Video

The EOS R is the first Canon camera capable of using Dual Pixel autofocus while capturing 4K video. While this means that it's going to be easy for users to capture in-focus video, there are a lot of other factors to consider.

Key takeaways:

  • 4K/30p capture with Dual Pixel autofocus
  • Full HD capture at 60p, for smoother or slow motion footage
  • 4K capture crops-in by a factor of 1.8x; this makes it difficult to capture wide-angle footage with most lenses
  • Flip-around screen is good for vlogging, but this is hampered by the crop factor
  • No in-body image stabilizer
  • Enabling digital IS crops in slightly further, with 'enhanced' digital IS cropping significantly further
  • Significant rolling shutter in 4K can lead to a 'Jello effect,' otherwise known as wobbly footage
  • Good battery life while shooting video

In-depth

Here's what our DPR TV team thought after using the EOS R for several days.

The EOS R is subject to the same rather extreme crop when shooting 4K that the older EOS 5D Mark IV exhibits. Although you can certainly find lenses - particularly EF-S lenses meant for the company's crop-sensor DSLRs - that will allow you to shoot at fairly wide angles with the EOS R, this is a particular problem for stills and video hybrid shooters. Having to change lenses when you move from stills to video just isn't practical for many people.

And though we found that the color output from the EOS R is really pleasing, there's an awful lot that's working against it as a video camera. Without an in-body stabilizer, it can be difficult to get smooth hand-held footage and keep your horizon straight, even with a stabilized lens. Rolling shutter is really noticeable. The digital image stabilizer softens output noticeably, and causes artifacts in the corners of your footage. Capture aids aren't great either, unfortunately. Once you begin recording, you lose any ability to see a histogram, and there are no zebra exposure warnings to be found.

Having to switch lenses when you move from stills to video just isn't practical for many people

On the plus side, we found battery life while shooting video to be a strong suit. If you need to ramp your aperture up or down, it does so smoothly (some competitors still move in 1/3-stop 'jumps,' which can be jarring). You can use Auto ISO with exposure compensation in manual movie mode, so you can dial in your shutter speed and aperture as you like and have the camera gain up or down depending on the lighting. You can capture video internally at very high bitrates (though this is of questionable utility considering the soft video), and you can output 10-bit Log footage, allowing you to make the most of the camera's dynamic range.

We're pleased to see that Dual Pixel AF has been incorporated for 4K shooting in the EOS R, but even this feature is flawed and we noticed more hunting than we would expect when using autofocus. In all, the EOS R is really difficult to recommend for most video shooters. That said, hardcore vloggers may like the combination of 4K video, dual pixel AF and a flip-forward screen, and relatively inexpensive EF-S glass lets them get a suitably wide-angle view.

Video quality

Now, let's take a look at the EOS R in front of our studio scene. Keep in mind that this does not allow us to evaluate things like rolling shutter or the efficiency and effectiveness of the video codec, but it does allow us to see how the camera is sampling the scene and the maximum amount of detail capture possible.

It's worth noting that, with its 1.8x crop in 4K mode, the EOS R is nearer to being an APS-C/Super 35 camera than a full frame one. In fact it uses a sensor area most similar to that of Panasonic's GH5S. This is important context to keep in mind for depth-of-field and low light performance expectations.

Although the big story on the EOS R is usable autofocus while shooting 4K, we must note that the camera's 4K capture is fairly soft. In full-frame shooting, Nikon's Z7 isn't much better, showing plenty of stair-stepping artifacts, but switching that camera into its APS-C mode improves things quite a bit. But the EOS R simply can't match the level of detail that the Sony a7 III and Fujifilm X-T3 exhibit, both of which capture oversampled footage before downsizing to 4K output.

Enabling digital image stabilization in 4K has a softening effect on your footage, similar to what we first saw on the EOS M50. The effect is more pronounced when you use enhanced image stabilization. Since the EOS R doesn't come with in-body image stabilization, it's up to the user to judge whether the softness and artifacts caused by digital stabilization are worth the smoother footage.

The EOS R's 1080p output looks fairly competitive against the Nikon Z7 and offers slightly better detail than the Sony a7 III, but the Fujifilm X-T3 continues to lead the pack and is using a larger sensor region than the Canon, so is likely to perform better in low light.