The EOS R: Why This Mirrorless System Is a Home Run for Canon

The EOS R: Why This Mirrorless System Is a Home Run for Canon

After several years of Sony having its run of the mirrorless world, Canon and Nikon finally announced their full-frame mirrorless cameras. The initial sentiment may not be brilliant for both Canon and Nikon; however, I think Canon has done something absolutely incredible. 

In a previous article, I discussed what I thought Canon needed to do in order to be successful in the mirrorless market. In true Canon form, they did nothing I requested and instead opted for something completely different but still pretty awesome. The EOS R is a full-frame mirrorless camera with the same sensor as the 5D Mark IV but at a much cheaper price. This already sounds great to me, but before we talk about all the good things, let's discuss what they got wrong first. 

Single Card Slot

Canon, the proverbial brick wall. This issue has been beaten to bits, and still, Canon thought it was ok to release a mirrorless camera with a single card slot. I know some of you may feel the need to discuss why it's not a big deal, why professionals can still work with it and so on and so forth. It boils down to one thing: two card slots are better than one, and Canon had every opportunity to offer this feature. Also, it's an SD card slot, meaning they had more than enough space to offer another, yet they intentionally chose not to. Nikon can kind of get away with their somewhat weak excuse of not having enough space due to using an XQD card, but how is Canon justifying this? I mean, even Fujifilm with their relatively smaller cameras offer two card slots. Fact is, I won't be buying this individual camera purely because Canon couldn't be bothered to add in an extra SD card slot. 

Video Features

When it comes to video, the 5D Mark IV was quite a disappointment due to the massive crop factor and the odd file type. The EOS R does correct one of these issues by supporting a more useful codec; however, the crop factor remains. The crop factor in this camera means that you lose almost 75 percent of your angle of view. A 24mm lens will have an angle of view similar to a 40mm lens, making wide-angle shots and potentially vlogging a little tricky. Yes, Canon does offer an adapter where you can use EF-S lenses like the 10-18mm; however, in my view, that lens isn't a great performer and there are no native lenses that fill that gap currently. The fact that this has the same crop factor as the 5D Mark IV means that this is sheer laziness from Canon. Sony and Nikon have a major advantage in this area due to the crop factor, and Canon has, in my mind, made a serious error with this decision. 

Canon also decided not to include in-body image stabilization in their camera' however, this was pretty expected considering Canon's position on this feature. Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the things I'm excited about. 

Lens Selection

Ok seriously though, talk about knocking it out of the park. These initial lenses that Canon has announced with the EOS R are simply astounding. I'm still processing the fact that there is an RF 28-70mm f/2L. This is the widest aperture (proper) full frame zoom lens on the market by a full stop. Yes, I know, the Sigma 24-35mm f/2, but come on, that lens has two focal lengths. I'm so glad that Canon hasn't gone down the route of trying to make tiny, small-aperture lenses. In stark contrast, Nikon has the poorest lens lineup by a long shot: overpriced and relatively boring f/1.8 prime lenses and a 24-70 f/4. The native lenses available immediately from Nikon are really uninspiring. Some of you may be tempted to bring up the 58mm f/0.95, but let's be honest for a moment. That lens is nothing more than a mantle piece ornament, an impractical, super expensive lens that most of us will never actually buy or even get a chance to use. Canon, on the other hand, has released super interesting and properly practical lenses like the RF 50mm f/1.2L. This is an autofocus, wide-aperture lens that's available to pre-order as soon as the EOS R is. Even Sony doesn't have anything like this available within their system, and they've been at it for some time now. To top it off, Canon has also announced the RF 24-105mm f/4.0L, a more affordable and properly useful lens. The DSLR version of this lens proved to be extremely popular, and this lens will more than likely continue in that vein. To add to this, the control rings on these lenses are going to be such a useful feature and can work as an electronic aperture ring. 

