Canon R Mirrorless Full Frame - First Impressions

After using a Canon 6D for almost six years, the camera has started showing its age and is need of repairs. Instead of sinking money into it, I decided to upgrade to the Canon R, their new full frame mirrorless option. A few years ago, I ordered a Sony mirrorless and hated it so much that I returned it the same day. So, I was a little hesitant to dip my toe into the mirrorless world again but so far, I am excited about some of the new features that mirrorless offers. For example, I photograph without a tripod a lot when photographing plants and the ability to see a live histogram, a level, and focus peaking information in the viewfinder seems like a huge improvement. For close-range subjects photographed with a telephoto lens, the focus peaking seems like a huge benefit as well.

In terms of the camera itself, here are a few observations… The camera feels very solid and well-built. It does not feel like a first generation offering to me. Instead, it feels familiar with easy-to-use menus (with one exception: the new multi-function bar implementation isn’t very refined). The auto-focus is amazing compared to my 6D - very fast and accurate with non-moving subjects. The touch screen is great and so handy. My current Canon lenses are working flawlessly with the adapter. For the first few photos out of the camera, the sensor looks like it will be more than sufficient for my needs and should suit many nature photographers well.

So far, there is only one thing I do not like. I much prefer the scroll wheel on the back of my 6D, which I have set to change the aperture. The R has a little wheel on the top of the camera for aperture adjustment and it feels so far away for my small hands. I have also programmed the multi-function bar for aperture adjustment and it also feels like an awkward reach. I now see why Canon is offering a lens adapter with the control ring as that option would be a much more comfortable way of changing the aperture when handholding the camera (and using lenses that need to be adapted).

I also like that the camera allows for a lot of customizations. I just wish that Canon would allow aperture to be adjusted by the pad on the back of the camera (so the one thing I want to customize isn’t available to customize!).

Most of the other quibbles/complaints I have seen in reviews do not matter much to me for my style of nature photography (no second card slot, cropped video, older sensor technology, and silent shooting not available in continuous mode). I do wish this camera had an integrated GPS but that is minor.

Overall, this new camera seems like a good option for nature photography and I look forward to testing it out in nature for a full day of photography. If any of you are curious about this camera and have any questions, I am happy to share my initial thoughts.

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Did I really just read a gear review from Sarah Marino? <3

I’m excited that anon is finally getting into this arena… high tide rises all boats and I hope that they push Sony to make an even better product.

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Psssttt - I’ll let you in on a secret. All of this has been available on Sony full frame mirrorless cameras since the first A7 came out over five years ago. Better sensors too: https://www.dxomark.com/cameras/brand-canon-nikon-sony-pentax/launched-between-2002-and-2017/launch_price-from-0-to-45200-usd/sensor_format-sensor_fullframe/sensor_type-hybrid-semiprodslr-professional#hideAdvancedOptions=false&viewMode=list&yDataType=rankDxo

True. I have live histogram on my A7R2, and a level, and focus peaking… either live view or viewfinder… all scrollable with one button (which I can change). Still, its nice to see Canon recognize that this is where the market is heading.

I agree - both Canon and Nikon, plus Panasonic and Sigma next year. Anything that pushes Sony to be even better is great news.

Can we please not get into arguments about camera brands here, NPN’ers are better than that! To each their own, you obviously missed this part of the review:

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Here here! PS I think all brands are solid! Comes down to personal preference! I actually love that Canon is entering this market! =)

Cameras are just tools and I agree that it is pointless to argue about them. But having seen that part of the review I found the sentences that followed somewhat hard to understand. Credit where credit is due - that is all…

Why the need to be demeaning with your response? I am well aware that Sony has been making mirrorless cameras for years. My post isn’t meant to be about which brand is the best. It was to share my experience with a new camera. These are new features for me so can’t I be excited??? Also, since I live in a two photographer household, switching to Sony or Nikon would cost us in excess of $10,000 and I have much better things to spend my money on than the absolute latest technology. I haven’t felt like my 6 year old Canon sensor has been holding me back so I had no reason to upgrade until now.

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Also, in my paragraph about mirrorless cameras that you found to be confusing, I was not referring to the Canon R as if these are FIRST-EVER NEW FEATURES. I was saying that these are benefits of mirrorless cameras in general compared to DSLRs.

