Camera test: Canon EOS R8

Camera test: Canon EOS R8

The Canon EOS R8 caught my attention as soon as I saw it. This new camera body has a lot in common with the earlier ones EOS RP and includes some welcome improvements. Once I saw the R8, I practically begged for the opportunity to review it.

Canon EOS R8 – Initial Thoughts

Reviewing a camera is hard work and looking beyond the basics takes time and effort. At first I thought, “Gosh, it looks like the EOS RP, so I’ll rate it as an updated RP.” After spending hours with this camera, I will say definitively that this is not an updated RP. It’s much more. This little camera packs so much performance into a small package that it shouldn’t be underestimated. The Canon EOS R8 has features that fall somewhere between high-end and consumer/enthusiast cameras. For example, the full-frame sensor has features found on the R6 Mk II, yet retains the small battery and plastic build quality more common in models such as the Rebel series.

Canon EOS R8 — Features

  • 24.2 MP full-frame sensor and DIGIC X processing
  • 2.36 m-dot EVF and vari-angle LCD touchscreen
  • Flexible connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C)
  • Excellent subject recognition/autofocus

Canon EOS R8 – Test in the real world

This is an ideal travel camera. I’ve been backpacking in the backwoods of Yosemite with the RP and I expect the Canon EOS R8 to do just as well. It’s a great general purpose camera for portraits, landscapes and events. The EOS RP did so well with this fun portrait session that I took it to Steamer Lane for some surf photography.

To practice the R8, I spent some time with my friend Bailey, who volunteered to be a model. I chose a selection of native RF lenses and one custom EF lens for the session. The Canon EOS R8 performed well with every lens I tried. For some photos I have one Neewer battery grip that conveniently fit perfectly

I found that the autofocus was accurate much more often than not. The eye-detection feature was great during the session with Bailey, but occasionally he would target something unexpected, like a tree. You may remember one article I wrote about the EOS RP and my complaint “that’s not an eye.” The Canon EOS R8 fared much better than the RP in this regard, but at times it seemed like it could have done better. It’s a tool, not magic.

1687186468 647 Camera test Canon EOS R8 | Theedgesm
Sean uses the R8 with a modified Canon EF135mm f/2 USM. Yes, I walk in a hiking boot. I’m getting better.

I thought about the initial design for a few days and decided to take the EOS R8 for a more rigorous workout. The idea that this would be a pretty good camera for family sports photography was too good to ignore. The swell was good and the light was cooperating, so why not shoot some surf in Santa Cruz? What immediately stood out was how incredibly well it did at focusing on the nearest surfer. Sometimes it would even zoom in on the surfer’s face from 200 meters away. This definitely had me stoked.

1687186468 565 Camera test Canon EOS R8 | Theedgesm

Canon EOS R8 – What I like

  • Small and lightweight
  • Quality output
  • Very good with high ISO
  • Back button focus was available by default
  • Level and histogram are displayed in the eyepiece by default
  • Same sensor as the R6 Mk II
  • Fits well with my EF lenses
  • Updated control layout – a notable improvement over the EOS RP
  • Large value

Canon EOS R8 – What I don’t like

  • The build is mostly plastic with what appears to be a structural weakness in the lower left corner near the LCD screen. I don’t expect this to survive a fall.
  • I still don’t understand the value of Fv mode.
  • The sensor is exposed when the lens is removed. That seems like a guarantee against dust spots.
  • Auto eye focus features are pretty good, but take some getting used to. It would occasionally focus on seemingly random objects in the frame.
  • No printed manual, just a quick start brochure. I prefer to at least skim through the manual before getting started.