Canon EOS R Mirrorless Hands-on Review

The much coveted but until recently, wildly under-delivering "mirrorless battle" between the titan brands has finally kicked off. Syrp have got to do a hands-on review of Canon's new EOS R mirrorless, and it's interesting to say the least.

With Sony consuming the camera market at a startling rate, Nikon launched the Z range of mirrorless cameras to a mixed response. Hot on their heels are Canon with their addition to the mirrorless market: the EOS R. Syrp got one of the first hands-on opportunities with the camera and we get a better sense of what it's all about.

Now, the review is undoubtedly a great look at what the camera is capable of. However, I have some serious reservations, primarily pertaining to crop factor, single card slot, and no in-camera stabilization. However, if you haven't seen the full specs, you can click here. A summary is below:

  • 30.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS 
  • Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus      
  • 100 percent vertical x 88 percent horizontal autofocus coverage    
  • EV -6 low brightness autofocus   
  • 4K video (crop, log, codec, and bitrate unknown)
  • Articulating screen with touchscreen LCD   
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth   
  • Dustproof and drip-proof   
  • Magnesium body   
  • LP-E6N battery
  • BG-E 22 battery grip
  • Size: Width of about 136 mm × height of about 98 mm   
  • Weight: Approximately 580 grams  (685 grams for the Canon 6D Mark II)
  • Mount: inner diameter 54 mm, flange back 20 mm, 12 pin   
  • Mount adapter: “Mount adapter EF – EOS R,” “Control ring mount adapter EF – EOS R,” and “Drop-in filter mount adapter EF – EOS R"

Now, this isn't a bad spec by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm left thoroughly underwhelmed by Canon (and Nikon) and their additions to the mirrorless market. I've been with Canon for over 10 years, and some of their glass is the best you can buy, but body wise, they're behind the curve. The only benefit of not being first to market with a competitive mirrorless as Sony were, is you get to — at the very least — match what they have put out and hope brand loyalty and a preexisting arsenal of compatible (I know...) lenses keeps your photographers with you. But really, one would hope that they improve on what's already out there. What one wouldn't expect, is for Canon to put out a camera that's already behind what has been available for a while.

The saving grace for me is the list of new lenses, which look superb. The standout inclusion for me is the 35mm f/1.4 STM, but below is the full list. This range will hit the market soon and be available by clicking the names below:

EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera with 24-105mm Lens

EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)

BG-E22 Battery Grip

Mount Adapter EF-RF

Mount Adapter EF-RF with Control Ring

RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens

EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM Lens

RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens

EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens

The review by Syrp is very well put together and they get some great results from the R, but I remain unconvinced that this mirrorless does anything positive for the mirrorless market other than flying the Canon flag. What are your thoughts?

All images courtesy of, and used with the permission of, Syrp.

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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I like the addition of the iso adjustment. A dial would be better, but at least it's on the body.

You can change the ISO on the lens too!

I saw that. The programmable ring is very cool.

I think for the market segment/price point Canon will have a winner. I am curious to see what they release next, an ASPC sized sensor to compete with the 7D or a mirrorless version of the 5DS or 1D. Sensibly I think they have released some quality lenses which will encourage some people to trade their 5d3/4 or 6D for a R body.

Wondering how it actually feels in your hands. Looking at it from different angles it looks like it could be the most comfortable mirrorless camera from Nikon, Sony and Canon.

For me it looks awkward. It looks bigger than the others, which is a negative for me, but that might be perception because of the smaller mount than the Nikon. I also find having the front dial on top to be less ergonomic than when it's in the front. Add to that a real lack of buttons and it doesn't look like it's easy to switch on the fly. There are some cool things as well, but like most, it is hit and miss with my wish list.

I'm a 6D user and my brother has an A7ii and it just feels way too small. I have small hands so it would be worse for people who have big hands.

