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The EOS R is official and it's a big leap for Canon

But the company's long-anticipated full-frame model seems a small, expensive step for mirrorless.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
7 min read

Meet the new Canon EOS R, a full-frame mirrorless camera. 

Ian Knighton/CNET

Canon's starting off with a camera that's cannibalizing its full-frame DSLR best-seller, the 5D Mark IV. It'll slot into the same niche as the enthusiast-oriented 6D Mark II, taking on Sony's A7 III and setting its sights on  Nikon's still-an-unknown-quantity Z6, but with more pro-video-friendly design and features than have previously been available from Canon in the price range.

It's also probably a decent step-up model for price-insensitive Canon enthusiasts who want better photo quality than an APS-C DSLR or EOS M such as the 80D or M5 delivers, but who like the idea of the smaller mirrorless body and lens.

Shop for Canon EOS R (body only)

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The EOS R is slated to ship in October. Its MSRP of $2,300 for the body and $3,400 for the kit with RF 24-105mm f4L IS USM lens seems a bit steep, given the A7 III's $2,000 price tag, though for all we know the Nikon Z6's will be equally high. The pricing seems more intended to fill a strategic gap between the 6D Mark II -- now on sale for $1,600 -- and the 5D Mark IV, currently at $3,100, for videographers who want something smaller than the 5DM4. 

In Australia, prices are set by the dealers, but the body directly converts to roughly AU$3,200 and the kit AU$4,700. In the UK the body is £2,350 and the kit £3,270.

For comparison, if you're looking for an entry-level full-frame mirrorless, the original full-frame Sony A7 now costs only $800. It's quite flawed compared to the more recent models, with terrible battery life, mushy shutter and slow autofocus, but still, that price.


The top layout is completely new for Canon, with an electronic mode dial and a vertical front dial. 


As for lenses, they're probably terrific, and Canon claims they're better than their EF-mount equivalents. Canon's aggressively pursuing the fast-aperture segment, unlike Nikon and Sony did at launch. But there's no affordable entry point to match this body, at least in the near term. Clearly they were designed with a subsequent higher-end model, or deeper-pocketed filmmaker, in mind. 

But the prices. The first lens to ship will be a 50mm f1.2L USM in October for... $2,300. Yes, it can focus as close as 0.6 inches (15mm), which is yummy. But in comparison, the current EF-mount 50mm f1.2 USM is $1,450. In December, there will be a 28-70mm f2L USM for $3,000 and a 35mm f1.8 Macro IS STM for $500 (it supports Canon's hybrid electronic/optical image stabilization). While the 24-105mm f4L isn't slated to ship standalone until December -- for $1,100 -- given that it's part of the launch kit that lens will obviously be available earlier.  It incorporates Canon's next-generation Nano USM motor.

Sure, you can use Canon's cheaper EF lenses with a mount adapter, but why buy this mirrorless, then? Unless Canon thinks that the only people who will be buying the camera are those who've already invested heavily in Canon gear -- which it just turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If the body had lower-priced matching lenses, I do think that starting off with the cheaper model rather than the pro would have been a smart move. If there are any issues, Canon has the chance to iron out the bugs before unleashing it on more demanding pros. It also gives the camera a chance to build up some word-of-mouth buzz (or not) before the consumer holiday shopping season starts, though it also gives Nikon a chance to see how well its higher price is received before announcing the price of the Z6. 

A pro still-targeted camera has the luxury of releasing a little later. But it can't wait too long: The high-resolution 5DS and 5DS R turned three in June, and Canon has fallen behind both Nikon and Sony in that class. Even the two-year-old 5D Mark IV could use an update. Canon still really needs a camera with a high-resolution, broad-dynamic range OLPF-free sensor to match the competition.


Video capabilities include 10-bit 4:2:2 recording externally, an all-I codec, UHD 4K/30p and slower recording, and support for the Canon Log profile. (The Canon Log profile supports 12 stops of dynamic range, but Canon's sensors have historically had less dynamic range than Sony's, which are used by Sony and Nikon.) But it only has a single card slot.

