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  • Cheryl Tan

Canon EOS R + RF Lenses: Essentially A New Camera After All The Changes?

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

The Canon EOS R camera has been out for a while, but we think the recent firmware update and the addition of the RF lenses have made the EOS R feel almost like a new camera, the EOS R Mark II version if you will.

We won’t talk too much about the firmware update (more can be read in the link above), but the eye-tracking is so much better. It’s just about on par with Sony’s, but it’s definitely noticeably better than Nikon, Fujifilm and Panasonic’s eye-tracking systems.

One of the new lenses we got to try was the new RF 85mm f/1.2 and shooting wide open definitely isn’t easy. A lot of lenses start to hunt at that aperture, but the eye-tracking helps this lens lock on to the eye that’s closest to the camera.

Aside from that, image quality is fantastic and the colours out of the EOS R are beautiful. People used to complain that the old EF 85mm f/1.2 was a slow lens, but this new 85mm lens with the RF mount is better in every single way.

It’s definitely a big lens but the quality makes up for it. The background is completely bokeh-ed out and the focus points are pin-sharp. The graduation from the parts in focus to the out-of-focus parts is beautiful. We definitely recommend getting the battery grip since it makes the whole setup more balanced.

The only complaint we have is the lens hood. It’s a plastic hood that feels a little flimsy and even just flicking your fingers against it leaves marks. Granted, the white marks can be rubbed away, but for a lens of this price, you would expect something a bit better.

Next up we have the all-new RF 24-70mm f/2.8. One of the biggest changes is that the zoom is now telescopic. We do wish this had internal zooming, but it’s not too bad since the amount that gets extended isn’t too long. This might pose problems for people who are looking to use this lens in a gimbal setup, however.

Image quality is also great and it’s not that heavy a lens compared to the others. The RF lenses are definitely beefier and more robust than the EF counterparts though.

The last lens we tried out is the RF 15-35mm f/2.8. It’s probably the most surprising lens that we’ve tried from the two lenses in the holy trinity, seeing as the 70-200mm RF lens isn’t available yet. This lens is a videographer’s dream.

There is a crop factor around 1.7x when shooting in 4K on the EOS R. It was an issue for vloggers or YouTubers when shooting with the older lenses like the 16-35mm EF lens which is very long and cumbersome to hold in front when vlogging.

While this lens is still beefy, it’s not as heavy as it seems. We’ve shot a few reviews with the lens and it performed admirably. Photography is great as well, with little distortion and no colour fringing. For a lot of people out there, this might be the only lens they need for the EOS R.

So we’ve covered the first-party lenses, but there’s a third-party RF lens from Lensbaby that we think deserves a shoutout too. We have the 56mm f/1.6, courtesy of Cathay Photo. The lens is a homage to the old vintage style lenses in terms of rendering and feel.

The build is metal and feels pretty robust. It’s not bad, it’s not as refined as Canon RF lenses but it’s a lot less expensive. The vintage vibe is almost as if someone took vaseline and swirled it on the lens to get that dreamy, soft look when shooting wide open.

Stopping down to f/4 makes the image really sharp, and more reminiscent of other lenses on the market. It’s not a must-have, but it’s definitely a fun lens. Invest in Canon’s RF lenses first for the ease of use that the autofocus offers, but if you’re in the market for something creative and fun, this lens is a good addition.

There are some small issues with the camera though. We had an issue recording a review on the EOS R, where the footage cut out after around 6 minutes. Audio recording continued as per normal, however, so we’re unsure if this is an issue with the SD card or the camera itself. It has only happened once, however, and we haven’t had it happen again since.

And of course, the weight is an issue. It’s heavy and the lenses only add to that. It’s definitely an issue for older photographers or people who don’t work out regularly since it’ll be extremely tiring to carry around the equipment for a prolonged period of time. Perhaps future lenses can be lighter to accommodate for this.

Image stabilisation (IS) wasn’t present on the 85mm f/1.2 and some images came out shaky in low light. The 24-70mm and 15-35mm have IS built-in, but some footage was still shaky with the IS turned on.

Overall, the EOS R has definitely come a long way and Canon has done a great job with updating the firmware and bringing this to be a formidable competitor in the market. It’s really almost like a new camera after all the changes, and we definitely recommend this camera to any videographer or photographer out there.


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