January 7, 2019.
Canon EOS R is a new camera with an electronic viewfinder and image sensor size of 36 x 24 mm and an effective 30.1 *) Mpx resolution. A new mount called RF is used first time here. It is only for non-mirror (mirrorless) cameras. With three different adapters, virtually all EF lenses can be used with the device without any limitations. Because of its smaller dimensions, the camera has a slightly different layout of the controls, compared to the 36 mm sensor DSLRs. A small square display appears on the top plate. The rear monitor has a 3.15 "(80 mm) diagonal and is hinged and pivoted on the left-hand side. The camera is resistant to dust and splash water.
*) The manufacturer claims 30.3 million points. For me, however, an effective resolution is the product of the pixels of both sides of the photograph. In this case 30.105600, ie 30.1.
R is not a professional camera.
R can be placed between 6D Mark II and 5DIV in the hierarchy of Canon cameras. From this point of view, it is also necessary to consider it. It is not a device designed for work, but a versatile, reasonably priced camera with an excellent sensor and a lot of practical features. It indicates the direction of Canon's evolution in the future and brings a number of interesting news. However, it really is not, and definitely not to be, either new 1DX or 5DS R. However, I do not want to say, that R would not have done most of the professional work. It just is not intended for that.
Character and quality of photographies.
If you like noble character of photographs created with Canon's cameras, you'll also be satisfied with the R. The photographs are high quality, clean, with precise and radiant colors, however without undesirable oversaturation. They have a nice detailcontrast, that helps to emphasize the space and the feeling. When using the Camera Standard profile, the colors are even slightly bolder than, for instance, the 6D, but also (as well) very well balanced.
Exposure measurement is traditionally accurate and reliable. Highlights are relatively resistant to overexposure, the shadows can be very well brightened up. The banding in the shadows, that plagues 5DII and III, is virtually gone, will exceptionally occur in scenes with extreme dynamic range, if the shadows are pushed over +2EV. In common situations (clear day, ISO 100), shadows are clean and can be brightened up in the entire range of Adobe Lightroom Shadows slider without revealing unwanted artifacts.
Noise is relatively low, due to resolution. Compared with the 6D and 1DXII standards, R is of course somewhat worse, but up to ISO 6400, noise will be disturbed at least, even at night photography. I know that maybe it's too general, but the level of noise and its character depend on so many factors, that their objective comparison and description would set out for another article.
Automatic white balance is once again very good. You can set warmer or pure white mode, of course, even a tonal shift to any shade. In cloudy days, it is not to be seduced by the greenish and bluish touches, but is keeping higher values and warmer colors, making it aesthetically pleasing.
The image sensor manufacturer is, as usual, Canon directly. It is a Dual Pixel CMOS with a resolution of 31.7 million pixels, of which approximately 30.1 effective (full-resolution photographs consist of 6720 x 4480 pixels). The pixel size is 5.36 x 5.36 μm. The aspect ratio is 3 : 2, using a standard RGGB Bayer mosaic. The AA filter is present and occasionally fairly obvious, perhaps professional models will be without this low-pass wrecker. Sensor cleaning is more intensive than DSLRs and lasts longer; if necessary, it can be discontinued or deactivated at any time. When manual cleaning is selected, the process takes almost ten seconds and the camera restarts after it has finished. I personally welcome this; I do not like to outsource my technique to the service only for cleaning the sensor. But for the protection against some small particles, the most important thing is the clever idea of Japanese designers: the shutter is closed when the lens is replaced, so the sensor protects, even better than the mirror in the DSLR. Other cameras with an electronic viewfinder have shutter open when replacing the lens, which does not really help to keep the sensor clean. The sensor is not stabilized, however (according to some rumors) on next models, the IBIS could be discovered, even talking about a few unique options such as automatic tilt-shift with movement of the sensor, etc. What will be the reality, we will see.
RAW files are 14-bit. Canon EOS R uses a new .cr3 format. We can choose different aspect ratios (3 : 2, 4 : 3, 1 : 1 and 16 : 9). In this ratio, the viewfinder and preview on the rear monitor are both masked. A clipping path is inserted into the file, but the photographs are always in full resolution. This may be useful if we make mistakes when photographing and need somewhat to expand the edge later, but I would also welcome an option, that the RAW photograph should be saved already cropped with a given aspect ratio. In addition to the above-mentioned ratios, you can also choose the 1.6x crop.
As I have said many times, automatic focusing for my work is not very important. I was surprised by one thing, namely the impossibility of choosing automatic point selection across the entire area of the sensor. These are always zones that are horizontal or vertical, although the broadest ones are in one direction up to the edges, but in the other they need to be moved if necessary. Focusing is virtually immediate in single point mode; when the device automatically select the point, the fraction of a second was "thinking" where to focus sometime, there was a slight delay against DSLRs, however, mostly in dark or artificial lighting. With Dual Pixel AF, a total of 5655 points are available. I almost do not use continuous focusing, so I did not even try it. If you focus manually, the image in the viewfinder will magnify when you rotate the focusing ring, and even at night with artificial lighting you can easily focus with excellent results.
