I was really lucky to be invited to go an play with the Canon EOS R system today in the New Forest.  This included the Canon R camera and a few of the brand new R series lenses. The R system is much more than a mirrorless camera, and today (pre launch – it is not due out to the 9th October) I got to have a play, take some photos in a variety of conditions and compare it to the 5D mark vi and my own canon mirrorless M5. It was a really exclusive group of photographers, there were 18 of us – and I real mixture of characters from local pro photographers to keen amateurs, people who shots for press, commerical gain and those who just enjoyed taking photos – so it was really interesting to watch and observe how we all handled the camera, as well as comparing the usage.

It was really interesting to hear that this is the first major change to canon since 1987, when the EOS system was introduce. Back in 87, I was 13 and still in secondary school… so this is the first time that the system may effect me… interesting view of one of the attendess was that he was perhaps too old to adapt to the change! The new R system is a new system of cameras and a whole new design of lenses, pro lenses and regular consumer lenses. The new camera is aimed at pro enthusiasts … so a bit for everyone and is compatable with the current EF lenses and EF S lenses BUT the new lenses can not be used on the old system … so long term if you have an EOS camera and an EOS R – if you invest in new glass you’ll have to choose whether you what it compatable with both and use an adapter (one of which is shipped with the new camera at first – although there are 3 different adapaters) or whether you switch to their new glass. It is going to be a tough decision, especially if you already have £1000’s invested in equipment.

My first impression

My first impression, it looked like a canon – it felt very much in my hand like a canon full frame camera, it was a little smaller, a lot lighter, but the grip was the same, it felt solid and it felt like you could do the job. I first used it with the 24mm-105mm F4 lens, a lens that I don’t currently own and one that if I was to purchase for the camera was the one I was thinking of. It is a great lens, but it was a long bigger than I expected, I had kind of thought mirrorless camera’s were small – and that this would be a smaller camera. I had taken along my Canon M5 with the 18-150mm lens for comparison and this is a phone snap of the two side by side.

Canon R camera, Canon M5 and lenses

Canon R camera, Canon M5 and lenses for size comparison

For people who have just used the older full frame camera there was a lot of new technology in the new camera some of which I think are particularily useful:

  • Great in low light – the M5 is not good in low light and struggles to focus, so it was great to see all the situations that we were given to photograph in today were relatively dark and the 5D mark vi and the R camera coped amazingly well.
  • Focusing by touch screen on the back of the R camera – was knew to a lot of people, but it was the same as the system on the M5 – you could choose whether you used the whole screen or half of it and easily lock onto your focal point, and even take a photo by pressing on the screen – however exactly the same as the Canon M – they admitted that it was not so easier with gloves on and there was no joy stick to use instead – just up and down arrows, which means it can take a while to find the required focal point.
  • Auto focus – with the new canon r this was impressively fast.
  • The lens was compatable with EF-S and EF lens, there is a function you can easily change in camera for me if this was my first full frame camera that would have been awesome to have, as when I brought my first full frame camera I then had the expense of new lenses… now you can upgrade the body and then choose which lens system to use.
  • I was however surprised at how large the new planned lenses were.. the prime lens were as big and the EF L prime lenses, a little bit lighter but they took up the similar amount of room in your camera bag. We were not allowed to shoot with the 28-70mm F2.8 lens, but we were shown it and it was huge.
Canon M5 for size comarison with the Canon R lens 24-70mm F2.8 lens

Canon M5 for size comarison with the Canon R lens 24-70mm F2.8 lens – phone snap

  • I was surprised how balanced the camera felt with the adapter and the 70-200mm lens on it, and with the 100mm L lens. The adapter did not add that much to the size, but if I was to purchase this camera… would I eventually want to upload the glass, that would not fit on my old camera bodies… I am sure people in the past had that question, and I know we have to move with technology but I am not sure that the camera is enough of an upgrade yet.
  • It was though an easy camera to use, although you can customise more buttons and make the camers unique to you, and there are a new mode that lets you switch between modes… I think that is the best way to describe it – it is a little bit more hidden, and i think it is aimed very much at the professional enthusiast rather than the amateur photographer, if you were stating out this would not be the camera for you.
  • Using the Canon R for the first time as an experience Canon user was very much like catching up with an old friend – it was familar, there new things to learn but yet it was comfortable and easy.

