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Sony a7CR review: high resolution in a small package

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Sony a7CR review: high resolution in a small package


Product photos: Richard Butler

The Sony a7CR is a relatively compact high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera. It brings a large chunk of the gold award-winning a7R V’s capabilities to a smaller form factor and an appreciably lower price bracket.

Key features

  • 61MP BSI CMOS sensor
  • Bionz XR processor and dedicated ‘AI’ processing unit
  • Lossless Raw options in multiple sizes
  • 8fps continuous shooting (7fps in e-shutter mode)
  • Choice of JPEG or HEIF output (inc HLG HEIFs)
  • 4K video up to 60p or oversampled 4K from APS-C crop
  • ‘Auto framing’ video cropping modes
  • Pixel-shift high-resolution modes with motion correction
  • Single UHS-II SD card slot

The Sony a7CR is available now at a recommended price of $2999.95. The camera comes with a screw-in grip extender that gives your hand a little more room to hold the camera.


Index:


Buy now:


What is it, what’s new?

The a7CR is a camera made from familiar components, but the way in which they’ve been combined is the camera’s greatest novelty. So we have the image sensor and many of the features of the $3900 a7R V but in the conveniently small body of the a7C.

Actually, that’s not quite true: while the a7CR’s body is very similar to that of the original a7C, it has two significant improvements: it adds a front command dial on its slightly deeper handgrip and it gains the improved, higher magnification viewfinder optics from the recent a6700, addressing two of our biggest dislikes about the a7C.

Sensor/processor

The a7CR is built around the same full-frame 61MP BSI CMOS sensor as the a7R V, which is capable of capturing excellent levels of detail and performs well in terms of both dynamic range in good light and noise in poor light.

It’s accompanied by Sony’s latest image processor and a dedicated chip designed to run the complex algorithms generated by machine learning. This ‘AI’ processor helps the camera deliver more sophisticated subject recognition, the company says, with a wider range of subjects able to be recognized and more subtle detail within those subjects in some instances.

  • Humans (Body/Face/Eye)
  • Animal and Birds (Body/Eye)
  • Insects
  • Vehicles
  • Aircraft

These capabilities are available in both stills and video shooting, which we’ve found to give recent Sony cameras, the a7CR included, some of the most decisive and dependable video AF, in addition to some of the best stills autofocus. As well as quoting various percentage improvements in tracking performance, compared to the previous cameras without the dedicated ‘AI’ processor, Sony also says exposure metering and auto white balance should also be improved, based on subject recognition.

Stabilization

The a7CR is rated as delivering 7EV of correction: one stop shy of the number given for the a7R V but still a big improvement over the 5EV quoted for the original a7C. Sony has said the use of a higher-precision gyroscope, improved communication between the camera body and lenses, and optimized algorithms all contribute to the improvement.

Features

The a7CR includes all the features introduced in Sony’s most recent cameras; on the stills side, this includes a multi-shot high resolution mode, in-camera timelapse creation, focus bracketing, focus breathing correction in video and the ability to stream 4K/30 footage as a UVC/UAC webcam.

Multi-shot high resolution mode

The Sony a7CR offers the same multi-shot high resolution modes as the a7R V. This means you have a choice of 4-shot or 16-shot Raw bursts, which can then be combined using external software. The four-shot version results in a 61MP image where at least one red, green and blue sample has been captured for each pixel location, removing the need for demosaicing and gaining an image quality benefit from sampling the scene multiple times. The 16-shot mode does the same thing but from four slightly offset positions, boosting the output resolution to 240MP. Both modes have a motion correction option that uses a single source image in parts of the frame where something has moved. You’ll still need to use a tripod for both modes, though.

Video

The a7CR includes the Auto Framing feature that we first saw in the ZV-E1 high-end vlogging camera. But video is the main area where the a7CR’s performance specs differ from those of the a7R V.

The a7CR can shoot up to 4K/60p by sub-sampling a region of the sensor Sony says is an approximately 1.2x crop. This makes it relatively easily maintain a wide-angle field of view, but the footage won’t be as detailed as oversampled footage and won’t have the full noise performance of a full-frame sensor. There’s also the option of full-width, 4K at up to 30p that again sub-samples the sensor.

Alternatively, you can capture 4K at up to 30p using an APS-C/Super 35 cropped region of the sensor. This is oversampled, having been initially captured as 6.2K. This should bring much more detail but makes it more difficult to maintain a wide-angle field of view and comes with the noise performance of an APS-C/Super 35 camera.

Sensor region Capture options
Full-width (sub-sampled) UHD 4K at up to 30p
1.2x crop (sub-sampled) UHD 4K at 50/60p
1.5x crop (6.2K capture) UHD 4K at up to 30p

The a7CR is built around a single UHS-II SD card slot, so the maximum bitrate is the 600Mbps required for 10-bit All-I capture of 4K/60p. This, as much as product differentiation, is likely to be why the a7CR lacks the 8K capability of the a7R V, though it’s worth noting that it exhibited very high rolling shutter.

Beyond the headline specs, the a7CR has the focus map feature that blockily highlights which regions are in front and behind the plane of focus, and other useful features such as the ability to upload your own color-correcting LUTs. These can be used to provide a corrected preview, or they can be embedded alongside the video file so they’re available when it comes to editing, or they can be applied directly to the footage. This final option reduces flexibility in post’ but can side-step the need to color-grade if you’re workflow is a little more quick-and-dirty. The a7CR also includes the gentle S-Cinetone color profile, which is another good starting point for a minimal-grading workflow.

As with other modern Sony cameras, a series of connectors in the flash hotshoe allow digital audio input and the addition of accessories to record 4-channel audio.


How it compares

The a7CR’s $900 discount, relative to its big brother, the a7R V makes it sound like a bargain, but Nikon’s high-res Z7 II was launched for the same price. And, while not marketed as a compact body, it’s not so much bigger as to be entirely conceptually distinct. We’ll also compare the a7CR to the ‘full-sized’ a7 models that sit on either side of it in the lineup: the lower-res but less-expensive a7 IV and the a7R V.

Sony a7CR Nikon Z7 II Sony a7 IV Sony a7R V
MSRP $3000 $3000 $2500 $3900
Resolution 60MP 45MP 33MP 60MP
Cont. shooting rate 8 fps 10 fps 10 fps 10 fps
Image stabilization rating 7.0 EV 5.0 EV 5.5EV 8.0 EV
Flash sync speed 1/160 1/200 1/250 1/250
High-res mode? Yes, 16 shots No No Yes, 16 shots
Viewfinder res/mag 2.36M dot / 0.7x 3.69M dot
/ 0.8x
3.69M dot / 0.78x 9.44M dot
/ 0.9x
Rear screen 1.03M dot fully articulating (3″) 2.1M dot tilting (3.2″) 1.03M dot fully articulating (3″) 2.1M dot fully artic + tilt (3.2″)
Video capabilities 4K/60 ∼1.2x crop*
4K/30 1.5x crop
4K/30 full width (o/s)
4K/60 1.08x crop
4K/30 full width
4K/60 1.5x crop
8K/24 1.24x crop
4K/30 full width*
4K/60 1.24x crop
4K/30 1.5x crop (o/s)
Video bit-depth 8 or 10-bit
16-bit Raw output
8-bit
12-bit gamma output
8 or 10-bit
16-bit Raw output
8 or 10-bit
16-bit Raw output
Storage 1x UHS-II SD 1x CFe B
1x UHS-II SD
1x CFe A / UHS-II SD
1x UHS-II SD
2x CFe A / UHS-II SD
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz, 5GHz 2.4GHz, 5GHz 2.4GHz, 5GHz 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 2×2 MIMO
USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps)
Battery life EVF / LCD 520 / 470 420 / 360 580 / 520 530 / 440
Weight 515g
(18.2oz)
675g (23.8oz) 659 g (23.2oz) 723g (25.5oz)
Dimensions 124 x 71 x 63mm (4.9 x 2.8 x 2.5″) 134 x 101 x 70mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8″)
131 x 96 x 80 mm (5.2 x 3.8 x 3.1″) 131 x 97 x 82mm (5.2 x 3.8 x 3.2″)

*Sub-sampled (doesn’t use all the pixel data from that region of the sensor)

All three cameras are bigger and heavier than the a7CR to varying degrees, but all three also offer nicer viewfinders that are both larger and higher resolution. The Nikon Z7 II can’t match the newer Sonys in terms of video features, and doesn’t offer any 10-bit modes, but it’s worth noting that none of these models are particularly great hybrid options: the high resolution sensors that make them so good for stills means all manner of sub-sampling or cropping to squeeze video out of them or, in the case of the a7 IV, quite high levels of rolling shutter.

