Since unveiling its Canon EOS R camera and launching a new full-frame mirrorless camera system in the fall of 2018, Canon has released a steady stream of new cameras and RF lenses. However, they’ve all been full-frame cameras, leaving photographers looking for an APS-C camera to stick with DSLR systems or the Canon EOS M system.
The latter option, while capable, doesn’t completely scratch the itch for enthusiasts. And the former no longer receives any attention from Canon; the focus has been solely on the EOS R system for a few years now.
But good things come to those who wait, and Canon just announced its first EOS R APS-C camera. In fact, for good measure, Canon announced two of them tonight, the Canon EOS R7 and the Canon EOS R10. I recently had some hands-on time shooting with both the R7 and R10 before tonight’s launch and below are my thoughts and impressions on the two new APS-C mirrorless cameras along with images I captured with them.
The Canon EOS R7 and R10 are similar in a few ways, including their autofocus systems, but they’re aimed at different target users. Thanks to my time with the R7 and R10 ahead of tonight’s announcement, I was able to test each camera’s strengths and weaknesses in different situations. Let’s look at each camera, starting with the more powerful EOS R7.
Hands-on with the Canon EOS R7
Canon EOS R7 Key Specs
- All-new 32.5-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor
- DIGIC X processor
- Continuous shooting at up to 15 frames per second (mechanical shutter) and 30 fps (electronic shutter)
- Similar autofocus system as the Canon EOS R3
- AI-powered subject detection autofocus
- In-body image stabilization
- 4K/60p video oversampled from 7K
- Canon Log 3
- Dust- and moisture-resistant construction
- Dual UHS-II card slots
- W x H x D: 132 x 90.4 x 91.7mm
- Weighs 612g
- $1,499 body only
Of the two new APS-C cameras, Canon describes the EOS R7 as its “high-end” APS-C model. As soon as I picked up the R7, it was clear that this camera is designed for EOS 90D and 7D Mark II owners rather than EOS M-series users. Compared to the R10, the R7 is larger, heavier and includes better physical controls.
Canon EOS R7 Design and Usability
The EOS R7 feels excellent in hand thanks to its larger grip. The R7 is reminiscent of Canon’s popular 7D Mark II in overall shape and size. While the move to mirrorless affords Canon the ability to make its cameras lighter – the EOS R7 weighs 612 grams with its LP-E6NH battery and an SD card inserted – the R7 maintains the somewhat larger size that makes a camera more pleasant to use, especially with longer lenses.
Speaking of longer lenses, APS-C makes these shine thanks to its 1.6x crop factor. The crop factor delivers additional reach and works well for photographing wildlife and sports. I spent a lot of time using the R7 with the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens, which offers the same field of view as a 160-800mm lens on a full-frame camera. Further, the relatively large lens balanced nicely on the R7’s heftier body. There was enough space between the grip and the lens barrel for my fingers, which was not the case with the smaller R10 body.
The Canon EOS R7’s autofocus impresses thanks to AI-powered subject detection
When photographing wildlife using the 100-500mm telephoto zoom lens, the R7’s autofocus system excelled. While we await full specs from Canon, the core autofocus system in the R7 and R10 is borrowed from Canon’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R3. However, the R3 has a stacked sensor and top-of-the-line processing, so the R3 still promises superior autofocus compared to the R7 and R10. With that said, the R7 uses the same AI system as the R3, promising subject detection autofocus for people, animals and vehicles. You still need to manually select the subject you want to be detected, but this is relatively straightforward and is accessible in the camera’s customizable Quick Menu.
The “animal” detection mode worked very well when photographing waterbirds. No matter where the bird was in the frame, the R7 did a good job picking up the subject and, in most cases, zeroing in on the eye. Even when an eye took up a small part of the frame, the camera was able to pick it up. When multiple birds were in the frame, the camera reliably selected the “right” one. For additional control, the customizable flexible zone AF area mode works well to zero in which part of the frame you want the camera to focus on. You can change the size of the flexible zone across the X and Y axes and save three total custom flexible zones. I used this feature extensively when photographing birds and people.
Canon EOS R7 Image Quality
I mentioned that the R3 still promises better AF due to its stacked image sensor and superior processing. Let’s talk about the R7’s image sensor. The R7 features an all-new 32.5-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor. It’s not backside-illuminated or stacked, but it is still completely new and different from the 32.5MP APS-C sensor found in the Canon EOS M6 Mark II and EOS 90D cameras. The image sensor delivers impressive image quality, tonality and dynamic range. The R7 provides impressive detail, even at higher ISO settings.
