Canon EOS R100 review
Written by Gordon Laing
The Canon EOS R100 is a compact entry-level mirrorless camera with a cropped APSC sensor aimed at anyone wanting a step-up in control and quality over their phone. Announced in May 2023 and available in a kit with the RF-S 18-45 zoom, the R100 arrives only three months after the R50, which until that point was the most affordable and simplest model in the EOS R series to date.
Now the R100 comes in at an even lower price with an even simpler feature-set, making it the new entry-level model in the range – and as such expect some compromises.
I spent some time with a pre-production model and in the video below I’ll show you what’s new and how the features compare to the next models up in the range. If you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling.
Measuring 116x86x69mm, the R100 on the left is essentially the same size as the R50 on the right, and while it is technically a tad lighter at 356g including battery, you’re unlikely to notice the few grams of difference between them.
Bottom line, both are compact, lightweight bodies you’ll rarely find a burden to carry around, but equally both include decent-sized and comfortable textured grips, and are a lot more enjoyable to take pictures with than a phone.
On the upper right side of the R100 are the main mode dial with a power collar, a red movie record button, finger dial and the shutter release.
Round the back there’s a four-way rocker control for navigating menus, positioning the AF area or providing direct access to the ISO, drive, exposure compensation and flash options.
As you’d expect for an entry-level model, there’s no dedicated AF-ON button, and in the absence of a rear thumb wheel, the finger dial on top becomes the primary means of adjusting exposure settings.
In full Manual mode for example, the finger dial operates the shutter speed by default, but push up on the rocker button and the control will switch to the lens aperture; you can see the function change by the dial icon next to the value. So pushing the button once again switches control to the exposure compensation, although this is directly accessible with a single button in other modes. Meanwhile in full Manual, a third press-up cycles the control back to the shutter speed.
Moving onto composition, the R100’s electronic viewfinder employs an OLED panel with 2.36 million dots, 0.95x magnification and 60fps refresh. So the same spec as the R50, albeit lacking its smoother 120fps option.
The rear surface is dominated by the screen, a 3in panel with 1.04 million dots, making it lower resolution than the R50 and higher models in the series.
But more importantly, the R100’s screen is fixed in place, so unlike the R50, you’re not able to flip it out to face you or compose more comfortably at high or low angles.
The screen isn’t touch sensitive either, which to me feels like cost-cutting too far given the target audience are used to tapping, pinching and swiping their way through a user interface. It also means there’s no way to reposition the AF area by touch.
But it’s not the first time Canon’s downgraded the screen on an entry-level model. The earlier EOS 2000D or Rebel T7 DSLR also sported a fixed non-touch screen, and a slightly lower resolution one at that. In fact, while the R100 is arguably the mirrorless version of that DSLR, it is better-featured overall.
For instance, while the R100 lacks the Multi Function shoe of higher-end models, it does at least sport a fully-functioning hotshoe with a central sync pin, which means it should work with low-cost third-party flashes.
In contrast, the 2000D / T7 lacked that crucial central pin, and the R50 doesn’t even have any legacy pins at all, limiting both to only official Canon accessories. So a surprise benefit to the R100 there.
Behind a flap on the grip side are USB C and Micro HDMI ports, while on the left side are a microphone input and a jack for an optional wired remote, both nice to find despite the entry-level position.
The single SD card slot and battery are housed within a compartment beneath the body. The R100 is unsurprisingly powered by the same LP-E17 battery as the R50 and R10, and like those models you can charge it in-camera with a USB-C Power Delivery source.
The R100 also features Wifi and Bluetooth which, along with Canon’s Camera Connect app, provide as seamless an experience as I’ve used for connecting your phone and transferring images across.
Like all EOS R cameras, the R100 sports an RF lens mount which can take any of Canon’s RF or RF-S lenses, and thanks to the APSC sensor behind them, the field of view of all lenses is reduced by 1.6x.
Right now, there’s no third party lenses in the native RF mount with autofocus, but you can adapt older EF DSLR lenses from Canon or any other brand. Canon has said it will consider licensing third party lenses on a case-by-case basis, which doesn’t sound like you’re going to suddenly find the entire Sigma and Tamron mirrorless range in RF versions anytime soon.
I understand Canon’s desire to quality-control the EOS R experience, not to mention protecting its investment, but I personally feel a key selling point of owning a budget EOS in the past was the wealth of affordable lenses available, a huge number of which came from third parties. Eliminate or reduce this access and you have a less attractive system in my view, especially at the price-conscious entry-level.
Anyway, the R100 kit includes the RF-S 18-45mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM zoom, which delivers a range equivalent to 29-72mm. It’s ok for starters and provides a compact walkaround option which retracts when not in use to become even shorter.