Makes sense to me! :sunglasses:

I’m curious about what it is that you didn’t like about the Sony. The reason I ask is because I recently converted from a 6D to a Nikon D810 and the colors are so different that I’m having a hard time getting used to it. Was it the “ergonomics” of the Sony that was unpleasant or the quality of images it produced. I know that DXOMark has a series of tests it runs to compare cameras but there are qualities that can’t be measured.

Good questions! I went from Nikon to Sony myself and have always been jealous of the Canon color renderings my friends get. The Nikon and Sony sensors seem to have odd blues and greens and the Canon always seems to have better reds and oranges.

Hi Igor - My main reason for not liking the Sony was the difficulty in using the camera. The menus were a maze and manual focusing was a complicated odyssey. I didn’t see how I could comfortably use the camera in changing light where quick access to basic functions is important. I also was not happy with the lens quality compared to Canon, but I get the sense that Sony has remedied that issue by now. As for your issue with colors, I know some other photographers who have struggled with Nikon colors straight out of the camera. That seems to be one of Canon’s strengths.

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Sarah, I’d be curious to hear how you feel this camera handles the manual focusing. I personally have not had much issues with that on my Sony A7R2 and my myriad of manual lenses (about 50% of my glass is manual focus)… but again I’m also not sure if it is “supposed” to be better since I never really dabbled with it on Nikon in the past. I also hear you on the menu system - it isn’t great; however, one good thing is that you can assign a ton of custom functions to several buttons on the camera, so I find myself almost never using the menu except to format the card or open an application. I’m sure Canon’s menu is way better though! I’m excited you found something you like. Good on Canon for going in this direction!

Thanks for sharing your hands on experience. The R certainly has a lot of appealing features. Since I’m not in need of an immediate camera update, I plan to wait a see what gets released next year. My major disappointment has been the lack of a significant improvement in Canon sensor technology.

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Cheers for your opinions on the camera @Sarah_Marino. A guy I know was complaining bitterly about the EOS R the other day and I echoing your sentiments that if you use it for landscape/nature photography, that it’s going to do an excellent job. As good as any other similar camera. The proof is in the pudding when you say you mention you used a 6D for many years and I’m sure others are similar (I use an A7ii for example). Many photographers on here don’t use the top specced cameras yet produce some great work. You have to find a system that is ‘comfortable’ to use and fits the bill in terms of what you will use it for (eg is it light if you hike, etc, etc).

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@Matt_Payne Regarding the manual focusing… I will know more once I use the camera outside for a few days but in photographing around our house, the manual focusing seems as simple as setting my lens to manual focus and using the focus peaking to see the plane of focus. From there, I can use the touch screen to zoom in to confirm or fine-tune. There is also a little focus guide that I can move around and use as another tool (a little box with three focus indicators that line up when the subject in the box is in focus). It all seems super-easy.

@Bill_Pelzmann I agree that a newer sensor would have made the camera better. Since I do not photograph high dynamic range scenes all that often, I do not feel like this sensor will be a huge limitation for me but I understand why others see this as a miss for Canon. It will be interesting to see if the rumor sites are right that the next release will be a high megapixel version with a better sensor.

@Eugene_Theron Exactly… In my case, I like soft light and do not photograph a lot of high dynamic range scenes so the lack of the absolute best sensor ever manufactured isn’t that big of a deal to me. We travel so much that I don’t want to have to back-up and deal with huge files on my laptop. It is ridiculous that some judge a photographer on the camera or camera brand that they use!

That manual focus touch screen action sounds good!

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Thanks for the review, Sarah. As a 6D an 6DII user, I appreciate your views as someone who moved to the R from the 6D.

In addition to those two bodies, I’ve also been using a 3rd lightweight body for my hiking/backpacking gear (when the primary purpose of the outing was not photography). My job as an outdoor writer requires me to hike many hundreds of miles each year, and weight is important. I was using a T3i for several years, and recently moved from it to the APS-C sized M50 and have been very impressed with it’s functionality and image quality, not to mention it being much lighter in weight than even the relatively light T3i. My experience with the M50 had me hoping that the R would be an expansion of what the M50 offers, not be a half-assed way for Canon to jump into the mirrorless movement. It appears that Canon has done it right. Like Bill, I’m not in the market for a new body right now, but I’m excited about what future iterations of the R will be like.

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