Controls and customization

Most of the menus and many aspects of the EOS R's interface will immediately be familiar to anyone who's used a Canon DSLR or EOS M camera in recent years. There's a reasonable degree of customization available as well, but customization options look increasingly limited against competitors' offerings. In contrast to the familiarity of the user interface, there are aspects of the physical controls that are a departure for Canon that some users on staff weren't so fond of.

Key takeaways:

  • Many buttons on the EOS R are customizable to some degree, but some are frustratingly limited in their customization options
  • The Q menu is no longer customizable
  • The Register / recall custom shooting option isn't included, limiting fast-paced autofocus switching in particular
  • The M.Fn bar is very customizable, but still of limited use for most people

Button customization

Most buttons (REC, M-Fn, the LCD Illumination button, Mode, AF-ON, AEL and Lens) can have any of 38 functions assigned to them. The AF-ON, AEL and Lens buttons can also be set to adjust ISO or Exposure Comp if the dial is turned as they're held down. The Illumination button also gains two options that relate to the top plate LCD.

These are the options available for stills shooting: a different set can be assigned for video capture.

Settings assignable to: REC, M-Fn, Illumination, Mode, AF-ON, AEL and Lens buttons
  • Metering and AF start
  • AF Stop
  • AE lock, AF stop
  • AF point selection
  • Set AF point to center
  • Direct AF method selection
  • One shot <>Servo
  • Touch and Drag AF
  • Eye Detection AF
  • Focus guide
  • AE lock
  • AE lock (hold)
  • AE lock/FE lock
  • Flash function settings
  • FE lock
  • Movie [REC]
  • Dial function settings
  • LCD panel illumination
  • LCD panel info switching
  • Shooting mode settings
  • Depth-of-field preview
  • Reset selected item in Fv mode
  • Reset all parameters in Fv mode
  • Quick Control screen
  • Magnify/reduce
  • Menu
  • Image Quality
  • One-touch IQ change
  • One-touch IQ change (hold)
  • Picture Style
  • Protect
  • Rating
  • Select folder
  • Maximize screen brightness (temp)
  • Display off
  • Switch EVF/Screen
  • Eco mode
  • Wi-Fi function
  • Off
Additional settings available on: AF-ON, AEL and Lens buttons
  • Expo Comp. (hold + dial)
  • Set ISO (hold+dial)
Additional settings available on Illumination button
  • Short press: LCD info switching
    Long press: LCD Illumination
  • Short press: LCD illumination
    Long press: LCD info switching

*Dial Func button can also be set to 'Switch to Custom shooting mode'

Other buttons

The AF point button, Set button and directional points of the four-way controller can be configured with 24 functions (generally losing the options you might need to press while also pressing the shutter).

In addition, the Set button gains the button+dial Exposure Comp and ISO options, along with depth-of-field preview.

Finally, the four-way buttons can be redefined to 'Direct AF point selection' which repurposes all four directions to moving the AF point (rather slowly).

AF point, Set or Arrow buttons
  • AF point selection
  • Set AF point to center
  • Direct AF method selection
  • One shot <>Servo
  • Touch and Drag AF
  • Eye Detection AF
  • Focus guide
  • Flash function settings
  • Dial function settings
  • Reset selected item in Fv mode
  • Reset all parameters in Fv mode
  • Quick Control screen
  • Magnify/reduce
  • Menu
  • Image Quality
  • One-touch IQ change
  • One-touch IQ change (hold)
  • Picture Style
  • Select folder
  • Maximize screen brightness (temp)
  • Display off
  • Switch EVF/Screen
  • Eco mode
  • Wi-Fi function
  • Off
Additional settings available on Set button
  • Expo Comp. (hold + dial)
  • Set ISO (hold+dial)
  • Depth-of-field preview
Additional option for four-way controller
  • Direct AF point selection

Dial Function customization

The 'Dial Function' option can be assigned to just about any of the camera's buttons. This takes you to a multi-option menu that can be scrolled-through using the rear dial: the front dial scrolls through the available values for each parameter.

The 'Dial Function' menu in action. The rear dial scrolls between the properties you've assigned to the menu, the front dial scrolls between the available values.

The Dial Function list can be customized to include up to five options you want quick access to, and the options can be arranged in the sequence of your choice.

It's the only way of gaining access to the camera's drive mode without using either the Q or main menus.

Dial Function options
  • ISO
  • Drive Mode
  • One Shot <> Servo
  • White Balance
  • Flash Exposure Compensation
  • Exposure Compensation
  • AF area mode
  • Metering mode
  • Picture Style

Dial and lens ring customization

New to the EOS R is the option to customize the function of 'clicky' control rings on every new RF lens (and on one of the RF to EF mount adapters).

Control ring options
  • Change aperture (hold meter. btn)
  • Change shutter spd. (hold meter. btn)
  • Set ISO speed (hold meter. btn)
  • Exposure comp. (hold meter. btn)
  • Change aperture
  • Change shutter spd.
  • Set ISO speed
  • Exposure comp.
  • Off

One notable frustration is that these settings differ from the options for the main and quick control dials on the camera. The front dial can only control shutter speed or aperture, and the quick control dial on the rear can only control shutter speed, aperture and ISO. This can be frustrating if you want to use the lens control ring for a major exposure parameter, and use one of the main dials for exposure compensation - which is something you cannot currently do.

Auto ISO

The EOS R lets you choose the upper and lower ISO settings that it will use in Auto ISO mode. You can also set the shutter speed threshold that the camera will drop to, before increasing the ISO. This can be automatically related to the shutter speed and biased to use a faster or slower shutter speed than 1/focal length, depending on whether you're more concerned about overcoming hand shake or you're trying to prevent blurring from subject movement. Alternatively you can manually specify a shutter speed.

Auto ISO is available in manual exposure mode, so that you can choose a shutter speed and aperture value then have the camera use ISO to maintain the correct brightness. You can also use exposure compensation to change the target brightness. This is true for both stills and video.

One unexpected glitch is that, if you set ISO to a dial or lens control ring, or assign Auto ISO to the M-Fn Bar, the 'Auto' position isn't selectable until the metering timer had expired. This waiting game is similar to the default behavior of Auto Exposure Lock on Canon cameras but results in an oddly inconsistent experience since you can still select it from the touchscreen.