What's it like to use?

On paper, the EOS R looks to be well-suited to a variety of types of shooting, and we've spent weeks with our sample to give you a better idea of how the EOS R's spec sheet translates to real-world shooting scenarios. Here are the pros and cons of using it for the following use cases:


Travel

Edited in Adobe Camera Raw 11.
ISO 100 | 1/125 sec | F6.3 | Shot using the RF 24-105mm F4 L @ 35mm
Photo by Richard Butler

Size can be a big consideration for travel photography, and though the EOS R doesn't come close to being the smallest full-frame mirrorless camera on the market, it is the smallest full-frame Canon camera you can currently buy. Plus, the new Canon RF 24-105mm F4 zoom is reasonably compact and has a very useful range.

Pros:

  • Good image quality and resolution
  • Attractive, ready-to-share JPEGs with pleasing colors
  • Some degree of weather sealing
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity with a high quality mobile app experience
  • USB charging

Cons:

  • On the large side
  • Below average battery life
  • USB charging is a little picky about chargers
  • Lack of in-body stabilization and iffy digital stabilization make it hard to shoot smooth handheld video
  • Extreme crop factor makes it difficult to shoot wide-angle 4K footage

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Family and moments

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11
ISO 250 | 1/60 sec | F1.8 | Shot using the RF 35mm F1.8 Macro

Despite the increasing sophistication of smartphone cameras, certain family events and outings can really benefit from having a dedicated camera on you. With great image quality and color, the EOS R looks like a promising prospect - but there are a few shortcomings to be aware of.

Pros:

  • Great JPEG color and image quality
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth make it easy to share images with family members
  • Fully articulating screen makes selfies easy
  • Pupil Detection makes for accurate autofocus for static portrait subjects
  • You can easily swap between detected faces in a scene

Cons:

  • Large size could be hindrance to bringing the EOS R along
  • Pupil Detection only works in Single AF, and face detection can hunt unexpectedly and miss focus on (even modestly) moving subjects
  • Limited burst speed could leave you missing just the right moment

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Landscape

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11
ISO 100 | 1/100 sec | F5.6 | Shot using the RF 24-105mm F4 L @ 105mm
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

The EOS R represents a fine camera for landscape work. With good resolution, precise autofocus and a degree of weather-sealing, it has a lot going for it. That said, there are some areas in which the EOS R continues to lag behind the competition for more demanding users. Right off the bat landscape photographers working in cold conditions with gloves will struggle with the lack of direct controls and a joystick to move the autofocus point (or magnified view for manual focus) around.

Pros:

  • Plenty of resolution from the 30MP full-frame sensor
  • Articulating screen for working at odd angles on a tripod
  • Weather-sealing
  • Precise, on-sensor autofocus
  • Great color

Cons:

  • Limited dynamic range compared to its peers; images of particularly high-contrast scenes may be more difficult to work with
  • Eye sensor does not disable when the screen is flipped out, easy to accidentally trip it and switch to the viewfinder
  • Buttons and dials are small and recessed, and the general reliance on touchscreen interface, touch bar, and nested menus make it difficult to operate with gloves.
  • Below average battery life
  • Lack of zebras makes it difficult to assess when highlights clip
  • No interval timer included

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Portraits

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11
ISO 100 | 1/1250 sec | F1.2 | Shot using the RF 50mm F1.2 L
Photo by Barney Britton

With the addition of Pupil Detection and on-sensor autofocus, the EOS R looks like a seriously capable portrait camera, capable of offering a level of repeatable precision that will impress anyone coming from a DSLR. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, Pupil Detection is only available in Single AF, and there are a few other considerations to be aware of.

Pros:

  • 30MP sensor offers plenty of resolution
  • Great skin tones and overall color
  • Pupil Detection ensures highly accurate focus for static subjects
  • Standard hot shoe provides full compatibility with Canon's and third-party flash systems
  • No need to micro-adjust lenses with on-sensor autofocus system
  • 1/200 sec flash sync speed on par with other Canon offerings

Cons:

  • Pupil detection is only available in Single AF; at very wide apertures, slight subject or photographer movement can throw off focus
  • For even slightly moving subjects, using face detection in Servo (continuous) AF can result in missed shots from random hunting

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Lifestyle and people

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11
ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F1.6 | Shot using the RF 50mm F1.2 L
Photo by Wenmei Hill

For those considering bringing an EOS R along for either casual social photography or a more staged lifestyle shoot, here's what we think you should keep in mind with Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera.