If there's one thing Canon always seems to get right, it's their lenses, and as usual, they do not disappoint. No matter what complaints you may have about this initial camera from Canon, the lenses look superb. When it comes down to it, the lenses make far more of a difference than pretty much any other feature in current cameras. Canon, as usual, still offers the best and most interesting lens lineup. I honestly can't wait until Canon releases a high-resolution mirrorless option (with two card slots), because I'd love to own these lenses. 


I know I've moaned about the potential for an adapter and talked extensively about how Canon should stick to the EF mount. I am so happy to be wrong about that, because Canon has done something pretty special here with their adapters. Based on some of the initial reviews, it would seem that the adapters from Canon operate very well if not about the same as the native lenses. Aside from this, Canon has made use of the flange distance to allow for awesome things like drop-in filters. No other major manufacturer currently offers this feature and Canon has really outdone themselves with this one. Having drop-in filters means less fiddling at the front end, and every lens you adapt can make use of the filters. If you use circular filters with your lenses, you'll know that the different filter thread sizes mean you need to buy a bunch of different filter sizes. The alternative is to use square filters, and that kind of system is less than effective in many shooting scenarios, especially if hand-holding. One drop-in filter in your adapter, and all of your adapted lenses have a polarizer or an ND. 

As an architectural photographer, I can't tell you how incredible I think this is. Effectively, all of my lenses, including lenses like the TS-E 17mm f/4L can make use of ND or CPL filters. I can see this being extremely useful for landscape and even portrait photographers. Canon has also announced an adapter that contains a control ring. This control ring can be programmed to do a number of features, but I think it's probably best used as an aperture ring. When it comes to adapters, Canon has done something much better than anything I thought they would and I can't wait to move over to their mirrorless system. 

Final Thoughts

I understand that there are a number of people that are disappointed with the actual camera; however, if we look at this as a system, there's a lot to be excited about. Even the actual camera is probably going to be a fantastic option for many photographers. This camera contains the same sensor as the 5D Mark IV, meaning that at this particular price point, it's the highest resolution camera you can buy. The only thing real thing that Canon managed to get wrong with this camera was the single card slot. This is the first camera Canon has announced for their full-frame mirrorless system, and it's not priced the same as their higher-tier cameras. One can assume that when Canon announces a camera to compete with the Nikon Z7, it will probably have two card slots and maybe some other features to entice their customers. Although I won't personally be buying this camera, I can imagine it being a top seller, as it does offer some very compelling features. Ultimately, I think from a long-term perspective, Canon has some huge advantages with their mirrorless system as a whole. 

Let me know what your thoughts are and what you think Canon should offer in any new EOS R cameras. 

Lead image by on Unsplash, used under Creative Commons.

Usman Dawood's picture

Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

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Previous comments

I found the answer at the Canon's website, no full sensor with EF-S lens on R mount:

"EF-S lenses are designed for APS-C sensor EOS DSLRs, but they can also be used on EOS R cameras like EOS R. The camera will automatically produce cropped 11.6-megapixel images that match the smaller image circle of EF-S optics."

I am looking forward to receiving this camera from Canon for review.

Personally, more then the only sd card situation or the absence of IBIS is not having a joystick.
Beside that looks a good step ahead for such conservative brand as Canon. I will pass this model to wait for the pro version.

If this camera really does have the mk4 sensor, than it is outdated for stills. Nikon has had better sensors than this since 2012, Sony’s recent sensors are much better as well. I don’t understand how you can write a camera review and not even mention the sensor. PLEASE! This review isn’t even close to realistic 😂

I agree Canon needs to step up when it comes to their sensors. Sony and Nikon do have better sensors but they’re better only in terms of dynamic range.

Also this isn’t a review by any means you can clearly see that in that article. It’s an opinion piece.

