Canon EOS R100: The DANAMIC Review


Canon has consistently been at the forefront of innovation, providing photographers with cutting-edge tools to capture their creative visions, as seen with its release of professional cameras like the EOS R5, R6, and 8k cinema cameras. But recently, Canon has finally turned its attention to affordable, entry-level cameras — something suitable for people to capture important moments that is as portable and user-friendly as their smartphones, yet with room for their skills to grow as photography hobbyists. Enter the Canon EOS R100.

The Canon EOS R100 is designed for anyone who wants to ditch their phone and embrace their inner photographer, while not wanting to spend too much money doing so. Priced under S$750 when this review was written, it is one of the cheapest options available for a new interchangeable lens camera. 

We also take a look at the Canon RF 28mm F2.8 STM lens, which was launched alongside it. As Canon’s new prime lens in the EOS R ecosystem, it boasts an intriguing thin profile for those looking for something compact to bring along.

But are they any good, or has Canon shot itself in the foot in hopes of keeping the cost and form factor down for these two items?

Build Quality and Handling (6.5/10)

Compared to Canon’s pricier EOS R models in their lineup, there is certainly a downgrade in terms of its build. Since it uses plastic rather than magnesium alloy for its body, the Canon EOS R100 has a cheaper feel for a camera.

While the body material is nothing to be excited by, I’ll preface that it is still completely functional. In fact, because of the plastic body, the camera is lightweight and feels comfortable in the hand when using it for long periods.

Likewise, the camera is of a small size even by other mirrorless camera standards, so that means that it takes up little space and should fit easily into most bags, Given that this device is catered to those who might want to transition into proper cameras, the Canon EOS R100 being that portable is a big plus point; it just makes travelling overseas with it all the more appealing. Compact lenses like the RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens pair well with the camera.

Another is the RF 28mm F2.8 STM, the first-ever “pancake” prime lens in the RF lens lineup. Coming in at a mere 120g, it is easily one of the lightest lenses in the entire Canon lens lineup. And true to its “pancake” naming, it is also remarkably thin, measuring just 24.7mm long. Despite how flat it is, Canon was able to squeeze in a control ring and a focus switch on this very tiny body, with the ring sitting at the front of the lens. As an accompaniment to the Canon EOS R100 for travel, the compact setup makes it a top lens option for photographers.

Take a peek at how thin it is!

That being said, if you do use bigger lenses on the camera, the handling tends to feel off. When I attached the RF70-200mm F2.8 telephoto lens onto it, it felt unbalanced in the hand, though that is to be expected considering how big the S$3,500 lens is — especially on an S$700 camera. But it is something to consider for medium-sized lenses you intend to use on it.

The connectivity for the Canon EOS R100 is what you can expect from an entry-level mirrorless camera — a 3.5mm mic socket, a micro HDMI output (doesn’t support external recording), and a USB-C port for data transfer, but sadly not for battery recharging. That’s quite a misstep by Canon since most of the competition offers in-camera charging via USB. 

Features and Performance

Given that the Canon EOS R100 is catered towards budding photographers, it has an interesting set of features to take advantage of.

The Canon EOS R100 is equipped with a 24.1megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and paired with a DIGIC 8 image processor. What does this all mean? Well, it means you’re getting excellent image quality and colour reproduction straight out of your camera for your photos — great news for just-starting photographers.

But if you have the desire and tools to take your photos up a notch, Canon also lets users shoot in RAW format for more control. As illustrated in the photos below, those great aspects of the sensor are further emphasised when post-processing comes into play.

In terms of using the Canon EOS R100, the experience can be hit or miss. Autofocusing on the camera is top-notch. It comes with a Dual Pixel Autofocus feature that provides incredibly robust face tracking and eye detection, akin to what is found in professional DSLRs like EOS 5D Mark IV. For an entry-level camera to have such a powerful autofocus system, it is very useful for beginners to find and keep their subjects in focus.

However, the display needs to be better. It lacks touch capabilities, so any function you’d like to do must be done manually — the experience feels decidedly ancient. Furthermore,  the screen is fully fixed to the camera. The lack of tilt functionality makes it very difficult to capture shots from unusual angles and taking selfies or vlogs is a nigh impossible task. 

Since this is designed to bring over people from smartphone photography, where convenience and ease of use are the dominant aspects, these exclusions seem like a massive oversight.

