Canon EOS R review

October 12, 2018

Overall Rating:


Canon EOS R

  • Features:
  • Build/Handling:
  • Metering:
  • Autofocus:
  • AWB Colour:
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  • LCD viewfinder:



Price as Reviewed:

£2,349.00 (Body only with EF-EOS R mount adapter)

It has been a long time coming, but Canon finally has a full-frame mirrorless camera to its name. Michael Topham reveals if its been worth the wait

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Canon EOS R Review: Build & Handling

The EOS R offers the size and weight advantages we’re used to when choosing a mirrorless camera over a DSLR. The body weighs 660g with a card and battery inserted – a saving of 230g over the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and 105g lighter than the EOS 6D Mark II. Canon has managed to uphold a reassuringly solid feel to the body, which partly comes down to it being built around a magnesium alloy chassis.

Canon EOS R

The EOS R feels robust in the hand, but the matte black finish is susceptible to light scratches

To ensure it’s up to the task of enduring heavy and demanding use out in the field, it’s constructed the same weather resistant standard as the EOS 6D Mark II. It doesn’t feel quite the same in the hand as an EOS 6D model and the grippy leather-effect finish doesn’t extend right around the side of the body like it does on the EOS 5D Mark IV, yet it has a sufficiently large grip that allows you to wrap all your fingers around comfortably, which is supported by a sizeable rubberised thumb rest at the rear.

From the front the EOS R has a distinctive Canon DSLR look about it, albeit less thickset than Canon’s EOS 5D-series models. With less space on the top plate it has forced Canon into rethinking the arrangement of buttons and dials, some of which won’t be instantly familiar to existing Canon DSLR users.

Canon EOS R

The new M-Fn bar features a safety lock to prevent settings being inadvertently changed. This requires you to hold the left end of the bar for approximately a second before it becomes active. The M-Fn will return to being locked after 10 seconds if left idle

There’s no mode dial on the top left shoulder of the body where you’d expect to see one, just a very basic on/off switch. Instead there’s a mode button that’s located inside the rear thumb dial. Below the EOS R’s top plate LCD, just to the left of where your thumb lays to rest, you’ll spot a new customisable multi-function M-Fn bar – the first on an EOS model. Hold your thumb across it and you’ll be prompted to customise various settings to it in shooting and playback modes using slide or touch movements with your thumb. To prevent accidental changes to this Canon has also introduced a safety lock feature that requires users to hold the left end of the bar for one second to temporarily activate it.

Back on the top-plate, the LCD illumination button has two purposes. It can be held down to darken settings against a lighter background or tapped to switch the standard view of exposure variables to an advanced one that displays a broader overview of shooting information. There’s a dedicated movie button to start recording video in an instant and you’re required to hit the mode button followed by the info button when you want to switch between movie shooting modes.

Canon EOS R

Instead of a mode dial, the EOS R presents a mode button inside the rear dial

Like the EOS 5D Mark IV, the EOS R has a small multi-function (M-Fn) button just behind the shutter that can be customised to as many as 40 different options, but this is best set to the Dial Function setting for immediate access to ISO, drive mode, AF mode, AWB and exposure compensation. The level of customisable control is the best we’ve ever seen on an EOS camera and there’s the advanced option to segregate customised settings between stills and movie modes. The customisable control ring at the front of RF mount lenses is a clever idea that’s been executed very well. It brings aperture, shutter speed, ISO or exposure compensation control directly to your left hand supporting the lens, leaving your right hand to focus on controlling the rear dial and shutter button.

One of the disappointments on the EOR is the lack of a multi controller to allow the AF point to be shifted intuitively around the frame. In this respect it’s rather like the EOS 6D Mark II, but unlike this enthusiast DSLR, the EOS R’s four-way directional pad isn’t set within a rotating rear command wheel, making it little different to the basic four-way directional pads you find on entry-level DSLRs like the EOS 200D.

Canon EOS R

Just like the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS R features a single card slot at the side

In an attempt to make up for these omissions Canon has introduced the M-fn bar and its touch and drag AF function that lets you shift the AF point with your thumb on the screen when the camera is raised to your eye. This is most effective when the positioning method is set to absolute rather than relative, but even with the active touch area assigned to the top right of the screen it’s not easy shifting the AF point to the edge of the frame without handling being compromised.

One thing in the EOS R’s favour is that touch and drag AF isn’t affected when the screen gets wet and our tests showed that it was no less responsive with water droplets on the screens surface than when it was dry. There’s the option to use the EOS R’s AF point select button in combination with the four-way directional pad too, but when you’re under pressure this method simply isn’t fast enough and can result in shots and opportunities being missed.

Canon EOS R

A closeup of the thumb rest showing the AF-ON, AE-L and AF point select buttons alongside

Coming from a DSLR with a multi controller to the EOS R without does feel like a backward step. It underlines that the EOS R as more of an enthusiast friendly model than a camera that’ll satisfy semi professionals and the working pro who demand the very best ergonomics and would prefer to have two card slots as opposed to one for backup.

  • Sensor: 30.3-million-pixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Output size: 6720x4480 pixels
  • Focal length mag: 1x
  • Lens mount: Canon RF mount
  • External mic: Yes, 3.5mm stereo
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec, bulb
  • ISO: 100-40,000 (expandable to 50-102,400)
  • Metering: 384-zone metering system
  • Exposure compensation: +/-3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
  • Drive Mode: 8fps (5fps with AF tracking)
  • Video: 4K/30P 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output
  • Viewfinder: 0.5in, 3.69-million dot EVF
  • Display: 3.15in, 2.1-million dot
  • Memory Card: SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II (single slot)
  • Power: LP-E6N rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • Dimensions: 135.8x98.3x84.4mm
  • Weight: 660g (body only with card and battery)

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