The Canon EOS R100 is a camera we've been waiting for since the R system first launched. Which is to say that we've had professional cameras, 8K cameras, cinema cameras… but what we really wanted was an affordable, entry-level camera. Something simple enough for families to capture their treasured shots, as easily as they would on a smartphone, yet advanced enough to grow with a photography student as their skills develop.
And that's exactly what the Canon EOS R100 is. A camera simple enough for a first-timer to shoot great images in auto, but that reveals its real strengths when you take it into semiautomatic and manual mode to start getting creative in ways that just aren't possible on a phone.
As such, the R100 replaces the best-selling Canon Rebel SL2 / Canon EOS 200D as well as the Canon Rebel T7 / Canon EOS 2000D and stands as the most affordable entry point into the company's EOS R camera system – along with its impressive range of Canon RF lenses.
Canon EOS R100: Specifications
Lens mount: Canon RF-S
Sensor: 24.1MP APS-C CMOS
Image Processor: Digic 8
AF Points: Dual Pixel CMOS AF (88% coverage)
ISO range: 100 to 12,800 (exp to 25,600)
Stabilization: Electronic (Movie Digital IS)
Video: 4K up to 25p (1.55x crop), 1080p up to 60p (uncropped), 720p up to 120p • Vertical video
Viewfinder: 2.36m dots, up to 60fps refresh rate, 0.95x magnification
Memory card: 1x SD card
LCD: Fixed 3-inch (non-touch)screen, 1.04m dots
Max burst: 6.5fps (3.5fps with AF)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Micro HDMI, microphone jack
Dimensions: 149 x 149.5 x 90.5mm
Weight: 1,340g with battery and memory card (1,160g body only)
Canon EOS R100: Key features
Staking its claim as one of the best cameras for beginners, the Canon EOS R100 eschews many advanced camera features in favor of streamlined simplicity. Aimed at newcomers to cameras, namely those who primarily take photographs on a phone, the R100 boasts a guided user interface with friendly and helpful menus to make it easy to make the camera do what you want it to.
You needn't worry if you're unfamiliar with camera settings, as the menus offer descriptions of the various modes as well as on-screen examples of what you can expect – making it a breeze to get shooting right away.
Features like Creative Assist enable you to make adjustments to things like contrast, brightness and background blur without needing to know about settings. And when you're feeling ready to start delving into a semiautomatic (or even manual) mode, the exposure dial puts pinpoint control at your fingertips.
Don't misconstrue the streamlined features and single control dial for this being an underpowered camera, though; it might be easy to pick up, but the R100 is very capable.
Its 24.1MP APS-C image sensor is an optimized version of the one found in the much loved Canon EOS M50 Mark II (with which the R100 shares quite a few similarities in general). It packs plenty of data and detail into your shots, while enabling you to achieve shallow depth of field – and if you're into shooting faraway subjects like wildlife or sports, the sensor's 1.6x crop factor will magnify the focal length of your lenses for greater reach.
Despite having being surpassed by the latest EOS R cameras, the R100's Dual Pixel Autofocus remains incredibly robust. It's the same hybrid AF system that powers professional DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, so you know it's rock-solid and reliable.
While it's aimed primarily at stills shooters, the R100 does capture both FullHD and 4K video – and, crucially, it can do so in vertical orientation as well as horizontally, for quick and easy sharing and uploading.
However, it should be noted that 4K invokes an additional crop factor (of 1.55x) on top of the existing APS-C crop (of 1.6x), meaning that your footage will look very "zoomed in", so you'll need to use an ultra-wide lens like the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM to maintain a wide field of view. In addition, Dual Pixel AF isn't available in 4K; the camera instead uses a more choppy contrast-detect autofocus system (though Dual Pixel is available when shooting in FullHD).
Canon EOS R100: Build & handling
As you can see from the images below, the camera is incredibly similar in size, shape and layout to the Canon EOS R50 (which sits between the Canon EOS R100 and the more advanced Canon EOS R10 in the product hierarchy).
It is an incredibly compact camera, even by mirrorless standards, complemented by a range of suitably sized compact lenses – including the Canon RF 28mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens, which was released at the same time as the R100. The camera as at its most portable and effective when paired with these lightweight prime lenses, as well as the Canon RF-S 18-45mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens with which is is bundled.
