12 August 2019
The Canon EOS R arrived with a lot of buzz, both positive and negative, and I was certainly keen to try it out. It was my first foray into full frame shooting and I was excited about the possibilities. Plus, with a cracking deal from Amazon, how could I resist?
I'm not interested in pixel peeping and technical jargon so I'll offer my feedback purely from a user experience perspective.
I've been a Canon user for over ten years and have certainly developed a level of comfort with the gear they produce. As a result, I've gone through a number of APS-C bodies and my collection of lenses has expanded over time, as it has for many others too, no doubt. My interest in photography lies mainly in landscapes and I'm a big fan of time lapses/long exposures although I do occasionally do some walking-around-shooting when travelling about on day trips or proper holidays.
With that out of the way, let me get right into the nitty gritty about the EOS R. Firstly, it's a beautiful camera to hold and has a premium finish and feel. The construction is solid as heck and seems like it's built to withstand a bit of bumping around - although you probably wouldn't want to do this intentionally. Actually, on a recent outing, I placed the camera down on a bench in a cafe with my backpack behind it, while I ordered some drinks. My partner sat down and wanted to push the backpack away to create some space on the bench. She obviously didn't see the camera (with the 24-70mm F4 L zoom attached) and as she pushed the bag, it bumped the camera which then fell from the bench, onto a chair and then onto the wooden floor below.
My partner, bless her, is on the clumsy side, I think it's fair to say. She dropped my motorbike a few months ago which resulted in scratches all over the engine block. I think I need to ban her from touching any of my stuff. But this isn't about her. It's about this incredible camera, the EOS R. How did it fare after a two foot drop? Well, incredibly, it was unblemished, except for a little bit of white paint that it took from the chair on the way down. I just rubbed it off and it was gone. The lens too was okay and the glass wasn't affected. And the EOS R body was in perfect shape! I took some quick shots, zoomed in and out, tested the auto focus...and there were no problems. Unlike the motorbike, I wouldn't need to be replacing or repairing anything on the EOS R, thank goodness.
Shooting with the EOS R is interesting. It does have some different buttons (like that well-known sensor bar thing that people seem to love or hate) and some settings that you may have been familiar with on previous Canon bodies are just a bit different. I have to think more about what I'm trying to do when I set up for a shot with this camera, but this will change over time as I use it more. My other body is an 80D and I was comfortable with that from the outset because it was not too dissimilar to the 7D and 30D bodies I used before it. The EOS R feels like a new system, in many ways, so it's a little clunky when switching between the two cameras - for now.
I have purchased the control ring adapter to use my EF lenses and, similar to the sensor bar thingo, I am yet to configure it in a way that is to my liking. But I love the possibilities! It's also a solid piece of kit that is well worth it if you want to keep your EF lenses in play, rather than take out a second mortgage to get new RF lenses.
This camera is feature-rich and as someone who has only just started to scratch the surface with its capabilities, I'm both excited and daunted by the learning I'll need to undertake to get my head around it. For the short time I've had it, I've really enjoyed shooting with it and haven't got any issues with the quality of output. On this point, I must mention that the RAW files are in CR3 format which is not supported by many image workflow programs. This is a pain in the backside and I'm surprised Canon hasn't worked with the developers of these programs to produce compatibility. Some are claiming that the updates are coming...but then it has been nearly a year and little has changed. Very annoying!
Some people have criticised the video performance of the EOS R, especially the jelly-lag effect when moving too quickly. I can confirm that this is noticeable but I expect there'll be a firmware update to remedy this in future (I would surely hope so!). In saying this, it isn't a big deal for me because I don't shoot fast moving video, generally. The footage I've shot so far has been excellent and is more than adequate for my needs. Also, it's not that hard to switch from still to video, which is another complaint I've seen. Just hold the record button down and it will jump into video mode - it's not that tricky!
A few firmware updates have come out since the EOS R launched and while they may satisfy the more hardcore users who have very particular needs with their gear, amateur shooters probably wouldn't notice the differences these updates bring. In other words, it's a damn good camera straight out of the box and the criticisms are probably coming more from more discerning and demanding users who have specific technical needs.
So with all its functions, you can be up and shooting comfortably with full frame capability in no time without any difficulties. Moving into more advanced settings and trying more technical shots may require some learning though. I'm really satisfied with this camera and look forward to getting more acquainted with it over time. I imagine the next iteration of the EOS R will have IBIS and possibly improved video capabilities. In that case, I will probably grab one and sell the 80D so I'll be playing with the R system exclusively and will avoid the confusion that comes from switching between bodies.