Canon EOS-R: The new Lenses will sell the System (not the body)

Canon EOS-R: The new Lenses will sell the System (not the body) 

By Steve Huff

The Canon EOS-R launch has come and gone, and it was a doozy. In True Sony style, Canon flew out a bunch of YouTubers and Influencers (I did not go) to Hawaii to test the new Canon EOS-R and new lenses. As a disclaimer, I have not touched the camera yet and will not until it is out when I will buy one to test and review. I will either keep it after or sell it at a discount to one of you here, as I have done in the past.


So there will be hundreds of reviews out there before mine, and some are already out from those who tested it in Hawaii. They are all over YouTube and spreading fast.

I know many of those who went to test it and have spoken with a couple of them about it. Some nice things, and some not so nice things but it’s all there for us all to see, in writing in the specs alone. It’s very clear to me that Canon did not make this EOS-R to sell this new system, but instead created some GORGEOUS one of a kind lenses to sell the system. Without these new lenses it would have been a TOUGH sell for Canon IMO out of the gate with this 1st of what I feel will be many bodies to come from Canon. 

The Canon 28-70 f/2 Lens. $2999, and large but unique and beautiful. Canon knows glass. YOU CAN PRE ORDER THIS LENS AT B&H PHOTO STARTING WEDNESDAY 09/12

One thing many are pointing out is that these lenses are EXPENSIVE! $3k for a 28-70 f/2 zoom? $2299 for the new 50 1.2, or $1000 more than the current EF version? Yes, they are expensive. BUT remember, all QUALITY glass these days is expensive. I mean, look at the Leica 75 NOCTILUX which comes in at just under $13,000.

Yea, using Leica as an example is a stretch as Leica is the most expensive brand in existence for 35mm photography. But look at any pro quality lens from any manufacture and you do really get what you pay for. Prices are pricey for a reason. Weather resistance, optical quality, exotic glass, superb build and feel and in the case of these lenses, the new customizable control ring, which is cool. The bottom line is that I understand lens pricing and how you do get the quality that you are willing or able to pay for. Lenses are for life. Bodies are not.

I own 4 Canon L lenses as of this writing. Also 4 Sony lenses, 7 Olympus Zuiko Pro lenses, Several Leica M mount lenses from Zeiss, Voigtlander, and some oldies and unique rarities. Canon makes great glass and that has always been a constant theme for them and there are literally tons of them out in use every day.

But that EOS-R Body?

The camera, any way you slice it, falls behind the Sony A7III in features and specs. If we are to remain bias free and look at the facts, then this is the case. The new Canon even falls behind the Nikon Z a bit. Sure, it’s Canon’s first foray into serious full frame mirrorless but they played it safe instead of trying to truly compete with Sony (or their own DSLR’s). For Canon fans (I am one of them) this is a cool camera as it finally allows those with Canon glass a way to use their lenses on a mirrorless camera. As I have said forever, shooting with Mirrorless is different from shooting with a DSLR. The EVF experience may take getting used to from hardcore DSLR users but once you get used to it, you will start to appreciate it. I always prefer an EVF to an OVF but I have shot EVF for so many years now, and have appreciated the progress and improvements in this area.

THIS ONE IS A STUNNER. The new 50 1.2 RF mount come sin at $2299, or about $1k more than the current version (see my recent review of the current version)

Here is a Pre Order link for this one at B&H Photo

These days most EVF’s are wonderful but that was not always the case (and still isn’t for some models out there). The Canon, when compared to the Sony A7III doesn’t have the speed, frames per second, in body IS, dual card slots, battery life or 4K video specs. In fact, that 1.8 crop for 4K is a deal breaker for anyone wanting a Canon 4K camera. If not, it should be. With Sony, even in their lowly A7III, you can shoot 4K using the entire sensor, and for less money. With the Canon, shooting 4K means no real wide-angle solutions due to that crazy crop. Shooting in tight quarters? Forget it. Why did Canon create these beautiful full frame expensive and exotic lenses only to cripple them for 4K shooting? LIKE IT OR NOT, Video is HUGE today and only growing faster and faster, and people are choosing cameras like these over video cameras or more pricey cinema solutions for their video needs.

Yes, Micro 4/3 has a 2X crop but guess what? You can easily buy a 7mm lens for Micro 4/3, and on the cheap. Want a semi wide on the EOS-R with great quality? Pay $2600 for the Canon 11-24, and use an adapter to mount it. Micro 4/3 adapted to their shortcoming with video by creating ultra wide glass. Canon did not do this here for the R.

