14 September 2018

My quick and dirty review of the Canon EOS R

When I saw that Canon UK were having a Canon EOS R touchy feely day at Beaulieu Motor Museum, and I was available, I jumped at the chance to go along to get my hands upon one of the worst kept secrets in the photographic industry.

I've been using mirrorless cameras for around 4-5 years, having originally moved from Canon to Olympus and now Fujifilm, so for me it's not been the future, but the present, and the two big players (Nikon and Canon) have been very late joining the game.

Canon seem to be all excited about the virtues of EVF (electronic viewfinder), saying how wonderful it is, how it makes your work-flow better, blah blah....   Yeh I know, and I've known for years.

One of the things I questioned a the Canon technical people about (who I have to add were all rather excellent in helping and answering questions) was the second or so delay between taking the photo, and the image preview popping up in the EVF.  While it might not sound like long, when you're used to it being practically instant, it seems like an eternity.  I thought at first the camera was just set up weirdly, but it wasn't, it is just how it is.

I picked up the Canon 20D (14 years old) I have sitting on my old camera shelf last week, and fundamentally the design hasn't changed much even with the latest Canon 5D Mark IV.  The design of that camera was so good that it was hard to improve upon.

With all that fantastic design history behind them you'd think that Canon would design that into their new R camera, but sadly it doesn't seem to work that way.

Indeed, another recent Canon design change on their DSLRs left me scratching my head wondering "why?".  To zoom into an image (while previewing) it used to be easy - top left button on the back of the camera zooms in, the button next to it zooms out - so simple to find and use, but then they changed it.  Now you have to find a button on the left, then use a scroll wheel over on the right.  Two hands, required, so much harder to do.   Why?!  Now, with the R the only way to do it (at least with the out of the box configuration) is to pinch and zoom using the touch screen.  Hardly practical on a cold windy winters day.

This review is my views on the ergonomics of the camera - I'm going to assume that like most modern cameras, the image quality is mostly bloody excellent, and very similar to other equivalent models from rival manufactures.

Missing is the PASM dial, and to change modes now you have a press a button, and twiddle a knob.

The little joystick that moves around the focus point...  Yeh, that's also missing.  It's been replaced with a touch screen that you control with your thumb to move around the focus point.  It works okay ish, but for me it's not as easy to use as a joystick and of course impossible with gloves.

They've added what they call a multi-function bar to the back of the camera.  It's a touch bar that is user configurable to many different things.  I wasn't convinced when I saw it in photos, and yeh, I'm still not convinced.  Give me a push button scroll wheel that I can use with gloves any day...

The control dials don't seem to sit as well as once they had.

Some of my issues on the day were undoubtedly user error, made worst by the fact that every camera I picked up was configured slightly differently, and limited time to play, trying to get the settings back how I liked made things tricky indeed.

RAW support is non-existent as far as I can tell at the moment, with the public version of Digital Photo Professional not yet supporting the .CR3 files.  That'll change soon though of course.

I wish I could have had longer with the camera, but it being a group event, meant having to hand the camera over to the next person fairly quickly.

For me, one of the main factors of switching from a full size DSLR to a mirrorless camera was the reduction of size and weight, which in turn makes the camera more enjoyable to use.  A full frame mirrorless camera essentially does away with that - the bodies might be a tad smaller, but the lenses are nigh on as big and bulky as their traditional counterparts.  Yeh I know full frame will give a better quality of image, especially when pushed to extremes, but is it good enough to justify paying double the cost for the equipment?   Not for me.

Price wise, while I suppose it's comparable, but it's also bloody expensive.   The RRP for the body is £2349, with the 24-105mm lens at around £1199, the 50mm f1.2 lens at £2349, and the 28-70mm f2 lens a staggering £3049!

The images below are all JPGs straight out of the camera (asides from resizing and a bit of sharpening).  Normally I'd tweak my images a tad, but not having access to the RAW files it seemed better to post SOOC files instead.

And below a few out of camera JPGs that I did tweak...   For info the praying mantis was shot at 12,800 iso.

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