The Canon EOS R

A headshot photographers review

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The Canon EOS R is a full frame mirrorless camera with a 30.3 dual pixel CMOS AF sensor. All the images above are shot with a Canon 5D Mk III. You would not see any difference if they were taken with a Canon R. To begin with this is not one of those reviews that will blow some image up 5000%, increase the exposure 5 stops and state there is some blue banding in the shadows. Neither am I going to explain that there is .025 sec between the electronic and manual shutter lags. Any camera in this price range around is going to be very good in terms of image quality so lets not have that debate. I am sure that this camera has limitations with its video capabilities but that does not concern me. There are plenty of other reviews out there that cover that topic. More important is how does it handle in real world professional situations.

I am a headshot photographer and work with a lot of mixed lighting. I have used Canon DSLR’s for 35 years and have never had any major complaints. A couple of years ago I flirted with the Fuji mirrorless system. I had a 2 XT-1’s and used them for street photography and headshots. I tried really hard to get to like them but they just had too many short comings to be a professionals camera. See this article.

I have spent the last few days in the studio shooting clients and I am very impressed so far. It does take some time getting to know all the buttons but pretty much all buttons and dials are customisable so you can get it to work they way you want it to. The menu is standard Canon fare and the touch screen is excellent. I also bought the battery grip which transforms the handling and of course doubles the number of frames you can shoot before changing the batteries.

Build Quality

The build quality is excellent with a body made of magnesium alloy and polycarbonate and with the battery grip fells like a proper camera. Buttons are all in reachable places with my size of hands. (fairly small)

Focusing

I first picked up the EOS R at Park Cameras, London and pointed at the shop assistant. It immediately locked focus, just like s DSLR. I was sold.

For me the EOS R had to focus like a DSLR. I work quickly, constantly reframing and working at wide apertures. The focus has to be quick and accurate as working at f4 means I have depth of field of around 5cm. The EOS R delivers, reputedly as fast as .05 sec.  

I use one shot single point AF on my 5D. I move the point to around where the eye is going to be in the frame and fire away. I was keen to find out how good the face recognition AF mode was. This is coupled with an eye detection mode which hunts out the eye in the face recognition frame. Well I can tell you it is very good, probably better than me using a single point AF. It does hunt if it the head is closer to profile but I had no trouble getting use to it. It does a good job when reframing. There is occasionally a short lag when framing for the first time but I did not find that at all frustrating. If working with any other shooting mode you can move the AF point either by the LCD screen which is easily accessible using your thumb or customising Quick Control buttons. If you get in a panic you just press the delete button and it will by default be positioned at the centre of the screen. I like that a lot. It means you can carry on working rather than looking like a complete idiot staring into the back of the camera trying to find the right buttons.

Image Quality 

Well its basically the same sensor from a 5D MK IV so nuff said. I shoot raw with the faithful style setting. Its a pretty flat image at this point but all the info is there and its up to you to develop that image to your specifications.

Usability

I am refining this chapter to what I do as a headshot photographer but the same could apply to any portrait based photographer.

The Canon EOS R is compatible with all Canon Speedlites, EF lenses, Pocket Wizards and Profoto Air and with the battery grip fitted will fire tethered studio flash. Its a ready to go mirrorless in a professional environment. Connecting any flash with the camera disables exposure compensation which is obviously a good idea but would it be nice if you could disable it when using mixed daylight and flash. You could then see the amount of ambient light you want rather than just guess it.

All the usual shooting modes you would expect and FV mode (Flexible-priority AE ) which is wonderful. Using the Quick control dial you can preset AUTO ISO, Shutter Speeds, f stop and exposure compensation and then choose which one you want to control manually so the others modes will adapt accordingly. Choosing the modes you can adjust is easy using the rear quick control dial. and elsewhere you can set the range of ISO it can pick along with a minimum shutter speed. I use a lot of mixed lighting setups with daylight as the main source. The lighting level can change quickly so with this mode on the camera does the bulk of the work. I then make minor adjust using exposure compensation. All the buttons are customisable and with the new EOS R lenses or the more expensive EF adapter (sold separately ) you get an additional customisable ring which just lends itself for setting f stops.

It has also a multifunction bar which you slide you thumb over to change what ever setting you have customised it to do. Not sure this is a hit with anyone so far, they really should have put a joystick or another wheel there. I have it set up to choose white balance.

With all that customised control you can happily shoot just using the EVF and never need to use the screen. Thats something this old fashion photographer rather likes.

Another nice touch is if you switch the camera off and change the a lens a protective curtain covers the sensor stopping all manner dirt and grime entering the chamber.

Tethering & Wireless Transmission

Works very well with the EOS Utility and its quick as it uses USB C. Lr does not support it. The workaround is to point the EOS Utility to your Lr’s auto import folder. The USBC lead that Canon provide is pathetically short so your going to have to buy another.

I have no interest in viewing images and controlling the camera on my phone but all these facilities are available. What I was interested to find out if remotely transferring images direct to my laptop was usable. I have not tested the JPEG’s but transferring full size RAW’s is way to slow too be practical.

Battery Life

Canon continue to use LP-E6N/LP-E6 batteries which power the 5D series. Thats good news for us Canon users since we will not have to spend (a lot) more money on new battery packs. Canon suggest that you will get about 370 shots from a fully charged battery which is pretty pathetic but in real world testing I was getting many more, 600 +.

Conclusion

Does it do the job as a stills camera for the sort of stuff I do? Absolutely.

How to auto update a watched folder in Photo Mechanic with EOS Utility and OSX.

Fuji XT-1. Is it really a professionals camera?

DSLR V Mirrorless. The Switcher Debate.

Pictures of the EOS R courtesy ©Canon

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