The Canon R System

But what about the M series

I was really curious about the M series – their first mirrorless, and they described this for a very different market – aimed at a phone photographer who wanted something more, and who wanted to learn about photography or for some one who travels and needs something light. I was reassured that it was here to stay, and there they are intoducing a new m series lens this month – the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM will be available for purchase in late September 2018 (which is the equivilant of a 50mm lens). It is been a long time since they have upgraded the technology in this system and I am now left wondering how it will be developed.. as it seems to be in their future plans – it won’t ever be compatable with the R series – but they are two very different cameras.

Would I invest?

It has made me come away wanting to look more at the Fuji, Olympus, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony mirrorless cameras – if you are going to invest in a new system then you really need to make sure it if right for you. If you want a small sized camera that takes great shots, then I would be interested in what they are all like side by side, the Canon M series is great for size, usability but less good in low light – but currently the lenses are prices at entry level and it has the huge bonus for me personally that it is great for travelling, it is great to fit in my handbag and it is perfect for days when I don’t want to be a “photographer” I just want to take photos for my own enjoyment – I want to now see if canon bring out a new M camera in the future, whether it offers more, and I want to look at what other companies offer of a similar size – what I love about it as it so similar to pro camera that it easy to switch between the two.

I ask the question would I invest? I think this would be an investment… it is most likely the same as when film leaped to digital back in 1987 – there were the people who immediately jumped in, brought the new body started investing in glass and there were those who joined in when there was no longer a choice. At the moment there is a choice… the canon EOS R is not a pro level camera, it is the first body of the new system – the lenses if we take to them are not backwards compatable,  but the the glass is great quality, but also expensive and I feel it will be a gradual process over time – you buy the body and slowly add a lens of two. A new photographer will opt for the lighter mirrorless R… but one with lots of money investigated in kit will be thinking and watching the market – they have got to decide whether to go lighter and limit the lens to the new camera… or use the new camera with old glass (but the camera lacks image stabilisation with old lens) or invest in both – if you shoot with 2 cameras and want it as a 2nd body.. it has got to be a carefully thought out decision.

The Canon as a brand has a fantastic history (I can’t comment on Nikon – as I have never owned one), they have taken their old technology and learnt from it – they have created a new camera system with new lenses that look professional – this is the first mirroless camera that I have used that feels like a professional camera – if you want a camera that says you are a photographer then I really think this camera delivers, but it is very big. If I want to buy a 2nd full frame camera or my current camera died them this would be a serious contender – I would consider it with the 24-105 F4 lens as it is not a lens I have and is good general everday lens… but it lacks the wow of an F2 lens… but I don’t want to invest in new glass. My favorite lens in a 28-300mm L lens, if they brought something similar out to the new R range… then I would really consider it – but the camera is too big and too expensive to use in scenerios where I would be happy tossing it in my back pack and heading to the hills.

Someone said today you have to now choose your boat… do you stick with the old boat and hope they continue to invest in it (there are new lenses planned for the EOS system) or do you just on the new boat and pick the R system… or do you choose a different boat company completely… it is comfortable being with the familiar… but for things to change is that the right choice! Right now I only think time will tell… but I am not jumping ship yet! I stick to what I know.

 My first shots

These are all Jpg images as the software to handle the camera raw files is not available until launch day in October. They are from the new Canon R, the 5D mark iv, the Canon 6D mark ii and the Canon M5. All are amazing cameras the full frames are best in low light … but the price difference is huge… £32oo for the R series with the 24-105 F4 lens vs Canon M5 with the 28-150 lens for £950!

If you hover over each image you can see the camera specs, click on them and you can view them at 800 pixels wide… I have deliberately chosen small files, as I wanted to represent the fact that most people look on an electronic device and it is small images you see first… when the raw files come out… I might look into sharing some larger files… so follow and subscribe.