What’s inside the EOS R

Lensrentals has a teardown of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera. Nicely engineered camera, albeit nothing out of the ordinary.

It was rather a boring disassembly, really, about what we should expect for Canon doing a Canon 6D Mark II quality mirrorless camera. It’s neatly laid out and nicely engineered inside. One thing that struck me is that it’s not very crowded inside there, or as we like to say ‘they left a lot of air inside’.

The future is mirrorless

There, I said it. The future of interchangeable lens cameras is mirrorless.

Olympus E-P1 camera

Let’s see why.

The SLR design date back from the film days. A design that allow precise framing using through the lens viewfinder, but that has a somewhat complex mechanical design, increasing cost and size. Today, the film being replaced by an electronic sensor, an instant image can be obtained through the lens. An electronic viewfinder will also be through the lens, with all the advantage of the SLR design, and more. Without the need for that complex and bulky mirror box, the camera can be designed to be more compact.

There are a few reasons why DLSR exists and are still somewhat the de-facto design: trade offs.

The first trade off is that you have to change the lens mount to benefit from a more compact design. This made moving from the older film camera to the digital one is not as easy unless you threw away your investments in glass. This was a perfectly valid point in the last decade, and since the move has happened, the problem persists, even for those that started with a DSLR.

The second trade off is the performance of the autofocus system. DSLR use a phase detection system with sensor located in the mirror box. Something that appear to be problematic on a mirrorless camera, and phase detection AF is more performant than the contrast detection system commonly used by mirrorless cameras. Manufacturers have worked out technology to improve the situation a lot. A small category of users that needs it really needs it still, but we are getting there.

But it is time to make the jump.

The market

Currently only 4 vendors still offer DSLR. Canon, Nikon, Ricoh-Pentax and Leica. Sony hasn’t released a DSLR in a while and given their α lineup (mirrorless), I don’t think they will, Olympus has made the switch to M4/3 a while ago already, Panasonic has been mirrorless only as well also with the M4/3 system, Leica is mostly betting on mirrorless and Fujifilm has been kicking it with the X- series, improving at each generation and the GFX medium format.

In August Canon announced the EOS R, their full frame mirrorless system, while they have a EOS M series that feature an APS-C sensor. They just announced new lenses for that system, so it might stay for a little while. And it is much more affordable as well.

Weeks prior to that, Nikon had just announced the Nikon Z, their full frame mirrorless system, after discontinuing the Nikon 1 which wasn’t really a sensible proposal with its miniature sensor.

As for Ricoh-Pentax life is tough. The Pentax K 01 wasn’t really a success, nor was the Pentax Q that disappeared as quickly as it appeared. And now that it is Photokina, it doesn’t seem that Ricoh had anything to announce in that product line.

If anything, the growth on the market for Sony as proven that mirrorless full frame can be a viable option. Sony is clearly the market leader for full frame and Canon, Nikon and Panasonic wants to try to catch up.

Is full frame the future? I don’t think it will be the only but it will be dominant. Panasonic just announced a full frame mirrorless, sharing the lens mount with the Leica SL, while still continuing with the M4/3, and Sigma who barely has presence in the camera body market has announced they were developing a body for the L-mount. I’m confident that Fujifilm can continue with the X-series without moving away from APS-C, with a more compact system that nails the image quality including in low light, at a price lower than the current full frame lineup. Sony will probably keep some of their APS-C mirrorless until they can bring down the price of the α series down enough.

The medium format has a future too for demanding users, but the price is steep. For example, the Fujifilm GFX 50, a “medium” format sensor mirrorless starts at about US$5,000.

The future

I predict that within 5 years, neither Canon nor Nikon will be pushing DSLR, except maybe in a few niche segments like top of the line sports. The Leica S might survive as Leica just announced the S3 just 10 years after the previous iteration but this camera is already in a very niche segment given it’s price. And some of the manufacturers won’t be left unscathed.

Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4

In all the buzz around the Canon EOS R full frame mirrorless, almost unnoticed, Canon announced the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens for the EOS M:

Aimed at entry- and enthusiast-level photographers, the EF-M 32mm F/1.4 STM is a small (1.99in/50.5mm long) and light (8.29oz/235g) lens that’s the 35mm-equivalent of a 51mm lens, which provides an angle-of-view that’s similar to the human eye.

It is the fastest lens for the system, an almost equivalent to the 50mm f/1.4 found on the EOS line. If I had an EOS-M, I’d probably get it to supplement the 22mm f/2 (pancake).

