After the detailed review of the full frame mirrorless cameras of the rival Nikon, I’ll now do in this article the review of the full frame mirrorless cameras at Canon. Within the EOS R system is Canon’s new RF optical mount, combining mechanical and electronic optical engineering. And these Canon RF lenses are simply spectacular… We have already seen it in detail in the dedicated article about Canon RF lenses. By the way, I detailed there all the lenses (Canon and third-party brands) that would fit on any body presented in this article.
The end of summer 2018 marks the long-awaited arrival of Canon in the full-frame mirrorless market. Firstly, the release of the Canon EOS R in September 2018, followed a few months later by the Canon EOS RP, in February 2019. These two cameras are positioned somewhere between the amateur range for the RP and the expert range for the R. In December of the same year, Canon released the EOS Ra, a very specific camera designed for astrophotography.
The following year, Canon moves into the higher category with the arrival on the market of the EOS R6 and EOS R5 in August 2020, which are more considered as semi-pro. Canon makes no secret of the fact that they clearly echo the DSLR 6D series, even the 7D Mark II for the EOS R6, and the mythical saga of 5D for the EOS R5.
Worth noting that all the lenses of the EF and EF-S range for DSLR are compatible with the EOS R cameras thanks to an adapter ring. With the new RF lenses, you will be able to use the whole Canon optical park, even if I would globally advise, if you choose a Canon full frame mirrorless camera, to stay on the ones dedicated to the RF mount.
All of this is enough to make our mouths water! Let’s now have a closer look at the main technical features of each of these cameras. At the end of the article, I will try to guide you to choose one of these cameras according to your photographic and video needs, but also to your budget.
The Canon EOS R was the first full frame mirrorless camera using the new RF mount. It is built around the same 30-megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS sensor as the 2016 EOS 5D Mark IV but designed for the new RF lens series. Among the main features: an ISO sensitivity that extends from 100 to 40,000iso (102,400 in extended), 5655 focusing points, bursts in raw up to 8fps, and 4K video at 25fps and Full HD at 60fps. Regarding connections, we find a USB-C input, an HDMI Mini Type C output, a mini-jack microphone input, a headphone jack and a remote control jack. However, there is only one memory card slot in SDXC format, UHS-II compatible, which is a format a little more popular than the XQD of Nikon Z6/Z7.
The 30MP sensor offers good dynamic range and low-light performance, coupled with the latest Digic 8 processor. Overall, autofocus performance is said to be impressive, even at the highest burst speeds. The single AF is fast, accurate and currently leads the market in low-light performance. The camera uses the C-RAW compressed format, which is in my opinion very useful (allowing to have raw files half as heavy!).
The possible burst at 8 fps is not very impressive, and it is difficult to follow moving subjects when shooting in burst, which will certainly discourage sports or fast-moving subjects’ photographers.
When it comes to video, we may also be a little disappointed… Although the EOS R is capable of capturing 4K video with excellent color rendering, it carries an unfortunate 1.83x crop, making it difficult to shoot wide-angle footage. The lack of body stabilization further limits the camera’s utility as a video camera.
The EOS R may not have the most impressive spec sheet, but as a precursor to Canon’s new RF mount, it is still an important camera. With the EOS R, Canon offers a nice camera, pleasant to use and with convincing responsiveness and reliability. This full-frame mirrorless model will surely be positioned in the middle of the range, to seduce the amateur/passionate photographers. But considering the lacks and what the brand did skip, this camera is clearly not professionals oriented.
The Canon EOS RP is one of the smallest and lightest full-frame cameras available on the market, as well as the cheapest full-frame camera ever launched. Even if its specificities won’t set the world on fire, it puts forward serious arguments: a 26.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, a Dual Pixel autofocus, an ISO sensitivity from 100 to 40,000 iso (extendable to 102,000 iso like the EOS R) thanks to the digic 8 processor, a large touch screen mounted on a spherical head… Relying on 4,779 AF points, the autofocus of the EOS RP proves to be precise and fast. The EOS RP is also able to detect the subject’s eyes and to track this last one, what will bring happiness to all portraitists.
