Canon EOS R100 review: Cheap but with compromises: Digital Photography Review


Product images by Shaminder Dulai

The Canon EOS R100 is an ultra-compact 24 Megapixel APS-C mirrorless camera with an RF mount. It is the cheapest way to enter Canon’s mirrorless ecosystem, offering more flexibility than a smartphone.

Key features:

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF
  • 3.5 fps burst shooting with autofocus (6.5 fps without)
  • 4K/24p video capture from a cropped region of the sensor
  • High-speed 120 fps shooting at 1280 x 720
  • 2.36M dot OLED viewfinder
  • 3″, 1.04M dot fixed display (non-touchscreen)
  • External mic input

The R100 sits at the bottom of Canon’s mirrorless lineup, below the EOS R50. It has recommended prices of $479 body-only, $599 with the RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens, and $829 with the 18-45mm and an RF-S 55-210mm F5-7.1 IS STM telephoto lens.


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What is it?

The EOS R100 is more-or-less the equivalent of the EOS Rebel T7 (EOS 2000D) digital SLR in that it uses a lot of components from cameras of years past. That means a dated sensor, processor and autofocus system. The R100 also has a fixed display that is not touch-enabled, which is jarring in the smartphone era.

Sensor and processor

The R100’s 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor dates back several years and is likely similar to the one used on the EF-M mount EOS M200, M50 and M50 II. Just because it’s on the older side doesn’t mean that it’s not competitive; quite the contrary, as you’ll see below.

The Digic 8 sensor is also a generation behind the Digic X chip used in the newest Canon models, having first appeared in 2018. In addition to faster overall performance and higher frame rate 4K video, the main thing Digic 8 users miss out on is advanced subject recognition autofocus.

Autofocus

The R100 uses Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus system, using every pixel as a depth-aware autofocus point, albeit the previous version. It can recognize faces and eyes, but for animal and car detection, you’ll need to step up to the more expensive EOS R50. It offers a dedicated face detection + tracking mode, along with spot, 1-point, and zone focus areas. Since the R100 lacks a touchscreen or AF joystick, you’ll move the focus point around using its four-way controller.

Creative Assist mode

The R100 has many, but not all, of Canon’s features to make adjust camera settings accessible to beginners. Modes that use multiple exposures cannot be found on the R100. Again, you’ll need to set up to use those.

The background blur option lets the user adjust the aperture using a simple slider interface.

The main feature here is Creative Assist, which is available in Intelligent Auto mode. This mode has a simple interface using terminology that first-time photographers will understand. For example, the term “Brightness” is used instead of “exposure compensation” while “Background blur” is actually controlling the aperture. Color presets such as Vivid, Soft, and Black & white are also available.

In food mode, one of several scene modes, users can adjust the color tone to get accurate white balance in artificial lighting.

Several of the scene modes allow you to adjust settings easily. For instance, you can adjust the color tone (aka white balance) in food mode, or how blurry the background is when you pan the camera in panning mode. Since the R100’s burst rate is quite low (3.5 fps with AF) and the buffer fills very quickly, so don’t expect miracles in sport or panning modes.

Video

It’s nice to see an input for an external mic on a camera in this price range. The R100 also supports Canon’s RS-60E3 remote shutter release.

The EOS R100 captures 4K/24p video using a 1.5x crop from the center of the sensor. This has a number of downsides: it makes it very difficult to maintain a wide-angle view of the world (the wide end of the 14-45mm kit lens ends up being equivalent to a not-very-wide 34mm). It also means you get the additional noise of effectively using a smaller sensor. And, if you turn on Digital IS for shake reduction, an additional 1.1x crop is added.

If you’re shooting wide-angle footage, then the best inexpensive lens for the job is the RF-S 10-18mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM, which is 24mm equiv. at its wide end with Digital IS turned off.

There are several other issues related to 4K capture that we’ll mention further down in this review.

Lens selection

The RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens in its collapsed position.

