30p, and admittingly a disappointing 1.83x crop on the 35mm sensor. It does, however, support 120fps shooting at 720p, and has the familiar Canon color profiles that color grade easily and nicely in video. To round out the remainder of the touted features is the single UHS-II SD card slot, a bit of a disappointment for those wary of losing data.

Testing the Autofocus with an energetic squirrel.
Shot using the Canon EOS R. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L at f/1.8 | 1/400s | ISO 200

However, the Canon EOS R also comes with a series of features that were buried in the announcement pieces. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the USB Type-C port, which allows for both charging the camera while in use, and for tethering (though limited to USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds (roughly 300MB/sec)). Charging via USB type-C makes this a viable camera for those working eCommerce studios and not wanting to swap out batteries every few hundred shots, and the faster transfer speeds are much welcomed to those who tether. One hopes the possibility of recording to a USB Type-C hard drives and thumb drives will be added as a feature through a firmware update, but we’ll see.

My favorite feature though comes with the Canon EOS R‘s sensor dust prevention measures. Mirrorless cameras are far more prone to sensor dust, as there is no mirror box obstructing the sensor. Canon makes a preventative effort to this problem, by having the shutter close when turning off the camera – preventing dust from entering your camera when switching out lenses. One can’t help but think this thing brilliant feature will be seen on all Sony’s in the coming year.

Build Quality and Size

I won’t touch too much on build quality, because the higher-ups here at haven’t yet approved my 3ft/5ft/10ft/50ft drop test idea, and notably didn’t like the idea of having a 10 unit variance test like those found on Rogers MTF tests. However, one with more insight on the build quality would be Roger, as he recently took a Canon EOS R apart to see what was inside. One thing I can talk about though is size.

To put it bluntly, the Canon EOS R system, and the Canon EOS R platform isn’t designed with space saving in mind. While I’ve touched about the illusion of moving to mirrorless to save camera bag space before, it really needs to be addressed with the Canon EOS R. The Canon EOS R isn’t particularly small for a camera system. While it does feel good in your hand, especially compared to other mirrorless systems (Fujifilm, in particular, have no interest in making a camera feel comfortable in your hands), the Canon EOS R won’t feel too much different than your latest DSLR. For visualization, the Canon EOS R is nearly a full centimeter wider and another centimeter thicker than the Sony a7rIII. When accounting for the hand grip, the EOS R is 11% thicker than even the Canon 5d Mark IV. (though I recommend checking out to get a full comparison of the two.)

The biggest size constraints don’t really come from the body though, but rather, the lenses being developed for the system. Calling the Canon R series of lenses big would be an understatement. While at PhotoPlus Expo this year, I sat down with Canon to ask about the size changes in the lenses, and they merely said they weren’t interested in making their lenses smaller if it was going to sacrifice image quality. A noble reply, but let’s find some examples of what I’m talking about when I discuss size issues.

Canon EOS R Size Comparison

While Canon promises the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L will outperform the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L in sharpness and focus accuracy, the size comparison shows precisely what I’m addressing. The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L is enormous. Even with the RF to EF mounting adapter, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L looks significantly smaller by comparison, and that’s just the start of it. Once you start looking at the other lenses announced for the R platform, you start to see the size differences. While not yet released, I was able to get a sneak peek at the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L, and was immediately shocked by the size of the lens. By taking the image of the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L above, you’re able to get an idea of how large the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L will be using the image below. In short, the RF 28-70mm f/2L looks closer in size to a Canon 200mm f/2L than it does to a practical, well-rounded zoom lens.


Using the Canon EOS R

For those who are used to the Canon systems, transitioning to the Canon EOS R is a pretty painless one. The menu system makes sense, and the use of the touch bar system is a decent alternative to the joystick typically found on their line of DSLRs. My biggest gripe with the Sony mirrorless systems has always been their convoluted menu system – it seems to have no user functionality of sense in it at all. Whereas the ‘My Menu’ tool within the Canon systems is generally unused, it’s a necessity when using Sony’s platform. Canon’s menu system is almost a straight rip from their previous DSLR systems; so if you’re a Canon user, you’ll find the transition to the EOS R an easy one.


