A few months back, I bought a Canon EOS R, the first step for Canon into the full frame mirrorless world.
I have always been a Canon shooter and I do own a good amount of Canon gear and, as a business owner, I always found very hard to justify the "jump the ship" trend that nowadays seems to be so popular among creatives.
When the time to upgrade my old camera came, I watched and read tons of online reviews on all type of cameras and all of those reviews had one flaw in common: they were all based on using the camera for just a couple of days in the backyard, not a real hands-on professional use.
A lot of opinions on which camera is better, just based on specs... But specs don't take pictures!
And so, I decided to rent and try some of the most popular cameras out there but I could not find the right match for me, something was always feeling off. None of the cameras I tried was giving me the feeling of comfort I have when I shoot with a Canon camera; shooting with a Canon camera to me just feels right and things work they way they are supposed to. The ergonomics is just right for me: buttons and dials are where I need them, holding the camera is very comfortable and those build quality is top notch.
The EOS R features a brand new lens mount, the RF mount so, you can either buy new native RF lenses (right now there are 4 RF lenses available) or you can buy adapters for basically any lens you have.
I choose to buy a Canon RF to EF mount mainly for two reasons: 1) I own a good amount of Canon L glasses, 2) RF lenses are focus-by-wire and I find that type of focus mechanism inaccurate and hard to control, especially for video when manual focus is required.
As far as I am concerned, I use my camera with 3 picture profiles. Faithful is the profile I use when I do not want to spend a lot of time color grading in post: I find this picture profile to be very "accurate".
I switch to Neutral when I need a little more flexibility but I still want to keep the amount of post-production work to a minimum: playing around with contrast and saturation.
And finally, when I have to capture the widest dynamic range my camera is capable of, I switch to Canon Log (Log 1), natively supported by the Canon EOS R. This is a great profile which does require more work in post (LUT's, color grading, etc...) but it is capable to deliver the wides dynamic range possible and allows for high flexibility in post.
As a side note, when I work with a Canon camera without C-Log profile (1DX Mark II and 6D Mark II), I use the Technicolor CineStyle profile which you can find here: https://www.technicolor.com/cinestyle.
The Canon EOS R does not have in body image stabilization (IBIS) but it does provide two levels of digital stabilization (DS) but you have to be aware of the fact that each level of digital stabilization will introduce some cropping: the more aggressive the stabilization, the heaviest the crop is.
I mainly shoot with electric stabilizers such as the DJI Ronin-s and when I have to shoot hand-held to add some dynamics to the shoots, I found the first level of DS good enough to get rid of the annoying micro jitters and smooth out hand-held movements.
Why did Canon left out IBIS?
My guess is that Canon made that choice because it did not have the technology to allow them to keep the body small and well balanced and, maybe, to avoid challenges that an IBIS would introduce, such as overheating.
Movie Size and Color Sampling
The Canon EOS R shoots in 3 movie sizes: 4k, 1080 and 720... 720??? 🤔
Here's the list of the modes I have tested:
4K (16:9) 3840 x 2160 (29.97, 25, 24, 23.98 fps) intra or inter frame7
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, 23.98 fps) intra or inter frame
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 HDR (29.97, 25 fps) inter frame
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25) light inter frame
HD (16:9) 1280 x 720 (119.9, 100 fps) intra frame
Two options about color sampling:
Internally, 4k or Full HD at 4:2:0 (8-bit)
Over HDMI, 4K (UHD) recording only, uncompressed 4:2:2, 8-bit or 10-bit
The 4K looks very nice and with a bitrate of 480 Mbps it is very much usable: you just need to be aware of that very aggressive 1.73 crop factor when you are choosing your focal length: a 24mm would result in a 40mm, a 50mm would result in an 85mm and so on. But you can use that crop factor to your own advantage and get some “tele-photo” stretch for free but, if you are looking for wide angle framing, that may be an issue.
Why did Canon implement a 4K functionality with such a high crop factor?
My guess is that overheating is an issue. With a 30.3 Megapixel sensor, Canon could not really figure out, or was not fully happy with the solution they found, on the performance and stability of the camera overall. And frankly speaking, I appreciate that. I appreciate holding back on functionality because it would compromise the stability of a system: imagine yourself at a paid shooting having to wait for the camera to cool down!!!
The footage shot at 1080 and at a bitrate of 180 Mbps is rich enough in details and can be easily graded and, with the addition of being able to shoot in C-Log (Log 1), makes the camera overall a good enough video camera at 1080 from 23.98 fps to 60 fps (25 fps to 50 fps in PAL countries).
Lastly, 720 at 119.9 fps (or 100 fps in PAL countries)… That is a weird choice. I tried the 720 at 119.9 fps and, despite the bitrate being a nice 160 Mbps, I was not happy with the quality of the footage, at least not happy for client work and I have never used it for professional work.
Why did Canon implement 119.9 fps at 720?
By now, you should have guessed… maybe overheating. But the reason why they decided to leave that feature in the camera even if poorly implemented is a marketing strategy: with that, the EOS R shoots 119.9 fps! At least… on paper.
I have been shooting with the Canon EOS R for a couple of months now and I really enjoy this camera and the shooting experience both for personal and professional work. I like the ergonomics and the fact that I can trust the “auto” settings of the camera to do a good job for me when I don’t want to spend hours in post.
The camera has some limitations when it comes to frame rates and movie size but, in general, the file you get out of it is rich even if delivered as MPEG4 AVC/H.264.
I hope that the next iteration of the Canon EOS R will bring to the table the following 3 features, not deal breakers for me right now but, if present, would make the camera future proof:
180 fps at 1080 and 60 fps at 4K, no cropping.
IBIS, to get rid of that extra crop applied by digital stabilization.
4K full readout, no cropping.
Oh, I forgot to mention the so popular “one card slot gate”… Or did I????? 😈
Check out my gear here: paolofarinella.com/mygear