However, the EOS RP is only able to capture 5 frames/second in single AF mode. This is far from some competing cameras, but the EOS R performance is also somewhat limited with these 8 fps. The two Canon mirrorless (Rp and R) are therefore not suitable for uses requiring a very high burst.
About video, the RP is comparable to its big brother, the R. Despite a 4K capture, quality is disappointing, with significant cropping and an autofocus considered quite poor.
The connections offered by the EOS RP is complete: two 3.5mm jacks (one for an external microphone, the other for headphones), a mini-HDMI jack and a USB type C port. The camera has a single slot for SDXC format memory card and UHS-II compatible.
As you can see, the RP is a nice little camera with a solid JPEG image quality, seducing by its reactivity, as much for powering up, as focusing and shooting. Only its low burst rate and mediocre video quality prevent it from reaching the level of the best full-frame mirrorless… but which are also sold (much) more expensive.
At the end of 2019, Canon offers a version of its EOS R camera which is optimized for astrophotography. It has exactly the same technical characteristics as the EOS R, but with two notable differences: a factory-modified full-frame IR filter/sensor (improved sensitivity) and a 30x magnification, instead of the 10x magnification, which places it in the very closed circle of astrophotography cameras.
The difficulty in astrophotography is the lack of light, but also the fact of matching the spectral sensitivity of the cameras with the radiation of celestial objects. It is precisely in this area of the near infrared that nebulae emit. A spectral range in which conventional cameras are not very sensitive, thus requiring an adapted system.
The EOS Ra is unique within this context, as the infrared (IR) filter layer on the sensor of the regular EOS R has been removed, which highlights the red tones that are often difficult to capture with ordinary cameras. Coupled with a reasonably large pixel size of 5.36 microns, this camera promises to capture a lot of light and to produce low noise at higher ISO sensitivities, on account of the sensor size combined with the 30MP sensor’s megapixel.
If you want to own a modified full frame mirrorless camera and prefer to have your warranty intact, this is the one you’re looking for.
With the arrival of the EOS R6 and R5, Canon do mark a real change from the previous RF mount cameras. They are the true successors to their mirror-image counterparts in the very popular EOS 5D and EOS 6D digital DSLRs.
The most obvious difference between these two cameras is the resolution. The R5 is based on a new 45-megapixel sensor, which means it offers more than enough resolution for any task. As for the R6, sure, the 20MP sensor is not the most defined on the market, but this technical choice of Canon is far from uninteresting, quite the contrary. Since the sensor has fewer pixels, the photosites will be larger and less constricted. The result? Less digital noise… and a better management of low light. This is why the EOS R6 can reach a sensitivity of ISO 102,400 (expandable to ISO 204,800), while the EOS R5 is limited to only ISO 51,200.
These two bodies also have common technical features, such as the 5-axis stabilization of the sensor. There is also a burst at 12 fps (with mechanical shutter) or 20 fps (with electronic shutter), with real-time subject tracking. And both have 1053 AF points.
But the major innovation is the introduction of an internal stabilization system. Its arrival was long awaited, especially since the current cameras have increasingly impressive potential in the field of videos. This area is the other main difference between the two cameras: the R5 has the ability to shoot in 8K at 30p and 4K at 120p across the entire width of the sensor, while the R6 captures in 4K at 60p with a slight crop. Both cameras are equipped with headphone and microphone jacks.
As to battery life, the R5 is rated at 320 shots through the viewfinder and 490 on the LCD. The R6 shows slightly better results: 380 photos using the viewfinder in standard mode, and 510 via the LCD screen. Both cameras can be charged if you have a USB-C charger or power bank. They both have two memory card slots, with a difference for the R5 which has a specific slot for CF express.