Whereas I was a skeptic on the 5,600+ autofocus points when the camera was first announced, I must say that I’m quite impressed with the camera’s autofocus system – even though I was often accidentally switching the focus points by using the touchscreen. When testing it around New York, I found that walking subjects were no match for the tracking system, and was incredibly accurate during my brief testing – even at f/1.2. Additionally, I didn’t encounter any problems with focusing in low light conditions, and while I didn’t have a DSLR with me to compare, I have a suspicion that the Canon EOS R might be able to topple the Canon 5d Mark IV on low light autofocus.  And the autofocus system boasts some new specs as well. Most notably, the Canon EOS R is the only camera with the ability to autofocus at f/11 on all focus points while using an extender. For those who are not wildlife and sports photographers, Canon’s autofocus used to be extremely limited on cameras after f/5.6 while using extenders such as a Canon EF Extender 2x III. This change, while useless for many, will be a significant improvement to those who need it.

Canon EOS R Review

Shot using the Canon EOS R
EF 50mm f/1.2L at f/3.5 | 1/1000s | ISO 200

Canon EOS R Review

Shot using the EOS R + 85L f/1.2 at f/1.4 1/2500th ISO100
Photo by Duke Pham | Used with Permission

However, there is its short list of shortfalls as well. One can’t help but wonder why Canon didn’t implement some kind of In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) like that found on virtually every other mirrorless system. While Canon has made it clear that they believe the future remains within image stabilization within the lenses, IBIS is cheaper and works just as well. With the size of the camera, it’s apparent that they could have possibility build an IBIS system into the Canon EOS R, and leaving it out is a disappointment. Secondly, the no blackout shooting system within the Canon EOS R is more frustrating than useful. If you’ve used the Sony a9, you may have fallen in love with the no blackout shooting, where you’re able to shoot continuously without your viewfinder ever being obstructed. Sony’s solution was to just make a black box indication system to let you know you’ve taken a photo. Canon’s solution – briefly freezing the image within the OLED viewfinder, obstructing your shooting in the process. While this can (and hopefully, will) be fixed with a firmware update, one hopes it comes sooner rather than later.


What I Liked

  • Extremely Comfortable Mirrorless System to Hold and Use
  • Great Low Light Focusing
  • 5,655 Focus Points, for Super Accurate Focusing
  • USB Type-C for Charging and Tethering
  • Affordable Camera System at $2,300

What Could Be Improved

  • No In-Body Image Stabilization
  • Cropped Sensor 4K and other Limited Video Options.
  • Very Large System Size; Especially for Mirrorless


Canon seems to have learned from their mistakes from the EOS M mirrorless platform from a few years ago and has finally made a mirrorless system with professionals in mind. As long as you’re not expecting to save camera bag space by transitioning to mirrorless, the Canon EOS R looks to be an incredibly capable camera system for only $2,300. And of course, if you want to try before you buy, the Canon EOS R is available for rentals for as low as ~$10 a day.

Author: Zach Sutton

I’m Zach and I’m the editor and a frequent writer here at I’m also a commercial beauty photographer in Los Angeles, CA, and offer educational workshops on photography and lighting all over North America.

Posted in Equipment
  • Michael Clark

    “Their first entries into the mirrorless world with the Canon M series of cameras and lenses were far from impressive, and never really got much attention from both consumers and Canon itself.”

    Well, except in Japan, where it is the best-selling mirrorless camera system.

  • Frank Sheeran

    > What Canon needs is lenses other than the L lenses the RF 35mm is the only current non-L lens

    Canon’s basic line of thought is that anyone with modest optical spec requirements for a given outing will just be using the smartphone, so why bother to issue modest glass in RF? Even the 35/1.8 is pimped out with IS and macro.

    But I want one workflow and one set of muscle memory and would instantly buy a 35/2 or 50/1.8 if they sold one. Or would, if I didn’t have a Leica M-mount 35/1.4ASPH. I’ve taken more frames with that on the R than the RF lenses combined.

    A Chinese firm called Kipon has manual-focus f/2.4 lenses in 24 28 35 50 75 90 for the R, apparently, and I read they’re not bad. I can say the R is great for manual focus, between the focus-peaking and the magnifier.