The 24-105 looks nice, sleek and sweet. $1099 at B&H Photo. 

For photos this camera will be great. I mean, I want (but do not need) an EOS-R system just for the glass alone. The glass they have announced is stunning, especially when compared to what Nikon has announced for the Z system at launch.

The 28-70 f/2 from Canon? Nothing quite like it yet it does have a down side. IT IS HUGE. On the EOS-R it looks kind of funny really. But the quality is there from the samples I have seen. Yes, that lens has given me some lens lust. The new 50 1.2? HUGE! Much larger than the current 50 1.2, that I own and love, yet it does appear to keep the same look and feel but improved some over the old design. I also love the physical design of these new lenses.

So I give Canon an A on the lens announcements but a C on the EOS R body announcement. The good news is I feel a new EOS-R body will be launched within six months, with higher specs. But Canon will wait until they sell a slew of the 1st gen, then announce the 2nd gen as that seems to be what camera companies NORMALLY do. I applaud Nikon for announcing two models at the same time, same with Sony. Canon only announced their basic model, without a hint of anything else to come but we all know that an enhanced version, more expensive and feature rich will be coming in 2019. Well, some of us know it.

These new camera releases have polarized many, and I have seen so much hate in comments on YouTube about these new models, which to me makes no sense. It’s either for you or it isn’t, no need to hate my friends as hate is negativity and life is such better without any of that, trust me on that one.

I will be buying an EOS-R but only to try it out for a while and use it in the situations I use my cameras in. I mainly want to try those two lenses though as it has always been and will always be about one thing. THE GLASS. That is where our investment lies. Always! I may or may not keep it after, and if not one of you here will get a deal on it direct from me.

Being a guy who has used and has tested hundreds of lenses over the years, I have my faves from all manufactures but I have to be 100% honest. My all time fave lenses come from Olympus, Leica and Canon. Sony makes stunning lenses, as does Nikon but somehow these three brands always kept me coming back for more.

I own a slew of lenses, and use only a handful but some, I can not bring myself to get rid of and as I said, lenses are a solid investment unlike bodies that come and go every year.

Anyway just wanted to jot down some thought and praise Canon for these new lenses they have created. Large? Yes. Expensive? Yes. Beautiful? YES. What are your thoughts on the new Canon system? Will you be buying one, and why?

Thanks to all!



  1. I’m a pen-f user with the superb 50mm 1.2. I like the pictures it can produce but I’m not so fan of the ergonomy. I’m looking to a ff but when I see the look of the bodies, their ergonomy of a computer and the size of the fast glass of Nikon, Canon and Sony, I think that the best choice is the Leica M10 with the visioflex.
    Small but not too much, beautiful, superb small and fast glass.
    No AF of course.

  2. When looking back to pre-AF film SLR in the 1980s, no system had all the lenses and all the specs I liked. Ultimately the Canon T90 came close, but then quickly was superseeded by the EOS line.

    Automation simplified photography, but on the other hand required even more time to programme the automation. Think of AE, and then the decision to preset aperture, shutter speed or any combination of both, the decision to correct the measurement to plus or minus, the decision to select a measurement spot. Think of AF, and then the decision to select between locked or continous measurement, to manually select a measurement spot or an algorithm to determine the spot (a face, a particular person’s face, a smile). Once you have decided the camera does all by itself, but to get there may require several minutes for the setting and mauch more to read again the manual. Think of auto-ISO (as against changing film rolls), and the painstaking decision between minimum shutter speed and minimum image quality.

    All this explains the charm of the Leica M, particularly for occasional users and amateurs. You more likely unlearn menu structures than basic rangefinder operation.

  3. Funny that your opinion on those Canon R lenses is exactly 100% opposite from mine. I find the Nikon Z lens lineup MUCH more promising, two supposedly very good f/1.8 primes which will be a full range (20, 24, 35, 50, 85) in two years, according to the roadmap. That I find SO much more interesting than grossly oversized zooms and ultra-huge f/1.2 primes that are not even stabilised …

    • We all like different things! Always have, always will. There is no one opinion that is right or correct : ) 50% will prefer one, 50% the other. I happen to prefer quality fast lenses, you prefer small slower lenses. The cool thing is, the options are there. Thank you.

    • Canon included a compact 35mm f/1.8 Macro with the introductory lenses. So clearly the new system is not just about big lenses. Surely there will be more compact primes for the RF lens line. I see a need for both big lenses and small lenses.

