Is the Canon EOS R Still a Good Camera? It’s a Pleasant Surprise!

It was Labor Day weekend of 2021. I, a small business owner and entrepreneur, couldn’t turn off the work mode: a fault many of us share. So for a little while, I took the Canon EOS R and Canon EOS R5 to the waterfront to do a bit of testing. A few questions rang in my head. Is the Canon EOS R5 really too heavy for a photo walk? Is the Canon EOS R even a good camera anymore? After all, the Canon EOS R is more or less a pivot from the Canon 5D Mk IV. It’s got the same sensor, far superior autofocus, the same build quality, but not all of the same ergonomic pleasantries. And when I bought mine years ago, I truly liked it.

My job, of course, requires me to use a variety of cameras. So there are times where I’ll go months without touching a single Canon product. On this photo walk, I made some conclusions to myself.

I should preface this by saying that I didn’t come to these conclusions over a single photo walk. No, it’s been something I’ve debated in my head and with friends back and forth. Many have similar feelings about the camera. But overall, the Canon EOS R is still a truly incredible camera. Lots of folks like to inflate the flaws. What are those flaws?

  • Single card slot
  • Rolling shutter issues with electronic shutter
  • It crops the video when you go to 4K video mode
  • No joystick; you have to use a D-pad instead
  • What the heck even is that magic touch bar?
  • No image stabilization. Though if you really know how to shoot, this shouldn’t be a major issue.
  • It’s using an old sensor, which arguably still shoots many award winning images

More so than any other brand, I feel Canon gets a lot of flak. I never hear Sony fanboys complaining about how they constantly need to clean their sensors. There was a time in the past decade that Canon absolutely deserved all the vitriol you could throw at it. But that time is more or less gone. 

So in 2021, what are the strengths of the Canon EOS R that still make it a good camera?

  • Even with big, heavy L-glass, the Canon EOS R’s autofocus runs circles around Nikon, Fujifilm, and the L-Mount alliance.
  • It’s the perfectly balanced R-system camera. It’s small but still gives you everything you really need.
  • The image quality is still just as lovely as it ever was.
  • Access to some of the most innovative lenses on the market
  • Access to fantastic flashes like the Profoto B10 and the Elinchrom One. We literally had a discussion among the staff the other day. All of us shoot regularly, and we all agreed that LEDs still aren’t there.
  • Some of the best weather sealing we’ve tested
  • A truly useful display
  • USB-C charging
  • Professional performance. I’ve used this thing side by side with a Sony a7r III shooting a party, and it outperformed Sony.
  • You’re getting a lot for $1,799

Of course, it’s older. It’s showing its age. The autofocus in the Canon EOS R5 is better and more advanced. What’s more, you can fine-tune the autofocus a lot more in the EOS R5 and EOS R6. But if you’re shooting portraits or photographing people, the Canon EOS R is still one of the best cameras on the market right now. If you need to photograph an event in low-light, then it’s also fantastic. If you just want to photograph a landscape or cityscape, everything you need is right there in the camera. The Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 do all that and more. 

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.