Body and Handling

The EOS R gives an excellent impression when you first pick it up: the grip is comfortable and the whole camera feels impressively solid. We've had mixed experiences of shooting with it, after holding and operating it for a period of time though.

Key takeaways:

  • Body feels well-built
  • General ergonomic concerns regarding dials, buttons and the M-Fn Bar
  • Claimed weather-sealing to EOS 6D Mark II standards
  • Same battery as previous Canon full-frame DSLRs
  • The required adapter for USB charging will run you an additional $190

One-handed, two-handed operation

Although the position of the front dial looks much the same as that on existing DSLRs, some photographers in the office found it harder to reach. There was also a significant split about how easy it was to use the camera's rear dial, with the difference seemingly being whether the user supported the weight of the camera with their left hand, freeing-up the right hand to operate the controls, or trying to both grip and operate the camera with the right hand.

A right-hand dominated approach doesn't appear to work (you can either operate the dials or grip the camera firmly, but not both). However, the alternative method: cradling the lens with the left hand, makes it difficult to use your left thumb to position the AF point with the rear screen.

Weather Sealing

Canon says the body is weather-sealed to the same standard as its 6D Mark II. Weather sealing is always more of a marketing claim than a dependable property: manufacturers don't specify ingress protection standards and warranties tend not to cover moisture damage, so it's difficult to trust, beyond anecdotal confirmation.

Our contribution to those anecdotes is that we experienced viewfinder fogging when shooting with a camera in a damp environment.

AF point positioning

By default, the EOS R uses its two control dials to position the AF point: you press the AF point button on the back of the camera and then turn the front dial to scroll left and right, and the rear dial to scroll up and down. There are alternative methods available if you customize the camera, though.

In the menus there are two faster ways of setting the AF point. 'Customize Buttons' (Tab 5 of the Custom Fn menu), lets you set the four-way controller to 'Direct AF point selection,' which lets you move your chosen AF point or region around using the cardinal points of the rear controller. This is a slow but precise way of working, since it moves past every individual AF position.

The alternative is to engage 'Touch & drag AF settings' from Tab 1 of the AF menu. This lets you tap or drag the AF point (depending on whether you choose 'absolute' or 'relative' positioning), using the touchscreen with your eye to the viewfinder. You can disable part of the rear screen to prevent accidental operation.

M-Fn Bar

One of the most distinctive features of the EOS R is the M-Fn Bar, just next to the viewfinder. This touchbar can be customized to act as two buttons and a swipeable control, for scrolling through the options of your choice.

The default behavior is that a 'Safety Lock,' which renders the pad non-operative until you press it continuously for two seconds. This lock can be turned off, depending on whether you assign a function you want constant, or just occasional, access to.

Canon provides a series of preset function combinations to assign to the control or you can define your own. The swipe or tap options can individually be set to 'Off'. Alternatively. a 'Change value/selected item' option lets you use left and right taps to adjust the current 'swipeable' parameter in single steps.

Swipe options

Autofocus
  • Scroll through AF area modes
ISO Speed
  • Increase/decrease ISO value
White Balance
  • Scroll through WB presets
  • Adjust Kelvin temperature
Check focus/Disp. info
  • Zoom in/out
Movie Recording
  • Adjust Mic record level
  • Adjust headphone level
  • Aperture setting
Flexible Priority AE
(Fv mode only)
  • Swipe between exposure variables
Tap options
Autofocus
  • Toggle Pupil Detection
  • Toggle small AF frame size
  • Toggle Touch & Drag AF
  • Toggle Focus Guide
ISO Speed
  • Engage Auto ISO
  • Jump to specified ISO value
White Balance
  • Toggle Ambient/White AWB modes
  • Jump to specified WB setting (inc Auto)
Check focus/Disp. info
  • Magnify/Reduce
  • Toggle Focus Guide
  • Toggle MF Peaking
  • Toggle Electronic Level
  • Toggle Histogram
Movie recording
  • Toggle MF Peaking
  • Toggle Focus Guide
  • Toggle MF Peaking
  • Toggle Electronic Level
  • Toggle Histogram
Check focus/Disp. info
  • Magnify/Reduce
  • Toggle Focus Guide
  • Pause Movie Servo
  • Toggle Electronic Level
  • Toggle Histogram
Flexible-priority AE
(Fv mode only)
  • Reset all items to Auto
  • Reset selected value to Auto
  • Select specified parameter (ISO/Av/Tv or Exp Comp)

Battery

The EOS R used the same LP-E6N batteries as other recent high-end Canon cameras. You can still use the older 'non-N' LP-E6 batteries but you'll get less battery life and lose the ability to charge them in-camera.

The EOS R has a USB C socket and can charge the battery over it. It doesn't work with all chargers and Canon recommends the use of its own PD-E1 USB adapter, which will set you back $190 if you pay list price for it.

The camera appears to have a protection feature (or possibly a bug) by which it won't charge over USB if you've previously connected it to a non-compatible charger. As such, we recommend removing and re-inserting the battery to reset it, before testing a USB C charger.