The Canon EOS R is Canon’s debut in the full-frame mirrorless arena. It’s got outstanding image quality that’s so good, you can essentially consider it a mini-5D4. It feels right at home performance-wise among fellow full-frame mirrorless systems like the Nikon Z7, Sony a7R III, and Panasonic S1. What sets the Canon EOS R apart from the competition is the stunning ambient light custom white balance video color produced in-camera. Even at depths up to 70 feet, the Canon EOS R produces video color that requires little to no correction in post - a spectacular feat for any camera. However, these results don’t come without some compromise in the control set, operation, and execution. Canon,EOS,R,EOS R,EOS-R,Underwater,Camera,Photo,Video,Housing,Review
Canon EOS R Underwater Camera Review
Take a look at the gorgeous color produced by the Canon EOS R in full 4K resolution with our underwater test footage.The Canon EOS R packs such great image quality that we call it the “Mini-5D Mark IV”Canon EOS R | Canon 8-15mm Lens | 1/125 | ISO 200 | ƒ9 The Canon EOS R is Canon’s debut in the full-frame mirrorless arena. It’s got outstanding image quality that’s so good, you can essentially consider it a mini-5D4. It feels right at home performance-wise among fellow full-frame mirrorless systems like the Nikon Z7, Sony a7R III, and Panasonic S1. What sets the Canon EOS R apart from the competition is the stunning ambient light custom white balance video color produced in-camera. Even at depths up to 70 feet, the Canon EOS R produces video color that requires little to no correction in post - a spectacular feat for any camera. However, these results don’t come without some compromise in the control set, operation, and execution. Read on for a full breakdown of the essential underwater details of the Canon EOS R. STILL PHOTOS ON PAR WITH 5D MARK IV The image quality of the Canon EOS R confidently stacks up against it’s SLR bigger brother, the Canon 5D IV. One would have to get down to an extreme pixel-peeping level of detail to eek out any major difference. The Canon EOS R's 30.3 megapixel image is rich in color and has detail just as sharp as the Canon 5D IV. Colors are vivid and packed with enough natural color saturation and contrast to please the eye straight-out-of-camera. The dynamic range stands out with plenty of detail in the shadows and highlights. Shooting in RAW provides plenty of range for development allowing post-dive creativity to flourish. The dynamic range of the Canon EOS R is demonstrated well in this sunball shot, with sharp detail in the darkest shadows and brightest highlights.Canon EOS R | Canon 8-15mm Lens | 1/125 | ISO 200 | ƒ8 Even though the Canon EOS R provides a level of image detail equal to the Canon 5D IV, there are other full-frame mirrorless cameras that pack a higher megapixel count and wider dynamic range. Users looking for the ultimate in still image quality should also look at the Sony a7R III and Nikon Z7 for their 40+ megapixel resolution, better low light performance, and wider dynamic range. The Panasonic S1 with 24-megapixel resolution ranks just after the Canon EOS R at 30.3 megapixels. Our wide angle images were shot with the Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter and the Canon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens. This combination allowed the use of our favorite EF mount lens for superior underwater wide angle coverage. Whether shooting with only ambient light or with strobes, the colors, contrast, and clarity produced by the Canon EOS R all scored high marks. The Canon 8-15mm ƒ4L Fisheye Lens allows for an ultra-close working distance to large subjects, providing the best color, contrast, and clarity in wide angle scenes. Canon EOS R | Canon 8-15mm Lens | 1/200 | ISO 200 | ƒ11 Our macro images were shot using the Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter and the Canon 100mm IS ƒ2.8L Macro USM Lens, along with an externally mounted Nauticam SMC-1 67mm Super Macro Converter Lens. This produced a greater than 1:1 ratio of subject-to-sensor allowing us to get some insane detail on even the tiniest subjects. The Canon 100mm IS ƒ2.8L Macro USM Lens allows for the capture of tiny subjects in stunning detail. Canon EOS R | Canon 100mm IS Lens | 1/200 | ISO 100 | ƒ22SNAPPY AUTOFOCUS IN WIDE ANGLE, MACRO, AND EVEN SUPER MACRO The autofocus performance of the Canon EOS R is one of its key strengths. Whether shooting wide angle, macro, or the notoriously AF-challenging super macro, the Canon EOS R exceeded our expectations. There was no noticeable performance decline between the Canon EOS R and Canon SLRs, like the Canon 5D IV. Wide angle autofocus performance was second to none on the Canon EOS R, allowing for tack-sharp images of even fast-moving and unpredictable subjects.Canon EOS R | Canon 8-15mm Lens | 1/200 | ISO 200 | ƒ8 The Canon EOS R is our top pick for ultimate autofocus performance among the current pack of full-frame mirrorless cameras. The Sony a7R III has great wide angle speed and tracking, but is flat-out horrible at macro autofocus and is practically unusable for super macro autofocus, forcing the shooter to rely solely on manual focus. The Nikon Z7 was just okay in both arenas, but not outstanding. The Panasonic S1 relies on an adapter to use Canon EF-mount lenses, which can only currently be shot in AF-S mode. The Canon EOS R was the only full-frame mirrorless to excel in both wide angle and greater than 1:1 super macro autofocus, earning it the top spot