The Canon EOS-R has been on the market now for just over 6 months. I was lucky enough to attend the Australian launch of this much anticipated camera, and have been using the EOS-R almost exclusively recently thanks to the good people at Canon Australia. Long term listeners to the Project RAWcast podcast and readers of some of my article content may know just how excited I was to know that the EOS-R was announced, and that Canon would be putting a lot of resources into the camera bodies and lenses in their new full frame mirrorless line up. Having access to so many different camera models throughout my workshops and other events has given me a good insight into what was possible with mirrorless cameras, and what features could be offered when the mechanical shutter was removed from the design of a camera.
So far the experience of using the EOS-R in all of the different situations I have put it through has been almost completely positive. There are a few things related to the ergonomics of the body which for me personally don’t make it the “perfect” camera in my hands. But the reality is when I consider all of the things I would like to see in a camera, there really isn’t any that I have used from any manufacturer that I would call “perfect” for me. There’s always something more that could be included (or removed) in the features, ergonomics, size, weight or performance of any camera. Some days I need to remind myself that camera manufacturers are not making their cameras just for me. How cool would that be though? Custom camera designs to suit any individual…..
The Canon EOS-R has really grown on me, and is now my favourite camera within the Canon lineup that I have used to date. I regularly travel and shoot with any of the Canon 5Ds / Canon 5DsR / Canon 5D MK IV / Canon 5D MK III bodies so comparing features, functions and performance across the Canon lineup has been quite easy. While this is not a review of the EOS-R, the sensor performance and image quality is on par, if not slightly better in some ways than the MK IV. Autofocus speeds are incredibly fast, even in low light situations where the other Canon cameras can’t compete. The size difference of the EOS-R body is definitely noticeable while traveling and carrying it around in a backpack for long periods of time, although paired with the 28-70mm f/2L RF series lens is actually heavier than the 5D bodies paired with the 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens. There are a lot of new lenses that will hit the market very soon including the 15-35mm f/2.8L RF lens, which will mean having a decent wide angle landscape lens in the native RF mirrorless lens mount. This and other rumoured lenses will make recommending the investment into the Canon full frame mirrorless range a no-brainer in my opinion.
I have put the Canon EOS-R through it’s paces now have come up with 5 Canon EOS-R full frame mirrorless tips and tricks. I hope you find them useful!
Canon EOS-R tips and tricks for the Lens Control Ring
With the new design of the RF series lenses came the addition of the customisable control ring, both on the lenses themselves, and on the Control Ring Mount Adaptor used to connect EF series lenses to the EOS-R. The positioning of the Control Ring took some time to get used to for me due to its proximity close to the focus ring and the way I have used lenses up until now. I didn’t find myself “naturally” using it’s functionality at first, but after adjusting to it have found myself looking for it when using my 5D series of bodies and various EF L series lenses. I generally always shoot in manual mode even when shooting handheld, and will vary between auto and manual focus depending on the situation. With the design changes made to the EOS-R, buttons are positioned differently and the removal of the rocker switch that is present on the 5D bodies means using the touch screen to make autofocus changes. The Control Ring and Multi-function Bar have definitely changed the way I hold and use some of the features of the camera.
The Control Ring can be used to make changes to aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation when shooting in the various modes offered (AV, TV, Manual etc..). As mentioned above I generally always shoot in manual mode, both when tripod mounted or handheld. I have personally configured the Control Ring on the EOS-R to control shutter speed. I find the positioning of other dials and buttons that naturally suit where my big fingers are positioned on the camera to use aperture and ISO in a “similar” way to how I would a 5D body. Using the Control Ring on the RF series lenses I have access to is less confusing when shooting in auto focus. The positioning of the lens focus ring and the Control Ring are very close together, and it can be a bit confusing which of them you are using when the camera is held up to your eye. So I find this is best used in auto focus mode.
Canon EOS-R tips and tricks for Muti-function bar
One of the new design features of the Canon EOS-R is the customisable Multi-function bar. It is positioned close enough to where my thumb “naturally’ gravitates to with the new Quick Control Dial (which I use to control aperture in manual mode). With a swipe of the thumb either left or right across the whole Multi-function bar you can control ISO. The bar is also able to be used as if the left side and right side are separate buttons, with either side able to be set to change the ISO into “AUTO” or set it to ISO 100.