I get you. I was close to getting the Sony when it came out (years ago) I was so excited I went to a camera shop while on holiday and was shocked how shall and light it was, I was using the Canon 60d at the time. I got back from holiday and got the 5dmk3. Light cameras are not for me.

Well the weight is not an issue for me. The problem is that they are too small for my already small hands.

That too, I know some people complain about the 5D grip being hefty but thats what I love about it. Use it with a hand strap only and I'm in heaven... Now I feel the grip on my 60D is too small.

"but I'm left thoroughly underwhelmed by Canon (and Nikon) and their additions to the mirrorless market"
yup. they were supposed to come in like a wrecking ball and kill sony instead they were nothing more than a light set of cameras with a pathetic set of native glass that has to rely on adapters.

I'm not sure canon's lens lineup at launch is that good tbh. Two hugely overpriced lenses for this camera and they completely neglected wide angles which kills a market that could have adopted this: landscape, for they want light weight, they don't need a zillion fps or any of that stuff. There is also a huge hole with nothing in the tele-end. IMO as "boring" as it may be a simple 2.8 trinity of zooms would have been far more practical to start a system.

As it stands you have an even more limited 1 stop faster, twice the price 24-70 variant with less wide coverage at 28. NO IS which is tbh another trade off that wouldn't have had to be made with a proper 24-70. And in the end it is "just" an f/2!. meh.The 1.2 prime is long overdue and it is maybe the only interesting set of the bunch as all the M stuff is completely incompatible with the R mount and the mirror slapping lenses are just more lenses canon will have to someday re-design for R.

No qualms with the camera, but I agree that the initial lenses are a little underwhelming. Sure there's a few nice primes, but I would think with the mirrorless technology we could start seeing a more interesting range of zooms. The 28-70 at f/2 just about eliminates the wide angle capability that most Canon shooters have become comfortable with while using the 24-70 f/2.8. With that being said, I think this is the first step in the right direction to a whole new range of lenses that will hopefully hit the market in the next year or two.

I think mirrorless is lame. People look pretty funny holding their professional camera away from there face like it’s an iPhone. And I don’t like the digital viewfinder.
With that said, if I was going to be a full time video guy. Sony. But Otherwise canon. Because what they have suits all of my needs, and honestly I don’t feel the need to upgrade or change anytime soon just to feel the hype.

Are you trolling? "Away from their faces"???

Using a mirrorless is no different to using any Canon from the last 10 years - It has a viewfinder and a liveview screen, you choose to use the one that suits the circumstances.

I don't know how the Canon EVF compares to Sony (which model? the A9 is much better than the A7) or Panasonic, but modern EVFs are pretty decent. I can shoot 7fps with no blackout on my Panasonic, 9 with minor blackout and no lag, or 20fps with lots of compromises - And this isn't Panasonic's latest model.

There's many things to dislike about the new Canon, being mirrorless isn't one of them.

No, looking through a viewfinder that is digital is not nearly the same experience as an optical viewfinder.
And I really don’t know what you’re trying to say in that second paragraph.
And It is one of them. Because I don’t prefer mirrorless.

I never said the camera was bad. I just do not care for mirrorless.

You say you didn't understand my second paragraph, ok...

You're implying that users of mirrorless cameras use live view exclusively, instead of the viewfinder (your "away from their face" remark). My second paragraph was reminding you that live view is as old as the dSLR. Using live view has it's uses, as does the OVF. You use the right tool for the job.

Regarding EVF vs OVF, in what way do you not think the experience is comparable?

EVFs on modern cameras _can_ be lag free and feature zero blackout - Two historical criticisms. If you _want_, they can also display far more information than an OVF and be just as "organic" to use. My opinion after having used both is that the EVF experience is now superior to OVF due to the ability to have focus peaking, zebras and know if the exposure is correct beyond the histogram. I say superior in _my opinion_ because my keeper rate has increased and I'm finding myself using my mirrorless more and more where I can. Mind you, Canon's implementation seems to be imperfect.

