Canon announced the EOS R system featuring the newly designed RF mount on September 5, 2018. You can download the whitepaper on this new body here. I was invited by Canon to a hands-on demonstration of the production camera on September 9.
My readers know me as The Wildlife Ho-tographer. I have been using Canon gear for over 30 years. You can follow my travels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, see my equipment bag and works on MichaelDanielHo.com
As you know Wildlife Photography is very different from other forms of photography. It is tough enough to find and keep up with the wildlife. There is no time to fumble around with camera buttons while trying to keep one's eyes on the action once it is located.
The EOS-R's button layout and functionalities are so different from my bread and butter cameras (EOS-1D X Mark II, EOS-7D Mark II, EOS-5Ds, EOS-5D Mark IV) they require a major effort to familiarize and master. The payoff is not worth the effort for me. I have expressed my feelings on how Canon can make a successful full frame mirrorless camera suitable for professional wildlife and sports photographers.
Sadly, the EOS-R does not do fit any of my requirements except the feel and EVF of the camera is good. As expected, the pro model of the EOS-R will be announced some time in the first half of 2020 to compete with the Sony A9, Nikon Z7, Panasonic S1 R, etc.
My question to Canon is - Why be a Johnny-come-lately follower rather than an industry leader?
There is NO technical reason why Canon cannot make a full frame mirrorless camera that resembles the EOS-1 body and uses the EF native mount. It is totally doable. The compromise is made because the marketing department thinks more photographers will prefer a lighter, smaller camera - one of the main selling points of the mirrorless camera to begin with.
In a recent interview with the French photography site, Lens Numériques, Messrs. Mineo Uchida, Masato Seita and Shingo Hayakawa, (the people in charge of the EOS-R camera development) replied, when asked about IBIS (In Camera Image Stabilisation), one card slot and cropped 4K video :
"Yes, we are aware that mechanical stabilization is an important demand from the users, but considering the positioning of the EOS R, we decided not to integrate the IBIS […] because our priority was compactness. The compactness we wanted to have was not compatible with such a system. But of course, in the future, we will be able to answer them.
This is our first model. We still have room for improvement. For the memory location, it is a question of compactness and priority for the photographers covered by the EOS R. We believe that one location is enough. And for the video, it’s the same answer. We believe that the intended target will be satisfied with the proposed modes."
Canon knows it is playing catch up to Sony in the high end mirrorless space. I hope they will not be distracted in spending too much time and money on beefing up the EOS-R line and delay some of their DSLR and EF lens upgrade. After all, the big prize - 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is just round the corner. How many pro photographers around the world do you think will be using the EOS-R to capture images of the game?
Over the next couple of years, one will hear all the wonderful new features and performance of the EOS-R and other full frame mirrorless cameras from the paid and 'unpaid' pundits, like superior 4K/near 8K video, in body image stabilization (IBIS), low light performance, unmatched ergonomics and mobility from a lighter body, etc.
The truth is many features and functionalities of high end DSLRs and Mirrorless will converge in the future until there is a almost a difference without a distinction. The real question is, how many photographers are ready to trade in or add another camera/lens combo to their current DSLR/lenses inventory.
The use of an adapter and the small size of the EOS-R prevent the new camera from functioning like the tradition EOS high end models. For those who like good performance and compactness wrapped in a small package, high end mirrorless cameras may be your solution. Personally, I am not willing to make this trade off to gain compactness and a little weight reduction.
Until Canon is prepared to offer a full frame mirrorless version of the EOS-1D X camera, I will continue to trade up to the successor of the EOS-1D X Mark II, EOS-7D Mark III, EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III, etc. as they become available. The EOS-R may find a home with serious landscape, nature and portrait photographers. For the casual mirrorless users, the EOS-M series of cameras will do an adequate job. I doubt many serious and professional sports or wildlife photographers will buy the current EOS R version. I may reconsider my decision when the pro model comes out in 2021.