The shutter is focal plane, electronically controlled. Exposure can be performed either fully mechanically, or with the so-called "electronic first curtain" and the second mechanical, or completely electronically. Exposure times are from 1/8000 seconds to 30 seconds, of course B mode.
Continuous photographing is up to 8 frames per second, 47 RAW photographs in one burst, excellent for a non-professional camera.
↑ NIGHT TRAIN. Canon EOS R, Canon RF 24 – 105 mm F 4 L IS USM, focal length 105 mm, exposure time 1/15 second, aperture f/4, ISO 800.
You will see more photographs in the following articles, which will be dedicated to the three L-series lenses, that were introduced with R. So let's take a look at the new camera now.
Appearance, design and camera controls.
When I saw R for the first time on reportage and press photographs, I was disappointed. A straight inspiration from the M series (which does not seem to be very successful for me), unnecessarily plastic appearance, visible gaps at the joints of individual parts ... somehow this new future of traditional Japanese technique has not inspired me. That was a big surprise when I first saw and took the camera. Briefly – solidity and precision. Fit me so good, as if they've made it to my hand. Maybe I have a ready-made hand, but in any case the first (and even more) impressions were excellent. So I tried to photograph this camera to look like it really is, and so give you a little sense of the honesty and quality that R is doing. And as the Canon is frequent and (not only) very welcome, the device is made in Japan.
The second aspect of the thing is the overall look of the camera. Canon has never looked much into the past, usually looking for new, modern ways, and R is no exception. The appearance of the device will be fresh even after five years, there is no doubt. For me, as a lover of classic instruments, it's a bit of a mess. Only an alien could expect from the new Canon to be inspired by the beautiful classical mechanical instruments from a film era ... but it would not only make me happy. There was nothing to do. On the other hand, there is a red button on the top to turn on movies recording, which, as you know from my previous articles, I really do not like. Luckily, is possible set it to more meaningful features, I set depth of field preview. A drop of black color then fixes that red dot. Hopefully, for professional devices, this button will turn black and become general, functional.
However, the overall impression is decisive, and that is, despite the above reservations, extremely good. Despite all the modernity, new device feels unobtrusive diligent, very honest. Controls work with great precision and virtually no play. The rollers, shutter activation button and mode dial are now metallic, which is very nice.
An important and very interesting novelty in control is not found on the body of the camera, but with new RF lenses. This is the second (third on zoom lenses) rotating ring, that can be used to define a variety of functions. Also remarkable is the presence of this control wheel on one of the three RF - EF adapters.
I am using only manual mode. I set my rear wheel (because of the lack of space on the back side, it is now almost in the same position as on Nikon cameras) to set aperture, the front exposure time and the lens ring ISO sensitivity. This is because the ring is completely ahead; if it was at the rear of the mount (which is only when using an adapter), I would adjust it to aperture setting and the ISO to the rear wheel.
The on-off wheel came first strangely to me, as seen on some photographs, but it was very good in real for me after trying; it's very nice and smart.
A highly debated novelty is the control strip on the right side of the viewfinder. It is sensitive to both touch and swipe and can be set to various functions. Maybe I would figure out how to use it, but at this moment I would rather welcome two freely programmable function buttons instead.
The upper small display is very practical; since the traditional mode dial (P, A, S, M) is not on the body and these are set by the rear dial, the exposure mode selected is permanently displayed. When turned on, it also shows time, aperture, sensitivity, etc. It can also be lit, which is often appropriate.
It's a little pity, that there are no buttons on the body on the left side between the mount and the grip. Two would definitely come in, but apparently will appear with more expensive models. There is also only one memory card slot (R use SD), two we can find on Canon professional cameras only, which R is not, and should not be, as mentioned above.
Canon R's electronic viewfinder is the first to compliment me with fewer reservations. At first glance, I even thought I was looking to the optical viewfinder. The approx. 3.7 million dot resolution seems to be the lower limit for the electronic viewfinder to be used. Exposure information at the bottom is subject to a slight chromatic aberration, and the contrast is of course more than that on the rear monitor due to the use of the OLED display. If the camera rotates vertically during photographing, the information also rotates. It's just a shame not to be on the back monitor anymore, this little thing would want to fix it, respectively, to allow her to choose. The eyepiece is fairly wide and pleasant, well protecting from the side light. Viewer magnification is approximately 0.71x / 33.3° (ie approx. 0.76x with a 50mm lens focused on infinity). The entire viewfinder is quite extended from the body, making it easy to observe. Of course there is a diopter correction, -4 to +2 diopters.