For still shooting, the camera's standout feature is a new autofocus system with 5,655 phase-detection points that Canon claims can focus as fast as 0.05 second (really fast) or in low-light down to -6EV; that implies it can focus in the dark, at f1.2. And while it may focus fast, with all those focus points at up to f11, the continuous shooting speed with AF of 5fps doesn't suffice for many of the times you'd want such fast AF, such as bird photography. The body is dust-and-weather resistant, though.

Enlarge Image

There's a programmable multifunction pad next to the viewfinder, a spot easily accessible with your thumb.


Sadly, Canon's the last holdout sticking with optical stabilization -- making its lenses bigger, heavier and more expensive. This leaves us at the mercy of Canon's decision as to which lenses deserve IS. 

There doesn't seem to be anything here to woo people away from the competing options, and in fact it's larger than both the Z6 and the A7 III. 

The body is smaller and lighter than the 6DM2, but not by much: It's about 0.4 inches (10mm) smaller in every dimension and less than 4 ounces (105 grams) lighter. It's significantly smaller than the 5D Mark IV, though, which is probably what Canon was aiming for.

There's a neat little multifunction-mappable touchpad by your right thumb, which is a clever touch. It also has a top status LCD, OLED EVF, a hefty grip and an articulated back display; the movie record button is placed more prominently as well. It also has all the typical mirrorless capabilities, including electronic shutter (for silent shooting) and USB charging. 


If you want to bring the battery up to speed, you've got to lose the size perk conferred by mirrorless.


It also uses Canon's CR3 format, introduced with the latest EOS M models, which integrates its C-Raw (tonally rather than spatially compressed) format, and in October Canon will release a new iPad app, Digital Photo Professional Express, that will allow you to process those files as well as transfer them. 

Unfortunately, like every other newborn mirrorless line, the EOS R's battery life is meh, rated at 350 shots using the viewfinder. Like Nikon, Canon decided to stick with an existing DSLR battery, which is insufficient for a power-draining mirrorless. Canon will offer a grip for a second battery, but then it's larger than a DSLR and still has a shorter battery life.

Mount up


The RF 50mm f1.2L USM.

Ian Knighton/CNET

The Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R will be available in October for an estimated retail price of $100 and $200 respectively. The Drop-in Filter Mount Adapter EF-EOS R will all be available for purchase in February 2019 for an estimated retail price of $400 with a variable ND filter, or $300 with a circular polarizing filter.

RF-mount adapters for EF, EF-S, TS-E (tilt-shift) and MP-E (macro) lenses will be available, which can pass through autofocus, metadata and OIS.

But there won't be an adapter for the EOS M EF-M-mount lenses. The RF mount design has a 20mm flange distance -- the distance between the sensor and the mount -- while Canon's APS-C mirrorless EOS M models have an 18mm flange distance. That leaves only 2mm (0.08 inches) for an EF-M to RF adapter, which is nothing to cry over, but less than zero for an RF to EF-M. 

In other words, you'll never be able to use the new, higher-quality lenses on the APS-C mirrorless models. 

As Canon News points out, that means one of two things: The first possibility is that the EOS M line will never get a decent selection of fast, high-quality, lighter-weight lenses even if Canon is up to managing products for three active lens-mount lines. 

This will give you no way to up your photos without buying an entirely new camera, and renders any EOS M camera a really bad buy. Or it means Canon will obsolesce the EOS M in favor of a revised APS-C line with the RF (or compatible) mount. In which case, people who've already sunk money into the system are, well, you do the math.

Like Nikon, Canon's new mount has a very wide diameter, 54mm, which should allow it to support high-quality, sub-f1-aperture lenses as well. 

The RF mount has more pinouts than the older mounts, and there are a couple of useful mount-adapter add-ons: one for a drop-in filter and one for a control ring. The latter is cleverer than Nikon's approach. Nikon has added programmable control rings to the lenses in the new system, but Canon's method can enable control-ring functions such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed and exposure compensation, for all lenses.

The Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R will be $100 and $200, respectively. The Drop-in Filter Mount Adapter EF-EOS R arrives in February 2019 for $400 with a variable ND filter or $300 with a circular polarizing filter. There will also be a $200 matching flash, the Speedlite EL-100.

Besides the four RF-mount lenses mentioned above, other lenses announced include an EF-M 32mm f1.4 set for October. It's the first really wide-aperture lens for Canon's APS-C mirrorless line and since that angle of view is equivalent to a standard 51mm, makes a good option for portrait photography. Canon also revised its EF 400mm f2.8 and EF 600mm f4L lenses. The former is set for a December retail date while the latter will come out sometime in 2019.

Comparative specifications

Canon EOS 6D Mark IICanon EOS RSony A7 III
Sensor effective resolution 26.2-megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS 14-bit30.1-megapixel Dual-Pixel CMOS 14-bit24.2-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS 14-bit
Sensor size 35.9 x 24mm36 x 24mm35.8 x 23.8mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.0x1.0x1.0x
OLPF YesYesYes
Sensitivity range ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 40,000/102,400 (exp)ISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO 40,000/102,400 (exp)ISO 50 (exp)/ ISO 100 - ISO 25,600/ISO 204,800 (exp)
Burst shooting 3fps (Up to 6.5fps with focus and exposure fixed on first shot)5fps 47 raw/100 JPEG (8fps with focus and AE fixed on first shot; 3fps with continuous focus/tracking)10fps 172 JPEG/89 raw
Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag) Optical 98% coverage 0.71x/0.71xOLED EVF 100% coverage 0.71x-0.76x/0.71xOLED EVF 0.5-inch 2.4 million dots 100% coverage 0.71x
Hot Shoe YesYesYes
Autofocus 45-point phase-detection all cross-type 27 to f8, 9 cross-type 1 to f2.85,655-point phase detection AF693-point phase-detection AF; 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity (at center point) -3 to 18 EV-6 to 18 EV-3 to 20 EV
Shutter speed 1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync
Shutter durability 100,000 cyclesn/an/a
Metering 7.560-pixel RGB+IR, 63 zones384 zones1,200 zones
Metering sensitivity 1 to 20 EV-3 to 20 EVn/a
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24pH.264 MP4 4K UHD 2160/30p @ 480Mbps, 1080/60p HDR; 1080/30p HDR, 720/120pXAVC S 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/120p @ 100Mbps
Audio Mono; mic inputN/A; mic inputStereo; mic input; headphone jack
Manual aperture and shutter in video YesYesYes
Maximum best-quality recording time 29 minutes, 59 seconds29 minutes, 59 seconds29 minutes, 59 seconds
Clean HDMI out NoYesYes
IS OpticalOpticalSensor shift 5-axis
LCD 3 inch/7.7 cm Articulated touch screen 1.04m dots3.2 inch/8 cm Articulated touch screen 2.1m dots3 inch/7.5 cm Tilting 1.2m dots
Memory slots 1x SDXC (UHS I)1x SDXC (UHS II)1x SDXC (1x UHS I, 1x UHS-II)
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFC, BluetoothWi-Fi, BluetoothWi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
Flash NoNoNo
Wireless flash YesYesYes
Battery life (CIPA rating) 1,200 shots (VF), 380 shots (LV) (1,865 mAh)370 shots (LCD), 350 shots (VF) (1,865 mAh)710 shots (LCD), 610 shots (VF) (2,280 mAh)
Size (WHD) 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9 in 144 x 111 x 75 mm5.4 x 3.9 x 3.3 in. 136 x 98 x 84mm5 x 3.9 x 3 in 127 x 96 x 74 mm
Body operating weight (est.) 27 ounces; 765 grams23.4 ounces; 660 grams23 ounces; 650 grams
Mfr. price (body only) $1,600; £1,730$2,300; £2,350$2,000; £2,000; AU$3,100
Release date July 2017October 2018April 2018

Originally published Sept. 4.
Update, Sept. 5:
Added pricing and expanded the analysis.