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Chillout TGIF: Photographs from the Canon EOS R and lenses

by Peter Chong on March 20, 2020

Followup to our Chillout TGIF review of the Canon EOS R and lenses, here we present photographs with the camera.

As usual, I shot the Canon EOS R exclusively in raw format. Files were imported from the camera using Adobe Bridge (Br), and raw processing done in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). The files are then opened in Photoshop CC (Ps) and worked on. The resulting image is then saved as a jpeg image and presented in these pages. For a full discussion on my workflow, please visit this article.

Canon EOS R + RF35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM

The RF35 is a rather decent lens. It is small, lightweight and focuses down to a 1/2 size macro which can come in handy. Autofocus is relatively fast to acquire target with good accuracy.

Canon EOS R + RF35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM

As noted in the main review, it does have significant distortion, especially when wide open at f/1.8 up to about f.2,8. It exhibits quite serious chromatic and geometric distortions, with significant vignetting in the corners. This is mostly corrected in ACR by using the Lens Correction tab.

Bokeh has fairly smooth but exhibits some swirls. I did not specifically test for bright round lights in the out of focus areas to see the shape of the bokeh balls. But other reviewers have noted almond shaped bokeh balls in round highlights.

Canon EOS R + RF35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM f/1.8 1/3200s.

The focal length of the lens is excellent for food shots and coupled with the short near focus distance is able to do semi-macro shots rather well.

Canon EOS R + RF35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM. f/4 1.30s.

The macro capability is also useful for selfie wrist shots. The lens, being 35mm focal length allows for a shorter working distance than the RF100’s minimum focus distance. The result is a more relaxed wrist stance, and not one which is forced to cock due to the stretch needed to reach minimum focus for a longer lens.

Canon EOS R + RF35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM. f/11 1/125s.

Build quality is not great, though I guess is par for the course at the price range the RF35 is targeted at. The lack of weather sealing is another shortcoming. Other reviewers have lamented that the lens hood is an extra expense, as Canon only provides lens hoods for L lenses, but this is not an issue for me as I never use lens hoods.

Canon EOS R + RF50mm F1.2 L USM

In contrast to the RF35, the RF50L is a huge lens. It is also very heavy, and chunky, the build quality is also much better, though the outer skin still feels like it is made from plastic, albeit a very high quality one. The lens is weather sealed.

In comparison, the DSLR mount EF50mm F1.2L is not weather sealed and feels like metal construction, and is much smaller and lighter. The RF50mm F1.2L weighs 64% more at 960g! This is a serious chunk of glass.

Canon EOS R + RF50mm F1.2 L USM

Fortunately, the performance is excellent. At f/1.2, the lens is very sharp, with pin sharp centers and still preserving reasonable sharpness to the edges. Distortion is fairly low, even wide open, and only a small amount of correction is needed in ACR.

At f/1.2, this is a serious light gathering machine, and will allow shooting in almost all lighting conditions. While the autofocus is not fast enough for use in fast moving subjects, in normal situations, it proved to be fast and accurate allowing focus to be nailed easily for most other subjects.

Canon EOS R + RF50mm F1.2 L USM f/1.2 1/160s.

Closing the lens to f/5.6, typical for portraits, it is very sharp, with good detail resolution and colour fidelity.

Canon EOS R + RF50mm F1.2 L USM f/5.6 1/5s.

However, this is a rather expensive lens, though the performance, especially at f/1.2 perhaps justifies its standing as one of the nicer 50mm full frame lenses in the market. The performance comes dangerously close, though not quite as good as the even more expensive Leica SL + Summilux-SL 50MM F/1.4 ASPH which we tested earlier.

Canon EOS R + EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

And we come to the EF100L. This is a workhorse, industry standard macro lens. It focuses down to life size, and is a very versatile macro as well as a medium telephoto lens useful portraits. However, the lens is designed for use with the Canon DSLR system, and will require an adapter to allow it to be used with the EOS R.

Canon EOS R + EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM with RF Adapter.

Suitably adapted, the lens proved to be very sharp and a good performer. Distortion is minimal, and I cannot see much difference when I toggle the correction check box in ACR.

Canon EOS R + EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/16 1/160s with strobe.

Build quality is quite good, the lens barrel is constructed in what feels like a high quality plastic over metal. The lens is weather sealed, though this is not a feature required for watch photography as all our work is done in a studio environment. But weather sealing should be useful in photographing flowers or insects in the wild where the weather may be inclement.

Canon EOS R + EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/16 1/125s.

Autofocus is fast and accurate. For watch product photography, the focal length is nearly ideal, as it allows for images with good magnification. I worked at f/16 most of the time. At this aperture, diffraction is visible, but easily corrected in ACR.

Canon EOS R + EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/16 1/125s.

The front element of the lens is non-rotating and uses a 67mm filter thread. Canon provides a lens hood, but it is flimsy, though this is not a concern for me, as I mentioned I do not use lens hoods.

Concluding thoughts

Overall, I found the Canon EOS R to be a rather flexible system, and for use in watch photography with some generic photography work, it is a nice system. It is rather compact, though the L prime lenses somewhat negates this with their large physical size and massive weight.

Canon EOS R + EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/16 1/125s.

In terms of market positioning, this is a well designed, and well supported system camera aimed at the middle of the market – at advanced amateur photographer. Image quality is quite good, but not at the levels achievable by medium format systems like the Fujifilm GFX, the Hasselblad X1D or the Phase One XF. Image quality also lags behind the Leica SL system. But in Canon’s advantage is the price point at which it is targeted at is much lower than any of the aforementioned systems.

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