On September 5 of this year, Canon announced its highly anticipated Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera to the world and over the past week, I spent some time shooting a production model while traveling to Havana, Cuba. This camera was made for travel and street photography so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a good working over.
The EOS R Mirrorless camera features a brand new RF mount so it’s not compatible with EOS lenses without the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R that fits between the camera and lens. I used two of the new RF lenses as well as many of my older EOS lenses on this trip. More information and specifications on the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera can be found here.
I found the camera to be very intuitive to use, especially if you are a Canon shooter already, it fit my hands comfortably, and the image quality was very similar to that found in the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which is my current go-to camera body for travel and landscape photography, as well as the occasional wildlife shoot. I thought the ISO performance on the new mirrorless camera to be just a tad better than the 5D Mark IV (see the last of the sample images below captured at 10,800 ISO) but it could be my imagination. It’s certainly a subjective observation at best. The two RF lenses – the Canon Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM and RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM were amazing performers – some of the sharpest Canon lenses I’ve ever used.
This copy of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and the lenses were on loan to me for a very limited amount of time so I couldn’t do any technical, objective tests. My subjective observations are positive overall, but I don’t see myself going to an all mirrorless system anytime in the near future. I do believe Canon is heading in the right direction with this inaugural model, however, and I’m excited with the prospect of future R bodies and an expansion of the RF lens line.
“El Malecón” The Havana waterfront at sunrise, Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 80mm.
“Life’s Rich Banquet” Old Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens @ 28mm.
“El Contendiente” One of many students in Radames Castillo’s boxing academy, Havana, Cuba. I really pushed the limits of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera in this dark working environment. ISO 10,800!
“Ragged Quarters” A Black and White street scene from Havana. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens @ 50mm.
“La Habana Vieja” Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 38mm. I’ve still not completely embraced the Electronic Viewfinder used in mirrorless cameras but I found this to be the best I’ve tried so far. It feels and looks less “virtual” when I peer through the viewfinder.
Canon EOS R Full Frame Mirrorless Camera
The Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera
After months of speculation and rumors, Canon officially announced today the Canon EOS R, the much anticipated full frame mirrorless camera that will compete with Sony’s full frame mirrorless line and the new Nikon Z6 and Z7. Concurrently, Canon is also unvieling four native RF lenses and the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R for using EOS lenses on the new RF mount. The Canon EOS R camera body will be available in October 2018 with an estimated retail price of $2,299. The new Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 lens will also be available in October 2018 while the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM, RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, and RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM will all be available in December 2018.
Canon EOS R Specifications
- 30.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
- A New 54mm diameter RF Lens Mount
- DIGIC 8 Image Processor
- UHD 4K30 Video; C-Log & 10-Bit HDMI Out
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- Maximum of 5,655 Manually Selectable AF Points
- 3.69m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
- 3.15″ 2.1m-Dot Swivel Touchscreen LCD
- Expanded ISO 50-102400
- 8 fps Shooting
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, SD UHS-II Card Slot
- Multi-Function Bar, Dual Pixel RAW
My (Initial) Take on the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera
I will very likely have my hands on this new camera within a few weeks (through some back-channel contacts) so I’ll be able to offer some hands-on, first-person opinions very soon, as well as some sample images. But for now I’ll simply offer my take on the camera and the system in general.
I believe that technology will lead us all to mirrorless systems in the not-so-distant future considering the many technological advantages to the mirrorless system over DSLRs. I won’t go into all of these advantages here but the larger lens mount and reduced physical distance between the imaging sensor and the lens are literal game-changers when it comes to future lens possibilities. We are seeing some of those possibilities with today’s announcement from Canon. But despite these facts and no matter how my hands-on experience with the Canon EOS R will be in the coming weeks, I will continue to use Canon DSLRs (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 1DX Mark II) for my photography in the coming months, unless the landscape and the technology drastically change in a hurry.
The two most cited reasons I hear for moving from a DSLR to a mirrorless system is a reduction in weight and size as well as the electronic viewfinder (EVF). I find the weight and size differences to be negligible (the Canon 5D Mark IV is 1.962 lbs vs. the Canon EOS R at 1.455 so we’re basically talking about a half of a pound) and I don’t consider the EVF to be a big advantage at all. With the current technology, I prefer an optical viewfinder. When I use the Canon EOS R in the next couple of weeks, I could change my mind on the EVF, however.
The biggest problem I have with the Canon EOS R is the very limited lens choices (four lenses as of this writing) unless the rumored adapter is used with the current line of EOS EF lenses. This is not an optional solution for me. For example, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x is one of the most important lenses I use for wildlife and I just can’t imagine using this lens on the Canon EOS R with an adapter at this point. There certainly is no reduction in weight or size so why make a change at this point? As a professional photographer who needs to consistently produce quality images year-round, I will use the best available tools for the job, period. Right now, the mirrorless option is not the best tool for me but that could change soon. Stayed tuned.
Order your Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 is Macro STM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R here on Amazon
Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.