The Canon EOS R has been around since October 2018, and as Canon's first foray into the mirrorless market – a full-frame foray at that – it built on Canon's decades of heritage as a leading camera DSLR manufacturer.
At the time of launch, the Canon EOS R only had four lenses and three EF and EF-S adapters. These were the first lenses and accessories in the EOS R range, and while they were fairly limiting at the time, Canon's range of EOS R lenses was to grow rapidly into the 30 optics available today (at the time of my writing, anyway).
We reviewed the Canon EOS R at the time of launch, calling it a capable but conservative full-frame mirrorless. Despite a crispy 30.3MP sensor, the camera's limitations include a lack of in-body stabilization, cropped 4K video and just a single SD memory card slot.
Of course, camera technology moves on at a rapid rate, as do the needs of consumers and photographers. Since 2018, Canon has released the Canon EOS R3, EOS R5, EOS R6 and two APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras, the EOS R7 and EOS R10. Previous rumors and reports even suggested that we might get a new Canon EOS R camera, but this is yet to materialize.
So, four years on from launch – with a more tempting price, some firmware improvements and an extensive RF lens lineup – the Canon EOS R is arguably a much more capable camera than it was originally. But against the competition, is it still a compelling choice for photographers today? If you're looking to buy your first mirrorless camera, does it offer good value for money?
I spoke to professional photographer, videographer and commercial content creator Ellis Reed, who uses the Canon EOS R every day, to find out whether he thinks it's still a good buy in 2022. Let's see what he had to say...
UK-based photographer and videographer Ellis lives in Bath, England and captures the beauty of the Cotswolds and surrounding areas with the Canon EOS R mirrorless system. Ellis also regularly shoots weddings, products, lifestyle and commercial work as well as social media content for major companies.
Hey Ellis! What is it that first drew you to the Canon EOS R?
I’ve always been a Canon shooter. My grandad was a photographer, and he always shot with Canon, so maybe that was an influence, too. My first DSLR was the Canon EOS 550D. I absolutely loved that thing. At the time, it was a great beginner’s camera for photo and video, and that’s why I got it: because I wanted to learn both elements. I had that for a couple of years, and then I upgraded to the Canon 7D Mark II.
After a few years, I really wanted to go to the EOS R. I wanted something that was full-frame and I figured if I was going to go down the route of upgrading, it should be to the new mirrorless range.
What did you make of the Canon EOS R on launch?
I remember there being some bad press about it in the early days, which I think was very misguided. Maybe people were expecting a lot more from Canon initially, but with the Canon EOS R really, the camera was kind of like a, "this is where we're heading with mirrorless" offering. It was very much like a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, minus a few spec differences, and more compact sizing.
Are you still glad that you bought the EOS R?
It has literally been my workhorse since I got it. It's getting on now, but it's still performing like it's brand new. The firmware updates that Canon have done for the camera have been very good, and they've kept on top of trying to be able to keep it in line with the more modern features.
Some of the firmware updates have improved stability and general use, but then obviously they've improved things like the eye autofocus too. It's all little updates that make sure it's running efficiently.
I still think that the way that you do the updates are a bit old-fashioned, but I get why it's done the way it is. The one thing that I wish Canon would do is improve the apps connected to the cameras. They're usable, functional and they do the job, but I think there's a lot they could do to improve the experience and make it more intuitive.
What made you unsure about buying the EOS R?
The one thing that I think did worry me a lot in the beginning was the single card slot, but I've never had a problem. Even when I've done weddings and areas where I have to take a lot of shots and a lot of content, as long as I'm swapping cards out regularly (which you should be doing anyway regardless of the camera) it's been fine.
The camera has never had problems with overloading the camera or anything. I've had a couple of instances where I've been doing fitness shoots where I have to shoot continuous bursts to make sure I'm capturing each individual movement between reps which sometimes does fill up the buffer. But more often than not, it's fine.
Do you think the Canon EOS R is still a good buy?
Cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and R6 are more versatile for those who want higher-end production, whereas I think that the EOS R is still very much suited to professional photographers in a casting. Also for those who are just doing it for casual social media stuff, or as a hobby. From the stills photography side of things, for the large majority of people it'll be more than enough.
Price-wise, you have to remember that the Canon EOS R5 is around £4,299 new, while the EOS R is about £1,699 now. That's a significant difference.
Will you be keeping your EOS R or upgrading?
For what I do now, compared to three of four years ago, increasingly the Canon EOS R5 really does tick a lot of the boxes as a hybrid camera.
But I've fallen in love with the EOS R, just because of how good it is. For the size and the budget, it's still amazing. This is the big dilemma. What I'll probably end up doing is getting the EOS R5 and keeping the EOS R, as it's still very useful when I don't need the weight or specs of the R5. As I've stopped getting EF lenses and gone all out on the RF range, in terms of lens compatibility, that's just fine.
Love all things Canon? Check out our camera rumors page for the latest rumblings on Canon kit, plus the best Canon camera guide to find out what our experts think are the best buys right now. Discover the hidden depths of your Canon camera menu and 50 Canon camera tips for better images.