    I use the touchbar to pick AF type and while I do brush it and change AF types, I also feel like I might be able to train myself not to.

  • Jeff Allen

    Now having bought this camera and used it there are plusses and minuses. My pet hate is the Touch Bar its just as useless as the one on my MacBook Pro. This camera should have retained the joystick as on the 5D MKIV it works and works well. The camera took time to get used to it its not a slam dunk if your used to a 5D model or a 6D model, that slows you down. On the plus side the wider metering area is great, it feels good in the hands, quiet mode is quiet, the viewfinder is bright & large and the touch screen is quick & easy to use and the AF is super fast. I like the control ring on the new lenses, its something Ive used on my old G7. The RF 24-105mm f4L IS USM is way better that the EF versions and the EF to RF adaptor works seamlessly with EF lenses with no loss at all of functions. This camera has lots of customisation options and the new FV mode is interesting. Flash sync is 1/200th sec and it worked well with my Elinchrom strobes.
    Canon has now released the EOS RP, I read about it before I bought the R but it seemed too basic and had the same sensor as my 6D MKII. What Canon needs is lenses other than the L lenses the RF 35mm is the only current non-L lens which makes the RF 24-105mm f4L IS USM both expensive and large for the RP.

  • Lillian

    G­et residual cash each week… This is an amazing side work for anyone… Best part about it is that you can do this job from comfort of your house and get paid $100-$2000 every week … Apply for the job now and get your first payment at the end of this week…>

  • Neil Burton

    With gloves?

  • Dan Lovell

    I thought the same regarding the missing joy stick having used joy sticks on several Canon DSLR’s for many years, but after using the camera for hours, and keeping an open mind, I no longer miss the jou stick. The feature allowing one to manipulate the focus points on the articulating LCD is fantastic, awesome, but only for those why give it a chance, spend time figuring out the workflow, etc. For the casual fondler at the camera shop or trade show, they will not have spent sufficient time to really get familiar with it..

  • Dan Lovell

    Nice article. I bought the Canon EOS R for two reasons: (1) RF 50L F1.2 lens, which is probably the best 50mm of any make, and could make a grown man cry in ecstasy for its bokeh and sharpness at f1.2, and (2) for the 5,600+ F11 focus points which sports and wildlife shooters will greatly, massively appreciate.

    The fact that it has focus point manipulation from the articulating LCD, and can use ALL legacy EF lenses adapted WITHOUT any degradation in performance, and optical quality doesn’t hurt either.

    Yes, its a flawed body, but its a decent first attempt, and if the competition is wise, it will respect this initiative from Canon, and the continued ramping up of the R system, which I find Revolutionary.

    As to the reports on the less than great user interface, well, I think for most of these naysayers, I do not believe that they played with the camera long enough to draw such quick conclusions. When it comes to the UI and UX (user experience), user interfaces deserve several hours of vetting, and far beyond the 5 minutes spent fondling one at a trade show or store.

    And it bears reminding, that when one buys this R body, they are buying much more then they imagined…they are buying into a system, the R system, and with this comes exciting future and coming components of that R system: The RF lenses are spectacular, and the fantastic EF accessories like the EX flashes, wow…Sony, Nikon and the rest should be very scared…its only going to get worse for them. This R is just one body…if one takes the long view, one will see just how fantastic the R system looks even in its early days.

  • Thelma

    Opportunity never knocks the door twice, It is really essential to make complete utilization of the opportunity. A job that provides you full freedom to work-from-home. Work which is online and you just have to devote small amount of time into the work. It is certainly not like cons you will see on online that claims to make you wealthy and later turned out to be some fraud selling schemes. It really is real and trustworthy. It is easy to begin and it also get you excellent earnings. Be your own boss and spend much more valuable time with your family and can generate nearly $21000 per month. It is time for you to check out this opportunity and transform your life forever >>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Whitley Barbosa

    Taking a trip all across the world is an attractive and intriguing dream. We work all day long in our office to turn this dream into reality. Still how many truly able to earn? We bring to you, this excellent internet based job opportunity created in a way that it helps you to obtain good money. Work daily and give your work couple of hours and earn as much as $11000 each and every week. It provides you with chance to work from anywhere with very flexible time and able to dedicate some quality time with your loved ones. It is time to transform your life and bring growth and happiness and joy. Now go and have a look at, amazing things waiting for you >>> SUPERB OPPORTUNITY!!!