in that department. In extremely challenging super macro autofocus scenarios the Canon EOS R outperformed the competition.Canon EOS R | Canon 100mm IS Lens |1/200 | ISO 100 | ƒ22 Another advantage that the Canon EOS R brings to the table in the focus arena is the Focus Peaking feature. Focus Peaking outlines the sharpest part of your frame in a designated color in the electronic image. This is very helpful if you have a hard time determining critical focus with just your eyes, and is a major advantage for getting that tack-sharp detail in super macro shots. Optical SLR viewfinders cannot display focus peaking like a mirrorless camera viewfinder can, so macro enthusiasts especially should take note of this benefit on the Canon EOS R. This blenny was captured with the Laowa 24mm Macro Probe Lens, a manual focus only lens. Thanks to the Focus Peaking of the Canon EOS R we could easily dial in the shot for the correct critical focus point with confidence. Canon EOS R | Laowa 24mm Macro Probe Lens | 1/60 | ISO 1600 | ƒ40ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDERS - A MIRRORLESS COMPROMISE One of the biggest things to consider when looking at mirrorless cameras is the Electronic Viewfinder. The lack of an optical prism and mirror within the camera body is the defining difference between Mirrorless and SLR cameras. The problem is that most electronic viewfinders don’t come close to the dynamic range that an optical viewfinder can display. This leaves underwater photographers to struggle when composing backlit shots because the underexposed foreground is shadowed or silhouetted, and the background is blown out and overexposed, making it difficult to see detail in either area. Backlit wide angle scenes such as this are often difficult to compose on an electronic viewfinder, but the Canon EOS R was able to display sufficient dynamic range for the shooter to properly compose it.Canon EOS R | Canon 8-15mm Lens | 1/1200 | ISO 100 | ƒ9 The electronic viewfinder on the Canon EOS R is certainly better than average among mirrorless cameras but isn’t quite the best that we’ve seen. That accolade has to go to the Nikon Z7, which truly surprised us with the dynamic range it was capable of displaying. The Canon EOS R takes second place overall, with the Panasonic S1 and Sony a7R III sitting just behind. A SMALLER BODY MEANS FEWER BUTTONS & MORE WORKAROUNDS One of the most appealing benefits of a mirrorless camera is the overall smaller body size compared to optical SLRs. While there are the obvious benefits of reduced weight and a smaller body to pack, it also means that there is less space on the camera body for dedicated-function buttons. On the Canon EOS R, this produces some quirks that the underwater photographer needs to be aware of. A smaller camera body means less room for dedicated function buttons, so compromises must be made. The Canon EOS R does not have a dedicated ISO control button. Instead, there is an innovative ‘swipe’ bar on the back of the camera. While it may look cool and impress other camera operators topside, it’s a difficult control to adapt in an underwater housing. At the time of this review, no housings supported operation of this ‘swipe’ control. This can lead to a convoluted process of setting the ISO via one of two workarounds: either from the Quick Menu and LCD screen or by assigning a custom function button (we used M-Fn) that must remain depressed while simultaneously scrolling a control wheel. Both of these workarounds were cumbersome and time consuming to use underwater when the action got fast. Fortunately, there was a third option available: The Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter. The Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter creates a third control dial which can be assigned to ISO control. The Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter differs from the Canon EOS Mount Adapter by adding an integrated control ring to the adapter itself. This control ring can be conveniently assigned to ISO control, negating the drawback of losing a dedicated button on the camera body itself. More than just eliminating a workaround, this control ring provides the ‘holy trinity’ of triple dials dedicated to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Fortunately, the Nauticam NA-R housing provides a control on the housing to interface directly with this gear, providing in-water access to it. We have not yet seen other housings implement this feature yet. With the Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter, your days of wishing for an otherwise nonexistent dedicated instant ISO dial are gone forever. One detail of the controls and operation that we enjoyed was the separation of settings for both Photo and Video modes. The user is able to retain their exposure settings relative to each mode, so when quickly swapping back and forth there is less time spent dialing in the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance. THE BEST IN-CAMERA VIDEO COLOR, BUT NOT THE EASIEST EXECUTION In the underwater video world the term “Canon Color” is a real thing. Historically, Canon cameras have produced the best in-camera ambient light custom white balance color even at depths past 50 feet, and the Canon EOS R is no exception. Our test footage yielded near-perfect color down to depths of about 70 feet. This is unparalleled performance among not only the current pack of full-frame mirrorless cameras but most current SLRs as well. In this screenshot from our underwater