  4. Well said Steve. Those new lenses look really interesting. It seems clear to me Canon have done enough to ensure they will still have a dominate market share. The real battle will be between Nikon and Sony for second place. Will be cool to see how it shakes out.

    This is from someone who currently shoots a M10 and Nikon D500 so not pro Canon…. but i’m pretty sure I’ll be selling the Nikon set up for the canon at some point.

  5. I shoot different than you do. I hike someplace in near dark to get a photo when the sun rises. I like light weight. I use four thirds (Oly and Pany) and APS (TL2). I also live in an RV and travel and want a do everything walk around lens. I keep looking at full frame for more choices of DoF. I cannot help noticing the 24-105 is a half pound lighter than the Oly 12-100. I do not really need the extra length. My photography equipment has to pay for itself although I am not a pro, just a niche photographer. The finances are probably ready for ff. Four thirds, I have 2 zooms and 7 primes. TL2 has 1 zoom and 2 primes. My ff choice will be probably be 1 zoom and some primes. Canon is tempting me now along with Sony. Placing more importance on what is available 2 or 3 years from now rather than todays body which would be the better choice for me? BTW, I shot with my left eye and need a dslr style body.

    • I have the voigtlander 35 1.2II, 50 3.5 Heliar, Zeiss 50 Sonnar, Voigtlander 21 1.8, a Meyer Optik 100MM and a couple old RF lenses from Canon. Nothing fancy but love them all.

  6. I’m not sure what the fuss is. Other than the f2.0 zoom, there’s nothing earth shaking in this announcement. Minor disappointments that will likely be fixed in either microcode or the next body announcement. Call me back in three years.

    • All depends on what you like and what you use. If you are an f4 kind of guy, these will be of no excitement to you. The lenses are solid, the body is lackluster but still nice. IMO of course. I like fast quality glass. Not everyone does.

  7. I am not so sure about this, Steve.

    The main attraction of the R is the fact that Canon lenses like the current L range, can work native on the R with zero compromise. They will apparently operate and focus just as well as if they were on a DSLR. That is the big attraction.

    These new lenses? Too expensive. Too Big. WAY too big. The 28-70 is a nice idea but it is so large it is almost comical. It is much larger than a Sony 24-70 G Master and that is hardly a pancake lens.

    Canon will sell only small numbers of these huge and expensive R lenses. It remains to be seen what more “normal” sized and priced glass with come to the R mount.

    I thought the R lenses were cool until I really looked at them and compared to others. They are just too big and expensive to be taken seriously – at least for me.

    • It’s a-ok to disagree, that’s what makes the world great. If we all agreed it would be a boring place. I feel buying an R for EF lenses is strange as anytime you add a chunky adapter it kind of takes away why you bought a mirrorless in the 1st place. Why not buy a 6DII or a 5DIV? You really are only gaining an EVF at that point. Im sure Canon will sell tons of the body as they spend millions upon millions on marketing. The lenses will also sell and for those I know, it is the lenses that will make then buy a body. Ive spoken to quite a few friends and some have no interest but those who do all say the new lenses are the reason they will buy an R, either now or when they release a better body.

    • @Gary Two of the new lenses are very large and two of them (35 and 24-105) are reasonably compact. Different lenses for different needs. Seems like a sensible approach.

  8. Steve, have you seen some of the samples from the 50/1.2 that show heavy cat eye effect on the bokeh, even close to the center of the frame. I was shocked but look forward to your review to hear what you think.

    • No I haven’t but I if so I am even more happy as I am actually a guy who doesn’t mind that look at all, in fact, I prefer it to perfectly round. Some of my my fave lenses have cat eye bokeh!

        • Yea most do not like it but I usually dislike clinically perfect lenses ; ) I like “different” and “unique” over what everyone else deems as perfect, but I am just weird. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods Chad!

  9. Canon’s bodies have always been very well balanced and this EOS R is no different. The people who ACTUALLY used the camera say it produces excellent images and ergonomics and AF is really good. Articulating screen with great touch screen and Dual Pixel AF and 5500+ AF points and -6EV AF are unique among FF crowd.
    So it isn’t the best in all areas but it is a good and balanced tool.

  10. “Lenses are for life” is a good approximation only for world class manual focus lenses having mechanical aperture rings. These can be repaired decades later, and may be adaptable to newer camera systems that eventually come along. But lenses with electronically operated (fly by wire) autofocus motors, aperture motors, and vibration reduction lens actuators require camera specific circuitry to operate and are going to need repairs that likely will not be available in perhaps a mere 5-7 years. When the digital circuits, motors, and actuators in the lens fail, where are the spare parts going to come from for your multi-thousand dollar lenses that are no longer manufactured? What we’re getting now is mostly lenses priced like computers that have (for the same reasons) similar lifespans.