If you’re a handheld vlogger though, you’ll need to adapt an old lens or wait for Canon to release something wider in the RF mount, and if you’re after a blurrier background on a budget, I’d recommend adapting the old EF 50mm f1.8 STM.
For imaging, the R100 employs a 24 Megapixel APS-C sized cropped sensor, which again reduces the field of view of all lenses by 1.6 times. Like the R50 and R10, there’s no built-in stabilisation, or IBIS for short. For IBIS in Canon’s range, you’ll be spending a lot more on the R7 or the R6 upwards.
This means to iron out any wobbles on photos, you’ll want a lens with optical image stabilisation or IS for short, like the kit zoom, although if you’re filming video, you can apply digital stabilisation albeit at the cost of a crop.
The R100’s sensor may share the same size and resolution as that in the R50 and R10, but it’s not the same component. Instead I believe it’s the older sensor from the EOS M50, which means there’s some video restrictions to be aware of.
But first the photo settings, starting with the modes. The R100 of course offers the traditional Manual, Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv) and Program modes, giving you direct control over exposure settings.
If you prefer an easier life, Scene Intelligent Auto does a good job at recognising the subject and adjusting settings to match, while Hybrid Auto additionally records short video clips which are compiled into the day’s highlights.
For a little more creative control, the Special Scene mode lets you set the camera into portrait, landscape or action modes, along with a silent option which exploits the electronic shutter to avoid any noise.
Meanwhile the Creative Filters mode lets you apply a variety of effects from grainy black and white and toy camera to a selection of HDR options.
For more options, enter the main menu system, where you can set the image quality including a variety of JPEG sizes along with RAW and Compressed RAW formats, and four aspect ratios.
The sensor may not be the latest from Canon, but still supports Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 88% coverage across the frame and the choice of single, spot, zone or full face and eye detection. Focusing can be quick, quiet and accurate depending on the lens in use. If a lens doesn’t have a manual focus switch and you want to adjust this yourself, you’ll need to select it from a menu.
The R100 isn’t designed as an action camera, but Servo AF will track subjects with a top burst speed of 3.5fps, or 6.5fps if you’re happy without continuous autofocus.
Moving onto video, the R100 essentially inherits the capabilities of the M50 before it. So it will film 1080 up to 50p without a crop and with the confident refocusing of Dual Pixel AF.
So far so good, but the 4k mode, like the M50, incurs a significant 1.55x crop and is limited to less responsive contrast autofocus. So unless your subject is static and you don’t need wide coverage, I’d say it’s best to think of the R100 as being a 1080 camera.
In High Frame Rate mode you can film slow motion up to 120p, but in 720p only, again like the older M50. There’s also manual or auto audio levels and the option to apply digital stabilisation, albeit again at the cost of a crop.
Canon EOS R100 verdict so far
The EOS R100 becomes the most affordable body in the EOS R system to date, delivering good-looking 24 Megapixel photos and 1080 video from a compact body that’s easy to use and provides access to the company’s latest RF lenses.
As the entry-level model in the range, there’s inevitably some limitations, including a fixed screen with no touch capabilities, no built-in stabilization, compromised 4k video, and basic controls. But then it’s no different to the previous entry-level DSLR, the 2000D or Rebel T7 in these regards, and sports a number of benefits over that model including better autofocus, albeit at a higher price.
The various limitations are also resolved by stepping-up to other models in the series. The R50 adds a touch-sensitive flip screen, better subject detection, faster bursts, 4k video with decent autofocus and Canon’s latest Multi function shoe, albeit without the pins for simpler flashes.
Spend more on the R10 and you’ll gain extra controls and longer bursts, while the flagship R7 boosts the photo resolution, adds dual card slots, a bigger battery, built-in stabilisation and even more controls. There’s other features to weigh-up, not to mention full-frame to consider as you increase your budget, but you get the idea.
At the lower-end of the range, I personally feel the R50 hits a sweetspot, with a lot more features than the R100, but smaller and a little cheaper than the R10. But if you don’t need the RF mount, look for bargains on an M50 Mark II, not to mention bagging some EF-M lenses. And if your budget is tighter, it’s still hard to beat an entry-level DSLR, such as the 2000D / T7 or the more capable 250D / SL3.
Ultimately, as the most basic model in the series to date, the R100 is unlikely to get any enthusiasts excited, but it still does what it sets out to do, providing a lower point of entry to the EOS R system, and a step-up in quality, control and handling over a smartphone.
Just before going though, remember there’s still very limited third party lenses available for the EOS R system, and while you can adapt older EF lenses from any brand, I hope Canon allows the full mirrorless lineup from Sigma, Tarmron and others sooner than later.Check prices on the Canon EOS R100 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!