Final thoughts (for now)
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Final thoughts (for now)

Barnaby Britton - Senior Editor

So the EOS R isn't the mirrorless 5D IV that some people were hoping for (except in video mode...), much less the mirrorless EOS-1D X Mark II that others were bravely predicting, but even so, dismissing the R would be a mistake. As a company, Canon remains very conservative in many respects, while being quietly groundbreaking in others. Dual Pixel CMOS AF was always going to be at the heart of any canon full-frame mirrorless camera, for example, and the version that Canon has included in the EOS R appears to be significantly evolved compared to its earliest iterations.

We always knew that Canon would enter the mirrorless full-frame mirrorless market eventually, but not until it was ready - and certainly not in a way that would risk either killing sales of its hugely popular DSLRs or spooking the heavily-invested professionals that make up such an influential and valuable (albeit numerically comparatively small) portion of its customer base.

The original EOS 650, which debuted the EF mount in 1987. In terms of specification, the 650 was a fairly pedestrian camera, but groundbreaking nonetheless. Picture: Szczery, via Wikipedia Commons.

The EOS R is the natural product of that philosophy. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the original EOS 650, Canon's first EF-mount SLR and on the surface, a fairly 'meh' camera even by the standards of 1987, but one which nonetheless ushered in a sea-change in Canon's optical and mechanical design. Despite its unassuming specification, the EOS 650 and its subsequent sister models rang the changes for the entire photography industry for many, many years afterwards.

For now, the most interesting thing about the launch of the RF system is the new mount

Canon is very rarely first to market with new technologies - a point made by executives at the EOS R's official launch. Historically it's not been so much a matter of when, but how the company enters the market that has proved impactful. The EOS R isn't a particularly exciting camera - especially for videographers - but as a statement of intent it is highly significant.

For now, the most interesting thing about the launch of the RF system is the new mount, and the co-announced native lenses. Even if you're not particularly inspired by the R as a produt, it's worth looking back to those early EOS models of yesteryear and pondering what might be coming next. The new 28-70mm f2 looks like it could be one hell of a lens, but Canon probably doesn't expect it to be bought by many EOS R users. It's more than twice the weight of the R, for one thing. More likely (like the 50mm F1.2) it's intended to be used by purchasers of a future RF-mount camera, one more geared towards the needs of advanced enthusiasts and professionals.

For now, the EOS R is pretty much what we expected it would be. It's not the final product of Canon's mirrorless ambitions, it's a start.