Andy Westlake takes a first look at the new, lightweight full-frame Canon EOS R8

Canon EOS R8 at a glance:

  • £1700 body only
  • £1900 with RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM kit zoom
  • 24.2MP full-frame sensor
  • ISO 100-102,400
  • Up to 40fps shooting
  • 4K 60p video
  • 2.36m-dot, 0.7x EVF
  • 3in fully articulated LCD
  • Canon UK website

It’s only a few months since Canon announced an update to its enthusiast-focused full-frame EOS R6, with the EOS R6 Mark II gaining a brand new 24.2MP sensor. Now, the firm has taken the same sensor and processor, and placed them inside a smaller and simpler body based on the entry-level EOS RP. The resulting camera, the Canon EOS R8, doesn’t officially replace the RP, but instead sits above it in the line-up (for now at least).

Rear three-quarter view.

Canon has built the EOS R8 using essentially the same body as the existing EOS RP. Image credit: Andy Westlake

Canon EOS R8 key features:

  • 24MP sensor: The EOS R8 uses the same 24MP full-frame sensor as the recent, much more expensive EOS R6 Mark II
  • Subject detection: The AF system is capable of recognising humans, animals, vehicles, with auto selection between subject types
  • Mode switch: The body is near-identical to the EOS RP, aside from the addition of a still/movie mode switch on the top left
  • Lightweight: Canon says this is its lightest full-frame mirrorless body yet, at just 461g – 24g lighter than the EOS RP
Canon EOS R8 top controls.

There’s a new stills/video mode switch on the top left, with the power switch now combined with the control lock on the top right. Image credit: Andy Westlake

Major photographic specs include a sensitivity range of ISO 100-102,400, along with burst shooting at 6 frames per second using the mechanical shutter (with electronic first curtain), or 40fps with the electronic shutter. The sensor supports Canon’s Dual-Pixel CMOS AF, allowing phase-detection autofocus anywhere in the frame, and includes the same sophisticated subject recognition system as the EOS R6 Mark II. This can focus specifically on humans, animals, or vehicles, and you don’t have to specify the subject type in advance.

Canon EOS R8 sensor

Canon has used the same sensor as in the EOS R6 Mark II. Image credit: Andy Westlake

For video, you get 4K 60p recording and Full HD up to 180fps, with no hard limit to the recording time. Canon’s clever pre-recording function can buffer either 3 or 5 seconds of video before the record button is depressed, so you shouldn’t miss unpredictable moments. Headphone and microphone sockets are built in.

Connector ports

Canon EOS R8 ports: 2.5mm remote release, headphone, microphone, micro HDMI and USB-C. Image credit: Andy Westlake

The body design is borrowed almost wholesale from the EOS RP, but with the addition of a new stills/video mode selection switch on the top left, and the power switch moving to the top right. Controls are sparse, to say the least – this is very much an entry level design.

Canon EOS R8 articulated screen

The articulated screen helps with composition when shooting at awkward angles or for selfies. Image credit: Andy Westlake

Personally, I found the EOS RP frustratingly over-simplified, and Canon doesn’t appear to have done much to change this. You do at least get a decent viewfinder and a fully articulated screen, with Canon’s excellent touch interface helping to offset the lack of buttons and dials.

Battery and card compartment

The EOS R8 has a single card slot and uses a relatively small battery. Image credit: Andy Westlake

Compared to the EOS R6 Mark II, though, you give up several desirable features. The camera has just a single SD card slot and uses the small LP-E17 battery that provides just 220 shots per charge with the EVF. However, both are understandable given the compact body. But the lack of either in-body image stabilisation or an AF-area selection joystick is disappointing; almost all other full-frame mirrorless cameras include them.

New Canon RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM kit zoom

To go with the EOS R8, Canon has produced a new compact, lightweight RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM kit zoom. This lens features a collapsible design to give a more compact packed size, and employs a stepper motor for fast, quiet focusing. Its built-in optical stabilisation is rated for 4.5 stops of shake compensation; used on a camera with in-body stabilisation, this rises to 7 stops.

Canon EOS R8 and 24-50mm zoom in-hand

The new RF 24-50mm kit zoom makes for a small, lightweight package on the EOS R8. image credit: Andy Westlake.

The lens’s minimum focus distance is 0.3m, giving 0.19x magnification, and it accepts 58mm filters. The Canon RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens will also be available separately for £379.99.

Canon EOS R8: First Impressions

There are two ways of looking at the EOS R8. On the one hand, you get a lot of features borrowed from the EOS R6 Mark II at a much lower price. But you also miss out on several key features you’d really expect in a £1700 body.

Canon EOS R8 in use

We got our hands on the Cano EOS R8 before its official launch. Image credit: Andy Westlake

Canon’s decision to re-use the EOS RP body design obviously makes economic sense, but it results in a £1,800 camera with handling that’s sorely lacking, even compared to the EOS R10 that’s half the price. Indeed it’s a pity Canon couldn’t have started from there instead, as at least you’d get a joystick. So while the EOS R8 is sure to work well and give decent results, it’s difficult to get excited about.

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