Pros:

  • Good skintones and color
  • Pupil detection in Single AF for static subjects
  • Generally good low-light AF performance
  • Face Detection makes it easy to select which face to focus on in a scene with multiple people
  • Attractive JPEGs, easy to share with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Flip-out screen makes selfies, high-and-low angles easy to shoot

Cons:

  • Pupil-detection not available in Servo AF
  • Camera is on the large side, slightly intimidating with larger lenses
  • Limited battery life

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Candid and street

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 100 | 1/5000 sec | F2.8 | Shot using a pre-production RF 28-70mm F2 L

Just because the EOS R isn't our first choice for a street photographers' camera doesn't mean you can't use it for that purpose. Here's what we think you should be aware of when pounding the pavement with an EOS R at your side.

Pros:

  • Flip-out screen makes it easy to shoot from the hip
  • Good JPEG image quality
  • Generally fast and accurate autofocus, touchscreen makes it easy to place your AF point
  • No need to micro-adjust lenses with on-sensor autofocus system
  • Option for silent shutter

Cons:

  • Pupil Detection only in Single AF, and face detection in Servo AF can lead to hunting and missed focus
  • Size makes it more conspicuous, plus the screen flips out to the side making it look even bigger
  • Flipping out the screen does not disable the eye-sensor, camera can spontaneously switch to the viewfinder if you're shooting from the hip
  • Evaluative metering seems strangely like spot focus linked to your AF area, and can result in inconsistent exposures of a given scene
  • Some controls are oddly placed, not especially good for rapidly changing settings

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Sports

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 16000 | 1/800 sec | F2.8 | Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM

Canon's huge, white telephoto lenses are a staple of the sports photography world, but they're also usually attached to the company's very high-end cameras. The mid-range EOS R is perfectly capable of capturing some casual sporting moments, but we wouldn't recommend it for use in more crucial situations.

Pros:

  • Good-sized grip, comfortable for use with adapted telephoto lenses
  • Burst rate of 8fps with focus locked is good if you're in a situation where you can pre-focus before the peak action
  • With adapter, compatible with a wide range of telephoto lenses
  • Reasonably good tracking performance, even in low lighting
  • Good sized buffer

Cons:

  • Burst speed of 5 fps (3 fps with 'tracking priority) is slow by today's standards
  • The camera could really use an AF joystick (the directional pad is too slow to move your AF area, Touch-and-Drag AF too imprecise with your eye to the finder)
  • 'Live view' display at 5 fps burst rate is only available with native lenses; with adapted telephotos, you only get a 5 fps slideshow as you shoot bursts
  • Viewfinder / screen freezes for a fraction of a second as the buffer finishes clearing, which is very distracting
  • AF-On button is poorly placed for back-button AF shooters

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Weddings and events

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11
ISO 500 | 1/60 sec | F2 | Shot using a pre-production RF 28-70mm F2 L and off-camera flash
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

Wedding and event coverage is one of the most grueling scenarios for both photographer and camera. Canon cameras have historically been a common tool for these types of shoots, and here's how we think the EOS R measures up.

Pros:

  • Great image quality, plenty of resolution, good low light performance
  • Good low-light autofocus performance in Single AF
  • Compatible with Canon's TTL flash system
  • Good-sized grip, important for comfort over extended shooting time
  • Articulating screen is great for shooting low, or above a crowd
  • Silent shutter option
  • Wireless connectivity for instant image sharing

Cons:

  • Lack of ability to trigger AF assist on external flashes to aid with low light autofocus
  • Hunting in Servo (continuous) autofocus can result in missed shots
  • Subject tracking can be 'jumpy,' but there's no AF joystick for quickly moving the AF area yourself
  • Relatively slow maximum burst speeds with and without live view
  • Evaluative metering seems strangely like spot focus linked to your AF area, and can result in inconsistent exposures of a given scene
  • Lack of push-button AF override for changing AF modes
  • AF-On button is poorly placed for back-button AF shooters
  • Extreme crop in video limits usefulness, particularly for hybrid stills/video shooters
  • Silent shutter option is prone to rolling shutter artifacts

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Video

While the EOS R is 4K capable and compatible with a huge range of lenses, it has plenty of shortcomings to be aware of that keep us from wholeheartedly recommending it for heavy video shooters.

Pros:

  • 4K capture is reasonably detailed, and the camera is capable of high bitrates
  • Great color rendering straight-out-of-camera
  • Wide range of stabilized lenses to choose from
  • Headphone and microphone jacks included
  • Log and 10-bit capture available via HDMI and an external recorder
  • Fully articulating touchscreen for shooting from the hip and easily setting your AF area

Cons:

  • Substantial crop when shooting 4K limits usability and video quality, particularly in low light
  • Strong rolling shutter effect
  • Autofocus and face detection prone to hunting
  • No in-body image stabilization limits 'run-and-gun' shooters who work handheld
  • Full HD footage is very soft
  • Digital stabilization softens 4K and Full HD footage noticeably
  • No capture aids are available during 4K recording (no histogram, no zebra warnings)

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