There’s no question that the a7CR is competitive and competitively priced, but its size is the most notable thing about it.


Body and handling

The a7CR’s body is made from magnesium alloy, and Sony says it’s designed to be dust and moisture resistant. Unlike the original a7C, the a7CR features a front command dial.

The front dial is well placed, meaning you have a dial to control exposure parameters under both your thumb and forefinger. A third dial (which we found most useful as exposure comp) sits just to the right of the main rear dial. There’s still no AF joystick on the a7CR, meaning you’ll have to tap on the touchscreen, re-dedicate the four-way controller to set AF or swipe the screen in ‘touchpad’ mode, with the camera to your eye. That said, if you’re specifying a tracking AF area, the a7CR can pretty reliably be pointed at a subject and set to track it as you recompose your shot, so precision AF placement may not be necessary.

The distinctly low-resolution viewfinder resolution remains at 2.36M dots (1024 x 768px) but with brightness that comes much closer to that of the a7R V’s finder and improved viewfinder optics that deliver 0.7x magnification. This isn’t huge, but it’s a vast improvement on the ‘postage stamp at the end of a corridor’ effect that the a7C’s 0.59x magnification gave.

The rear screen is fully articulated, using a reasonably high-res 3.0″ 1.03M dot (720 x 480px) panel.

The camera’s USB port is also of the older 3.2 Gen 1 type: the standard that used to be called USB 3.0, a standard that maxes out at 5Gb/s.

The a7CR comes with a screw-in GP-X2 grip extender. This does exactly what it promises: extending the front grip to give a little more height for your hand to extend onto. It’s a simple enough design that screws into the camera’s tripod mount while offering a threaded mount directly below it. There’s a rather ungainly section that flips open to allow battery access.

The a7CR uses the same NP-FZ100 battery as the a7R V, powering it to a rating of 520 shots per charge if you use the rear LCD and 470 shots per charge via the viewfinder. As always, these CIPA-standard figures are useful for comparing between cameras but it’s not unusual to get around double the stated value, depending on how you shoot. The camera can be both powered and recharged over its USB-C connector.


Image quality

It’s hard to argue with the detail levels the a7CR produces from a comparatively travel-friendly body. Out of camera JPEG.

Sony 20-70mm F4 @ 70mm | ISO 250 | 1/400 sec | F5.6
Photo: Dale Baskin

Studio Scene

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you’ll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

Note: We’re still in the process of setting up our studio scene in the new Gear Patrol space. With that in mind, the a7CR sports the same 60MP BSI CMOS sensor and Bionz XR processor as the Sony a7R V, so image quality should be a match (we intend to shoot the test scene in the coming weeks).

The a7CR’s sensor bests its full-frame competition in details captured but doesn’t resolve quite as much detail as the larger-sensor Fujifilm GFX 100S. The a7CR likely has no low-pass filter, so you may see some signs of false color or aliasing in high-contrast/high-detail areas of a scene. The sensor is also a little noisier than its peers, which is expected given its greater pixel density. That trend continues as the ISO value increases into very high territory.

Sony’s JPEG sharpening is fantastic. The a7CR makes great use of every detail from its 60MP sensor. In low light, it also does a decent job of balancing noise reduction with detail retention. JPEG color also looks quite good. Blue and yellow tones are nice and rich, while the reds are slightly less punchy than Canon’s but still lovely. The greens too look solid.

Dynamic Range

Edited in Lightroom Classic 13.0.1 with the exposure increased by +4.5 stops and luminous noise reduction set to 25. Other adjustments have also been made to exposure parameters like shadows and highlights, as well as curves.

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM II @ 70mm | ISO 250 | 1/125 sec | F2.8
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

The a7CR 60MP sensor is a dual conversion gain design, which means the deep shadows of images shot at ISOs below 320 are a touch noisier than those above. However, once above this step, there’s little noise penalty to shooting ISO 320 in low light situations (to preserve highlight detail) and brighten the image in post, rather than using a higher ISO.

The above image, for instance, was shot at ISO 250 to preserve highlight detail. I then increased the ‘exposure’ in Lightroom by +4.50EV, half a stop short of the maximum LR increase. Other adjustments were made to blacks, whites, shadows and highlights, as well as curves. Noise reduction was also set to 25. You can check out the out-of-camera companion JPEG here for comparison. And head to our sample gallery to download the Raw file.

Base ISO out of camera JPEG underexposed by -4.0EV.

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM II @ 70mm |

Raw file pushed +5.0EV in Lightroom Classic and edited to taste.

ISO 100 | 1/25 sec| F2.8

The above image shows a similar example but this time shot at the a7CR’s base ISO 100 with the exposure increased by a full +5.0EV in in post. Like the image above, other adjustments were made to taste, including increasing noise reduction to 30. Again, you can see both of these examples side-by-side and more in our a7CR sample gallery.


Autofocus

Sony’s eye detection, for both humans and animals, continues to impress. Out of camera JPEG.

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM II @ 60mm | ISO 125 | 1/250 sec | F2.8
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Autofocus performance from the Sony a7CR is class-leading. However, to make the most of the AF system, you’ll need to change a handful of settings out of the box.

Setting up AF for success

First, you’ll want to switch the camera from AF-A, which is utterly useless, to AF-C. Then set your focus area to one of the tracking options – I like “Tracking: Expand Spot”. Next, make sure face and eye detection are turned on. Lastly, switch off the goofy AF assist beam. Now you’re ready to get the shot!

With the camera configured this way, it’s pretty easy to get around not having a dedicated AF joystick. You can either tap on the screen to move the AF box or tap the round button at the center of the rear click-wheel to activate the directional keys. Another option is to use the touchscreen as an AF trackpad when your eye is to the finder.

Better yet, leave the AF box dead center and when you find a subject you’d like to track/keep in focus, simply place it/them under the AF area, half-press the shutter to engage AF-On, and recompose as you please. The a7CR should stick to your subject like glue as long as AF-On stays engaged.

That said, for landscape photographers especially, an AF joystick would be a nice touch. No one wants to take off their gloves in sub-freezing temperatures to move AF point placement via a semi-responsive touchscreen. You do get a large AF-On button, though, which can also be reprogrammed for a range of functions.

AF performance

Even without animal detection engaged, Sony cameras do a remarkable job at nailing focus on pet eyes. Edited to taste in Lightroom Classic 13.0.1.