If you’re looking for a large selection of RF-mount lenses designed for APS-C cameras (known as RF-S), we have bad news: there are only four at the time of publication. They include the collapsable 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM, 55-210mm F5-7.1 IS STM ($349), the versatile 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM ($499), and ultra-wide 10-18mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM ($329).

You can also buy Canon’s regular RF-mount lenses, designed for its full-frame bodies, but they aren’t cheap. Since Canon keeps its lens mount design private, third-party lenses aren’t likely to come anytime soon (though Sigma will reportedly release full-frame lenses this year). You can also add an adapter to mount older EF and EF-S lenses for DSLRs, but both these options can get unwieldy quickly, undermining the point of buying such a small body.

Wireless connectivity

While lacking many other features, the R100 includes full wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only), and Bluetooth 4.2.

The Canon Camera Connect app (iOS, Android) can be used for camera control (with or without live view), image transfer, geolocation, and firmware updates. It can also upload images to Canon’s ‘image.canon’ cloud service. The Android app we tested with the camera was responsive and bug-free.


How it compares

We’ve already described the main differences between the EOS R100 and its more expensive peer, the R50. Here’s how the R100 sizes up against two of its closest competitors.

Canon EOS R100 Canon EOS R50 Sony a6100 OM-D E-M10 IV
List price at launch $479 ($599 with 18-45mm F3.5-6.3 IS) $679
($799 with 18-45mm F3.5-6.3 IS)
$699
($850 with 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS)

$699
($799 with 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 EZ)

Pixel count 24MP 24MP 24MP 20MP
Sensor size APS-C
332mm²
APS-C
332mm²
APS-C
372mm²
Four Thirds
226mm²
Autofocus Dual Pixel* Dual Pixel II Hybrid Contrast
Stabilization? Lens only Lens only Lens only In-body
Burst rate 3.5 fps 12 fps
15 fps (elec)
11 fps 8.7 fps
Viewfinder
(mag.)
2.36M dot OLED (0.59x) 2.36M dot OLED (0.59x) 1.44M dot OLED (0.70x) 2.36M dot OLED (0.61x)
Rear screen 1.04M dot fixed (non-touch) 1.62M dot fully-articulating 0.92M dot tilt up/down 1.04M dot fully-articulating
Video 4K/24p 1.6x crop 4K/30p no crop
8-bit or 10-bit HDR mode
4K/24p no crop
4K/30p 1.23x crop
4K/30p no crop
Mic / Headphone? Yes / No Yes / No Yes / No Yes / No
Connector USB-C
(USB 2.0 / 480 Mbps)
USB-C
(USB 2.0 / 480 Mbps)
USB Micro B
(USB 2.0 / 480 Mbps)
USB Micro B
(USB 2.0 480 / Mbps)
Battery life
LCD / EVF
430 / 340 370 / 230 420 / 380 360 / –
Dimensions 116 x 86 x 69mm 116 x 86 x 69 mm 120 x 67 x 59mm 122 x 85 x 49mm
Weight (with battery + card) 356g
(12.6oz)
375g (13.2oz) 396g (14.0oz) 383g (13.5oz)

* Contrast detection when shooting 4K video

The table above illustrates what you’re giving up to save about $200: speed, user experience (via the LCD), and the hefty 4K crop mentioned earlier. That said, if you’re interested in shooting 4K, you probably won’t buy a camera with a fixed non-touch display (enter the EOS R50).


Body and handling

The EOS R100 is one of Canon’s smallest SLR-style bodies. Yes, even smaller than the Rebel SL3 (EOS 250D) from way back in 2019. While the R100 is the same size as the R50, it’s about 20 grams (0.7 ounces) lighter, probably due to the difference in LCD design. The R50’s body is largely composite and is very light in the hand. The available RF-S lenses make for a nice balance, though that will change if you attach heavier RF glass.

Small cameras come with small grips, but Canon has done an excellent job of making the R50 easy to grasp. While there is a decent-sized thumb rest, it’s pretty easy to press a button accidentally. The R50 has a single control dial and no joystick, requiring the use of the four-way controller in certain situations, such as shooting in ‘M’ mode or moving the focus point around. The majority of the buttons are customizable to some extent.

