Upgrading to the Canon EOS R in 2021

Does Canon’s First Mirrorless hold up in 2021?

Photo by Michael Marais on Unsplash

Mirrorless DSLR’s camera’s are the newest and quickly becoming the standard for many photographer’s and videographer’s. Canon joined the Mirrorless DSLR game back in 2018 with the introduction of the Canon EOS R. Last year, they released the Canon EOS R6 and R5, the best mirrorless camera’s that Canon has to offer. So, with the new one’s available, is the Canon EOS R worth upgrading to in 2021? Does a 3-year-old mirrorless camera still hold up?

First, it is important to note where I am coming from and what made me buy the Canon EOS R. I have been using my Canon Rebel T5i for the last 5 years. I knew that camera like the back of my hand, what it was great at and what were its limitations. Knowing the limitations of the Canon Rebel T5i, I knew what I was looking for in my next camera.

I love taking Low-light portraits, and loved the idea of doing photography at night, but often, I was shooting hand-held and did not have a tripod. So, I needed a camera with a high ISO capability that doesn’t add so much noise. I know some photographers love to have some noise in their photos since it gives it a bit of an old-fashioned film look, but I am not one of them. I wanted to be able to shoot indoors where there is limited lighting or during golden hour without having to worry about noise. With the Canon T5i, I couldn’t go over 800 ISO without suffering and finding lots of noise in my image. Also, I didn’t have a lot of control or range. It was either 400 ISO or 800 ISO and nothing in between. In addition to the ISO, the Canon T5i is a cropped sensor camera, and because it is a smaller sensor, that means that it takes in less light compared to a full-frame camera.

As previously mentioned, the Canon T5i did not give a whole lot of flexibility with its manual control (at least compared to other higher-end cameras). The ISO jumps carried onto the shutter speed as well and I found that often while editing, because I lacked the range, some shots were blown out, others were not quite bright enough. It would have been nice to not fix this is post-processing.

Being someone who specializes and focused on portrait and fashion photography, there were a few things that I did not like about my Canon T5i, and features I wish I had. First was the autofocus. For stills, the camera held up and I had no issues whatsoever. But for any shots with movement, having to constantly re-focus was not ideal and slowing me down. And more often than not, when I brought the photos into Lightroom, the majority were out of focus. So, I knew that for my next camera, I needed something that would be able to keep focus. Next, I love taking portraits of people walking and getting closer to the camera. I find that it is the best way to get a wide variety of shots and add some movement that does not look fake. However, with the Canon T5i, not only would the autofocus not keep up with the model walking, but the continuous shooting was also a bit slow for me, and I would have to repeat the walk almost 5–6 times.

These were the things that I did not like about my Canon T5i, so I knew what needed to be in my next camera: Amazing low-light performance, more manual control and range, amazing autofocus, primarily in photos, but would be nice in videos, and high continuous photos. After months of research, many hours of YouTube video reviews, and talking to a few users of the Canon EOS R, I decided to pull the trigger and buy it.

Why not the Canon EOS R5 and R6? First, and most importantly, the price. Here, in Canada, the R6 starts at $3400 and the R5 $5400. So, while they are fantastic cameras, they cost a pretty penny. But, the great part about their release was the fact that people who were upgrading were selling their Canon EOS R’s, so I was able to get one second-hand at a great price.

Second, both of the camera’s would be a little overkill for my use, and it is unlikely that I would be able to use those cameras to their full capabilities. The higher continuous shooting speeds were the most appealing, and tempted me to save and upgrade to the Canon R6, but wasn’t a good enough reason to drop another two grand on a Camera.

So far, I have had the Canon EOS R for the last two weeks, using the EF 50mm f/1.8 with an adapter and had a couple of photoshoots with it, and here is what I think about it and who it is meant for.

Most importantly, this camera needed to feel like I got my money worth and justify upgrading from my 5-year-old Canon Rebel T5i. And I couldn’t be happier to say that it does everything I love and more! The low-light performance is fantastic with the Canon EOS R, and I was able to shoot in a dark alley with minimal light. The high continuous shooting was a lot faster than I was expecting and had a blast taking photos of the model walking towards me, twirling, playing with her hair! And since I can shoot at a higher ISO, therefore a faster shutter, pictures were coming out nice and crisp! Going from a camera that has never had eye-tracking autofocus to one that does, I was psyched! I found that more of my images were in focus and tack-sharp! While I knew that the Canon Rebel T5i was a cropped sensor, and by moving to a full-frame, I was expecting more range, but by finally using one properly on a shoot, I didn’t realize how much I was missing out! I got a lot more range, bringing a lot more flexibility and variety to my photography!

So, super happy that the Canon EOS R was able to solve all the problems that I was having with my last camera. Other features that I like about the camera was the fact that it is a mirrorless camera. Being able to always live-preview my photos before they are taken, whether on the LCD screen or through the viewfinder is amazing! Almost all of my photos are perfectly exposed and I am not losing any shots due to this. Many times, during photoshoots, I can get caught up in the posing, location, time constraints, that I forget to check my settings, but it is nice to know that those days are gone! The touch bar on the EOS R is something that I found highly debated in my research. Most people were not a fan of it and preferred the Joystick that is found on the Canon EOS 5D or 1DX but coming from a camera that didn’t even have a joystick, it is a very welcomed addition! Since I am still using an EF lens, and do not have the Control Ring feature that is found on the new RF lenses, I had mine set to adjust my ISO. Now, I have control of the majority of my settings very quick and easy.

After photoshoots and bringing the images to Lightroom, I found a slight con, but worth it. Since it is a bigger camera, bigger sensor, sharper and bigger images, it comes at the cost of storage. I took roughly 1500 photos which came to about 50GB on my SD card. So, while the larger image comes at a cost of storage, but one that I would gladly pay.

So, who is this camera for? Is it outdated?

I don’t think it is outdated whatsoever and I can see this camera being perfect for those who are like me and want to upgrade their cropped sensor camera to something more advanced with plenty more options. I couldn’t be happier with this camera, and I think many would agree with me. I don’t find it outdated or slow by any means, and I enjoyed it as much as I did shooting with the Canon EOS R5 back when it first came out. If you are upgrading to the Canon EOS R, you won’t be disappointed.

If you would like to see some of my work and photography that I have done with the Canon EOS R, check out my Instagram and Website!



A young University student very curious about many things and here to share his thinking. Interested in Photography, Technology and sharing stories.

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