Canon EOS R10 Review: Powerful Performance at an Affordable Price

The Canon EOS R10 is small but mighty, featuring an advanced autofocus system, the ability to shoot 15fps with its mechanical shutter, and a full APS-C experience.

Canon released the EOS R10 and EOS R7 at the same time in May. The EOS R7 rightly had expectations to meet as it’s the top model, and people really liked the 80D, 90D and 7D series cameras that it essentially replaces. The other camera, the EOS R10, replaces the lower end Rebel DSLRs, and while it’s always nice to see incremental improvements in this area, I don’t think anyone expected Canon go that far.

Manufacturing quality

The Canon EOS R10 adopts a compact form factor while clearly being designed to be comfortable in the hand. It measures 4.82 inches wide (122.5 millimeters) by 3.46 inches high (87.8 millimeters) and 3.28 inches deep at the handle (83.4 millimeters). Having a good grip makes a big difference as it greatly influences the tactile experience of using a camera, and given the overall size here, Canon has done a terrific job.

The shape and depth are excellent, but for my hands I would have liked them to be a little taller and more space between the grip and the lens for clearance. One accessory that would solve both problems is a grip extension like the one on the EOS RP. It would add the necessary height and I could angle my fingers better so that a larger physical gap isn’t necessary.

Canon EOS R10 camera.

Canon EOS R10 camera.

With the battery and memory card in the camera, the EOS R10 weighs around 15 ounces (429 grams). It feels very light in the hands, which can sometimes feel like cheap quality. However, I have to go back to the feel of the grip and the textured rubber material used throughout the body which doesn’t feel shoddy. Someone at Canon certainly understands user experience priorities when there are only limited things that are achievable at the $980 price tag.

The layout includes a nice angled shutter button typical of Canon cameras, a front and rear dial to control two different exposure methods, multi-controller joystick control to quickly move focus points, and a D- user-programmable four-way pad. . There is a dedicated AF/MF switch on the front along with another programmable button.

Canon EOS R10 camera.

The LP-E17 battery and single SD UHS-II memory card slot are housed in a door at the bottom of the camera. Unlike every other EOS R-series camera, the battery door feels relatively cheap and doesn’t have a spring-loaded hinge that holds the door open when unlocked and just folds down. There is no attempt made to protect this entrance from the weather, so I had to be careful where I put the camera.

One thing this design lacks is a third wheel to complement the three aspects of direct exposure control: shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Instead of a third watch face, we get a D-pad which offers more customization options, so at least there’s a bit of a compromise.

I say a bit because button customization with any Canon camera is frustrating with artificially limited options, but it’s even worse with the EOS R10. For example, one of the most essential button customizations is what Canon cameras call the “Shot Record/Recall Function”. This is where I can hold down a button, and several camera settings of my choosing instantly switch to something else I’ve pre-programmed.

Are you using a slow shutter speed for a still subject, but suddenly there’s fast action? This custom button will capture that fleeting moment by switching to a fast shutter speed and perhaps auto ISO rather than full manual. You’ll find it on the more expensive $500 EOS R7, but not here. It’s not like potential buyers of this camera even learn of this difference from any of Canon’s marketing, so what’s the point of arbitrarily punishing owners with greater limitations on customizations?

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Image quality

The Canon EOS R10 uses a new 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and the DIGIC X image processor. There’s no built-in image stabilization in this model, so additional stabilization would have to come from the lens used (Canon will put “IS” in the lens name for easy reference).

Using the R10 for a longer period of time, I find the ISO to be almost the only thing that really needs to be controlled. It reminds me of when I owned the 7D Mark II, and anything above ISO 800 was going to fall apart. Depending on the subject and if fine detail is critical, image quality begins to deteriorate rapidly when ISO sensitivity is increased. There’s a lot to like about this camera, but shooting in soft light isn’t its forte.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

The sensor’s dynamic range is good enough to preserve data in shadows but doesn’t seem as good at bringing back highlights. Although the example below is very heavy, it shows a lot of texture extracted from very dark areas. Some of the highlights weren’t fully salvageable, but that didn’t make a mess either.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.
Original photograph.
Recovery of shadows and highlights.

This camera can do 15 frames per second using the mechanical shutter, which far exceeds what others have done in this price range. Every element helps with subjects like little birds constantly wriggling and moving, and I appreciate what Canon has done here. The camera can also shoot 23fps with the electronic shutter, but since it’s not a stacked sensor, there’s a pronounced rolling shutter effect with fast action.

Rolling shutter effect of R10 shown with kicked ball and player’s shoe and leg.

Auto focus

The EOS R10’s autofocus is one of the things I liked the most. It features Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS II AF system with 651 phase detection points. Canon says it inherited its smarts from the $6,000 EOS R3, but not necessarily the speed as it doesn’t have a back-illuminated stacked sensor. It offers amazingly intelligent subject recognition for humans, animals (including birds) and vehicles and can start tracking from anywhere in the frame.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

I found the reliability of the acquisition punching well above its class. There have been a number of times I’ve seen an obscured bird or dog behind something else, and I don’t expect the camera to have clear enough subject identification, but he still manages to figure it out and puts a focus tracking box around the eye. On the other hand, trying so hard to find topics in frame can cause false positives to pop up from time to time. For this, I can temporarily disable subject tracking, manually choose a tracking point either with the multi-controller or by tapping the screen, and track a subject that way.

The autofocus settings are robust for an avid camera. There are six pages of menu settings just for autofocus, including ways to tweak its behavior in all sorts of different scenarios. There are even three customizable focus area options where I can decide the exact width and height of the area.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Battery life

The LP-E17 battery is smaller in size and is used in the Canon Rebel series and EOS RP. I usually get a few photography sessions from a battery to a few hours per session. It’s better than I expected due to its size and the performance I get from this mirrorless camera. For video, it was tested to record around 50 minutes of 4K 30p footage before running out.

One thing that I find confusing is how the camera reports battery life. There are three battery bars for a full charge, but once I get past the second bar, the camera will show a flashing red battery icon with one bar remaining. So it’s basically just two stages of reported battery life before the third stage, revealing that it’s very close to death. Nowhere on the camera, not even in the battery info menu, can we see the remaining battery percentage for a little more clarity.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Come for the price, stay for the speed

The Canon EOS R10 is a camera that negotiates. Sometimes it leans heavily in favor of its user, but sometimes it leans in favor of saving production costs to keep the price low. As a wildlife photographer, my personal favorite aspects of this camera are its smart autofocus system that works better than some cameras that cost thousands more, and the 15fps continuous shooting without disadvantages. That being said, there are so many other aspects about the camera that it does just as well or better than what we typically see around $1000 that I would basically need to recite the spec sheet to show all there is to love.

On the other hand, there’s no in-body image stabilization, handling is a bit cramped, the electronic shutter can best be ignored for action, and there are a few hiccups. in usability like limited custom button options and the lack of a third dial for direct control over the exposure triangle. But a lot of cons don’t impact as much when I consider all the aforementioned pluses that cost $980.

Sample photo of the Canon EOS R10.

Are there alternatives?

Along with the EOS R10, Canon also launched the EOS R7, which is another APS-C camera that costs $500 more. This camera has a slightly different body design which is a little bigger and takes a bigger battery. It also has two UHS-II SD card slots instead of one, in-body image stabilization, faster maximum shutter speed, improved autofocus in low light, a higher resolution viewfinder and rear LCD screen, better video options and a fair bit of weather sealing. The R10 is a perfectly fine camera, but with the R7 it will take you longer before you hit limits.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Canon EOS R10 significantly raises the standard for APS-C cameras in this price range.

Leave a Comment