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM II @ 70mm | ISO 8000 | 1/320 sec | F2.8
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Overall, the autofocus performance from the Sony a7CR is fantastic. This camera reliably nails shots in all lighting conditions, even very low light, especially when using Sony’s latest-generation glass. I spent most of my time testing the camera with the new 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II and out of 400+ frames shot, greater than 98% are acceptably sharp.

On the subject of glass, given how much detail the a7CR resolves, it’s important to pair it with a lens that can optically match its output and mechanically, its AF speed.

Human face and eye detection

The a7CR’s machine learning-trained algorithms assist the camera’s face and eye detection in identifying and sticking to human subjects, regardless of their pose or prominence in a scene. I certainly found it effective. Even with my intended subject small in the frame, the a7CR’s eye detection did its thing and nailed focus. Edited to taste in Lightroom Classic 13.0.1.

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM II @ 52mm | ISO 5000 | 1/320 sec | F2.8
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Sony’s human subjection detection is also the best in the game and can be switched on or off regardless of your other chosen autofocus settings. However, the camera can only recognize one class of subject at a time, so choose wisely whether you want it to prioritize people, or say, airplanes. For me personally, I always leave human detection on.

Why? Because it works when you need it to and doesn’t interfere when you don’t (i.e. there are no humans in the shot). Even with face detection engaged, the camera does not prioritize human faces over subjects or objects you’re already tracking.

For instance, if I have AF tracking locked onto my dog Belvedere and a human enters the scene, the a7CR will not automatically ditch Belvy boy in favor of that person unless I release AF-On and recompose with the human under my AF area.


Video

The a7CR is a capable video camera but 4K capture comes with some caveats.

The Sony a7CR is a capable video camera with decent-quality 4K capture. But for the money, there are better options available with higher-quality output, like the Canon EOS R6 II.

Still, the a7CR offers plenty of video-making tools and features aimed at both amateurs and experienced filmmakers alike. This includes Sony’s cool Auto Crop feature, which is kind of like having your own personal robot cinematographer behind the lens.

I’m also a big fan of the camera’s video/stills toggle switch which allows users to save different custom settings, shortcuts and quick menus for each of the two shooting modes. You get plenty of control over which settings do and don’t carry-over, when you flick the switch.

Video quality

The a7CR can shoot up to 4K/60p by sub-sampling a 1.2x cropped region of its 60MP sensor. This crop factor limits the field of view of any lens attached – the widest you’ll get from a 24-70 for instance is roughly 30mm. Meanwhile, the sub-sampled nature also means that video quality takes a hit compared to 1:1 sampled or oversampled 4K/60p footage.

To avoid this crop factor, stick with the 4K/30p mode. It’s also subsampled but uses the full sensor width of the sensor, so you don’t have to worry about a crop factor being applied to your angle of view.

Alternatively, users can shoot oversampled 4K/30p footage in Super 35 using an APS-C-sized crop. This will provide the highest level of detail capture. But it also comes with a hefty 1.5x crop factor.

Video AF and stabilization

Sony’s video autofocus implementation is quite good, as is video AF performance. Face and eye detection work with exceptional reliability, with smooth focus transitions and no noticeable hunting. Users can also dial in how quickly they want focus to be pulled, with seven different speeds to choose from.

The easiest way to select a subject to track in video is via the touchscreen. If you’re in the middle of rolling footage, the touchscreen is also a great way to pull focus from one subject to another. Simply tap the subject you want AF to shift to.

The a7CR’s powerful 5-axis sensor image stabilization makes shooting handheld video a painless affair, even when panning or using a long-ish focal length. I was easily able to keep handheld video shot at 70mm nice and steady. However, for walking shots, you may want to switch on “Active Steadyshot.” This adds a (somewhat significant) additional digital crop to further smooth shakes and bumps. But it works remarkably well.

Other thoughts on video quality

Rolling shutter is fairly well controlled during most video capture modes (18ms for full-width 30p, 15ms for cropped 60p), which makes sense for a camera that is largely subsampling its sensor. However, the one exception is in Super 35 mode, which is oversampled.

If you don’t want a jello-like effect when panning or zooming (or weird artifacts when subjects move too quickly), avoid Super 35 4K mode, its rolling shutter takes around 30ms to read, so it’s fairly easy to provoke skewed verticals. That being said, if your subjects are mostly static, as might be the case during an interview, Super 35 will give you the best video quality.


Conclusion

Photo: Dan Bracaglia
What we like What we don’t
  • Outstanding high-resolution image quality
  • Raws have plenty of dynamic range
  • Best-in-class face and eye detection
  • Reliable AF tracking in stills and video
  • Effective in-body image stabilization for handheld shooting
  • Lots of useful video tools and feature
  • Decent ergonomics with lots of customizability
  • Solid battery life
  • Video and stills menus/settings can be adjusted/customized separately
  • EVF and rear display lack detail
  • No AF joystick
  • Non-removal EVF eyecup does not work well with glasses
  • Video quality is bested by competition
  • Single card slot
  • Sluggish sensor readout speed results in some ‘jello effect’ in 4K video
  • Pixel-shift images require desktop software for processing

The Sony a7CR is the ultimate big sensor/little camera model. It boasts a best-in-class 60MP full-frame chip – borrowed from the pricier a7R V – that’s capable of outstanding dynamic range and impressive detail capture, tucked inside of a diminutive camera body with decent ergonomics and a shoulder-friendly weight of just 515 g. Aside from the Sigma fp L, the a7CR is the most affordable 60MP full-framer on the market, and its addition of stabilization, cutting-edge AF and a mechanical second shutter curtain makes it much more usable.

But there are some concessions made in the name of space, weight and cost-savings. The grip, for one, is skimpy. Fortunately, Sony nipped this criticism in the bud by packaging a nifty screw-in accessory grip with the camera.

You also don’t get an AF joystick. Depending on your shooting style this may or may not be a deal breaker. For me, as long as the camera’s AF settings are set for success, I feel that it’s entirely possible to work around this. After all, the touchscreen can be used as an AF trackpad in a pinch – simply slide your finger on the screen to place the focus area.

The small screw-on grip extension included with the camera makes a surprising amount of a difference to how the camera handles, especially with larger lenses. You can remove it for occasions when you need to travel light.

My biggest criticism about the a7CR is the rather low-resolution viewfinder and rear display. For a camera with the best full-frame resolution in the biz, it’s darned hard to get a sense of the detail you’re about to capture while composing a shot. The same goes for viewing results in-camera. But, maybe this is a good thing? Ansel Adams, after all, never pixel-peeped his shots.

“This is a camera tailor-made for landscape and adventure photographers needing the highest-quality full-frame resolution and dynamic range in the least back-breaking package”

Beyond that, the a7CR gets nearly everything right. Battery life is solid, sensor-shift image stabilization works great during both stills and video, and the buttons/dials available are plenty customizable. Oh, and as one should expect from any modern Sony mirrorless camera in 2023, autofocus performance is best-in-class. Face and eye detection work without a hitch. And AF tracking, in general, is sticky and predictive, whether shooting stills or video.

Video quality from the a7CR is decent. But hardcore filmmakers may want to consider a lower-resolution full-frame option capable of higher-quality output. The 24MP Canon EOS R6 II, for instance, shoots gorgeous full-width oversampled 4K /60p that knocks the socks off of the a7CR’s subsampled/cropped offering (for less cash). That said, Sony’s filmmaking tools are plentiful and well-implemented. And for casual moviemaking, the a7CR’s footage should be more than good enough.

Out of camera JPEG.

