Important Quirks and Features of the Canon EOS R for Cinematography

The Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) is one of the more exciting mirrorless cameras available today, especially when it comes to Canon’s legendary lenses.

Click here to stay updated about new information, workflows and tips about the Canon EOS R.

In this article let’s look at a few important quirks and video features of the Canon EOS R for cinematography.

The Camera Sensor

The Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) is a full frame camera with a 36.0 x 24.0mm sensor, but not in 4K video mode. This is what you get:

  1. 4K (3840×2160) 23.976, 25 and 29.97 fps with a crop factor of 1.8x (depending on how you measure!). This is larger than Micro Four Thirds but smaller than APS-C or Super 35mm.
  2. 1080p 23.976, 25 and 29.97 fps in full frame.

ISO range:

  • 4K: 100-12800
  • 1080p: 100-25600

The EOS R has a new mount, called the Canon RF mount. However, if you have existing EF lenses, you can adapt them via the EF-EOS R adapter. This adapter supports everything:

  • IS (image stabilization) operation,
  • Dual Pixel AF,
  • 1.4x and 2x teleconverters,
  • Retains dust and moisture resistance.

The EF-EOS R adapter is also compatible with some 3rd party lenses from Sigma and Tamron. Finally, there’s a version of the adapter that allows you to use drop-in filters so you don’t have to buy filters of multiple sizes. More information in the article on lenses for the EOS R.

Ergonomics

The Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) is dust and moisture sealed (weather resistant) with a magnesium alloy body. Currently 6 RF lenses are weather sealed. The exceptions are the RF 35mm f1.8 Macro & 24-240mm.

The cool feature of this camera that the Nikon Z6 or Sony a7III lacks is a full articulating flip LCD screen. Whenever you need to get down low, or if you need to monitor video while the camera is up against a wall (which happens in small rooms all the time!) this is a godsend.

Canon has also not tried to make the camera as small as possible, so it’s way better to hold than say, an a7III, for long periods.

There is a dedicated record button and two mode dials for shutter and aperture.

Unfortunately there is no direct ISO control, which is a shame. Both Sony and Panasonic have a third dial that can be used to control ISO directly, and the Nikon Z6 has a dedicated ISO button. The problem here is, unlike photography, for video the shutter and aperture (for cinema work; for run-and-gun work people change aperture all the time) is usually fixed, and the ISO is the variable that gets changed the most. If you’re using RF lenses, you can change ISO using the control ring (see below).

There is no dedicated switch to switch between photo/video mode. You have to hit the Mode button, then Info, then select Video. And the same in reverse to switch back! Every other camera in this class has a quick way to switch. However, if you’re only shooting video, this isn’t a big deal. I fall in the latter category, so it won’t affect my work.

Then there’s the touchpad. Let’s face it, it’s not especially useful. Canon has removed the joystick, which irked a lot of photographers. For video shooting though, it’s not a big deal.

Finally, there are enough customizable buttons to get everything important at your fingertips. So on the whole, I think the camera is fine ergonomically. And Canon menus have always been one of the better ones.

Media Card

There is only one SD Card slot. It supports both UHS-1 and UHS-II class cards, though you might want to get UHS-II cards. For recommendations on cards, check out the important video accessories for the Canon EOS R.

Is a single card slot a problem? For many years people used cameras with only one card slot. Even now on high-end cinema work, the Alexa or Red Monstro still use just one card slot.

I understand there are many people who would sleep better at night knowing they have a second card slot as a backup, especially for weddings and full day corporate events. There simply isn’t enough time to transfer data, format cards or use a laptop. In this case dual card slots are a worthwhile peace of mind.

From a cinema or filmmaking standpoint, this isn’t a deal-breaker for me.

Battery life

The Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) can up to 4 hours on a charge. That’s super impressive, and way above the current mirrorless average of about 90 minutes.