I have set full swipe across the whole bar to take full control of the ISO. Swiping left shifts the ISO down in increments, and swiping right up one. A press on the left side of the Multi-function bar is set to ISO 100 and the right side to AUTO. The proximity to the Quick Control Dial makes it comfortable enough to control the aperture settings of that dial as well as the ISO settings quite easily. I use the Multi-function bar quite a lot when shooting tripod mounted or handheld. And again now find myself searching for it on any of my 5D bodies.
Using Bulb Timer on the Canon EOS-R to shoot long exposures
Shooting longer exposures above 30 seconds with Canon bodies generally requires a shutter remote to reduce the chance of any vibrations through the camera. Thanks to the touch screens on the EOS-R (and the 5D MK IV) it is very easy to gently tap the screen to start and stop the shutter. I regularly shoot with neutral density filters and often push exposure times out into the minutes when shooting some scenes. The Bulb Timer function allows me to tap the screen once to start an exposure at a set exposure time. So I can dial in let’s say a 4 minute exposure, tap the screen and let the camera do its thing.
Unfortunately the EOS-R does not have an in built intervalometer function like the 5D MK IV does. So I still need to use an external programable remote to lock the shutter up for time lapse or just shooting continuous longer exposures. But Bulb Timer is definitely still very useful for those shooting long exposures either using neutral density filters, or for those shooting tripod mounted nightscapes.
Use the USB-C port for data transfer and to charge the Canon EOS-R
Over the years I have never really needed to use any of the external ports on the 5D bodies I have, other than to occasionally tether a camera to a laptop for indoor macro shooting. The ports have only been outputs, and they have changed over the years from a HDMI Mini USB connector on the 5D MK III, to a USB 3 connector on the more recent 5D models. The Canon EOS-R comes with built in USB-C and something which I have found very useful is the ability to charge it using a USB-C power bank. USB-C has become the defacto standard for connectors since Apple switched their MacBook lineup to use it, and more recently devices like the iPad Pro. I carry a USB-C power bank everywhere with me to power my iPhone (USB-C to Lightning connector) and iPad Pro (straight USB-C to USB-C). The Canon EOS-R will require a power bank with “Power Delivery” technology built into it like the Cygnett 27,000 mAH USB-C Power Bank. This provides a 60W output. I have tried the Canon EOS-R with other battery chargers that don’t have “Power Delivery” built in and they don’t work. I have also found that the newer LP-E6N that comes with the Canon EOS-R battery is required to do this. The older LP-E6 battery can be used in the EOS-R, but does not allow for USB-C charging in the tests I have done.
The USB-C connector is also a great high speed connector for data transfer when plugged into a device like one of the newer MacBook Pro models, or even the iPad Pro. Rather than removing the SD card, it is very easy to just plug the cameras directly into a computer, tablet or mobile phone to import the images into software like Adobe Lightroom. Because of the way USB-C can be used as a charging port and a data port on the Canon EOS-R, and the likelihood of me having access to a USB-C cable when traveling, I have been using the port a lot more than I ever would have on any of the 5D model cameras.
Enable Touch & Drag AF on the Canon EOS-R
With the removal of the rocker switch, making adjustments to the focus position on the EOS-R is a little different to the 5D series of cameras. Rather than using the rocker switch, the touch screen can be used to select your autofocus point when the camera is held up to your face and you are looking through the optical viewfinder. When I first used this feature, I poked myself in my left eye several times (not ideal when trying to take photos 😆). I found that the position of my thumb when touching the corner of the screen was too close to my eye. I tend to find the rocker switch of the 5D a little more intuitive and ergonomically more suited to my hands, but as with everything about the EOS-R, I have adjusted to it and my “muscle memory” has me searching for these features when using my other cameras.
I have Touch & Drag enabled with the positioning method being “Relative” and the active touch area on the right side of the screen. By touching the screen, you can then drag your thumb around to move the auto focus point. If you enable the positioning method to be “absolute”, wherever you touch on the screen will be matched to the focus point selected. By using “Relative” wherever the focus point currently will be the starting point when your finger touches anywhere on the screen. Sometimes moving the focus point all the way across from one side of the frame to the other takes a few touches for me, but I prefer the relative setting over the absolute setting.
There is a lot to like about the Canon EOS-R. As I have said above the ergonomics of it are not perfect for my hands, but I have grown used to the button layout and size of the camera body. When switching back to any of my other 5D series bodies I am quite often searching for the extra functionality offered by the Control Ring and the Multi-function bar. There are a lot of customisation options across the buttons and touch interface. Don’t be scared to venture outside of the Canon EOS-R tips and tricks I have offered above and change the settings and customisations of them and see what works for you!