Videographer evaluates the Canon EOS R

Hugh Brownstone of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions has given a fairly comprehensive 30 minute appraisal of the EOS R, linked below. For those who can read faster than they can watch a YouTube video, I’ve also provided a summary/write-up after the break hopefully catching all the main points made.

1) Dual pixel AF works well, except for occasional lapses where Sony’s EyeAF would have probably done a better job. But (an) upcoming firmware update(s) may improve the R’s performance further.

2a) Initial native lens offering is mostly great – optics-wise certainly, but only the affordable 30/1.8 macro and 24-105/4 superzoom have image stabilisation. (Editor’s comment: For the faster lenses, this was apparently considered superfluous even though they’re only a stop or two faster, while image stabilisation performance is now typically 5 stops or more. Prices of these lenses would be expected to come down soon as they compare unfavourably with Fuji’s and Panasonic’s, so anyone who shoots video will not want to invest a whole lot more, keeping in mind that the EOS R has a 1.7 crop factor for 4k video, so is worse than Fuji and close to Panasonic.) So the fast lenses offer a fairly limited value proposition to the videographer, who might be using aperture more to control exposure than to control DoF.

2b) The latter two lenses are large and heavy, so can only be carried for a short time, not realistically for a very long shoot. Tripods or monopods could be useful, both from an IS and from a weight standpoint (ha!), but may often be too restrictive.

2c) Not only the lenses, but also the competing bodies from Fujifilm are cheaper, and the X-H1 includes IBIS.

3) Adapters work well, but native lenses are superior in performance. Fujifilm, Sony, Panasonic have already built considerable catalogues of mirrorless native lenses, and Canon and Nikon are just starting. (Editor’s comment: More experience of how to use a shallow flange could be a benefit that

4) Canon’s neutral density drop-in filter adapter works well, but there is no similar solution for mirrorless-native lenses. So the most convenient lenses for videographers using the EOS R are EF lenses. But cameras with built-in ND filters are scarce.

5) Colours and detail were great, like 5D Mark IV. But the colour science gap between Canon and Fuji or Panasonic is closing and they’ll probably be on par in 3 years. Will greater bitdepth be needed?

6) Best grip and has a flippy screen. But menu system was not obvious, possibly because of customisation desire. “Unprioritised.” No easy switch between movie and camera mode (Nikon, Panasonic and Fujifilm all have this and so do most Pentax cameras – Ed.). Multi-function bar lacks haptic feedback, hard to learn the right touch to get what you want. Muscle memory from other Canon bodies won’t help you learn this camera. Too much is different and will require re-learning. No strong reason for Canon DSLR users to stick with Canon mirrorless as relearning is just as easy or hard if you pick a different brand.. “Both Panasonic and Fuji offer superior ergonomics.” The EOS R may offer better AF mode switching, but cameras are getting smarter and less switching may be needed in future anyway.

7) Large files were okay to process on a highly specced machine (four cores, dedicated graphics, SSD).

8) Crop mode in 4k video negates any DoF or bokeh advantage that the system’s large throat diameter promises.

9) “IBIS is more important than a good sensor, the size of the sensor, or good lens under many, if not all, circumstances”. A camera without IBIS may be best for optical testing, but not in the real world (I think that may be a stab at Panasonic’s G5S; the argument was made by Panasonic that when using a gimbal, the electromagnetic hovering of the sensor even when IBIS is switched off causes image blur – Ed.) But decent gimbals are $500-1000, so they increase the price of the overall system a lot and add a fair amount of rather bulky weight. So restrictions apply when visiting all-day events internationally. Otoh, gimbals for mobile phones are much more affordable.

10) This is the usual complaint about 30 minute video recording limits, which has to do with tax laws – a fact the presenter seemed to be unaware of. For more, read here. – Ed. Adding an external video recorder, with the necessary accessories, to overcome this limit might set you back about another $1400. But the Panasonic GH5 does it out of the box, he argues. As long as your lenses are okay, having proper 4k is more important than having super duper lenses or the best sensor.

11) If you have 60p or 120p available, you’ll want to use those, but they aren’t on the R. Other cameras have this.

He concludes by saying that the next generation of this camera will most likely have IBIS and uncropped 4k video, so if you’re interested in getting into the Canon system, the best purchasing decision would be to wait for that next camera.

Bonus item:

Also worth watching is Imaging-Resource’s video on the camera, linked below. Very technically comprehensive but 40 minutes long:

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