A 3000 dollar f/2 zoom and a 2200 dollar 50mm prime is not a great lineup. It is the kind of release that makes sense on the EF system but the R system should focus on more well rounded choices instead of such overpriced niche markets. Considering how lacking the system is on even basic lenses there is no reason to even spend so much on such under-specced camera.

besides that I don't see any "advantage" to speak of. Starting a new lens mount behind the current leader (sony) is not an advantage, it is a handicap. The filtered adapter is not a long term advantage either: any new lens cannot use it so it is a diminishing returns play. Additionally the metabones of the world will offer similar things for sony/Nikon given it is a trivial thing to do coming from F or EF to Z or FE's flange distances.

lastly canon has a HUGE problem nobody else has: a fractured and confusing mirrorless strategy: two mounts: M vs R. completely incompatible and totally void from any strategy: Nikon/Sony have one future mount. Canon is splitting efforts in two. Indeed that EF-M lens would be useless on a future 7D mirrorless APS-C equivalent. If canon makes it an R body, can't use said lens. If canon goes EF-M, can't use any R glass.

Huge strategic mistake that will hunt them for decades, unless they ditch EF-M and burn their entire customer base and lens lineup in the process.

canon blew it.

If you consider the price difference between buying a 5D4 and the 24-70 f2.8 vs buying an EOS R and the 28-70 f/2 it's actually not that much. The price is very similar between both combinations but you get this incredible lens with the EOS R.

The other combination is the 5D4 and 50mm f1.2 once again compared to the EOS R the price difference is minimal and looking at some images the new mirrorless 50mm f1.2 is a simply awesome and is a better lens.

You also have the option to save a bunch of money and buy the 24-105 instead.

The EOS R is fantastic value for money and you have 3 incredible lenses.

The filtered adapters are a huge long-term advantage because many lenses like Canons tilt-shift lenses will probably not get updated for a long time if ever. Canons adapter is a native adapter meaning full autofocus works properly and effectively. For a long time, most of the lenses are going to be available with an EF mount.

EOS-M didn't have a huge selection of lenses and there is a clear separation. They just released a new lens for the mount anyway so I doubt it's going away anytime soon.

Thanks for this great overview. I think I am now also hooked on the idea to use a drop in filter for any lens I place in front of the converter. Currently in many cases I found myself literally "too lazy" to cope with the fiddling with the filter, screw in, unscrew, for some selected shots. This drop-in converter will change the way I will be able to use e.g. circular polarizer or a ND filter.

If it comes to points of critique on EOS-R, I think Jared Polin, the 'Fro who know photo,' noted that the on/off switch in a form of a wheel on the left is a bizarre idea. A wheel, really? Canon has had in many cases strange locations for on/off switches. I still remember the EOS-3 bottom of the body location. I think that Nikon makes here a better ergonomics: The switch is at the shutter button. This allows to use only one hand to grab the camera and to power it up, should it be off.

I completely agree with you. On/Off switches seem to confuse Canon haha. Nikon, Sony and Fuji all place it under the shutter button which makes so much more sense to me.

Is it confirmed that EOS R comes with the same sensor as the 5D Mark IV? Where does this information come from? If this is true then this camera is a bargain for somebody currently considering to buy Canon 5d Mk IV as it effectively offers zero advantages over EOS R despite 50% higher price.

More than likely it's the same sensor and I completely agree with you it's a bargain at that price.

The only slight advantage the 5D4 has over the EOS R is the dual card slots, aside from that, nothing else really.

Didn't I just read an article, here, on Fstoppers, entitled "Why the canon mirrorless already sucks"?
Seriously what even. This here is a much better, more thought-out article however. Well done !

Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated. Fstoppers is a community so different writers will have different opinions. I personally really like that because it means that readers get a variety of articles and not just one single narrative.

Home run for Canon? According to Wiki Home Run is a metaphor for sex. What has sex got to do with the Canon R? Unless you are some kind of pervert!

Maybe you should avoid wiki and try dictionary’s instead.

A single card slot and the battery autonomy are a problem for the wedding... :-( unfortunately......