The camera’s LCD and EVF are average at best, though this is a cheap camera. The real disappointment is the lack of a touchscreen. We are more than fifteen years into the smartphone era, after all. The EVF is also a bit small compared to many of its peers, though there’s little room for a larger one.

The R100 has a USB-C socket, but transfer speeds are slow, and it cannot be used for charging. A micro-HDMI port is also seen here.

In terms of input/output sockets, Canon includes those for micro-HDMI, USB-C, wired remote, and mic input. The latter is a surprise, given that the R100 isn’t a vlogging camera, but we’ll take it. The R100 can’t capture true HDR stills or video but can display HDR interpretations of its Raw files over HDMI, if you have a modern high dynamic range TV.

There are some critical things to know about the USB-C socket. First, it runs at USB 2.0 speeds up to 480Mbps. Second, and more importantly, the USB socket does not support charging or powering the camera. It’s for file transfer only, which is disappointing.

The R100 uses Canon’s venerable LP-E17 battery, which stores 7.5 Wh of energy. From this the R100 can eke out some of the best battery life in its class. Officially, the camera can take 430 shots using the LCD and 340 using the viewfinder in ‘power saving’ mode, which sees the screens darken and the camera go to sleep if you’ve not pressed a button recently. The industry-standard rating system tends to significantly under-represent the number of shots you’re likely to get, though. It’s not unusual to get double the rated number of shots from a camera.

Switching to ‘smooth’ mode, which increases the frame rate of the display, will reduce battery life, as will frequent use of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

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Autofocus

While its feature set isn’t as robust as on higher-end Canon models, the R100 still performs well when shooting stills. It doesn’t have animal detection or anything like that but recognizes human faces and eyes without issue. Setting the AF point is a bit of a pain since there’s no joystick or touchscreen; you must use the four-way controller to tap-tap-tap from point to point. To switch between faces, you press the AF select button and then use the left/right directions on the controller.

Converted from Raw using ACR 16.2. White balance adjusted.
RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 @ 50mm equiv. | ISO 1000 | 1/100 sec | F5.6
Photo: Jeff Keller

Despite not having Canon’s latest autofocus system, the R100 was still quite capable in our tests. It acquired subjects quickly, and it could keep subjects in focus as they approached the camera. The tracking feature worked very well when tested with a child running erratically, remaining locked into their face (or eye) most of the time.


Image quality

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors, and detail types you’ll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes, full even light and low directional light, to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

The EOS R100’s sensor captures a lot of detail, holding its own against the Sony a6100 and Nikon Z50. Our scene shows some false color in areas of high-contrast detail, but this is mainly down to us using an insanely sharp (and expensive) lens. Even this is (mostly) eliminated by the camera’s JPEG engine. The Canon generally controls moiré artifacts quite well: compare the Jack’s hair with the Nikon to see the slight difference.

At middle ISOs the R100’s older sensor is slightly noisier than its peers. The same is true at even higher sensitivities: ISO 6400 in this example.

The R100’s JPEGs have vibrant, saturated color that can be seen in our studio scene and the real world. Images have a good amount of sharpening (in our opinion), and Canon goes easy on the noise reduction, allowing fine detail to remain intact. Noise levels are competive at ISO 1600 but are a bit behind its peers at ISO 6400.

Out-of-camera JPEG Raw conversion +100 shadows

We were pleased to see that the R100’s sensor lets you brighten shadows with only a slight increase in noise. In low light, noise will be slightly more pronounced when you pull up the shadows, but it’s still competitive. (Note: Adobe Camera Raw applied lens distortion correction in the converted photo.)


Video

As mentioned earlier, the EOS R100 captures heavily cropped 4K/24p video and uncropped 1080/60p footage. Turning on digital image stabilization, which is quite effective, adds an additional (but small) crop. The R100 can also capture 120p footage, albeit at 1280 x 720 resolution and with manual focus. The camera doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the EOS R50, like vertical video shooting or HDR. You can at least adjust the exposure manually.

