Image quality

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

Key takeaways

  • Raw performance is all but identical to the EOS 5D Mark IV, which has a very similar 30MP sensor
  • High ISO noise performance in Raw remains around one stop behind the Sony a7 III
  • The 'Standard' JPEG profile has been tweaked, with stronger sharpening, deeper reds, and slightly less-pleasing yellows
  • The RF 50mm F1.2L will be our standard studio scene lens for Canon RF cameras until the release of a native 85mm prime

Raw performance

There's no denying that the EOS R looks 'crisper' than the 5D Mark IV, but this is due entirely to the use of Canon's new RF 50mm F1.2L lens for this test. With the help of DPR member Jack Hogan, we've verified that the EOS R has a typical strength anti-aliasing filter, like the 5D Mark IV. The use of this sharper lens results in some additional aliasing across the scene.

We've taken a closer look at the RF 50mm F1.2L compared to the EF 85mm F1.8 USM below.

Once the ISO values start to climb, the EOS R shows similar noise levels to the other Canons, but is still nearly a full stop behind the performance of both the Sony a7 III and the higher resolution a7R III. This continues to be the case at ISO 25600 and above. This is at least in part due to the 'dual gain architecture' used in modern Sony sensors.

JPEG performance

Canon's JPEG colors remain a strong point, with deeper reds that more closely resemble the 6D Mark II than the 5D Mark IV, but yellows have skewed slightly green. This could have a negative impact on skin tones, in particular.

The biggest difference in the EOS R is that default sharpening has been taken up a notch. Some of that is likely due to the effect of the sharper RF lens, but crucially, Canon has tweaked their 'Standard' picture profile somewhat. By default, the 5D IV has sharpness, fineness and threshold settings of 3, 4 and 4, respectively; the EOS R's default settings are 4, 2 and 4, respectively. Though there's less in the way of haloing artifacts compared to the 5D IV, it's still noticeable, and is indicative of larger radius sharpening and a generally less robust algorithm than Sony's.

The EOS R's noise reduction doesn't look appreciably improved in terms of detail retention. Edges actually start to appear softer compared to its stablemates, despite looking stronger in Raw and low-ISO JPEGs, which places it further behind Sony's current algorithm.

Against the EF 85mm F1.8 USM

As stated in our studio scene guide, we do our best to use own-brand lenses that are around the 85mm focal length. The focal length is not a hard-and-fast rule, though, and we occasionally use alternative lenses between 50mm and 100mm if there is a compelling reason to do so. We also do our best to use native lenses for a given mount, rather than introducing an adapter - and therefore additional potential for misalignment - into the mix.

Since one of the promises of the RF mount is freedom to make better optics, we thought it made sense to check whether the RF 50mm F1.2L outperforms the EF 85mm F1.8 USM that's served us so well for testing EF-mount cameras.

The fact that it's a native lens, combined with this slightly sharper performance and across-the-frame consistency is enough to prompt us to use the 50mm F1.2L as our standard lens for the RF mount until an 85mm becomes available. In the meantime, this comparison should let you assess which differences are attributable to different lenses and which reflect differences in camera performance.