test footage we can see the perfect color captured with a manual white balance at a depth of about 45-feet/14-meters. As great as the color performance of the camera may be, there is a major caveat to be aware of. The process to actually execute and assign a custom white balance requires some of the most control activations out of any camera that we are currently shooting underwater. This stems from the lack of a Photo-Video Mode Switch on the camera. Typically, Canon cameras require a still photo be captured to assign a white balance. Most Canon cameras and housings offer a physical Video-Photo toggle that is activated from the outside of the housing. Even at depths of 70-feet/21-meters, the camera produces rich blues and properly balanced neutral tones as seen here in this screenshot from our test footage. The Canon EOS R requires activation of the Mode Button, then the Info Button to toggle between the various photo or video modes. This minor difference isn’t a deal breaker on its own, but it does become somewhat of an inconvenience for frequent white balance changes (which are needed every ~10 feet in depth). The user cannot capture a photo while in video mode and also cannot record video while in photo mode, so for every new white balance, the user must switch back and forth between the two modes every time. The steps to execute a custom white balance on the Canon EOS R are as follows: 1) Select Photo Mode 2) Adjust your exposure to zero the meter 3) Capture photo of intended white balance target 4) Assign that photo to Custom White Balance (Menu -> Custom White Balance -> Set) 5) Hold Mode and hit Info to bring up Video Modes 6) Select Video Mode 7) Set White Balance to Custom 8) Check exposure settings and record 9) Repeat steps 1-8 every 10 feet or as needed for new white balance The Canon EOS R only has one custom white balance bank, so the user cannot store multiple white balances for different depths or lighting situations. If the shooter is willing to commit to the somewhat cumbersome process outlined above, the payoff will be the best in-camera underwater ambient light white balance capable from a current mirrorless or SLR system. A bit of good news is that when shooting with video lights, it’s practical to just utilize the Auto White Balance setting and your color will look just fine. 1.7X CROP IN VIDEO - USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE The Canon EOS R utilizes a fairly heavy 1.7x crop when shooting 4K video. While this is using a significantly reduced area of the sensor it is not that much of a detriment, especially if you choose your optics to make the most out of it. The Backscatter go-to lens for wide angle is the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, which is typically only shot at 8mm or 15mm (nothing in between) due to the otherwise partial vignetting that occurs on a full frame sensor. On a 1.7x crop sensor area, this lens can be used around 9-10mm for a 180-degree diagonal angle of coverage, and may then be zoomed up to 15mm for even tighter shots. This is actually pretty cool for wide angle video shooters because it allows for more versatility out of an otherwise fairly single-purpose lens. The 1.7x crop can be used to your advantage when shooting 4K video by allowing you to get tighter shots without having to get quite as close to skittish subjects. When shooting macro video, the 1.7x crop increases the reproduction ratio of the subject while also maintaining a manageable depth of field. This is a win-win for macro shooters because you can get a tighter shot without reducing an already paper-thin depth of field even when your aperture value is maxed out, and you have more working distance to avoid spooking skittish critters. The flip side is that larger macro subjects can be more difficult to fit into the frame, so a less powerful lens like the Canon 50mm Macro ƒ2.5 lens may be a better choice than the Canon 100mm IS Lens. EOS R VS. 5D MARK IV - THE MIRRORLESS VS SLR DEBATE Body for body, the Canon EOS R is going to save some weight compared to the Canon 5D IV, but by the time the system is fully assembled in an underwater housing, the overall size difference is basically negligible. The lack of an optical viewfinder and lack of a dedicated photo-video switch are the most notable differences between the two systems once they are in-hand and ready to shoot underwater. Autofocus performance side-by-side between these two cameras is so similar that there is effectively no discernible difference. Size comparison between the Canon EOS R & Canon 5D IV Cameras. Underwater shooters with a primary interest in capturing video will find that the Focus Peaking and Highlight Warning tools on the Canon EOS R give a distinct in-camera usability advantage over the Canon 5D IV which does not have these features. The process of capturing a white balance on the Canon EOS R is more complicated than on the Canon 5D IV, and some may find that the extra steps required are enough to negate the additional advantages of the Focus Peaking and Highlight Warnings. The additional control ring that can be added with the Canon EOS Control Ring Mount Adapter is, frankly, pretty awesome. Having a triple-control-dial system for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO control is super practical and is a distinct advantage towards the Canon EOS R (as long as used in a housing that supports it, such as the Nauticam NA-R). If your priority is a smaller-bodied camera without compromising image