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Canon EOS R10 review: 4K and fast shooting speeds under $1,000

Canon’s EOS R10 brings Sony-like AF skills to its “budget” APS-C camera. It also offers some nice features for a sub-$1,000 camera, like 4K 60p, 1080p 120p, a flip-out display, a built-in flash and very fast shooting speeds. However, the sensor isn’t stacked so it has slow shooting speeds that can produce rolling shutter, and the lack of backside illumination and in-body stabilization means it’s not the best camera in low light. Still, it’s ideal for casual users who are likely to buy it for vacations, kids sporting events and more thanks to the reliable AF.

Video transcript

STEVE DENT: Canon launched its RF Mount APS-C mirrorless lineup with a bang, introducing not just one, but two, new models. One of those was the flagship $1,500 33 megapixel EOS R7 that I've already looked at, and the other is the $980 EOS R10, the subject of today's review.

Something has to give with a $500 price difference, of course. The R10 has a lower resolution, a 24-megapixel sensor, and lacks some key features like in-body stabilization, a second card slot, and a headphone port for video shooting. That said, it nearly matches the R7 in shooting speeds and offers similar video specs. Plus, it has the bonus of being smaller and lighter for travel. But how does it stand up for real world shooting when it comes to focus, image quality, and other key areas? Let's dive in.

As with the R7, the R10 has the same RF Mount as the full frame R-series cameras and supports every RF lens. It also works with the new RFS lenses designed for the R7 and R10. But so far there are only two of those, and they're kit-style lenses.

The R10 isn't as pretty as Fujifilm's XD-32, but it's better looking and easier to use than any Sony APS-C camera. It's also small and weighs just 426 grams, far less than the 612 gram R7, just a bit more than the Sony A-6400. It has every control you need, including a pair of dials for exposure, a mode selection dial, a joystick, a d-pad, and an AF button.

You also get a focus selector switch, a record button, and five programmable buttons. Everything is easy to find, especially if you're used to Canon cameras. The grip is deep, and though your fingers can get cramped, it's worth it for the tiny size.

The menus are typical Canon, so they're a bit clunky but easy to use. Like every other recent R-Series camera, the R10 has a flip-out screen for vlogging and selfies. That's smart, considering it's aimed at vacationers and budding YouTubers. The EVF is mediocre, though, with a low res 2,368kdot screen. To be fair, though, other cameras in this price range have similar EVFs.

The R10 has a single card slot and smallish battery, which is also par for the course in this category. As such, a corrupt card could spell death for your photos, and battery life is on the low end at 450 shots max, compared to 660 for the R7. You get a USB-C port for transfers and charging, but it's fussy about which charger you can use.

It has a micro HDMI port along, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and it comes with a microphone input but no headphone port. By comparison, Fujifilm's XD-30 lets you hook up headphones with an iPhone style USB-C adapter.

The R10 lets you take sharp photos quickly. It can shoot at up to 15 frames per second in mechanical shutter mode, a stellar figure for a consumer camera and the same as the R7. In electronic mode, it can hit 23 frames per second, just seven frames per second shy of its pricier sibling.

As with the R7, though, beware of rolling shutter that can skew photos if the camera or subject moves too quickly. With a smaller buffer, it can only sustain those bursts for around 2 seconds, but that's enough to capture sporting or other moments. While it only has a single slot, it supports UHS2 cards, so it can empty the buffer fairly quickly.

The best feature of this camera is the AI-powered dual pixel autofocus system. It allowed me to keep fast moving subjects in focus either by keeping the focus point on them or using face and eye tracking. You can track humans, animals, or vehicles. With humans or animals, it'll focus on the head or eyes or the helmet of a driver in a race car.

The system is responsive, reliable, and fairly idiot-proof, smoothly tracking subjects regardless of which mode you select. That makes it great for beginners who may not want to mess with settings. The R10 shoots color accurate photos with skin tones leading on the warm side. JPEGs strike a good balance between sharpening and noise reduction, while raw files deliver decent, but not spectacular, dynamic range.

That allows for a good amount of room to tweak images. Lowlight performance isn't amazing, though. ISO 6,400 is pretty much a hard limit, and even then you won't have a lot of room to boost blacks without getting tons of noise. And you don't have in-body stabilization to help at low shutter speeds, so you'll need lenses with optical stabilization.

As I frequently forgot while using it, though, the R10 does have a built-in flash that'll do in a pinch if you really don't have enough light. Just make sure to dial the illumination levels down in the settings to avoid blowing out your subject.

The R10 is a solid camera for video. You get sharp downsampled 4K video at 30 frames per second or less and crop video at 60 frames per second that's softer, but still usable. If you want super slow mo, it maxes out at 120 frames per second at 10 ADP, but video is even softer. It even offers 10-bit video via the HDR PQ mode, but that requires some tweaking during the edit.

Autofocus isn't quite as good for video as for photos, as the system occasionally focuses on the background instead of the subject. That doesn't happen often, though. So video was usually nice and sharp.

The lack of in-body stabilization means you need to use stabilized lenses for handheld video. And if you're doing anything like vlogging, you'll also need the electronic stabilization. Using that setting adds a significant crop on top of the 1.6 times APS-C crop, so you'll need a fairly wide lens, like the 18-150, designed for the R10.

Vlogging 4K at 60 frames per second is extra tricky, as you get a further 1.56 times crop. This is the best I could do with all those modes combined at an 18-millimeter focal length. Rolling shutter is also an issue, particularly in oversampled 4K 30p mode, though less so than Sony's APS-C cameras.

It improves in 4K 60p mode, because there's less sensor to read out. But again, you're facing a serious crop and softer footage. As with photos, video quality is excellent, with dynamic range on par with rival cameras, though a bit less than what Sony has on offer.

The oversampled video is very sharp and colors are accurate and human friendly. You get extra dynamic range shooting in HDR mode, but it can be a bit tricky to edit.

The $980 EOS R10 is a solid start for Canon's budget crop-sensor RF cameras. It has awesome shooting speeds, excellent autofocus, good image quality, nice handling, a flip-out display, and decent video specs. There's room for improvement, though.

It's not a gigantic leap spec wise over the $900 two-year-old Sony A-6400. And while it has better autofocus than Fujifilm's 900 XT-32, the latter outperforms it for video and has slightly more resolution. Still, this camera ticks a lot of boxes and is bound to appeal to casual users who want to step up their camera game.

They won't be disappointed, because it's easy to use and delivers great looking photos and video. Thanks for watching. And if you enjoyed this video, please hit like and subscribe. And for more on technology, check out engadget.com.

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