Thoughts on the Canon Mirrorless EOS R

Canon EOS R with the 24-104mm f4 lens

Canon EOS R with the 24-105mm f4 lens

Two weeks after Nikon’s announcement of their full frame mirrorless cameras, it was Canon’s turn. Canon is the volume and revenue leader in the camera industry. And, as a leader, they tend to be conservative in their approach. Their new full frame mirrorless, the EOS R, is pretty much what I expected. A solid implementation without any ground breaking features. The good news is the EOS R, is no EOS M, Canon’s first foray into mirrorless back in 2012. The EOS M, with a smaller APS-C sensor, has the distinction of being the worst mirrorless camera ever introduced, in my humble opinion.

Since then, Canon has made steady improvements to the EOS M line and while still behind the other mirrorless players, it’s now a solid camera. Time will tell if Canon remains serous about the M. Nikon killed their Nikon 1 mirrorless. Let’s see how committed Canon is to their non-full frame mirrorless.

With excellent support for the EOS lenses, the R should keep most Canon shooters happy. For me however, an experienced mirrorless shooter, I was disappointed that the EOS R does not have in-body image stabilization (IBIS). I use this feature extensively in my photography. If I could add IBIS support to my existing Canon glass, the EOS R would be compelling. Without it, however, the EOS R is just Meh.

I suppose $2299 is a reasonable price given its features. It sits in between the Nikon Z6 and Z7 pricing. But the Canon kit with the 24-105mm at $3399 is above my psychological threshold. The EVF should make it more pleasurable to shoot over my Canon 6D DSLR, but I’m not convinced it’s worth the price. Especially if there’s no IBIS.

Because I have a bunch of Canon lenses, it makes sense for me to go with Canon but the Nikon Z6 seems more compelling to me. I expect the user interface and haptics of either the Canon or Nikon to be superior to Sony. I’ll know for sure when I test it, in hand.

I suspect I won’t buy the Canon or the Nikon, anytime soon, however. For now, I don’t need their capabilities. I’ve shot long enough that I know that there’s nothing special about “full frame”. It’s merely a larger sensor. Sure, it has higher image quality and handles low light better, but there’s nothing magical about it. It’s simple physics. As the sensor increases in size, the image quality increases. Unfortunately, that also means the camera body and in particular, the lens become proportionately bigger.

Is the larger lens and camera combo worth it to you? That all depends on your requirements. If you don’t know what kind of photos you are going to take, you truly won’t know what kind of camera is the best for you. For my style of photography and for my travels, small, light and versatile is the name of the game.


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7 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Canon Mirrorless EOS R

  1. It’s seems amazing that they both had at least 5 years to get it right and in both cases they “forgot” the killer features that have made their competitors cameras so compelling. Arrogance or incompetence or maybe both?

  2. There is so much to say about this in response that my comments should perhaps be in their own blog post 🙂

    Today’s contemporary digital cameras have reached such a high point of sufficiency and competency across every sensor size that the idea floated by the “fool frame” crowd about fool frame being the only true way to photograph digitally is laughable at best. I’m continually surprised and pleased at the technical quality produced by your Canon G7X MkII as you use it. The G7X is using a “mere” 1 inch sensor, even smaller than micro four thirds. The only time I know you’re using it is when you call it out.

    I have read your blog over many years and watched as you’ve posted photographs from multiple different cameras ranging from the little Pentax up to your 6D, and they have, without exception, been creatively excellent throughout. You are like so many other excellent photographers in that you illustrate (no pun intended) that it isn’t the camera but how you see the world and how you express what you see to the rest of us with that camera as a tool, a means to an end.

    I would be more impressed with Nikon’s and Canon’s latest if I thought they would lead to interesting new areas of creativity, but they won’t. They’ll wind up as points of trivial tribal arguments on various forums and websites (like ThePhoblographer). Nikon and Canon’s latest are a response by the two companies to halt the leakers from leaving their respective brands. But I don’t expect to see anything different visually.

    1. Bill, well thank you for you very generous comments, regarding my photography.

      I think it takes a certain amount of experience and maturity to realize that having the right camera, regardless of sensor size, is really important. Not because of image quality but because you like it more, shoot it more and in turn it might make you more creative.

      The black and white modes from the PEN-F and Pentax Q7 have added creativity to the way I shoot. That, to me, is so important. Way more important than super high clean ISOs or perfect image quality.

  3. I switched to a full frame as I like to shoot the stars and a 24Mp full frame gives better performance than a 24Mp APS-C, pixel-for-pixel. Other than that, I was happy enough with my APS-C camera.

    As far as switching from DSLR to mirrorless, I am not currently compelled. There may be some advantage in the EVF of the Nikon Z6 compared to the D750 that I have. The Z6 has the faster new Xspeed 6 chip where the D750 has the Xspeed4. I don’t think that this is limiting me. The Z6 supports the better, faster XQD card instead of the old SD in the D750. I could use all of my existing lenses with the Z6. None of these advantages are very big to me and I am staying put with my D750 DSLR.

    1. Jason, low light and astro photography are clearly very good examples where a full frame with strong high ISO performance can make a worthwhile difference. That’s an area, I have yet to explore. And, if I ever get into it, I would potentially look at other equipment options.

      Mirrorless and EVFs are really nice for fast changing light environments but not as critical for some landscapes, I think. In fact, when shooting for a long time out in nature, having long battery life becomes an important consideration. One that DSLRs have mirrorless, beat.

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