Canon EOS R8 initial review

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The Canon EOS R8 is an entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera, featuring the 24.2MP CMOS sensor from the EOS R6 II. It brings Canon’s latest AF capabilities and much improved video to the same body as the existing EOS RP.

Key specifications:

  • 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Up to 40fps continuous shooting with e-shutter (6fps with mechanical)
  • 30fps Raw Burst mode with 1/2-second pre-buffering
  • Full-width 4K video from 6K capture at up to 60p
  • 10-bit C-Log3 or HDR PQ video capture
  • 10-bit HDR HEIF option
  • 2.36M dot OLED viewfinder (0.7x magnification)
  • Fully-articulated rear screen
  • 4-channel audio with optional XLR adapter


The EOS R8’s autofocus system is essentially borrowed wholesale from the R6 II, which means it has been trained to recognize a wide selection of subject types. This is built on top of the EOS 1D-style system for telling the camera how you expect the subject to move as it approaches the camera.

The interface itself is very simple: you choose the AF area size you want and whether you want the camera to track subjects under or immediately around your chosen AF point or area. Like the R6 II, the R8 has been trained to recognize the following subjects:

  • People (Body / Face / Eye)
  • Animals (Dogs / Cats / Birds / Horses)
  • Vehicles (Motorsport cards and motorcycles / Aircraft / Trains)
  • Auto (auto-selects from the above groups)

One of the features absent from the EOS R8 is an AF joystick. Instead you can tap the screen or use it as a touchpad that can be touched or swiped to position the AF point while the camera is to your eye. As before you can limit the area of the screen that acts as a touchpad, to prevent ‘nose focus.’

There’s now also an option to tap the screen to cycle between recognized subjects, when the camera’s to your eye. The camera doesn’t indicate how many subjects there are, so you essentially have to keep tapping and trust that the camera will have recognized the subject you wanted to focus on, but it adds another option.

Finally, there’s the option to configure the cardinal points of the four-way controller to nudge the AF point. So, while it definitely would be nice to have an AF joystick, you’re not exactly left short of alternatives. As with the Sony a7C, it’s a price paid to keep the body size down.

Single curtain mechanical shutter

Like Sony’s a7C, the Canon EOS R8 features a mechanical shutter mechanism to end exposures, but not the corresponding shutter blades to initiate exposure. This results in a lighter, less expensive shutter assembly but also has some minor knock-on effects.

The most obvious is the reduction in the camera’s burst rate: just 6fps in electronic first curtain mode, compared with the EOS R6 II’s 12 fps mechanical shutter. But there’s also a potential image quality glitch that creeps in at very high shutter speeds (typically 1/1000 sec or faster) when used with very wide aperture values.

It takes the form of the truncation of the bottom of bokeh (most noticeably with distinct highlights). It occurs because light can creep behind the mechanical shutter blade as it falls, adding a little extra exposure to the top half of the bokeh circles. However, because the exposure is initiated by turning on the pixel rows, there’s no way for this extra light to creep in at the start of the exposure. For most shots, this tiny difference is imperceptible, but in very short exposures, the extra light gained while the shutter is closing becomes a meaningful proportion of the overall exposure, and you can see an exposure difference between the top and bottom halves of the bokeh.

It’s something that only happens in a rare combination of circumstances, but it’s worth knowing about if you plan to fit fast primes to the EOS R8.

Raw burst with pre-buffer

From the EOS R6 II, the EOS R8 gains the ability to shoot at up to 40 fps using its electronic shutter or to shoot 30 fps bursts of Raw images. The Raw Burst mode includes an option to pre-buffer: keeping images in the camera’s memory when you half-press the shutter button, then recording 15 of these frames to the card when you fully press. This means you capture half a second’s worth of action before the full shutter press, helping you capture the perfect moment.

The Raw Burst images are combined into a non-standard CR3 Raw file, which only Canon’s own software can currently extract (or you can use the in-camera Raw conversion system to generate JPEGs or HEIFs of the best shots). Both this and the 40fps mode use the camera’s fully electronic shutter, which is reasonably fast (~18ms) but is likely to horizontally distort anything that moves quickly across the sensor as you capture it.


One of the most significant downgrades in the EOS R8, relative to the more expensive R6 II, is the use of the LP-E17 battery. This is plausibly as much a question of keeping the camera’s size down as it is of cost-cutting or ensuring some differentiation between products, but it has an appreciable impact on shooting with the R8.

The relatively small 7.5Wh LP-E17 means the EOS R8 can’t shoot for particularly long periods and achieves a rating of just 150 shots per charge in standard ‘smooth’ mode, if you use the viewfinder. This perks up a bit to 220 shots in power saving mode, while the LCD figure of 370 jumps to 440. As always, these CIPA standard numbers can tend to significantly underestimate the number of shots you’re likely to get, but keeping the R8 powered for extended periods will require some planning.

The camera can be charged over USB or powered, if you have a powerful enough USB-PD power source, but if you’re someone who shoots a lot of photos, you’ll need to plan how to keep the camera topped-up or carry extra batteries. This is even more pressing for video shooters.

Video capabilities

Despite Canon’s reputation for holding back features from its more affordable models, the EOS R8 gets an impressive amount of the EOS R6 II’s video capabilities.

The EOS R8 can shoot 4K video, derived from full-width 6K capture, at up to 60p. It can shoot 10-bit footage in either C-Log3 or HDR PQ, it has headphone and mic sockets, and like most Canons features a fully-articulating screen. It even has the connectors in its hotshoe to allow the connection of accessories, such as Tascam’s XLR adapter that allows four-channel audio capture.

Temperature concerns mean that 4K/60p and 1080/120 have a 30-minute limit per clip (20 minutes for 1080/180). 4K or FullHD 30p can shoot for two hours per clip (though it’s likely that card or battery capacity will have stopped proceedings before then, anyway).

The camera’s 8-bit video modes can all be shot on relatively affordable U3-class SD cards. You’ll need a more expensive, V60-rated card for 10-bit C-Log3 or HDR PQ capture.

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