  • Kelly Doyle

    Exploring all across the world is a delightful and intriguing dream. We work twenty four hours a day in our company to turn this dream into reality. Still how many actually able to earn? We bring to you, this excellent on line job opportunity designed in a way that it will help you to earn great money. Work daily and give your work small amount of hours and get as much as $27000 every week. It provides you opportunity to work from anywhere with extremely flexible time and spend some quality time with all your family members. The time has come to convert your life and bring growth and happiness. Now go and have a look at, fabulous things waiting for you >>> SUPERB OPPORTUNITY!!!

  • Cassandra Wilkinson

    I actually earn roughly $20,000-$21,000 monthly by going online. I dropped my job after operating for the same organisation for several years. I wanted trustworthy earnings. I was not thinking about the “get rich overnight” packages as you can see all over the net. Those are all type of ponzi sort of network marketing business plans in which you need to initially create prospective buyers thereafter sell something to friends and family members or any person so that they will be in your team. Working online has many benefits like I am always home with the little ones and also enjoy lots of free time with my family members in various beautiful beaches of the world. Here’s the most effective way to start visit this exclusive offer here

  • Carmen B. Rodriguez

    I regularly earn approximately $24,000-$25,000 a month through the internet. After doing work so wholeheartedly, I ended up losing my job in my company where I have given so many years. I truly needed a reliable income source. I am not into “get rich overnight” package deals as you can see all around the net. Those are all kind of ponzi referral marketing strategies where you need to first make interested customers and then sell a product to family and friends or any person so that they will probably be in your team. Web work provides amazing benefits such as I am usually home with my spouse and children and can cherish loads of free time and go out for vacations. Here’s the best way to start >>>

  • Cassandra Cain

    I frequently make around $21,000-$22,000 monthly through the internet. After doing work so wholeheartedly, I ended up losing my job in my company where I have given so many years. I truly needed a reliable source of income. I am not into “get rich overnight” package deals you see all over the internet. Those are all kind of ponzi multi level marketing programs in which you are required to first make interested customers and then sell a product to friends and family members or any person so that they will probably be in your team. On line job provides amazing benefits like I am usually home with my loved ones and can relish loads of free time and go out for holidays. Here’s the fastest way to start >>>

  • neil

    A bit of a deal breaker is the lack of joystick for changing AF points. I am sure the touch bar is great but how well does it work with gloved hands in winter I wonder? Otherwise a nice overview and I agree on the size ssue, especially the lenses.

  • dsut4393

    Let me fix that for you:
    “Canon should make a supercompact 24-70/4 as well as show-off behemoth 28-105/2.”

  • Athanasius Kirchner

    Thank you, Zach, for the detailed answer.
    The thrust of my argument is this: I understand that you don’t want to bore readers with very long reviews, but if the goal is to be early, well, it’s not working. Competing sites have had very in-depth content up for weeks, and even if they’re not complete reviews, they have lots more information than can be found here.
    I think that LR’s blog would benefit from an alternative approach, one that doesn’t compete directly with the established review sites. I understand that the gear available to you changes wildly, and you can’t count on it being there for a given day and shoot, so it may pay off to be opportunistic and produce shorter articles highlighting a given combination of gear. LensRentals’ greatest strength is their access to a selection of gear beyond the reach of almost all reviewers, in my view, and you should exploit that.

  • Brandon Dube

    If size and weight were most important, the market wouldn’t be trending towards bigger and higher optical quality. The players involved do their homework before investing many millions in a new product.

  • Gordon Lewis

    I for one feel your review told me all I really needed to know about the EOS R, and more words would not have added a cent more value. My impression is the EOS R may be the perfect camera for someone, but it’s almost certainly not me.