Sony 20-70mm F4 @ 47mm | ISO 125 | 1/320 sec | F4
Photo: Dale Baskin

Ultimately, this is a camera tailor-made for landscape and adventure photographers needing the highest-quality full-frame resolution and dynamic range in the least back-breaking package. And the a7CR delivers on that aspiration, almost without flaw. Plus, there’s no shortage of fantastic E-mount glass to choose from, including compact options – like the Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM – that punch well above their size/weight.

If size and weight are priorities for you, and you don’t mind the viewfinder, the a7CR should probably be considered Gold-award worthy, but for us the small, low-res finder has enough of an impact on the overall shooting experience that it knocks the camera down to a Silver for photographers less concerned about traveling light.

Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about what these numbers mean.

Compared to the competition

Of course, the full-frame mirrorless camera competition is steep, even within Sony’s own lineup. Let’s take a closer look at each of the a7CR’s nearest competitors.

The Sony a7R V is about $900 pricier than the a7CR, yet the two share the same 60MP sensor, ultra-fast AI-equipped processor and 16-shot high-res mode. This is to say, image quality and AF performance are a match. But the a7R V offers a better overall user experience thanks in large part to its 9.44M dot EVF with 0.9x magnification. By comparison, the a7CR’s 2.36M dot EVF with 0.7x magnification seems downright rudimentary.

You also get a higher-resolution touchscreen, dedicated AF joystick, beefier grip, faster bursts and better video quality from the a7R V. Other niceties include dual CFexpress A / UHS-II SD slots instead of a single SD-only one, better IS performance and more control points.

Edited to taste in Lightroom Classic 13.0.1.

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM II @ 70mm | ISO 1600 | 1/25 sec | F2.8
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

On the other hand, the a7CR is a full 208 g lighter and considerably more compact than the a7R V, while capturing the same best-in-class still images. If keeping size and weight down is a priority, you may be better off springing for the a7CR and putting that extra $900 toward a quality lens (of which there are plenty).

The Sony a7 IV, on the other hand, is currently a full $700 cheaper than the a7CR. The former shares a similar body design to the a7R V, with a dedicated AF joystick, beefy grip and plenty of controls. The EVF is also nicer: 3.69M dot with 0.78x magnification. But the 33MP sensor can’t nearly match the high-resolution output of the a7CR’s 60MP chip. That said, 33MP files from a full-frame sensor should be more than enough resolution for all but the most discerning photographers wishing to print their work larger than life.

On the video side, neither camera particularly excels. The a7 IV suffers from rolling shutter in its best video modes, while the a7CR’s 4K video is either subsampled, cropped or both.

The Nikon Z7 II is a bit older than the a7CR but still a worthy competitor in many regards, including price. The Z7 II doesn’t offer quite as high-resolution capture but its 45MP sensor is still plenty capable when it comes to detail retention. The sensitivity also goes down 2/3EV lower than the a7CR’s sensor: ISO 64 vs 100, meaning better tonal quality whenever you can use base ISO.

Meanwhile, the a7CR beats the Nikon by 2EV in the image stabilization department. It also offers a multi-shot high-resolution mode, something absent on the Nikon. However, the Z7 II shoots faster bursts and boasts the same 3.69M dot EVF with 0.78x magnification as the a7 IV, which again, is much nicer than the one on the a7CR. Nikon’s ergonomics are also arguably better, as is the 4K/30p video quality. But we prefer Sony’s autofocus implementation and performance, so which is better depends on exactly what you plan to use each for.


Buy now:


Sample gallery

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter/magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review); we do so in good faith, so please don’t abuse it.

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Canon EOS R5 II for video: what you need to know

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Canon EOS R5 II for video: what you need to know


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Canon EOS R5 II as a video tool

The Canon EOS R5 II isn’t just a new version of the company’s popular R5 mirrorless camera; it’s the spiritual successor to the EOS 5D series of ‘affordable’ full-frame digital cameras. That includes the EOS 5D Mark II, the world’s first Full HD video-capable DSLR, a model that reset the market’s expectations for video capabilities on ‘photography’ cameras, and which, according to several Canon insiders we’ve talked to over the years, gave Canon the confidence to expand more aggressively into the digital cinema market.

Many of the R5 II’s headline-grabbing specs have centered around the camera’s photo capabilities, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that the EOS R5 II is for filmmakers as much as it is for stills shooters. In the following slides, we’ll examine what the camera offers to movie shooters.

Video specs

The EOS R5 II includes a wide variety of resolutions and frame rates to support just about any level of video quality. At its highest quality, the camera can capture DCI-style 8K Raw video internally at frame rates up to 60p. The R5 II also features a new 4K ‘SRaw’ recording option, with frame rates up to 60p. Canon hasn’t disclosed whether this 4K is downsampled from 8K or subsampled on the sensor, but it’s something we’ll test for our full review.

When shooting compressed video, the camera can capture 8K, 4K, and even Full HD resolutions in either DCI (1.89:1) or UHD (16:9) aspect ratios, using either the full width of the sensor or a very slight crop (1.05x). This includes 8K up to 30p, subsampled 4K up to 120p, and subsampled FHD up to 240p. It’s also possible to capture 4K and FHD resolutions in both DCI and UHD ratios using a cropped APS-C region of the sensor.

Finally, when connected to an external recorder via HDMI, the camera can also output 8K Raw at up to 30p or 4K Raw at up to 60p, both in a 1.89:1 aspect ratio. We’d be very surprised if this can’t be encoded as ProRes RAW once Atomos has had some time with the camera.

Codecs

The R5 II includes multiple codecs to support its myriad video options. When recording Raw video, the camera provides the option to record in either Canon’s Raw or Raw Light format. Video captured at frame rates of 50p or higher uses the Raw Light format to keep file sizes in check. Of course, there’s also the aforementioned SRaw option for 4K Raw video.

In an effort to better align its newest mirrorless cameras with its Cinema EOS product line, the R5 II features Canon’s XF-HEVC S and XF-AVC S compressed video formats, both of which can capture 4:2:2 10-bit color. The XF-HEVC S format, based on the H.265 codec, also allows you to capture 4:2:0 8- or 10-bit video, whereas XF-AVC S, based on the older H.264 codec, offers a 4:2:0 8-bit option.

The R5 II also includes the ability to capture HDR video by simultaneously capturing normal and underexposed frames, combining them to better preserve highlights in high-contrast scenes. This can be combined with the camera’s PQ picture profile for use on compatible TVs or displays.

Rolling shutter

One of the most significant upgrades in the EOS R5 II is the addition of a Stacked CMOS sensor, which promises to improve the camera’s rolling shutter performance (though it isn’t nearly as fast as the one in Canon’s new flagship mirrorless camera, the R1).

We measured the R5 II’s rolling shutter rate when shooting DCI 8K video at ∼12.6ms. That’s not going to set any records, but it’s faster than the 15.4ms we measured for the same resolution on the original R5, which should make rolling shutter artifacts less noticeable on the newer model.

Most Stacked sensor cameras don’t capture video using the super-fast multi-line readout modes they use for stills, so they’re not as impressively fast. A sub-15ms rolling shutter rate is extremely good, though, so you’d have to really provoke it to see any rolling shutter distortion.

C-Log2

The EOS R5 II will be the first Canon mirrorless camera to hit the market with Canon’s C-Log2 gamma profile. According to Canon, this is part of its effort to better align video capabilities and workflows across its product line.

C-Log2 encodes a wider dynamic range than the C-Log3 gamma profile included on some previous Canon mirrorless bodies and will better replicate and match footage from Canon’s cinema cameras. However, C-Log3 remains available for use in less challenging situations where the extra dynamic range of the C-Log2 curve isn’t required, retaining more data per stop of light.