Up to 15 frames per second with the mechanical shutter and 30 fps with the silent electronic shutter
Another area where the R7 performs exceptionally well is concerning its continuous shooting speed. The camera can shoot at up to 15 frames per second when using the mechanical shutter, which is extremely impressive and rivals Canon’s flagship cameras. The R7 tops out at 30 frames per second when using its electronic shutter.
However, there’s a caveat here. As mentioned, the R7 and R10 don’t utilize a stacked image sensor, so the cameras have an issue with rolling shutter distortion when using the electronic shutter. You can see this in full effect in the R10 section below. If you want to avoid rolling shutter altogether, sticking with the mechanical shutter will still deliver plenty of speed for most situations.
Portraits with the R7
We know the autofocus system works well with wildlife, but what about people? Unsurprisingly, the R7 continues to impress. Even when the portrait subject turned their head or briefly left the frame, the R7 was able to quickly swap between head-detection and eye-detection and pick the subject back up as soon as they re-entered the frame.
I exclusively used the RF 85mm F1.2 when photographing portraits, so the camera had minimal room for error given the lens’s extremely narrow depth of field. The R7’s continuous autofocus performed well, delivering good speed and responsive behavior.
4K/60p video with 7K Oversampling
As for video specs, the EOS R7 delivers full-width 4K/60p video, which is oversampled from 7K resolution. The camera promises unlimited recording time, with the user limited only be temperature, battery life and storage. Concerning temperature, there is a new early warning system for when the camera is beginning to overheat. Canon promises nearly an hour of continuous 4K shooting in typical conditions before the camera gets too warm. The R7 also includes an HDR PQ movie mode, where the “PQ” stands for perceptual quantization.
Canon EOS R7 versus the R10
Before diving into an overview of the Canon EOS R10, I want to highlight what separates the R7 from the R10 and illustrate what makes the R7 Canon’s best option for high-end APS-C photography. While the R7 and R10 share an autofocus system – an impressive one, at that – the R7 delivers better performance in many other areas.
The R7’s body is larger, robust, and has better physical controls, including a larger joystick with a surrounding control dial. There’s a dedicated ISO button on the top of the R7, something lacking on the R10. The R10’s smaller, lighter body includes fewer controls across the board. While its size can be an advantage for some users, in my opinion, the R10 is the inferior option when it comes to usability. I prefer more physical controls and a larger grip.
The R7 incorporates a pair of UHS-II SD card slots, whereas the R7 has a single UHS-II slot located within its battery compartment. The R7 uses a larger LP-E6NH battery, which is the same battery used in the EOS R5 and R6. The R10 instead uses a small LP-E17 battery because there’s simply no room for the larger E6NH. While we don’t have precise battery life specs yet, the R7’s larger battery promises superior performance.
The R7 also includes better weather resistance, which Canon says is the same durability as the 90D. The camera includes in-body image stabilization (IBIS), a key feature lacking from the R10. The R7 also includes an interesting trick up its sleeve. It can automatically level its sensor when it’s slightly off-kilter. This isn’t a cropping feature; the sensor physically rotates a small amount. Both the R7 and R10 include an electronic level, by the way.
For wildlife photography, when you never know what the weather will be like, and you often use longer lenses handheld, the better weather sealing and included IBIS make the R7 a compelling choice. I’ve long been a big fan of the APS-C format for wildlife because the smaller sensor’s crop factor allows for even more reach with telephoto lenses, and the R7 is no exception. With its sophisticated, modern autofocus system and impressive image quality, the R7 is an enjoyable camera for wildlife photography.
Canon’s new EOS R7 camera makes a strong first impression and doesn’t break the bank
While the EOS R7 doesn’t offer the incredible performance of the R3 and its stacked sensor, the R7 nonetheless scratches an itch that Canon’s other EOS R-series cameras haven’t by combining an excellent APS-C sensor with intelligent autofocus, fast performance and impressive usability. The Canon R7 achieves all this at a reasonable price point of $1,499 body only, and $1,899 in a kit with Canon’s new RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM lens. I’ll talk more about this new RF-S lens in a bit. Canon expects the EOS R7 to be available sometime next month, although precise release information isn’t yet available.