The controls are simple and sensibly laid out. In particular we like the ON / OFF switch being anchored to the mode dial on the right-hand side of the camera; this makes it easy to quickly power up the camera with one hand, ready to start firing frames, so you don't miss a moment whether you're shooting street photography or capturing the kids playing in the yard.
A pop-up flash is built into the top of the camera body, making it possible to keep taking shots when night falls or when shooting indoors with poor illumination. And on top of the flash is a hot shoe, enabling you to mount accessories like flashguns or vlogging microphones if you want to get creative.
We only have two real reservations about the R100's handling. Firstly, the rear LCD screen does not have any touch functionality. While this has been fairly standard on entry-level cameras in the past, the R100 is being directly marketed at people who take pictures on their smartphones – as in, people who will expect to be able to tap the screen to take a photo or change a menu setting.
We also occasionally nudged the mode dial when adjusting the exposure control dial while taking shots. This is far from a huge problem, but is something worth bearing in mind; our hands aren't huge, and we're used to using very dainty cameras, but folks with bigger hands might also find that the compact chassis of the R100 leads to errant brushes of buttons or dials.
Canon EOS R100: Performance
When it comes to the imagery it produces, it's really hard to fault the Canon EOS R100. Whether shooting in auto, semi-auto or full manual mode, it quite simply takes a cracking shot.
The automatic modes behave much as a phone does, choosing the optimum settings to ensure a well-exposed image with minimal camera shake – though of course, here you also get the benefit of shallow depth of field as well (those "blurry backgrounds" that you can only get on your phone using portrait or cinematic mode).
Flick the camera into one of the modes where you can exert manual control, though, and you can really start experimenting with things like depth of field, and freezing or blurring fast-moving images. Either way, you're going to get pristine images packed with rich color and plenty of detail, thanks to the 24.1MP image sensor.
And with the ability to capture RAW files as well as JPEGs, you can get even more creative in the editing stage with programs like Adobe Photoshop – or even Canon's own, free Digital Photo Professional software.
The only real limitation to the image sensor is its ISO range, which governs the camera's sensitivity to light. Its top end of ISO12,800 (expandable to ISO25,600) is pretty conservative, and means that grain will be introduced much sooner if you're shooting in low light conditions and relying on the ISO setting alone to expose your images (check out our What is ISO in photography? feature to find out more about this subject).
The autofocus is as robust and reliable as we've come to expect from Canon's Dual Pixel AF, especially with its Face+ Tracking with Eye Detection. It's unfortunate that Dual Pixel isn't available when shooting 4K, and combined with the additional crop factor makes 4K video feel less than optimum here – though admittedly this isn't intended as a video camera.
Still, FullHD (1080p) shooting does boast Dual Pixel AF all the way up to 60p (for semi-slow-motion shots), and if you drop down to 720p then you can capture footage in 120p (for full slow-motion). And all modes can employ Canon's Movie Digital Image Stabilization feature to remove camera shake from your footage.
We should also point out two under-heralded features of the R100 that we nonetheless enjoyed using: the 4K Frame Grab (which enables you to extract a still frame from your 4K footage, so you can effectively capture a decent-quality photo from your video), as well as Hybrid Auto (which takes 2-4 seconds of video when you take a pic, so at the end of the day it can compile clips of your day out).
Canon EOS R100: Early verdict
We're still waiting to put the camera through our full suite of lab tests, to see exactly what the image sensor is capable of. However, from plenty of field testing and the resulting images, we're confident in saying that the Canon EOS R100 is a triumph of a camera in this category.
Certainly we would have loved to see touchscreen controls, but the D-pad on the back of the camera still makes it easy to navigate menus and settings. The simple controls and guided user interface are invaluable for newcomers to photography, as well as anyone who doesn't have any interest in learning the technical side but still wants to take advantage of effects like shallow depth of field.
And, in that respect among many others, not only is it a worthy replacement for the Canon Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, it's a substantial improvement on it. Importantly, though, this isn't just a camera for beginners; it's a camera that grows with you, enabling you to unlock new abilities as your skills and interest develop.
The trickle-down effect means that, as technology advances, affordable products inherit increasingly powerful features. What the EOS R100 represents, then, isn't a basic camera, but a very capable mirrorless camera that puts powerful photographic capabilities into the hands of anyone who wants to take better pictures than is possible on a smartphone.