  • Hopefully it will be.
    But when I think of something in the ~28-70mm zoom lengths, I think of event photographers, wedding photographers, and the type of people who will have their camera slung around their neck for an entire day. Size and weight matter most for those people, and I’m worried that Canon missed the mark when it came to making this system.

  • Hey Athanasius,

    I appreciate your comment. We’re in a pretty consistent state of trying to churn out reviews of new gear as quickly as possible, while providing insight that no one else can offer. Examples of that are that with Roger’s teardown of this camera (the only one on the web) ( while also having a practical review of the camera (this article) faster than most other sources online. While it’s viable to test this camera with ever Canon lens in the lineup, it’s neither efficient or practical. In order to do that, we’d have a review out 8 months after everyone has already bought, rented, or used the camera in some capacity.

    Additionally, this review sits at roughly ~1700 words. That’s sort of our max length to achieve a decent reading base. Once an article goes beyond 1800 words, we lose a lot of our reader base due to disinterest. Our goal is to have a maximum outreach with a focus on accuracy, importance, and brevity – while maintaining cost effectiveness and a priority to our customers. For this article for example, I was able to get a one week rental of the camera and adapter, while in New York. Anything longer would have delayed other customer rentals, and any additional gear would have delayed the review considerably. We have to find middle grounds that are both practical and informative – it is free content after all. Hopefully, as time goes on, stock goes up, and the hype dies down, we’re able to do more of these crazy tests that you’ve suggested. But the camera did only come out six weeks ago.

    Hope that clears some of this up.

  • Stanislaw Zolczynski

    Canon should make a supercompact 24-70/4 instead of show-off behemoth 28-105/2

  • “Canon’s solution – briefly freezing the image within the OLED viewfinder, obstructing your shooting in the process” I don’t think that’s a solution 😉 It’s just slow processing speed. The EOS R is a beginners FF camera unlike the A9 which is sports-oriented. Nevertheless it’s worth the asking price, mostly thanks to the updated DPAF, brilliant EVF and the well developed Canon ecosystem. The lack of IBIS is a somewhat bummer indeed… A lot of wide angle lenses would benefit from it. Hope they will add it to the “rumored” high res R.

  • It works very nice with the 200/2, 300/2.8 II and 600/4 II. As good as the 1dx2. I don’t have the 400/2.8, but I guess it will be the same. The only difference is when you’re doing AF from 0 to infinity – the 1dx2 wins and I guess it’s because of the higher battery voltage. The AF works when the 1dx2 can’t catch anything at all… No problem AF @ 1/3s ISO 12800 with the 100mm/2.8 macro and the AF assist lamp is off. I don’t have many 3rd party lenses, but it works amazingly well with the Sigmas 85 and 105 Art.
    The 4k video is NOT as sharp as the 1dx2, because of the lower subsampling (I think). Getting the Ninja V on Wed, hopefully it will improve the situation by going 4:2:2. Overall it’s a great camera. It’s just “not cool” to say that 😉

    Here is a sample from the 200/2. Unfortunately disqus doesn’t allow to upload in full res…

  • Athanasius Kirchner

    Umm, you really shouldn’t call this a review. It’s barely a “first impressions”, and it doesn’t cover anything of interest (for me).
    What did you think about the M.Fn. bar? And about the new mode dial? Fv-mode? The touchscreen? Its customizability?
    Where are all the crazy lens tests? You are a part of LensRentals, after all, and in a prime position to try all the weird combinations that are off-limits to most of us. How does the EOS R perform with the TS-E lenses? With the MP-E 65mm? With a 400mm f/2.8? With the Sigma/Tamron 150-600mm?
    That is the kind of content that I’m looking for, and the kind of content that would set LensRentals’ blog further apart from the rest. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally found this milquetoast, pat-in-the-back article a complete disappointment.

  • zogzog

    Zach, I tried the 28-70L at a Canon showroom in Tokyo. At 1430g it is almost as heavy as the EF 100-400L2 on paper, but since its center of gravity is much closer to the grip, it feels much better balanced when handheld. I did not feel uncomfortable swinging it around with one hand for a few minutes, which is definitely not what I would say of my 100-400L2. I have a suspicion it will be very popular among your customers….

Follow on Feedly