But will that system live in parallel from the EOS-R? For how long?

About that EOS R control ring

One of the new features of the EOS R is the control ring. Similarly found on the Canon PowerShot G7X, a ring that you can use to control things, at the tip of the lens. Like the G7X, the ring does click when rotated and can be heard. According to Canon you can get it disabled (YouTube):

“This clicks will make a slight audible sound as you rotate the ring. For critical video shooters concerned about the possibility of recording this sound, Canon service technicians can modify your RF lens and remove the click stops for a fee.”

That’s right. Not with a button like on the G7X MarkII but sent back to the service center.

EOS R, Canon strikes back

After all rumors, a week after Nikon, Canon has released the EOS R, that appear to be a 5D MarkIV stuffed into a mirrorless package; some people say it is more like the 6D MarkII. The EOS-R feature the new RF mount, and 4 RF lenses have been announced, as well as 3 EF to RF adapters. At US$ 2,300 body only (CAD 3,000 up North), it is a bit more expensive than its competition.

All of this is based on the specs as I haven’t had the privilege to see one, even less touch one.

  • 30 Megapixels full frame sensor
  • 4K movie mode, not using MJPEG, but crop 1.7x
  • Canon C-log
  • New RF mount 20mm flange that allow a much slimmer design
  • Control ring on the lens
  • Fast dual pixel autofocus with many focus points

Early reviews say the autofocus works fast, whether in stills or movie mode, as well as with adapted EF lenses. This is good news.

Here is the 4 lenses lineup:

  • RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro (CAD 650)
  • RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM (CAD 1,450)
  • RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM (CAD 3,000)
  • RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM (CAD 3,900), it is huge and fast.

Only the two cheapest one have IS.

Now the EF to RF adapters. Plural as there are three. There is the basic one for CAD 130 that just connect the lens, a second one that for CAD 260 provides the control ring that EF lenses are missing, and a third one that provide drop in filters (but no control ring) for much more money depending whether it is a ND filter or a circular polarizer. This is an essential part to convince Canon DSLR users that the don’t lose their heavy investment in lenses.

What is the control ring? It is an extra ring on RF lenses that can be mapped on the camera to perform a specific function. You can use it to change the aperture, the ISO, the shutter speed or other things. And this is the same ring that one of the EF adapter provides so that you have the functionality with EF lenses.

Hit

  • Flip out screen
  • Mic and headphone jack
  • EF adapter
  • Initial lenses appear to be high quality
  • Optional control ring EF adapter
  • The RF 28-70mm L f/2 lens, is that the fastest zoom lens ever?

Miss

  • 4K is x1.7 crop
  • 120 fps is 720p only (they call it HD just to confuse people, while 1080p is FullHD)
  • Battery life
  • No in body image stabilisation
  • Only the 35mm and the kit 24-105mm lenses have IS
  • Limited slow motion to 1080p60
  • One card slot
  • A bit more money than the Nikon or the Sony
  • Initial lens lineup quite pricey

While far from perfect, Canon seems to have released a compelling and capable package. It really feels that they deliberately crippled some features (like the video capabilities) to protect higher end system. With a steep starting price, there is no guarantee that this will have the success they hope given the fierce competition ; with patience it might just become in a few years, the only interchangeable lens camera system sell.

Rumour: Canon full frame mirrorless

Canon Rumors has something about a rumoured Canon full frame mirrorless:

We have now confirmed from a couple of good sources that a full frame mirrorless camera is well into its development cycle, as the camera is being used by select Canon pro photographers.

Petapixel adds:

One of the biggest unanswered questions about Canon’s upcoming camera is whether it will feature a native EF lens mount. Allowing Canon photographers to seamlessly use their entire existing arsenal of Canon lenses would be a huge boon to the camera’s ability to disrupt the market.

I wrote previously whether a SLR mount on mirrorless would make sense?

The answer is a NO.

What I see, if that camera actually exists, is an EF-M mount for full frame, possibly compatible with the actual EF-M downward (full frame on APS-C) but not the other way due to coverage, similarly to the EF-S mount cameras, that can use EF mount lenses. Like for the EOS-M, I also see an adapter available for EF lenses.

Time will tell if that gets to be beyond a rumour. At this time I have no speculation about its specs.

SLR mount for a mirrorless, does it make sense?

