I took CES 2020 as an opportunity to try out a camera I’ve had my eye on for a while – the Canon EOS R. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to shoot photos and videos on almost exclusively Canon DSLRs. But because of the video features that companies like Sony and Panasonic have been packing into their camera bodies, I switched over to Sony a few years ago. So how did the new mirrorless camera from Canon suit me for a run-and-gun trip like CES? Check out the video below for some more thoughts and video examples.
Why this camera for CES?
I love my Sony a7s II, but the autofocus for video isn’t great. That’s not an issue, for the most part, in my studio, but I wanted something that would be easier to use on the go. Enter the EOS R. Autofocus is much better on the newer bodies like the hugely popular Sony a7 III. Still, another reason I thought it would be a good camera for this vast conference was the articulating screen. Like many other smaller Canon DSLR cameras, it’s easy to face the screen forward for vlogging or shooting at funny angles – something that is impossible with the Sony screen that only tilts.
Those two features combined seemed like an excellent reason to pack it into my backpack and head out for CES 2020. Here’s a quick list of some of the other notable specs:
- 30.3 Megapixels
- 4K 30p video
- Dual Pixel autofocus
- Digital stabilization
- $2,299 MSRP, $1,799 at B&H at the time of posting
To me, one of the major appeals of the EOS R was Canon’s autofocus. The dual-pixel autofocus has been one of the best systems on smaller cameras like this, and it is excellent on the EOS R. Even with a Metabones Speedbooster adapter and EF lenses rather than the native RF, it is fast and accurate. When set to face detection, the EOS R will lock on and keep focus accurately.
Touch screen autofocus makes the camera very fast and easy to use on-the-go. Just tap what you want the camera to focus on, and it will snap to it.
Canon EOS R at CES: Video
4K with a downside
Another great thing about the EOS R is that it can record in 4k. Sure, 4K isn’t always necessary, and I still upload most of my content in 1080p, but having that extra resolution has become a vital part of my workflow. Being able to re-compose in post-production, especially when shooting in a run and gun style, is very useful.
The downside with the EOS R 4k, though, is that it crops in on the sensor a little bit. But if you combine it with the new Metabones Speedbooster adapter, you can get some of that crop back. Another bonus of the Metabones is that, for me, I can utilize all of the Canon EF glass that I’ve purchased over the years.
So for CES, the only lens I took was a 17-40 f/4. With the crop from shooting in 4K, this was just about perfect for a run and gun setup. It would have been nice to be able to get a little more zoomed in, but I was fine with what it allowed me to do, and my backpack was heavy enough already without any larger zoom lenses.
Crispy Canon Color
One of the main reasons I would want to switch back to Canon would be its color technology. I feel like I’ve finally got the hang of getting the footage from my Sony a7s II to look how I want, but Canon’s color always looks good almost right out of the camera (with the right settings).
Overall I’m thrilled with the color from the EOS R. It felt a little dark at first, but after tweaking some contrast settings and even turning on the Canon Log 8bit color format, I’ve found it much easier to work with. Now, within Lumetri color, I crank the contrast and add some more saturation, and I’m pleased with how it comes out. Be sure to watch the video to see an example of this simple color correction.
You’re going to need a bigger card
One thing that took me by surprise was the file sizes, A 1-minute clip in the more compressed IPB setting came in at 841MB. With the 8-bit Canon Log color turned on, a 1-minute clip was 864MB – so very similar to the IPB. But when you turn the compression to All-I, which is the best quality you can get out of the EOS-R, a 1-minute clip took up a whopping 2.54GB.
That’s great for some recording situations, but for what I’m doing on YouTube, that is way too cumbersome. That’ll fill up the 64BG cards I’m using very quickly. You can also do a Canon Log 10-bit color profile, but that requires an external recorder to enable.
So was it the best choice?
I was delighted to have the EOS R along with me at CES. Being able to trust the autofocus was a considerable relief, and the color did look great. Since having it back in my studio, it’s still missing some features that I love on my Sony a7s II like zebra lines to tell if something is blown out. But for being on the go, and especially if you want to shoot a vlog style of video, the EOS R is an incredible camera. I was amazed by how quick the autofocus is, especially with the Matabones Speedbooster.
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