After these nice speeches, here is a summary table with the essential characteristics to compare.
|Camera||ISO range||Weight (g)||Size||Range||Focusing points||Burst rate (fps)||Shots||Wifi (BT)||Video||MP||Low-pass filter||Image processor||Battery grip|
|Canon RP||100-40000 (102400)||485 g||132.5 x 85 x 70 mm||Amateur||4779||5.0 fps||250||yes (yes)||4K 25p||26.2 MP||YES||Digic 8||NO|
|Canon R||100-40000 (102400)||660 g||136 x 98 x 84 mm||Expert / Semi-pro||5665||8.0 fps||370||yes (yes)||4K 25p||30 MP||YES||Digic 8||YES|
|Canon Ra||100-40000 (102400)||580 g||136 × 98 × 84 mm||Expert / Semi-pro||5665||8.0 fps||370||yes (yes)||4K 30p||30 MP||YES||Digic 8||YES|
|Canon R6||100-102400 (204800)||680 g||138.4 x 97.5 x 88.4 mm||Expert / Semi-pro||1053||20.0 fps||360||yes (yes)||4K 60p||20.1 MP||YES||Digic 8||YES|
|Canon R5||100-51200 (102400)||738 g||138.5 x 97.5 x 88 mm||Pro||1053||20.0 fps||320||yes (yes)||8K 30p||45 MP||YES||Digic 8||YES|
I’ll start with a little aside about the EOS Ra, as it is so specific. With its 30.3MP 24×36 sensor capable of delivering beautiful high-sensitivity image quality, this makes it significantly more interesting than the APS-C sensor models Canon has offered so far. This model is a sweet luxury for people wanting to explore the universe even further.
What about the other four cameras?
Although its specifications are not extraordinary, the “small” EOS RP camera turns out to be particularly interesting to study. It is indeed the least expensive of all the full-frame cameras recently released. The main target is therefore photographers who have already used an expert compact, a mirrorless or a DSLR, but who want to switch to a full-frame mirrorless without breaking the bank. Thanks to the quality of the images generated by its full frame sensor, its overall reactivity and the efficiency of its Dual Pixel autofocus, the Canon EOS RP is a complete and pleasant camera to use on a day-to-day basis. Its compactness and light weight are considerable assets (200g less than its big brother, the EOS R).
With its first full frame mirrorless, the Canon EOS R is positioned in a mid-range model to seduce the amateur/passionate photographer.
With the EOS R, you get, in essence, the image and video quality of the 5D Mark IV but at a price close to that of the 6D Mark II. With a 30MP sensor, fantastic color reproduction, and built-in sensor autofocus, the EOS R can produce beautiful photos with precise focus. It also has remarkable low-light qualities. Unfortunately, while it is capable of delivering excellent image quality, there are mixed review about handling and ergonomics, and the EOS R’s video capabilities are considerably inferior to its rivals. Coupled with the excellent new RF lenses, this camera will be ideal for general and social photography, casual videographers and those looking for a full-frame mirrorless backup camera.
The R5 offers a list of outstanding capabilities that will appeal to a variety of the most discerning professional and amateur photographers… and the most wealthy ones. Concretely, if you need to shoot 8K video internally – in both RAW and MP4 – and/or take very high-resolution pictures, the Canon EOS R5 and its 45MP sensor was made for you.
On the other hand, if these two aspects are not essential to you, you can without hesitation go for the Canon EOS R6, which offers a solid set of features too. The Canon EOS R6 appears to be a very well-balanced camera, the 20MP being sufficient for a wide range of photography, and it should be a perfect fit for both educated amateurs and professional photographers.
So, I hope this article on Canon full frame mirrorless cameras has helped you and you now see this new Canon’s world more clearly. Don’t hesitate to tell me what you thought of the article!
See you soon for more articles. Of course, I will update this one as soon as new Canon cameras are released.
As mentioned in the introduction, if you are still hesitating in your choice, don’t hesitate to go and check out the article on full frame Nikon mirrorless cameras. You might find what you are looking for.
See you soon,