EOS R is based around an all-new RF mount which has a wide inner diameter of 54 millimetres and a flange back distance of 20 millimetres. It’s a three-claw bayonet fitting with 12 contact pins. The system launches with one camera body - the EOS R - and four RF lenses with the emphasis on targeting pro and enthusiast-level users (which makes sense given Canon already has the consumer-level ‘APS-C’ M mirrorless cameras). There are more “f2.8 L zooms” in the pipeline, but no word on a launch timetable as yet.

EOS R with RF28-70mm f2.0L

The EOS R body is SLR-styled similar to Nikon’s Z cameras with a magnesium alloy bodyshell that’s fully weather sealed and features a top panel info read-out and dual input wheels. The EVF is an 0.5-inch OLED-type panel with a resolution of 3.69 megadots and a magnification of 0.76x. The camera’s TFT LCD monitor screen is fully articulated with an 8.01 cm screen adjustable for brightness and with extensive touch controls. There is no built-in flash and no PC flash terminal, but the latter is provided on the optional BG-E22 battery grip. The good news is that Canon’s venerable LP-E6N/E6 battery pack is retained in the EOS R.

The sensor is a Canon-made CMOS device with a total pixel count of 31.7 million (30.3 MP effective) and incorporates the ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ architecture. It appears to be very similar to the sensor in the EOS 5D Mark IV and retains an optical low-pass filter.  Number crunching is by Canon’s latest generation DiG!C 8 processor.

Canon EOS R top deck view

Images can be captured in the 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios as well as the ‘APS-C’ format. RAW files are captured with 14-bit RGB colour. The maximum image size is 6720x4480 pixels at the 3:2 aspect ratio. The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 100 to 40,000 with expansions either side to ISO 50 and 102,400. Continuous shooting is possible at up to 8.0 fps with AF/AE locked to the first frame or at 5.0 fps with between-the-frames adjustment. The typical burst lengths are quoted at 100 frames for maximum quality JPEGs and 34 RAW files (47 with a UHS-II speed card). The EOS R sticks with the popular SD memory card format with, like the Nikon Z cameras, only a single slot, but it does have UHS-II speed support.

The ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ system provides phase-difference detection measurements and provides virtually full frame coverage using a massive 5655 points. Area modes include Zone AF, Expand AF and 1-Point AF. There are subject tracking and face recognition modes. Sensitivity is quoted as down to -6.0 EV at ISO 100 and f1.2, and a low-light assist lamp is built-in.

Exposure control is based on 384 measuring zones with evaluative, selective area and spot modes, the latter linkable to the active AF points. Like with Canon’s higher-end D-SLRs, the EOS R has a ‘Scene Intelligent Auto’ mode for automatic subject/scene detection and which supplements the standard ‘PASM’ offerings. The shutter speed range is 30-1/8000 second (plus B) with the options of a sensor-based ‘electronic’ shutter (for silent shooting) or the hybrid ‘electronic first curtain shutter’.

EOS R with RF24-105mm f4.0L

The feature set is pretty similar to that of Canon’s higher-end D-SLRs and includes a set of eight ‘Picture Style’ presets (plus three customisable), a multiple exposure facility, multi-shot HDR capture, multi-shot noise reduction, the ‘Highlight Tone Priority’ and ‘Auto Lighting Optimiser’ processing for dynamic range expansion, a dual-delay self-timer, both WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity, and the same ‘Dual Pixel RAW’ capture options as were introduced with the EOS 5D Mark IV. ‘Dual Pixel RAW’ (DPRAW) uses both photodiodes for image capture so these files are twice the size of the standard RAW files, but the very slight variation in perspective between the two sets of image data is used to enable some slight adjustments. The processing options are called ‘Image Micro-Adjustment’, ‘Bokeh Shift’ and ‘Ghosting Reduction’, and they all use the offset at any given point in the two images to enable small corrections to be made by applying shifts of varying magnitudes.

Not surprisingly, the EOS R records 4K video at either 25 fps (PAL) or 2 4fps in the Ultra HD resolution of 3840x2160 pixels and with the option of either ALL-I or IPB compression. Full HD video is recorded at 50 fps (PAL) and HD at up to 120 fps for slow-mo effects. The HDMI output can be set to 10-bit 4:2:2 colour with C-Log to optimise dynamic range. The camera has built-in stereo microphones supplemented by a stereo audio input and there's a stereo audio output. Time coding is also available and time-lapse recording.

The four RF mount lenses announced at launch are a 35mm f1.8 Macro IS STM, a 50mm f1.2L USM standard prime, a 28-70mm f2.0L USM zoom and a 24-105mm f4.0L IS USM zoom (which is the 'kit' lens) – with obviously more to come down the track and, of course, and an EF-EOS R mount adapter. EF-S lenses can also be fitted via the adapter – in which case the camera automatically switches to the ‘APS-C’ format – but not EF-M models. There are, in fact, three mount adapters; the other two have similar mounting options, but one adds the multi-function control ring that’s a feature of all the RF mount lens and the other incorporates a drop-in filter holder and is bundled with an ND or circular polariser. Canon says that over 70 EF and EF-S lenses are supported by the adapters.

70+ EF and EF-S lenses are supported by the system's three mount adapters

Interestingly, Canon is emphasising what’s possible with lens designs for going mirrorless with a full-35mm sensor rather than simply making a smaller camera body although the physical comparisons with the EOS 5D Mark IV show just what a difference dropping the mirror box and the pentaprism viewfinder makes.

Local availability will be from 9 October for the R body, 24-105mm zoom and both the standard and control ring mount adapters. Everything else follows through to December this year, including the balance of the announced lenses and BG-E22 power grip. The drop-in filter adapter is slated for 2019. Prices will be announced shortly. For more information visit http://www.canon.com.au