Overheating

The original R5 received criticism for its propensity to overheat, particularly when shooting 8K video. The R5 II can also experience thermal issues at its most demanding resolutions and frame rates, but Canon has introduced a new accessory grip with a built-in cooling fan, the CF-R20EP, to help mitigate this issue. It joins manufacturers like Panasonic and Fujifilm that have provided accessory cooling fans for video-focused mirrorless cameras.

According to Canon, when capturing 8K/30p video, the R5 II should run for up to 26 minutes or up to 37 minutes with the camera’s auto power-off temperature set to high (based on an unused camera starting in an environment of 23ºC/73ºF). With the accessory fan attached, these times should increase to 106 minutes or 120 minutes (or more). When capturing 4K/60p footage, Canon claims the accessory fan will allow recording without time restrictions.

The CF-R20EP has a suggested retail price of $400. It also includes an ethernet port for fast connectivity or remote operation.

Dual recording

The R5 II includes a new dual recording feature that allows you to capture high-resolution JPEG images while recording video. Using this feature, the camera can capture Full HD video at up to 30p on one card while capturing UHD 8K (7620 x 4230 resolution) JPEG images at up to 7.5fps on the other.

This feature does have limitations. You’ll likely need to optimize your shutter speed for either photos or video, as the camera uses the same setting for both media. Also, some camera functions, such as focus breathing correction, chromatic aberration correction, diffraction correction, and in-camera image upscaling, will not work in this mode. Dual recording requires the new LP-E6P battery that can provide more sustained power.

Video tools

Although the R5 II has some very impressive video specs, we’re equally excited to see Canon include helpful tools to better support the user experience of capturing video. To start, Canon has finally added a waveform display to one of its mirrorless bodies, allowing video shooters to judge exposure across the frame when shooting video more accurately. Similarly, Canon has also added a false color display, which makes it easier to visualize exposure values in an image or to quickly dial in the correct exposure for a particular part of an image, like skin tones.

On the hardware side, the R5 II now includes a full-sized HDMI port, an improvement over the mini-HDMI port on its predecessor. It also has a front tally light to let subjects know when you’re recording. It includes 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks.

Finally, Canon has also added the ability to pre-capture either three or five seconds of video, which should help in situations where it’s difficult to anticipate when the action will start.

Multi-function hot shoe and digital/4-channel recording

The EOS R5 II also gains Canon’s multi-function hot shoe, which includes communication pins for compatibility with accessories beyond speedlights. The original R5 didn’t include this feature, though it appeared subsequently on the EOS R3.

The main benefit of the multi-function shoe for video shooters is support for digital audio input, as well as 4-channel audio support.

Summary

The original EOS R5 came to be known as a capable video camera, able to deliver stunning video quality, once the initial concern about overheating had cooled. The R5 II goes the next step to address some of the challenges encountered by its predecessor, such as providing an add-on fan to improve thermal management, refining the workflow experience through the addition of tools like waveforms, false color and better hardware connections, and through enhanced capabilities, like the addition of C-Log2 and dual recording.

The result is a camera that promises to perform very well for both stills and video and could potentially integrate pretty seamlessly as a B-cam on a production using Cinema EOS equipment. If you’re a serious video shooter or even an enthusiast just looking to experiment and expand your horizons, the R5 has a lot of potential. We’ll see how it stands up to real-world use once we receive a production copy, and look forward to testing the autofocus to see how well the experience on the stills side of the camera translates to video.



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Canon EOS R5 II for photographers: what you need to know

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Canon EOS R5 II for photographers: what you need to know


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Intro

The EOS R5 II is the successor to Canon’s popular and highly capable enthusiast/pro mirrorless R5 model. It continues with the same pixel count as the existing camera but just about everything else has changed.

The R5 II can trace its lineage back to the EOS 5D series. While the 5D Mark II was a landmark for video capture, the series has also always been significant for stills shooters, as it was Canon’s first full-frame digital camera outside the pro-focused 1 series.

We’re going to look through the major changes and what difference they’ll make for photographers. We’ll look at video features and updates in a separate article.

Fact check

The complexity of the EOS R5 II and its broad feature set, along with some inconsistent specs from Canon have led to some confusion. We checked directly with Canon US’s technical expert on the camera to clear up some of the misunderstandings we’ve seen.

The EOS R5 II does not have the cross-type autofocus offered by the EOS R1. There are Canon spec sheets that say it does, but these are not correct. The R5 II uses the same left/right pairs of photodiodes to give sensitivity to vertical edges as the original R5.

The EOS R5 II does not use 14-bit readout for its video. Like almost every camera on the market it drops the sensor readout to 12-bit mode to speed up the readout and lower the rolling shutter time (it’s typically around twice as fast). You can still get significantly more than 12 stops of DR, despite this, particularly in the 4K Fine modes, where multiple pixels are being combined.

It does not have built-in GPS. Some of the spec sheets we’ve seen made this appear ambiguous but GPS is handled either via a smartphone app or by using an external GPS accessory.

Eye control AF

Almost every specification of the EOS R5 II has been improved by some degree, compared with the previous model, but perhaps the biggest single improvement is the inclusion of Eye Control Autofocus. Canon promises improvements over the system revived in the EOS R3, saying that the system can now monitor the photographer’s eye movements over a greater distance than before and gains a mode to detect whether the user is wearing glasses, so it can adapt accordingly.

The name eye control AF risks creating misunderstanding: your eye movements don’t constantly direct where the camera focuses, they help position an AF target. When you initiate focus by half-pressing the shutter button or hitting AF-On, the camera selects the subject nearest to that target and tracks it. So it doesn’t matter if your eye darts around the frame to check composition or monitor other action in your shot: the only time it plays a role is when you tell the camera to start tracking. At its best it’s probably the fastest, most obvious means of subject selection, and it’ll be a major addition to the R5 II if really does work more reliably for more people.

Speed

Although it has the same pixel count as the Mark 1, the R5 Mark II has a Stacked CMOS design, that reads out 16 lines at a time (in stills mode). This makes its electronic shutter significantly faster than its predecessor (around 6.3ms readout, rather than 16.4ms), even when capturing 14-bit Raws. This means both that it can shoot faster: up to 30 fps, rather than 20 fps, but also that it will exhibit significantly less rolling shutter distortion when shooting subjects moving rapidly across the frame.

The EOS R5 II also gains a mode that starts buffering shots when you half-press the shutter and will then save up to 1/2 a second’s worth of these images when you fully press the button. The R5 has no such equivalent mode and the new implementation is more elegant than the one added to the EOS R6 II, in that it saves regular JPEG, HEIFs, with out without Raw files, rather than combining the results into a single, large Raw that needs DPP to extract your chosen frame.

Autofocus

The EOS R5’s autofocus in stills is very good, but from our experience of the R5 II so far, Canon has made significant steps forward.

This is most apparent in the Action Priority AF modes, where the camera has been trained to recognize key moments in Football (Soccer), Basketball and Volleyball matches, meaning it knows what to focus on and when to shift focus between players.

But even beyond these modes, the R5 II’s AF seems stickier and more dependable, showing the benefit of a system derived directly from the one developed for pro sports shooters in the EOS R1 (though without the + type autofocus sensitivity). This, and the camera’s faster shooting rate, expands the types of shooting it’s suited to, making it a much more capable sports camera, for instance.

Handling/layout

The EOS R5 II’s handling is relatively unchanged, compared with the existing model. The power switch has been moved to the top right of the camera, in front of the command dial that sits on the shoulder of the camera, while the two-way switch on the left of the viewfinder is now a stills/video switch. This is a change that’s only likely to matter to anyone trying to use both generations of camera alongside one another.