Hands-on with the Canon EOS R10
Canon EOS R10 Key Specs
- All-new 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor
- DIGIC X processor
- Continuous shooting at up to 15 frames per second (mechanical shutter) and 23 fps (electronic shutter)
- Similar autofocus system as the Canon EOS R3
- AI-powered subject detection autofocus
- 4K/30p video oversampled from 6K
- Single UHS-II SD card slot
- W x H x D: 122.5 x 87.8 x 83 mm
- Weighs 429g (with battery and memory card)
- $980 body only (also available in kits with either of the new RF-S zoom lenses)
What if you instead want a very compact EOS R-series camera at an even lower price? Enter the Canon EOS R10, Canon’s new “standard” APS-C model. The R10 isn’t as exciting for demanding photographers, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its place in the Canon EOS R ecosystem.
The R10 features an all-new 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor – again, not stacked or backside-illuminated – and a very compact, lightweight form factor. The camera weighs only 429g with a battery and memory card, making it roughly the same weight as the Canon EOS M6 Mark II. The M6 II comparison is an apt one, as Canon told us that the target audience for the new R10 is the same as its existing top-end M-series camera. By the way, despite recent rumblings suggesting otherwise, Canon isn’t discontinuing the M6 Mark II.
The EOS R10 is very compact, for better or worse
Ultimately, the R10’s size is its greatest strength and weakness, depending on what you want from a camera. When using relatively small lenses, like the new RF-S zooms or compact full-frame RF lenses, the R10 feels great in the hands. Its narrow but deep grip allows for a comfortable hold on the camera. However, when using a longer lens, like the RF 100-500mm or even the RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM, the R10 feels quite cramped. My hands, which aren’t large, bumped into lens barrels quite often. While there are fewer of them than on the R7, the controls are in convenient locations.
The 24.2-megapixel sensor offers good image quality and performance
If someone is looking for a robust, highly usable camera, the R7 is better. However, that’s not to say that the R10 isn’t capable of strong imaging performance. The 24.2MP image sensor delivers sharp, vibrant images with substantial dynamic range and noise performance, even as you increase the ISO. The autofocus system performs the same as it does on the R7, which is to say that it’s very good. Further, the R10 also shoots fast, offering the same 15fps speed when using the mechanical shutter but a slightly slower 23fps top speed when using the electronic shutter.
What about rolling shutter?
Here comes some bad news: rolling shutter is a problem when photographing action with the electronic shutter. Consider the image below. As you can see, the volleyball is the wrong shape, to put it mildly. The EOS R7 isn’t immune to this issue either.
The R10 may not include all the bells and whistles as the R7, but it is still a nice camera that delivers good usability in a compact form. The R10 has a multi-function joystick, although it’s smaller than the R7’s and the R10 lacks the rotating multi-function control dial around its joystick. Both cameras include a fully articulating swing-out touchscreen, which is especially useful for video work and when using a tripod. The R10 doesn’t include a mechanical sensor cover when powered off either, something the R7 has. The sensor cover is beneficial when changing lenses in the field. The R10 has a built-in flash, though, something the R7 lacks.
The R10, like the R7, offers 4K UHD video. However, the R10’s video tops out at 4K/30p (oversampled 6K resolution). The lack of IBIS is also relevant for video users, although the R10 (and R7, for that matter) include Movie Digital IS for smoother handheld video.
Canon EOS R10 is less than $1,000
The Canon EOS R10 is aggressively priced at $980 (body only). It’s also available in two kits, one with the RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens ($1,099) and the other with the RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM ($1,379).
The new RF-S lenses strike me as a more interesting choice when considering the R10 body, as the camera is smaller, lighter, and more affordable. I had a chance to use the new kit lenses, although they were pre-production, so I didn’t use them much. They’re compact and lightweight but relatively slow. They don’t deliver excellent image quality but are solid choices for someone buying their first Canon R-series mirrorless camera. You’ll notice that the EOS R7 isn’t available with the RF-S 18-45mm kit lens, which speaks to Canon’s positioning of its first two APS-C lenses for the RF mount.
Despite the R10’s impressive performance at a lower price, the EOS R7 is the superior option for enthusiasts. The higher-resolution image sensor, more robust body and superior usability make the R7 a terrific camera for many applications. I think its most compelling use case is for wildlife and sports photography, but the R7 offers excellent image quality and features for other uses, including portraiture and landscapes.
Both the R7 and R10 offer great autofocus performance and impressive shooting speeds. And if you heavily value portability or just have a smaller budget, the R10 is still a very good choice. While I need to spend more time with each of the new cameras, my first impressions are highly positive.
It’s been a long wait for an APS-C Canon EOS R-series mirrorless camera, but the wait seems to have been well worth it. I think that the EOS R7 can do for Canon’s mirrorless ecosystem what the 7D Mark II and 90D did for its older DSLR lineup – offer high-end imaging performance, speed and autofocus in a more affordable, lighter package.