In an industry-shaking but not surprising move, Canon has announced the release of the full-frame EOS R Mirrorless Camera System. Dropping a camera as significant as this is a huge step, and if this event is any indication, Canon knows it isn’t merely about the camera—good imaging systems are all about the glass. Considering the initial four RF lenses, including a world’s-first standard zoom with f/2 aperture and a high-end 50mm f/1.2 lens, the company has demonstrated once again that sharp, fast lenses are the key to a successful system. Not content to leave today only to its new full-frame mirrorless, the company has released a pair of EF-mount super telephoto lenses and the EF-M 32mm f/1.4.
It’s mirrorless. It’s full frame. It has a new mount, of course. The RF mount is Canon’s latest, and its engineers have created a versatile design with a 20mm flange distance and 54mm inner diameter, both of which will lead to more advanced optics and some brilliant new lenses. We get to see this evolutionary step almost immediately, because Canon has four lenses on display at launch: the RF 28-70mm f/2L USM, RF 50mm f/1.2L USM, RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM, and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. Lighter and smaller than many of their equivalent DSLR counterparts, these lenses provide improved image quality and performance, on this system.
We mentioned that the new lenses would be intriguing, so let us begin with the monster of a lens that is the 28-70mm. An all-purpose full-frame zoom with a constant f/2 aperture? Yes, please. We don’t have anything close to this in the DSLR world. Though it is still quite hefty at 3.15 lb with a large 95mm front filter diameter, if you ever desired this kind of speed, the RF system is the only way to get it.
Right along with this ultra-fast zoom is an even faster 50mm prime. Taking the beautiful idea of a 50mm f/1.2, Canon has redeveloped it with improvements across the board for its full-frame mirrorless cameras. This lens is fast, sharp, and has a speedy AF motor. Another prime being announced is a 35mm f/1.8 macro. This lens will be well suited to close-up imaging with its 6.7" minimum focus distance and 1:2 magnification ratio, while its wide-angle field of view, built-in stabilization, and relatively fast f/1.8 aperture mean it can work as a very practical and compact option for the mirrorless system. This lens receives a large benefit from the RF mount, because it can be smaller and more feature-rich than DSLR optics.
One last piece of glass will likely be the most popular of the bunch, if the history of Canon’s DSLR lenses is any indicator of success. The RF system is getting its own 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. This is going to be available as a kit with the camera body, which we will discuss, promises smaller size with excellent IQ, and even packs in image stabilization. This lens will be popular since its wide-angle to telephoto range will cover many shooters’ essential needs. It is the first L-series optic with NANO USM for fast, silent shooting.
Existing Canon shooters will be happy with the initial lineup, especially if they want to add the EOS R to their current kit. Three separate mount adapters are being made available, with one standard EF-to-RF Adapter, an EF-to-RF Adapter with Control Ring, and an EF-to-RF Adapter with Drop-In Filter System. All of these are quite self-explanatory, though the Control Ring and Drop-In Filter deserve a little more description. Each RF lens has a separate Control Ring that can be set to one of five major settings, such as aperture or ISO. With the Control Ring-equipped mount adapter, you can gain this function with any of your EF-mount lenses. The drop-in filter adapter allows users to insert select filters between the EF lens and the camera body, providing extra versatility and simplicity for certain shooting situations, and making it easy to create a filter collection for a large number of lenses.
Now, let’s talk about the first R system camera: the EOS R. This camera is a serious contender in the full-frame mirrorless landscape, packing a 30.3MP CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. This blends resolution with speed, delivering autofocus speeds as fast as 0.05 seconds and even operating in light levels as low as -6 EV. The latest DIGIC 8 image processor makes this whole setup possible and works with native sensitivities to ISO 40000, which can be expanded to ISO 102400. The AF system is, perhaps, the shining achievement of Canon’s camera, because it has an insane 5,655 focus points with 100% vertical and 88% horizontal coverage of the image area and includes functions such as Eye Detection AF. It can even support f/8 and f/11 lenses in all AF areas.
Canon Cinema makes an appearance here, with UHD 4K video at up to 30 fps, including the ability to record in Canon Log for wide dynamic range capture of up to 12 stops. Boosting quality, videographers can output 10-bit 4:2:2 to an external recorder over HDMI using Canon Log or even the BT.2020 color space for wide color applications. Full HD shooting will be possible at up to 60p while standard HD has slow-motion, 120p recording. Focus Peaking and the Dual Pixel Focus Guide will help keep everything in focus.
Functionality of the camera is a major consideration, and the EOS R appears to have all the latest bells and whistles. At the rear of the camera, you will find a 0.5" 3.69m-dot OLED EVF for eye-level viewing. The comfortable 23mm eye point is designed to allow space between your face and the camera body. The other rear display is a 3.15" 2.1m-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD that provides all the benefits you would expect in a Canon body, including touch-and-drag AF. Completely new is the multi-function bar, which can be customized for fast, intuitive access to many commonly used features. The top panel has a dot-matrix LCD for checking current settings and camera status.
Durability should be top notch on the EOS R because it sports the same magnesium-alloy construction and weather sealing as Canon DSLRs. The shutter features a rating of 200,000 cycles and will operate at speeds of up to 1/8000-second, with continuous shooting rates of 8 fps. An electronic shutter is also available. One safety feature built into this camera is that it will close the shutter if the body is powered off without a lens, to protect the image sensor. Another new addition to Canon’s line is USB charging via the Type-C port and the PD-E1 Power Adapter, though the existing LP-E6N Battery Pack can still be charged with an external charger. Those looking for more power can pick up the BG-E22 Battery Grip, which holds two batteries for dramatically extended shooting times, as well as improved ergonomics in vertical orientation. For saving files, the camera is equipped with a single UHS-II SD card slot. Finally, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present, completing the EOS R package.
Enough about the RF system for now—we also need to talk about a pair of big white lenses being released today. These would be the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM and EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM. Previous entries of these focal lengths have been known for being optically and technically brilliant, but large and heavy. The latest models continue this tradition of optical superiority while also making significant reductions in size and weight, making them more comfortable to use and more portable. The 400mm and 600mm have weight reductions of 25% and 20%, respectively. They use fluorite glass and Super UD elements to take aberrations to a minimum level and add the latest Air Sphere Coating to control flare. Handling has been enhanced with these versions, too, with multiple speed levels for manual focusing, improved IS with 5 stops of compensation, and a more effective thermal coating.
We still need to talk about an addition to Canon’s APS-C mirrorless system: the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens. This is going to be the system’s fast, normal prime, with its 51.2mm equivalent focal length. It also keeps on using the stepping motor found in its current lenses, making it fast, accurate, and perfect for stills and video.
How do you feel about Canon’s entry into the full-frame mirrorless landscape? Are the RF lenses enough to draw you into the system? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts and wishes for the RF system!