What’s likely to make a bigger difference is the R5 II’s brighter viewfinder and it receiving the Optical Viewfinder Simulation mode from the EOS R3. This shows a wider dynamic range view of the scene, ignoring the current color or contrast settings that your final image will have, showing brighter brights and more balanced shadows to give a more lifelike view of the world (though it doesn’t show enough DR to fully represent the camera’s HDR PQ shooting mode, designed for viewing on HDR displays).

The menus have also been reworked, with all the R5 II’s customization options now gathered together into an olive-colored tab in the menu structure.

Other features

The EOS R5 II gains two “AI”-powered post-shot processing modes, one of which denoises Raw images, the other doubles the resolution (quadrupling the pixel count) of JPEGs or HEIF files.

The resolution-boosting mode is especially interesting in the context of an already high-resolution camera. Canon makes clear that it’s not using generative AI (ie: not synthesizing image elements that weren’t really present), just making guesses about what would existed between the captured pixels. This is an interesting alternative to the multi-shot high res modes we’ve seen elsewhere that can capture higher levels of chroma or spatial resolution by shooting and combining multiple images. It’s possible that Canon may add such an option in the future but, for now, a mode that boosts detail to some degree, but without the need for a very stable tripod and near-static subject might prove more useful in more circumstances.

Our early impression of the “neural network” noise reduction are pretty favorable, with the camera doing a good job of working out which areas can be smoothed and which details should be preserved, all with the noise level reduced.

The R5 II is also the first generation of cameras we’ve seen to support the new, faster 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6E) Wi-Fi standard that promises quicker, more dependable communication.

Image quality

The one thing we won’t know for sure until we get hold of a production-spec EOS R5 II is how its image quality compares to that of the existing model.

We’ve not seen enough Stacked CMOS sensors from Canon to be able to predict what, if any impact the change in sensor will have. We’ve seen slight increases in read noise in other fast Stacked CMOS chips, which decreases the peak (ie: low-ISO) dynamic range measurements but has minimal impact on overall image quality.

And, while it’s perilous to extrapolate from the behavior of these other designs, the image quality and performance of the EOS R3 means we’re not overly concerned that Canon has decided to risk its reputation in order to offer slightly faster video.

As with the EOS R3, the EOS R5 II has a high-frequency flicker mode, which scans the scene to measure the flicker rate of fast-flicking LEDs then tries to find a fractional shutter speed that’s at a harmonic of that flicker rate (ie: that allows a whole number of flicker cycles during the exposure so that each line of the sensor captures the same number of dark/light cycles and thus minimizes banding).

Summary

The EOS R5 II arrives on the market four years on from the original model. And, after a period of high inflation, is built around a much more expensive Stacked CMOS sensor, both of which help explain a price hike of $400 to $4299. Whether you feel it’s worth the extra, vs the heavily discounted original R5 is an entirely personal decision.

Purely considered as a stills camera, lots of the R5 II’s specs have been improved. Its faster shooting, faster readout and latest generation autofocus will certainly expand the types of photography for which it can support the photographer. That’s not to say you can’t shoot sports with the Mark 1, of course, but the Mark II will make your life considerably easier.

But the question of what it brings to, say, landscape shooters and even wedding photographers is where we think it gets interesting. Eye control AF is likely to mean a lot to the latter, if it proves to work dependably, and it’s always hard to say no to improved autofocus. But the EOS R5 II is going to have to impress us a lot if it’s to step clear from the shadow of its already capable predecessor, as an all-rounder.



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Canon EOS R1 initial review

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Canon EOS R1 initial review


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The EOS R1 is Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera and is the first EOS body to receive the coveted 1-series moniker since the EOS-1D X Mark III in 2020, which is in line with Canon’s regular release cadence for the EOS-1 series for the past decade. As with most other 1-series models, its features and specifications are aimed at sports photographers and photojournalists who need the highest-performing, must rugged camera available.

According to Canon, the EOS R1 is as reliable and durable as the 1D X Mark III but includes more advanced features than the EOS R3.

Key specifications

  • 24.2MP Stacked CMOS Dual Pixel sensor
  • 100% AF coverage with cross-type sensors
  • Up to 40fps blackout-free shooting (JPEG+Raw)
  • Pre-capture for photo and video (1/2 sec. for photos, 3 or 5 sec for video)
  • Eye-controlled AF with improved eye detection
  • AI-trained Autofocus and post-shot processing modes
  • 6K/60p internal Raw video capture
  • DCI-4K capture up to 120fps
  • Canon C-Log2 gamma profile
  • Wi-Fi 6E and Ethernet connectivity

Canon says the EOS R1 will be available later in 2024 at a recommended price of $6300.


What’s new:

As you might expect on a Canon 1-series camera, the EOS R1 includes Canon’s latest and fastest technology for capturing and processing images.

Sensor

The EOS R1 is built around an all-new 24.2MP Stacked CMOS sensor. It’s a faster sensor than we’ve seen in previous Canon cameras and has a full sensor readout rate of 2.8ms (1/360) when shooting stills. That compares to just under 5ms on the EOS R3, making the R1’s full sensor readout nearly twice as fast as the R3’s.

In addition to the faster speed, the R1’s sensor also includes 100% AF coverage with cross-type sensors. This is accomplished by rotating every other line of the sensor’s dual-pixel PDAF pixels 90º to create PDAF zones sensitive to horizontal lines as well as vertical. Cross-type autofocus works in photo mode only and does not work under certain conditions, such as flickering light sources.

The new sensor delivers up to 40fps blackout-free continuous shooting in 14-bit mode.

New Digic accelerator

The EOS R1 uses Canon’s Digic X processor along with a new Digic Accelerator co-processor. Canon claims this co-processor is the key to the camera’s improved autofocus features, particularly those using AI features derived from machine learning.

The result is that the camera can do more than identify a subject; in certain situations, it can identify a subject, such as a person, and determine what type of action that person is performing, such as a basketball player driving to the basket with the ball. This allows the camera to prioritize and maintain focus on the most important subject in a scene.

Autofocus

Canon claims the R1 has the most advanced autofocus system ever featured on an EOS body, anchored around several new features.

Eye-controlled AF

The EOS R1 receives an updated version of the eye-controlled AF system found on the EOS R3. (Which is a modernized version of the system found on some of Canon’s EOS film cameras from the 1990s and 2000s). With eye-controlled focus, the camera moves a focus target around the viewfinder by following your eye. Once this target is close to your intended subject, initiating autofocus will trigger the camera to lock onto the most likely subject and continue tracking it.

Eye-controlled autofocus has been a polarizing feature on previous EOS models because it hasn’t worked well for all users, but Canon hopes to change that. On the R1 (and R5 II), the system has a wider field of view to better track your eye, which results in an expanded viewfinder area and larger eye cup. Additionally, new compact optics and a revised line-of-sight detection algorithm mean your eye can be approximately twice as far away from the EVF and still work. The updated system also includes eyeglass detection, which should improve performance for glasses wearers.

Action Priority AF mode

Another important new feature is Action Priority AF mode. This mode uses machine learning technology to analyze a scene and attempt to predict the most important subject(s) based on the context of the scene. For example, when shooting basketball, the AF system will generally attempt to stick with the player with the ball, even if that person crosses paths with similar-looking players. If the player passes the ball, the system will know to re-prioritize AF on the player who receives it.

Action Priority AF mode is currently trained on football (soccer), basketball and volleyball. A Canon representative hinted that additional sports might be added in the future.

Pre-registered person priority

The EOS R1 allows users to pre-register particular people that the AF system will prioritize. Up to ten people can be registered on the camera, and adding someone is as simple as selecting a memory bank and taking their photo. Relative prioritization among registered subjects can be changed simply by changing their order in the menu.