In 1080 mode the video quality looks good. That said, several issues make the R100 a subpar choice for 4K video capture. Not only is the footage cropped, but it also suffers from significant rolling shutter, which creates distortion that makes straight lines appear curved. You’ll see this when panning the camera or if a past subject passes by. Thankfully, this unflattering effect is mild in 1080p mode.

We measured the rolling shutter rate in 4K mode at 35ms and usually consider anything over 25ms to be bad. It won’t take much camera movement for the effect to become noticeable.

Unsurprisingly, the R100 has a dedicated video recording button. To capture 4K footage, you must put the mode dial into the video position.

The other issue is autofocus. When shooting 1080p footage, everything is lovely; the camera uses its Dual Pixel AF system, which is responsive when subjects are initially acquired and if they move. 4K capture is a different story because the R50 uses contrast detection, which involves a lot of back-and-forth hunting as the camera struggles to lock focus. It’s not good.

Combining all that with the lack of an articulating touchscreen, the R100 is not a great choice for those looking for an inexpensive camera with video capabilities.


Conclusion

RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 @ 35mm equiv. | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F9
Photo: Jeff Keller
What we like What we don’t
  • Cheapest way into Canon’s mirrorless system
  • Very good image quality
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Responsive autofocus, good tracking outside of 4K video mode
  • Good battery life
  • Input for external microphone
  • Dated technology in most areas
  • Fixed, non-touch LCD
  • 4K is cropped, uses ‘old’ autofocus tech, and has significant rolling shutter
  • Sluggish burst rate and small buffer
  • Tightly packed controls
  • Limited RF-S (APS-C) lens selection
  • No in-camera battery charging

There are two ways in which you can evaluate the Canon EOS R100. For a camera that sells for under $500 with a kit lens, it does what it needs to do. That said, the R100’s technology is dated, so it lacks Canon’s bells and whistles and has several compromises. The lack of a touchscreen is a massive disappointment in 2024. But, if you want to spend as little as possible, the R100 does take very nice photos and is easy to carry around.

RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 @ 18mm equiv. | ISO 100 | 1/160 sec | F7.1
Photo: Jeff Keller

That said, if you can dig $250 out of your sofa cushions, you can get a much, much nicer camera, the EOS R50, if you want to stay in Canon’s ecosystem. (Hint: The R50 kit can sometimes be found factory refurbished for around $600.)

Even if you buy a higher-end model, you’ll hit the same limitation: there just aren’t many RF-S lenses. And, if you’re spending under $500 on a camera kit, a $1000+ lens is probably out of reach.

RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 @ 35mm equiv. | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F10
Photo: Jeff Keller

If you want to join the mirrorless world, the Canon EOS R100 is one of the least expensive ways to get there. It’s not a camera we’re jumping up and down about, but it does what it’s supposed to: take pretty photos. Overall, though, there are too many compromises negatively affecting the shooting experience for us to be able to recommend it.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about what these numbers mean.

Compared to its peers

In this review, we’ve already compared the R100 to Canon’s step-up model, the EOS R50. In short, if you want into the modern Canon mirrorless system, it’s worth the extra money to get the R50. The autofocus is more sophisticated, as are its video capabilities, but it’s the added usability that comes from the articulated touchscreen that makes the difference between wanting to use the camera and not.

Another camera that’s worth a look is the Sony a6100. It’s more expensive than even the R50 and is five years old but still quite competitive. Its 24MP sensor is reliable, the autofocus is excellent, and the 4K video is much more detailed. Its electronic viewfinder and battery life are bigger and better than those of its peers. The a6100 also suffers from significant rolling shutter when capturing 4K, and its interface isn’t very refined. Unlike Canon’s APS-C mirrorless cameras, plenty of lenses are available for this E-mount camera.

The OM System (formerly Olympus) E-M10 Mark IV is an attractive Micro Four Thirds camera with many physical controls. Its image quality might be a bit behind the other cameras mentioned due to its smaller sensor, and its autofocus system is less robust. Still, it makes up for that by offering in-body image stabilization, uncropped 4K video, and fast burst shooting. The Micro Four Thirds lens system is expansive, as well.


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