The rear monitor is TFT type, 2.1 Mpx resolution, 3.15 "(80 mm) diagonal and 66.7 x 44.4 mm (3 : 2 aspect ratio). It is articulated, swiveling and tilting on the left side hinge. This solution has one advantage and one disadvantage. An advantage is the ability to rotate the monitor with the display faced to camera body to protect screen from damage. For a camera with an electronic viewfinder, you can let it in this position while photographing, because the viewfinder displays everything on the monitor and vice versa. This is useful, for example, when photographing at night in dangerous places etc., when the brightly illuminating monitor otherwise attracts attention. On the other hand, the disadvantage is the impossibility of tilting the monitor to the left horizontally (such as viewing to the mirror shaft) when using a tripod L plate. More precisely, this is the case, but the monitor is not on the left side of the camera, but almost at the back and for the precise composition, this view is not very practical, since the image is turned approximately 70 degrees to the optical axis of the lens, depending on the width of the vertical L plate element. Everything is OK, if the camera with the L plate is in the portrait position. Touch control does not suit me for cameras, so I always turn it off immediately. With the body cutout at the top right, the monitor flips very well, also because the bottom edge of the monitor is not hidden in the body. So easy to grasp the monitor with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand and fold up.
Menus are graphically the same as other Canon cameras, which is fine. We can move inside using the wheels or directional control on the rear side, which is only four-way with R. It does not matter with these menus, but when we select a focus point or view enlarged preview, the diagonal directions are suitable.
The camera is powered by a single Canon LP-E6N battery, the same as found in series 5, 6, 80, etc. The previous LP-E6 can also be used. After purchasing the adapter, we can power the camera from the power supply. If we use the BG-E22 battery holder (unlike the holders for the new Nikon Z, it has a shutter release button, rollers and all the necessary buttons), two batteries can be placed in it. With the PD-E1 USB adapter, the LP-E6N battery can be charged in the body of the camera. Here is the only limitation for older LP-E6 batteries, that can not be charged with this adapter. Personally, I do not see the slightest problem, as I always use a external charger. Similarly, the camera can not be powered by this adapter, it only serves to charge.
The power consumption is comparable to a DSLR where only a live view is used. Which is my case practically during all photographing with a tripod. I did not think R would discharge the battery anyway quickly.
The camera has dimensions (width x height x depth) 135.8 x 98.3 x 84.4 mm. With battery and memory card, without lens and body caps, it weighs 660 g.
New RF mount.
Finally, let's take a look at the new mount, which Canon called RF. After the EF mount, which replaced the previous FD in 1987, a new RF mount appears in R for the first time. It is intended for cameras without a mirror chamber, since at the same inner diameter as EF (54 mm) the rear lens part approaches the distance of only 20 mm to the sensor (at EF it is 44 mm). Compared to EF, the number of contacts from eight to twelve has also increased. This is to help faster and more data-intensive communication between the body and the lens. For example, some parameters in the operation of the optical stabilizer can be calculated using a high-performance processor in the body to get more accurate and detailed data in a shorter time, helping to make stabilization even more efficient.
The RF mount has otherwise arranged jags to prevent the EF lens from being mistakenly attached to it, thereby damaging the shutter of the sensor or the rear lens element.
If we now have lenses with EF mount, we can (almost all, with only few exceptions) connect them to R camera via adaptor without any limitations. The lens will therefore automatically focus in single-shot or servo mode, set aperture correctly, transmitting all exposure data, stabilize image. The adapters also define the correct distance of the EF lens rear element from the R camera sensor, basically replacing the depth of the mirror chamber. Therefore, there is no cropping, photographs created with a 50 mm EF lens will be created with the same viewing angle as with the camera with an EF mount and a 36 mm sensor when connected to EOS R.
It is not possible to connect EF-S lenses for smaller APS-C sized sensors to cameras with a 36 mm sensor and EF mount. This is due to the more protruding rear element of these lenses, which could come in contact with the mirror. You can also connect these lenses to the EOS R with the RF - EF adapters.
Adapters are now three. The first, basic, is only used to connect the EF lenses to the R camera. It is bundled with camera, which is good. An interesting option is the second version with the control ring. That's why you can use this new, handy feature with EF lenses. The third, with drop-in filter holder, allows insert a circular filter into itself and so have eg. a polarizing filter available for lenses, that are otherwise impossible due to a very convex front element (for instance Canon EF 11-24mm F 4 L USM). The manufacturer says, that if we do not use the filter in the adapter, at least a clear filter must be inserted in the holder. This also offers an interesting option of practical protection of the image sensor from dust when using EF lenses only. In short, let the adapter fitted with this clear filter and clean only it.
I had an adapter with the ring. I have tested the EF 17 - 40 mm F 4 L USM and EF 50 mm F 1.8 STM lenses. Both worked excelllent, exactly same as on the EF mount camera.
↑ A STUDIO FLASH. Canon EOS R, EF-EOS R adapter with ring, Canon EF 50 mm F 1.8 STM, exposure time 1/100 second, aperture f/2, ISO 1600.
Over the new RF mount and adapters we got to the lenses. In the ►next article we take a look at the new Canon RF 28 - 70 mm F 2 L USM. I leave the overall camera rating to a final, complete conclusion.
Finally, I would like to point out, that this article is no way supported or influenced by Canon or any other company.
© Martin Mojzis, 2018.
Photographies: © Martin Mojzis, 2018.
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