  11. Thanks Steve.

    One of the advantage of the Sony is the availability of Sigma lenses. Moreover, Sony is probably responding to new mirror less competition with a very good price on the AR lll and a bundled lens.

    No matter how great the Canon camera and lenses are, the combination of the camera and the Canon lenses is simply too expensive for many to justify.

    Although it is a camera with an APSC sensor and thus is not comparable, the new Fuji X-T3 with Fuji lenses will likely capture the same images with little demonstrable loss in quality. Moreover, the price is considerably less.

    It would be great if you might be able to compare the new mirror less models from Nikon and Canon with the new Fuji camera noted above.


    • All depends on what you judge when it comes to quality. The Fuji will deliver fantastic images. But they will never give the full frame look, ever. Yes, they will have gorgeous color, be detailed, have great DR…but some out there really only want the look full frame gives, and it is a big difference no matter what some may say. Just like the difference between full frame and medium format. Each has their own look and style, same as going down to Micro 4/3 from full frame. Much different looks no matter how fast of a lens is used. One sensor size can never replicate the look and feel of another sensor size, just not possible and it comes down to the lenses really. Using a 35 1.4 on a full frame gives you that 35 1.4 look. Using it on APS-C gives you a cropped 35 1.4 look. Quite different. See prefer APS-C for it’s look and style though. APS-C does things quicker usually..focus, overall speed, etc. The Fuji looks great but for full frame seekers it will not do the trick.

  12. The strange thing about these new cameras and lenses,
    Leica SL, Nikon (when it’s built), Canon and Sony
    are the size of body(large) lenses (super large)
    and the prices devastatingly monstrous.
    Everybody on Leica’s Bandwagon..but they are NOT Leica.
    The phone-camera has made the camera companies crazy.
    The idea of “mirror-less” was to be smaller.
    Even the smaller formats are way to big and heavy.
    The sort of medium format are same size and way better files..
    I’ve used friend’s Digital Leicas in M8, M9 and Mono.
    Of course agencies Digital Nikons and Canons.
    Truthfully I prefer my film Leica and those tiny lenses.
    The whole concept may be a success, but not for me.

  13. I was wondering what to buy. Last time I got a Leica Q, but I selled it cause the focal length was the same in every photo I took in the last two years. A bit boring. I did not know what to buy until the last weeks. I knew it has to be a FF camera, in the meantime I got a Canon eos M6 but never used ist, cause the quality of the photos in good light wasn’t better than my iPhone (or I did not notice it). The phots out of the Q impressed me every time I look at it. Now I have to choose between a camera perfect on spec sheet (Sony), a camera with ugly (design) lenses (Nikon) an no tilt screen (I missed at my Leica, yes for selfies shame on me) an the new canon. I noticed and read that many people are bashing it cause of a few things missing in the spec sheet. But hey do you need them all really? Lets see: For me I do not need a second card slot (never missed one, no card slot would be bad or an XQD cardslot so that I have to buy new cards), no IBIS (the lenses I will choose do have in lens IS, so its okay), cropped 4K (I will not make videos with it), not very fast (I will not shoot action or sports). So at the end I look at a new Canon camera that has great Autofocus, is reliable, has a tilt screen, has great image quality (for what I see now, better colour for me than sony), has beautyful lenses and… and that is important, I have learned here on the website, which I read now for years, I will like the camera, due to its design and it will make me go out for shooting and thats what matters. I can live with the missing specs and I have answered myself the question: would you upgrade if there will be a canon camera with dual card slot, ibis etc.? NO! I won’t I don’t need it. So I will buy this go out and shoot. Steve, looking forward to your review and keep up this great side! Greetings from Leicaland. If you will sell to Germany I’m trying my luck to get your camera 🙂

  14. I think that the new Canon body is way ahead of the Sony in terms of ergonomy. I was a Canon user for decades and now I have an A7III. Nice sensor, but it is a very bad camera to hold. I can not hold the grip with all the fingers and these are too close to the lens, etc. Small body, not that light, but big and heavy lenses as all the good ones are. So you apply in bad way the prehensile force, you cant stop the moment force with two figers in oppostion to the thumb. At the end of the day, not a photographers camera. I like very much the new Canon body. Has almost the same grip than a 5D, but in an much smaller body. That is a better design. There are few people out there that still want to have pleasure in hold a camera and do their photos with love. Yes, I want more battery life and still I don’t know if is capable in very low light as the A7III, but if not, it comes very close, I guess. besides that, I love Canon lenses also. 5 or 6 or 7 or 10 or 20 frames for second? It is irrelevant to me. It is a photo camera, not a machine gun. 1 slot? irrelevant to me. Not good in video? I think if you want a video, get a video camera, with video work ergonomics, etc. mho.

