The recently released Canon EOS R full frame mirrorless camera is a product that has made a lot of people very upset. No real surprise there, it's like that literally every time Canon announces a new product. People love comparing spec sheets and getting angry about a lack of this or a lack of that but what a lot of people seem to forget is that you don't have to buy something you don't like. All I care about is whether or not this product is the right tool for my job. My job is timelapse photography so I'd like to see if this camera is a good fit.
So, grab a drink or some food, sit back and let's find out if the Canon EOS R is a good timelapse camera.
Canon EOS R specs
Here's a little spec sheet from Amazon to bring you up to speed:
- 30.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 image processor
- Dual pixel CMOS AF with 5, 655 manually selectable AF points
- 4K 30P with Canon log and 10 bit 4:2:2 HDMI output
- Built-in EVF with 3.69 million dots, Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD and dot-matrix LCD panel
Other notable things are the new lenses, the new lens adapters, the touch/slide button next to the new EVF and the new power switch button.
Canon EOS R Timelapse footage
As I only had the EOS R for a limited time I could only shoot a handful of shots with it. Have a look below at some of the shots. These were all recorded in 4K Timelapse movie mode, which delivers great performance and is very efficient to use. The majority of my timelapse productions these days use this timelapse movie mode (on the 6DMkII). I love it so much that I decided to buy a second 6DMkII so I could run more sequences at the same time. That being said, it's not the only way to shoot a timelapse, let's run through the options below.
By the way, you can download the original 4K video files right here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/21864702
How to shoot a timelapse with the EOS R
Option 1: Built in timelapse movie mode (no post processing)
Switch the camera to video mode by pressing the Mode button and hitting info. Select Manual exposure mode. Press the Menu button and go to the second red menu, enable timelapse movie mode (select 4K or FHD resolution). Dial in your interval, number of frames to shoot and static or evaluative exposure. Static will keep the same exposure throughout the sequence. Evaluative (called Measure each frame) will analyse what you're shooting and adjust the settings accordingly. This is great for sunsets or sunrises but works better in Auto mode or Av mode. Shooting in this mode gives you a video file. The next option gives you a series of photos to edit in postproduction.
Option 2: Use an external remote (post processing required)
Use a remote such as the canon tc-80n3 with the necessary 2.5mm adapter. A better option might be to get a remote like this one which has multiple cables and more options for shooting (I haven't used this one yet so can't comment on the quality).
Switch to Manual photo mode, dial in your cameras exposure settings, turn off image review (this slows down the camera), set your exposure. Dial in the correct interval and number of shots (00 or — is usually the equivalent of no limit) and hit start. Let the camera run for the desired number of photos then hit stop.
Sadly there is no built in intervalometer in the Canon EOS R. I hope this feature gets added in a future firmware upgrade.
This video talks about my advanced timelapse post processing workflow.
Results of shooting timelapse with the EOS R
The Canon EOS R is a very capable camera that comes with some very well performing new lenses. I'm happy Canon has finally brought out a full frame mirrorless system and I'm truly excited to see what the future holds. I haven't been reviewing this camera from the eyes of a photographer or cinematographer, I've been reviewing it strictly as a timelapse photographer. For all of the timelapse shots the EOS R performed very, very well. That being said, there is a major flaw. The fastest interval the camera can shoot at in timelapse movie mode (a mode that I shoot more with than I initially expected to) is 2 seconds. I shoot a lot of sequences with a one second interval. It's my ideal run and gun setup on the 6DMkII for shooting people or traffic moving through cities: 0,5 seconds exposure time and a 1 second interval. This gives really nice motion blur and a great looking shot. I can't explain why the 2 second minimum is there. Again, I hope this gets adjusted in a future firmware upgrade.
When shooting with an external remote there are no issues. The camera performs beautifully like any other Canon camera. I had no issues shooting at a 1 second interval on the external remote, writing full size RAW and JPEG photos at the same time to the SD card.
The lack of a mirror system (hence the ‘mirrorless') doesn't mean there won't be any wear and tear on the mechanics of your camera. The mechanical shutter curtain that moves up and down in front of the photo sensor is now the only moving part in the camera. All in all, less things can break, so that's good. That being said, I've never been one to worry about ruining my shutter (I wouldn't be a timelapse photographer if I was). My old 5DMkIII is rated for around 200000 photos and has over 600000 clicks. It is still going very strong and has never been serviced.
Pros and cons of the Canon EOS R
As per usual, first up are the things I liked about the EOS R:
- When switching the camera to video mode you get to choose between Auto, P, Tv, Av, M, Custom 1, 2 and 3. All these modes would perform differently in timelapse movie mode. Each scene should be shot differently so it's nice to have all these options.
- When finishing a timelapse movie mode shot the camera stays in timelapse movie mode, allowing you to start shooting a new timelapse straight away. This isn't the case with the 6DMkII where you have to go back into the menu to start again.
- The new display at the top of the camera continuously shows you how many shots are left in your sequence. This isn't the case on other cameras and is a welcome new feature. I also like the new display as a whole, changing what it shows you depending on which mode you're in.
- You can enable 4K movie crop, giving you extra reach when shooting timelapses. Effectively this zooms in your shot by 1.7 (the same crop as in 4K video mode). Your 24-105mm lens now has a max tele range of almost 180mm, pretty cool!
Up next, the things I don't like about the EOS R:
- The fact that there is no built in intervalometer is very strange. This forces you to buy an external remote. I hope this feature gets added sooner rather than later.
- Minimum interval of 2 seconds (it's 1 second on other cameras) is limiting. Again, I hope a firmware upgrade fixes this.
- No C-log in timelapse movie mode. When you enable C-log or Canon Log you can't enable timelapse movie mode. This would have been great to have as it allows you to capture more detail and allows for better colour grading.
- A single SD card slot is quite limiting. I don't like SD cards, they tend to fail more than any other card.
A few extra thoughts:
- I love the new 24-105 R lens. It is tack sharp, has a great stabiliser and nice lens flare.
- The camera ramps the shutter speed before it ramps the ISO or Aperture when shooting a sunset or sunrise timelapse movie mode shot. You should limit the max ISO in the ISO settings menu to force the camera to ramp the shutter speed faster.
- The battery life of the EOS R was decent, nothing special. It would improve if you could disable the EVF but I forgot to test that.
- The new EF R lens adapter is great, allowing you to shoot with both EF and EF-S lenses. This opens up a lot of affordable wide angle lenses to counter the 4K movie crop.
- The shutter curtain closes when the camera is off and the lens is taken off, protecting the shutter from dust and other particles.
Conclusion: is the Canon EOS R a good timelapse camera?
Yes and no. It is a high performing new machine that delivers great stills for timelapse, if you use an external remote. The lens adapter opens up a wide range of lenses to shoot on. The lack of built in intervalometer is limiting, especially paired with the 2s minimum interval in timelapse movie mode. The fact that it shoots gorgeous holy grail timelapse sequences in 4K with a good codec is great. So, depending on your needs, this may or may not be a good timelapse camera for you. For me, for now, I will stick to my two 6DMkII cameras!
If you would like to download the original 4K timelapse videos I shot with the EOS R, you can do so here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/21864702