I'm not sure what you mean by "And It is one of them". Actually, the rest of that line doesn't make much sense to me, to be honest. It seems as if you're very angry with me and didn't take the time to consider what you wanted to say.

Life is too short to be dogmatic about technology options. Chilax and enjoy life, go take some photos rather than getting agro and reducing your life expectancy...

Haha never mind man forget I said anything.

If that 28-70 lens had IS and/or the body had IBIS I would've been all over it for video use.

Although I switched to Sony from Canon 3 years ago, I think this is a great starting point. Canons strength will be it's lenses.

Hopefully the price of a used 7d mkii will now drop below £500 for me to pounce.

I was disappointed with the Nikon Zs for being too expensive. I'm disappointed with the new Canon for being too expensive. Honestly, drop $500 off the price and you'll be about right for the features it offers.

I'm in two minds about IBIS, let's see how good the IS actually is with the new glass.

Using the same ol' battery (ignoring the N features) - Sweet, good idea!
Adapted Canon glass performs like native - Awesome!
OLED top display - Yawn. Pros: more room for Canon to innovate with the display. Cons: more power hungry and not as easy to read in bright daylight.
USB charging - I'd expect no less.
Bazillion AF points - Great coverage, great number of points. I wonder if this is why the max FPS is so poor.
4K - Come on, is anybody honestly surprised by how they implemented it?
Clean HDMI - Ok, this did surprise me just a little. We all knew they needed clean out to compete, but did we really expect it?
Touch bar - Yawn. It's a cool gimmick. Usable, but not exactly making up for my next point...
Dude, where's the buttons? - Where have my dials and buttons gone? I like being able to move dials and press buttons to change settings, without ever taking my eye from the viewfinder. This is I feel a real retrograde step that limits the practicality of the camera for a large swathe of genres...

Obligatory sign-off grumble: Bah, so long Canon... I'm leaving 😜

Nice-ish camera but nothing to make me trade my 5DmkIV.
Sadly, Sony is still the one to beat.
The lenses look like a good start but so far the body is too far behind.

In truth, the Sony has most everything I need except being fun to shoot.

Only one card slot, however, it's priced accordingly. Had this come in at the same price as the Z7, there would have been some real howls. From the looks of it, it will be the Vlogger's choice if they're looking for a new camera. The three choices for an adapter is interesting as well.

I suspect the next FF mirror less will be made with wedding/event photographers in mind.

I am pretty underwhelmed by this whole thing, tbh. Lot of gimmicky bits and bobs, and just adding ANOTHER lens line, Ef, EFS, RF, and M (or whatever it's called). Seems flooded.

Hi, I am curious, if it is possible to use third part lenses with adapter?

As a first entry into the mirrorless market, I don't think this is a bad shot at all. I'm pretty confident we'll see some of the early concerns addressed with firmware updates, and future mirrorless body releases will undoubtedly emerge that better suit the specific needs of different types of photographers/videographers. For my money, it gets no better than Canon glass so I think I'll stick around...bodies are designed to be replaced, quality lenses can take you through a career.

I do find it pretty ironic that when it comes to new releases, the people who comment most often about how bad a camera is and about what features are "missing" or implemented poorly (despite never having so much as touched the product) always tend to have the least impressive portfolios: 4K @ 480fps , IBIS and a liquid metal lens mount that morphs to fit any lens ever made aren't going to fix poor composition, boring subject matter and over-processed images.

"What one wouldn't expect, is for Canon to put out a camera that's already behind what has been available for a while."

I'm sorry, but, I've almost come to expect this. They've been watching competitive offerings for how long? And yet ...

This mirrorless Canon looks more elegant than the Nikon counterparts; even the adpters look better. If Canon launches a higher resolution mirrorless camera, I will definitely switch to Canon just for the lenses.

Lmao! Can't tell whether you're joking but it's hilarious.

Hahahaha. No kidding.

I am very surprised they have not chosen to add I.B.I.S to this design.