quality, then the Canon EOS R is the way to go. If underwater wide angle is your priority, then the optical viewfinder of the Canon 5D IV makes it a better choice given its ability to more easily see the scene and compose accordingly. For wide angle photo composition, nothing beats an optical viewfinder and the dynamic range of the human eye. Macro enthusiasts will feel the benefit of the Canon EOS R's Focus Peaking, especially if you can’t see critical focus very well with just the naked eye. If video is the main priority, then the pro/con lines are not as clearly drawn. The drawbacks of the electronic viewfinder are no longer as relevant since either system will likely be working from the LCD screen. In fact, the electronic viewfinder of the Canon EOS R creates an advantage when shooting macro video, because you have an in-viewfinder Focus Peaking option. Add on a 45 degree expanded viewfinder and you have a great macro system that allows you to keep your face out of the sand. The Canon 5D IV would require an external monitor to achieve the same Focus Peaking. The Canon EOS R has in body image stabilization, but the Canon 5D IV fewer button activations for custom white balance. As a video shooter, if one can reconcile themselves with the cumbersome white balance execution, the Canon EOS R does offer more tools and is a superior system for video when compared to the Canon 5D IV. CANON EOS-R, NIKON Z7, SONY A7R III, PANASONIC S1 - WHICH FULL FRAME MIRRORLESS IS RIGHT FOR YOU? If comparing the most similar current full frame mirrorless cameras, the choice really boils down to whether the system is going to be used primarily for video or photo. When ultimate still image quality is on the line, the Nikon Z7 is our camera of choice. The extra dynamic range and super fine image details captured by the Nikon Z7 are just enough to tip the scales in its favor. The electronic viewfinder of the Nikon Z7 is the best that we’ve seen yet and is the closest to reproducing what an optical viewfinder is capable of displaying. While the Nikon Z7 autofocus performance may not be as fast and accurate as the Canon EOS R, these can be worked around and overcome. In order from smallest to largest - Sony a7R III, Canon EOS R, Nikon Z7, and Panasonic S1 Video shooters should lean toward the Canon EOS R for the best ambient light custom white balance color results but must be aware of the process to achieve them. The great color plus the expanded versatility of the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens thanks to the 1.7x crop in 4K gives a serious video advantage to the Canon EOS R. The video shooter that wants an easier-to-execute white balance should take a hard look at the Panasonic S1. While the custom white balance color is not quite at the same level as produced by the Canon EOS R, it is close enough to correct with one click in post and also offers 4 custom white balance banks to store multiple color settings. The Panasonic S1 also offers 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, double that of the Canon EOS R, which allows for much more latitude in post for creative slow-motion edits. CONCLUSIONS - WHO IS THE CANON EOS R FOR? The Canon EOS R fills a specific role among a prestigious pack of current full frame mirrorless cameras. When it comes to the absolute best of the best for in-camera video color, one need look no further. The price that the shooter pays for that color can be perceived as anything from a minor annoyance up to a full-blown deal breaker in the custom white balance execution procedure. When shopping for a camera, the Canon EOS R should be compared most directly against the Canon 5D IV and the Nikon Z7. Those looking for the ultimate still shooter may be better served by the optical viewfinder of the Canon 5D IV or the slightly superior image quality of the Nikon Z7. If you can live with the process of assigning a manual white balance, then the video color results that the Canon EOS R produces will be worth your patience. The footage straight out of the camera will require little to no color grading in post and is among the most natural and appealing produced by any current camera that we are shooting underwater. To do rear curtain sync you need a TTL-connected flash or TTL converter even if shooting in manual flash.Canon EOS R | Canon 8-15mm Lens | 1/5 | ISO 200 | ƒ22ProsImage quality on par with Canon 5D IVFast and accurate autofocus, even in super macro3 direct control dials for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO (*Nauticam NA-R housing only)Best ambient light custom white balance color among current camerasSeparate settings for photo and video1.7x crop in 4K video adds wide angle versatility and macro advantageConsImage quality slightly behind Nikon Z7 and Sony a7R IIIElectronic viewfinder still not as good as opticalLack of ISO button leads to workarounds or use of an adapterNo video/photo mode switch makes changing modes a painfully long processWhite balance execution procedure is more complicated than other camerasWhy buy direct from Backscatter?Free lifetime tech support with every purchase. We will beat any advertised price. Free shipping to USA and Canada and low-cost international shipping. Canon EOS R Camera $1,799.00CHECK CURRENT PRICINGAvailable HousingsIkelite EOS R HousingCHECK CURRENT PRICINGNauticam NA-R HousingCHECK CURRENT PRICING Sea & SeaMDX-R HousingCHECK CURRENT PRICINGSubal EOS R HousingCHECK CURRENT PRICING
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