Pre-registered person priority could prove useful in situations where there are many identifiable subjects in a frame but only a limited number of subjects you want the camera to focus on, such as a specific athlete in an arena or a bride and groom at a wedding reception.

Pre-continuous shooting mode

The R1’s pre-continuous shooting mode can capture still images or video before the shutter button is fully depressed. In continuous shooting mode, the camera can pre-capture a half second of buffered images (up to 20 photos at maximum shooting speed). This can be done in JPEG, HEIF or Raw. In movie mode, it can pre-capture either three or five seconds of video.

AI-trained in-camera image processing

The EOS R1 adds two new in-camera processing features that replicate deep learning functions typically found in software like Adobe Camera Raw: neural network noise reduction and image upscaling.

Out-of-camera JPEG image (ISO 102,400) Image reprocessed in-camera using neural network noise reduction (ISO 102,400)

Neural network noise reduction is designed to improve image quality without sacrificing detail. This feature requires a Raw image to use and is applied in the in-camera Raw conversion menu in playback mode. It can be applied to multiple images that you select but has to be applied selectively after capture.

In-camera upscaling increases the size of the image 2x in each orientation, resulting in a 96MP image when applied to photos from the R1. Canon hasn’t revealed much about its methodology but says this upscaling does not use generative AI. Interestingly, upscaling can only be performed on a JPEG or HEIF image.

Out-of-camera JPEG image (24MP) Image re-processed using in-camera upscaling (96MP)

You can apply noise reduction or upscaling to a single image, but not both. Images each take a few seconds to process, which explains why the feature isn’t available in real-time while shooting. However, it’s possible to batch process images for efficiency.

Blur/out-of-focus image detection

A new Blur/out-of-focus image detection feature promises to make culling images after a shoot more efficient. When activated, the R1 analyzes each photo it captures and tries to identify the ones in which the primary subject is in focus. The camera then adds a metadata tag to each image that can be read downstream by Canon’s DPP software or used as a selection criteria in the playback menu. Canon says the feature could be implemented in any third-party application updated to support this tag.

To use Blur/out-of-focus image detection, the feature must be enabled before you shoot; it cannot be applied to already-captured images.

Video

As you’d expect of a modern pro-grade camera, particularly one with a Stacked CMOS sensor, the EOS R1 boasts some impressive video specifications.

Its 24MP sensor means it can’t shoot 8K video, but instead, it will capture 6K Raw footage at up to 60p in the 1.89:1 aspect ratio. Alternatively, it can shoot DCI or UHD 4K derived from this 6K capture at up to 60p. There are also subsampled DCI and UHD 4K modes that allow capture at up to 120p.

Canon says it wants the EOS R1 to easily fit into existing workflows that use its Cinema EOS cameras, and with this in mind, it has done a lot to make its footage readily comparable.

To start, it gains Canon’s wider dynamic range C-Log2 curve, with the less ambitious C-Log3 option still available if you’re not shooting in very high DR situations. It also adopts the XF-HEVC S and XF-AVC S file formats used in Canon’s pro video cameras.

But beyond the boost in video modes is a significant increase in the support tools accompanying them. The R1 gains waveform and false color displays to provide industry-standard ways to visualize exposure. These come in addition to the zebras already offered. There’s also a tally lamp on the front of the camera, helping to indicate to anyone in front that it’s recording.

It also has the ability to handle digital audio inputs via the connectors in its multi-function hotshoe and lets you individually control the levels for four-channel input.

Dual Shooting mode

The EOS R1 also offers a Dual Shooting mode that captures JPEGs on one card while video is being recorded on the other. In this mode, the R1 will capture FullHD video at up to 30p while capturing JPEGs in bursts.

JPEGs are 17MP 16:9 images (5616×3168) and can be captured at up to 10fps while you’re shooting 1080 video. However, the differing shutter speed requirements for stills and video capture still require you to prioritize one over the other.

Temperature control

Significant efforts have been made to help the camera stay cool while shooting, and Canon says that, if it hasn’t been used, the EOS R1 can shoot for over two hours at 23°C (73°F) when capturing 6K/60 Raw with proxy recording also engaged. The 4K/60 derived from this footage is a little more demanding, seeing the recording time drop to 109 minutes, though it increases to over two hours again if you use the sub-sampled 4K/60 mode. The company says there is no time limit for capturing sub-sampled 4K/30.


How it compares

The EOS R1 ushers in the mirrorless generation of EOS-1 series cameras, a product line historically focused on delivering the highest performance available in a Canon body. The R1 takes over this spot in the lineup from the EOS-1D X Mark III, a DSLR we consider its direct predecessor. (Of course, there’s also the EOS R3, which Canon maintained was not a replacement for the 1D X III, despite having a similar body style, price and specs.)

Unlike some manufacturers, Canon has not combined its highest-performing camera with a higher-resolution sensor. As such, we’ll compare it to other bodies aimed at the high-performance, 24-ish megapixel market: its predecessor, the EOS-1D X III, the EOS R3, and the Sony a9 III.

Canon EOS R1 Canon EOS R3 Sony a9 III Canon EOS-1D X III
MSRP at launch $6300 $6000 $6000 $6500
Sensor type Stacked CMOS Dual Pixel (cross-type) Stacked CMOS Dual Pixel Stacked CMOS FSI CMOS Dual Pixel
Pixel count 24MP 24MP 24MP 20MP
Max burst rate E-shutter: 40fps
Mech shutter:
16fps
E-shutter: 30fps
Mech shutter:
16fps
E-shutter: 120fps Live view: 20fps
Viewfinder: 16fps
Rolling shutter rate 2.78ms 4.84ms 0ms <4ms with mech shutter
Image stabilization Up to 8.0EV Up to 8.0EV Up to 8.0EV Lens only
Video options 6K/60 Raw
4K/60 from 6K
6K/60 Raw
4K/60 from 6K

4K/120 from 6K 5.5K/60 Raw
4K/60
Viewfinder 9.44M dots
0.9x
5.76M dots
0.76x
9.44M dots
0.9x
Optical
0.76x
Rear screen 3.2″ 2.1M dots
Fully articulated
3.2″ 4.2M dots
Fully articulated
3.2″ 2.1M dots
Articulate & tilt
3.2″ 2.1M dots fixed
Battery life, viewfinder / LCD 700 / 1330 440 / 760 400 / 530 2850 / 610
Dimensions 158 x 150 x87mm 150 x 143 x 87mm 136 x 97 x 83mm 158 x 168 x 83mm
Weight 1115g 1015g 703g 1440g

The R1 outpaces the 1D X III in almost every way, with one notable exception: battery life. Without the need to drive a high-resolution EVF, battery life is still a potential advantage for DSLRs (though it’s one the CIPA rating system can exaggerate a bit). Also, while it’s not necessarily a pro or con, users who still prefer the experience of using an optical viewfinder (and we know you’re out there) will probably find more joy in the 1D X III.

Assuming you’re OK with an EVF, the R1 will also give you a slight advantage in size and a noticeable advantage in weight over the 1D X III. On the other hand, if you like the general design of the R1 but prefer a slightly smaller, lighter body, the EOS R3 is no slouch and delivers all but the very newest features found in the R1.

The a9 III plays the role of disruptor in this group. First, its compact, full-frame body will likely appeal to a different set of users than the Canons. Again, that’s not unequivocally a pro or con but a preference. Second, its global shutter sensor sets it apart from all other mirrorless cameras today and could be a deciding factor depending on your needs and shooting style. However, it’s worth noting that the a9 III’s higher base ISO means it gives up a little image quality potential for this.