The lack of a vari-angle touchscreen display is quite a disappointment

The Canon EOS R100 also isn’t very flexible when it comes to shooting situations. While the camera possesses a conservative ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to 50-25600), it is not cut out for low light conditions, even when paired with a much faster lens like the RF50mm F1.8. You’d get the best picture quality when shooting at an ISO of 100, while details and colours remain accurate through to ISO 6400, but anything upwards of that brings substantial grain and softness to the image.

Alongside the exclusion of in-body image stabilisation — which is to be expected for an entry-level camera — shooting in darker conditions is a proper challenge, even for more experienced photographers.

While the main body of the Canon EOS R100 has flaws, the experience of using the RF 28mm F2.8 STM lens with it has been fairly decent.

The focal length for the RF 28mm F2.8 STM lens sits in-between the more common 24mm and 35mm lenses, making this a good general-purpose lens suitable for all types of photography like landscape, street, travel, and especially vlogging; for beginners, that flexibility is a good thing. When paired with the Canon EOS R100, it has an approximately 44mm equivalent focal length with the APS-C sensor of the camera.

On the performance, it likewise produces great quality shots, with the wide maximum aperture of F2.8 from the lens offering beautiful bokeh, and the increased speed provides sharper handheld shots, especially in low-light situations. Since it lacks lens stabilisation, this very much makes up for it. 

With the aperture wide open at F2.8, the RF 28mm F2.8 STM lens creates a distinct shot here

Similarly, focus is fast and accurate but with it done through the STM motor, it unfortunately is audible— a potential downside when used for videography.

Speaking of videography, we’ve talked a lot about the photography capabilities of the Canon EOS R100, but how about video? For Full HD recording, the camera can shoot at frame rates of up to 60fps and take advantage of the Dual Pixel Autofocus feature. The result is not too dissimilar from what you can get with smartphone recording, but it does look more cinematic due to the bigger sensor.

4K video recording is also available on the Canon EOS R100, but only at 24fps. Additionally, there isn’t Dual Pixel Autofocus (instead using the slower contrast-detect autofocus) and the recording is weirdly zoomed in, limiting your field of view. It’s clear that the camera was not made with video in mind since most smartphones can already capture 4K in 60fps without any of that cropped-in restriction. 

That being said, there is one underrated mode for video that I particularly enjoyed. The Hybrid Auto mode takes 2 to 4 seconds of video when you take a picture, which helps form a seamless video combined with photos — it adds a rather interesting perspective of the photo-taking process.

Finally, the battery life on the Canon EOS R100 is excellent, with it being CIPA-rated for over 400 shots. However, users of the camera will still need to bring a separate wall charger during their travels, which adds some level of annoyance. 

Besides getting your images from the SD card, the Canon EOS R100 supports wireless image transfer and printing via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Canon’s Camera Connect app allows users to use it as a remote control or instantly transfer their images to share on social media. From a social standpoint, that’s a good number of ways to share your photos.

Verdict

The Canon EOS R100 has some appeal due to its aggressive pricing, impressive 24.1megapixel sensor, powerful Dual Pixel Autofocus system packed in a tiny camera body, and, most importantly, access to Canon’s latest line of RF lenses. For starter photographers, those are pretty enticing aspects.

However, as the range’s entry-level model, the results of Canon’s attempt to keep the cost down are very evident. Even though the model is geared towards moving new users away from smartphones, the limitations, such as the fixed screen with no touch functionality, no in-body stabilisation, and compromised 4k videos, will make it a tough sell for young creators who might want to buy their first dedicated camera. 

That said, if I were a beginner in photography and looking for the cheapest entry-level camera, this affordable, compact and well-made camera would serve me well.

As for the RF 28mm F2.8 STM lens, it brings an ultra-compact combination with not just the Canon EOS R100, but also many other cameras in its lineup,  making it an ideal travel companion or a daily walkabout setup.

If form factor, weight and affordability are the main priorities when it comes to choosing the lens you want, then this is a lens that cannot be missed! Considering the negligible weight and size, it is an easy decision to add this to your kit if you have a spare S$459 lying around.


For more information on the Canon EOS R100 and where to purchase it, check out its official page on the Canon website.


Photos by Leo Chia of the DANAMIC Team.



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