There is a lot of chatter lately about Canon and Nikon tardiness in the mirrorless world. On one side, Canon seeked feedback from their user about what they want in a pro mirrorless camera. On the other side, Nikon is announcing a full frame mirrorless camera with a new lens mount dubbed “Z-mount”. In both sides there is one topic that seems to come back into the discussion: the camera should be directly compatible with the SLR mount (EF for Canon, F for Nikon). While it is clearly understandable why users would want that, let’s explain on why it is not a good idea, and why the mount adapter is the best compromise — compromise that Canon made for the EOS-M.

A lens mount is defined by a certain number of attributes ; flange distance is the one that matters here.

The flange distance or register distance is the distance between the lens mount ring on the camera body and the focal plane (the surface of the sensor or the film). It is a fixed dimension for the lens mount.

On an SLR camera, you have the mirror box between the lens and the sensor, defining a minimum flange distance, while a mirrorless doesn’t have the mirror box. This is why in general a mirrorless camera has a much shorter flange distance even with a similar sensor size.

Flange Focal Length (2 types camera)
Flange on a SLR camera (top) and mirrorless camera (bottom). By Shigeru23 (Own work) licensed under GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

For example, Sony E-Mount is 18mm while Sony A-Mount (former Minolta SLR) is 44.5mm, as Canon EF-M is 18mm while Canon EF and EF-S are 44mm. In both cases the flange on SLR mount is more than twice as large as on the mirrorless.

What would a DSLR mount do on a mirrorless system? It would increase the thickness of the body in way that the camera wouldn’t be that much more compact. The real example is Pentax mirrorless Pentax K-01. With a flange distance of 45.46mm for the K-Mount, the camera is bulkier than it should with a thickness (depth) of 59mm. In comparison, the Canon EOS-M100 is 35mm thick (deep) as it uses the EF-M mount, designed for mirrorless.

That’s why using a DSLR mount for a mirrorless system, meant to be more compact, isn’t a good design choice. Offering an adapter that support all the features of their DSLR mount is, on the other hand, the best compromise that a camera maker can do, almost equivalent to the practicality of using native mount, but the advantage of the size: the extra bulk only comes if you need it.

Dear Canon, again

Dear Canon, What Happened To Your Innovation? writes Jason Futrill on PetaPixel.

[…] – since the launch of the Canon 5D Mark II way back in March 2008 it has been extremely hard to be genuinely excited about any new cameras you have released. And here is why: the Canon 5D Mark II is, in my opinion, the last truly “innovative” camera you have developed and released.

I had one specific issue with the 6DMkII before the reviews came around to show it was not just the lack of 4K video. Canon is slow to disrupt itself, which mean that competitors are doing it instead. I also love L glass. Still love my 5DMkII for photography. But recently I have gotten more excited about Fujifilm that has been providing its customers new feature through software, high quality lenses, and not afraid to push the limit for video.

Dear Canon

Dear Canon,

You just announced the 6D MkII to update the aging 6D. Nice. Flip screen, dual pixel AF (which mean fast auto-focus in live view mode including video), you got in with the programme. No 4K video, WHAT?

When you released the 5D MkII in 2009, you put the video mode and led the industry and it was so good that it was used to film major TV features. You improved it and spread it through the whole range of EOS DSLR including the entry level Rebels. The 80D is one of YouTube content producers favourite, with a great auto-focus, the flip screen, while still only 1080p.

I know the 6D MkII is a camera for photographers and is definitely not targeted at those that make a living out if it, no doubt about that. But not differently than the 80D. So why not offering 4K for video? I’m sure you are eager to sell one of these EOS Cinema, or more 5D MkIV or 1D that are so much more expensive, but people might actually go with the similarly priced Sony, that has adapters for EF lenses and do 4K. You should disrupt yourself, otherwise you will be disrupted. You could have a very attractive camera for video creators that can’t really or don’t really need an EOS Cinema.

Also let’s talk about the EOS-M or the G series (the G7X MkII in particular), I really hope you next iteration will have 4K. Even Nikon has a 4K compact camera in the same range of the G7X MkII, for less money. Sony has the RX100M5. Even the M4 and its problem did 4K.

And I’ll be honest, had you put 4K on the 6D MkII, you’d have my pre-order right here. Instead maybe I’ll stick to Fuji X series.

DIY waist level shooter

Turn a point and shoot to a waist level camera.

Interesting DIY idea, including the use of the PowerShot N that is currently dirt cheap to do that (~130USD$ on B&H) that seem to have been meant to be used like that.

As for the usefulness, I can tell that the way you hold your camera will change the way you see through it – this is why I have totally different results when using my TLR. This is almost like freestyle shooting. And it might bring in question from people – I have had people asking about my TLR when shooting – kind of a conversation starter.