    • OH I agree. I have told Sony that they need better ergonomics, design and a new menu system. Many have told them this. As for video, you can not buy a video camera today that even get close to what these cameras can offer for video. Even the EOSR. No one buys video cameras anymore. which is why they are vanishing from retail and from being made. People are buying cameras like these for video work, nd even independent films. Quite a few have been made with the A7SII. I have said this before but today more buy these for the video capabilities than the photo, and Sony specs are at the top for the money. For photos, the EOSR lenses are awesome, but massively huge which kind of makes the body look too small for them, even more so than the Sony G Masters. The fast ones are bigger than most of the Canon DSLR lenses. Anyway, it’s a good offering just not anything groundbreaking with the R body. As I said, if you just want photos and HD video, it will do good. The ones who were upset by it were those shooting 4K (of which there are many). BTW, More use the A7III for video than photo. ; )

      • Hello Steve, well I’m not agree about video cameras. Today there is a growing market for video makers, semi-pro and pro with more accesible cost. Besides that, of course are the mid and hi-end video cameras and lenses with better codecs and beter features for video work. If you say that people are geting this Hybrid cameras mainly for video, something very bad is happening in the industry, away from common sense. If they have very bad (sony) ergonomics for photo are even worst for video. You can use it, but their bodys are not designed to that.
        On the other hand, I think Canon new lenses for the R system, are big, but you have a body that can provide a far better grip than the sony for their big G Master lenses or the Sigma Art lenses. So you can apply far better the counter force to the moment force. I think Sony bet of a small body is a contradition with their good quality lenses. Are heavy and big also. It’s not make sense. So, with Sony cameras allways you need to add something to use them.
        I have been a Canon shooter for almost 2 decades ( EOS1, EOS1N. 5DMK2) and now I have a Sony A7III body since 4 months ago. I think I will return to Canon someday soon; they know how to design cameras. Sony also has an small diameter lens mount, so in terms of quality, they push to the limit the geometry, but they can’t do faster lenses like Nikon new mount or canon normal mount (54mm) and R mount. Maybe the RMK2 or the higher end R that is about to be released, will put Sony in serious problems if they maintain their bodies. At least for photographers. Of course there are ver mucg good things on Sony cameras, like a very good sensor, with very high quality at high ISO, etc. DR, etc.Very good focus system, etc.

      • Everybody seems to talk about the bad ergonomics of the A7 series nowadays. I disagree. The menu is ok. Hardly use it, because of the fn-button and the programmable buttons and menus. Design? I love it!

        I’m not a fanboy, but a heavy (and happy) A7Riii user. I like the body small. And I also do my photos ‘with love’

        • Ive been labeled a Sony fanboy for years, yet I always criticized the design and grip and menu. I wish Sony would design a killer body but anytime I bring it up, it sounds as if it will never happen. It’s not AWFUL but could be quite a bit better I think!

          • The A7ii (and iii) ergonomics are certainly not perfect, but for me are greatly enhanced by a Gariz half-case, which adds just enough extra support. After a year or so I’ve got used to it and now find myself quite attached to my little Sony! 🙂

  15. Hi Steve, I am an fan of Canon too, like you Olympus and Canon are the companies I keep the lenses waiting for the suitable bodies to come. Well, I’m a bit disappointed on the EOS R but the price of the system really keeps me away from buying them. With the launch of the Fuji XT3, may be I will move from Olympus to Fuji instead of buying the Canon, or just get the Fuji as an addition instead of Canon. Don’t think many people really needs full frame but an excellent still camera with capable video in a small size package are what many really need. So, look forward to your reviews on the FUJI 🙂

    • I think Shaun makes an excellent point Steve. It is likely that for most purposes the new XT3 will capture files that are not meaningfully inferior to the Sony, Canon, or Nikon. Indeed, at reasonably sized prints ( say up to 11×17 if not a bit larger ) one wonders if anyone will be able to tell which of the 4 cameras referenced was used.

  16. Steve, first, I look forward for you shots with the R. I always come to you for advice on making my photography better.
    Second: First in line if you sell it! 😉

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