Video Specs and Features

Here are some important things you need to know about video on the Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H):

  • In 4K there is a crop factor of 1.8x. E.g., a 35mm lens on full frame becomes a 63mm lens as far as angle of view is concerned.
  • There is a log mode, called C-log. This gives you the maximum dynamic range for video. Internally, the colors are just 8-bit 4:2:0. To get the full benefit and color fidelity, you need to use an external recorder to get 10-bit 4:2:2. Either way, this camera pairs well with a Canon C300 Mark II as a B-cam.
  • The camera has a mini HDMI (Type C) port. An HDMI cable is not included with the camera, so you might want to purchase one separately.
  • There is a recording time limit of 30 minutes in all modes.
  • A 4K timelapse features is built-in.
  • You can quickly take 4K images through the 4K Frame Capture features. These are 8.3 MP JPEG images.
  • Digital image stabilization is available in two levels: Enabled and Enhanced. Also includes Combination IS for operation in tandem with IS lenses (crops when Enabled and further with Enhanced). I don’t recommend usage of this feature. It’s much better to stabilize video in post.

Here are the data rates you get with the EOS R in 4K:

Frame RatesCodec (H.264)Recording Time (128 GB Card)Data Rate
29.97/24/23.98 fpsALL-I35 minutes480 Mbps
29.97/24/23.98 fpsIPB2 hours 21 minutes120 Mbps

In 1080p (1920 x 1080):

Frame RatesCodec (H.264)Recording Time (128 GB Card)Data Rate
29.97/24/23.98 fpsALL-I3 hours 6 minutes90 Mbps
29.97/24/23.98 fpsIPB23 hours 11 minutes12 Mbps
50/59.94 fpsIPB4 hours 43 minutes60 Mbps

Which is the best codec to record video on the Canon EOS R?

  • If you want the best image quality internally, record to ALL-I in 480 Mbps. This is 8-bit 4:2:0.
  • For even better quality, record to an external recorder like an Atomos Shogun for 10-bit 4:2:2 in C-Log.

Autofocus and manual focus for video

This is one aspect where Canon is way ahead of its competitors. For many years now the dual pixel AF technology has delivered the best results for video.

The Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) is probably better if you use it with RF lenses.

For manual focus users, there’s focus peaking and a focus magnifier to help you nail focus.

One of the coolest new additions to this family is actually on the lens. RF lenses include a new ring that can have functions like ISO or aperture assigned to them. You can also change the focus ring to be fully responsive (instead of focus-by-wire). From Canon:

RF lenses allow users to change the rotation direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise) of the focus ring and control ring to match their preferences. Besides, the focus ring rotational sensitivity during manual focusing can also be customized. By default, it is set to “Varies with rotation speed”. Sensitivity of the focus ring will depend on the speed at which the ring is turned, the focus will change by a greater degree when the ring is turned faster; while slower rotation allows fine focus adjustments. Another option “Linked to rotation degree” is also available in which the focusing distance will be directly proportional to the rotation degree, regardless of the rotation speed. This option can provide the same control characteristic and sensation similar to cinema lenses.

Source: Canon

Things the EOS R lacks in comparison to the competition

First up, no IBIS (in-body image stabilization), though if you use Canon lenses they have image stabilization. This is only a negative if you’re using third-party lenses that don’t have image stabilization. In that case you might want to get a gimbal to get consistent stable videos.

There are no Zebras to check overexposure on the viewfinder.

Slow motion video is only available in 720p. Who shoots 720p for any serious work nowadays? The maximum you get in 1080p is 60p. Those who want to shoot slow motion music videos should probably look elsewhere, though 60p is still decent for some stuff like weddings, etc. But only if you stick to 1080p. In 4K, forget it.

The Rolling shutter performance is nothing to write home about, especially when compared to other cameras.

For me, the Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) should make a lot of existing Canon users happy – which is, I believe, the primary audience for this camera.

It’s not for those looking to buy into a new system. In that case you might want to look at the Sony a7 III, the Panasonic GH5/GH5S, and so on. But if you’re a Canon user with Canon lenses, this camera is a great next step, even with video.

For me, the most thrilling aspect of the Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) is the selection of new RF Lenses, which is what we’ll look at in the next article.

What do you think? Is the EOS R a serious option for your video work?

Click here to stay updated about new information, workflows and tips about the Canon EOS R.

2 replies on “Important Quirks and Features of the Canon EOS R for Cinematography”

  1. Many thanks for all your work and your honesty – one of the main reasons I watch your videos and read you blog. I like the EOS R, but want a new system and that 30 min. limit kills it for me as a video event camera. Thanks again for your insights.

Comments are closed.