Body and controls

The EOS R1 undeniably has the heft and feel of an EOS-1 series camera, with a build that suggests you could use it to pound nails into a board if your hammer went missing. It comes in somewhere between the size and weight of the EOS R3 and the EOS-1D X Mark III it replaces. The most noticeable differences between the R1 and the 1D X Mark III are the camera’s height, with the R1 a noticeable 18mm shorter, and weight, where the R1 comes in over 300g (10.6oz) lighter than its mirrored predecessor.

Weight Width Height Depth
Canon EOS R1 1115g 158mm 150mm 87mm
Canon EOS R3 1015g 150mm 143mm 87mm
Canon EOS-1D X III 1440g 158mm 168mm 83mm

The R3, by comparison, feels noticeably smaller in the hand than the R1. Not only is it shorter, but its body is almost a full centimeter narrower in width than the 1-series cameras. If you’ve been shooting with an R3, know that the R1 will feel somewhat larger by comparison.

Fun fact: the R1 includes a little mystery window in the lower left corner on the back of the camera. A Canon representative told us it’s reserved for a future feature but doesn’t do anything at the moment. Feel free to speculate in the comments.

Customizable smart controller

Canon’s smart controller, a two-function controller that originally appeared on the 1D X III and again on the R3, doubles as the AF-On button and simultaneously acts as a trackpad for your thumb. It can be used to move the AF point around the viewfinder while pressing it initiates autofocus.

On the EOS R1, the smart controller becomes a three-function controller, gaining the ability to distinguish between its half-pressed and fully-pressed positions, similar to the shutter button. This facilitates a degree of customization. For example, you could set it to engage autofocus at the half-pressed position, with the fully-pressed position switching the camera to its fastest continuous shooting speed. This would allow you to use a more conservative burst rate but instantly accelerate the camera to its maximum burst rate at the critical moment of action.

However, the smart controller isn’t fully customizable. You can customize either the half-pressed or the fully-pressed position, but not both. You can also leave one of the positions disabled, meaning the controller will function similarly to the 1D X III or R3.

EVF

The R1’s viewfinder is visibly larger than those on previous EOS mirrorless cameras due to the updated eye-controlled AF system. The EVF uses a 9.44M-dot OLED viewfinder, which Canon claims is approximately three times the brightness of the R3’s EVF when used in OVF mode (a setting intended to simulate using an optical viewfinder). It has a magnification of 0.9x, the highest in the EOS series, and 40% larger than the one in the 1D X III.

Notably, the EVF’s display does not drop to a lower resolution when shooting, though Canon confirmed that, while it offers the higher DR ‘Optical viewfinder simulation mode,’ it does not support HDR display of images.

Above the EVF is Canon’s multi-function hotshoe, which can provide communication and power for accessories like a microphone adapter.

Updated menus

Canon has added a new color-coded tab to its menu system. Described as “olive green,” the new section centralizes the camera’s control customizations into a single menu for easier access, including customizations for both shooting and playback modes.

Storage and connectivity

The EOS R1 has dual CFexpress type B card slots supporting capacities up to 2TB. Instead of being accessed through a door on the back of the camera like the 1D X III, cards now load through a door on the right side of the body, similar to the R3. The camera includes a 2.5 GBASE-T Ethernet port and 802.11ax Wi-Fi support for direct connectivity. This is the new WiFi 6E standard that promises faster connections, in part by using the parts of the 6GHz spectrum, in addition to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz regions currently in use.

Other connections include a USB-C port (USB 3.2 Gen 2, 10Gbps), a full-sized HDMI port, 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks and a PC Sync terminal.

Battery

The Canon EOS R1 uses the same LP-E19 battery as the EOS R3 and EOS-1D X Mark III but, unlike those cameras, isn’t compatible with the earlier LP-E4N or LP-E4 batteries. On the R1, this battery delivers a CIPA-rated 700 shots per charge, up from 440 shots on the R3, an increase of nearly 60%.

Due to the CIPA testing methodology, these ratings typically underestimate real-world performance for most users, particularly when using continuous shooting (as one might expect on a sports-focused camera). However, they generally provide a good basis for relative comparisons between models.

Canon supplies a battery charger with the camera. The camera can also be charged over USB using Canon’s PD-E1 or PD-E2 power adapter or a similarly powerful USB PD power pack.


Initial impressions

By Dale Baskin

It’s hard to believe that Canon’s EOS-1 series of cameras is 35 years old. Consider that the original EOS-1 was introduced in September of 1989, two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was the same year that Tim Burton’s original Batman hit the big screens, New Kids on the Block was all over the pop charts, and Miami Vice was wrapping up its final season.

Just as the EOS-1 series made the leap from film to digital, It was inevitable that the series would eventually make the jump to mirrorless. With the EOS R1, Canon officially has its flagship mirrorless camera.

The waters are muddied a bit by Canon’s “definitely-not-our-flagship” EOS R3 launched in 2021, which has effectively served as a mirrorless proxy for the 1-series until now. Not only does the R3 resemble a 1-series camera, but it launched with similar top-level specs and slid squarely into the 1-series’ historical price bracket.

Ultimately, every company is entitled to designate a flagship product as it sees fit, and Canon has been clear that the EOS R1 is it. However, given the three-year gap since the R3 was introduced, it’s understandable that some will be underwhelmed with what seem like relatively minor upgrades, such as jumping from 30 to 40fps in a market where competitors can shoot 120fps.

Canon EOS R1| F2.8 | 1/1250 sec | ISO 4000

The critical thing about EOS-1 series cameras is that they’re designed almost exclusively for people who are already using EOS-1 series cameras. Canon has indicated in the past that the EOS R3 was aimed at pros and very dedicated enthusiasts, whereas the 1-series is aimed entirely at pros who expect zero compromises.

In this respect, there are some differences between the R1 and R3. While the R3 is a fully weather-sealed, rugged camera, Canon was clear that it wasn’t designed to withstand the same level of punishment or challenging conditions as the 1D X III. The R1 has no such asterisks next to it, and if your income depends on the reliability of your gear, that’s not a trivial difference. Similarly, the 1D X III has a virtually unlimited buffer when shooting, whereas the R3 – while still impressive – is a bit more limited. We haven’t tested the R1 yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out it performs similarly to the 1D X III in this respect.

I suspect the R3 was a good test bed for technology like eye-controlled autofocus without fully committing the EOS-1 brand to the feature. If the result is that the R1 arrives with a superior version that works more reliably for pros when they try it, I can see the logic.

Canon EOS R1|F2.8 | 1/500 sec | ISO 1600

Speaking of eye-controlled AF, I’m happy to see Canon continuing to invest in the feature, which really has the potential to be a differentiator in terms of usability. I’ve written about some of my own experiences using it, and it can be a game changer – if it works for you. Canon knows that inconsistency in user experience is the most significant barrier to broader acceptance, and the fact that it has attached the feature to a 1-series model makes me hopeful that the newest iteration works more universally.

In my limited time with the EOS R1 so far, I can safely say that the shooting experience feels more similar to using the R3 than the 1D X III, mainly because the R3 is also a mirrorless camera with eye-controlled autofocus. However, the EOS 1D X III DNA is unquestionably there, and the camera has a heft and battle-hardened feel you don’t get from the R3. I’m really looking forward to pushing it to the limits along the sidelines to see how it performs.

And if I’m being completely candid, I’m particularly hoping the new sports-trained Action Priority AF mode delivers on its promise. If it does, it will make me look like a much better sports photographer than I really am.



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