Canon’s next mirrorless camera could be too cheap for its own good

The EOS R100 will be affordable, but will it be good value?

his year, Canon has finally launched some affordable mirrorless cameras like the impressive Canon EOS R10 – and fresh rumors suggest it’ll soon launch an even cheaper model called the EOS R100. But that camera’s leaked specs point to an underwhelming, derivative filler model, rather than a much-needed reinvention of the budget camera. 

Canon Rumors has qualified its EOS R100 leak with the disclaimer that it comes from an “unknown source”, so they’re certainly not confirmed specs. But given Canon’s recent history and the feature sets of its other APS-C cameras, they seem very plausible – and that’s not necessarily great news.

The rumors suggest that the camera will be a bit like a hobbled Canon EOS R10 without an electronic viewfinder. This could make it a spiritual successor to the Canon EOS M6 Mark II, which uses Canon’s old (and seemingly forgotten) EOS M mount.

If that’s the case, Canon will hopefully have some extra tricks up its sleeve – because on paper, the Canon EOS R100 sounds like a very safe and slightly belated response to the Nikon Z30 and Sony ZV-E10. The R100 will apparently bring the EOS R10’s 24.2MP APS-C sensor and Digic X processor, along with 12fps burst shooting and 4K/30p video. All fine, but not exactly setting a new agenda in a world of powerful smartphones.

The Nikon Z30 (above) will likely be the Canon EOS R100’s main rival, alongside the Sony ZV-E10. (Image credit: Nikon)

In these financially challenging times, it seems perverse to deride a camera for being ‘too cheap’. And it is still early days for the EOS R100 rumors, so it could certainly still surprise us. But these days, affordable cameras also need to strike a balance of being compelling enough to justify their existence – and the leaks so far suggest the EOS R100 could only aim to do the bare minimum to achieve that. 

Granted, this should mean a tempting price tag that’s in the ballpark of the Nikon Z30 ($707 / £699, body-only). And Canon has a chance to its undercut its rival’s strange decision to include a 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR kit lens with the Z30, which isn’t quite wide enough for its intended vlogging audience. 

Canon needs an ultra-wide RF-S lens for its new APS-C cameras, like the rumored RF-S 11-55mm f/4-4.5 IS STM, and the EOS R100 could be the ideal time to launch it. Given the EOS R100 is expected to lack in-body image stabilization, this would provide enough space for the crop that electronic stabilization brings, while letting you hold the camera comfortably at arm’s length.

But the EOS R100 will need more innovation than this if it’s to truly outshine its rivals (including phones like the Apple iPhone 14 Pro), rather than just tick the affordable box in Canon’s lineup. 

Raising the bar

The Canon EOS R10 (above) shows what a beginner mirrorless camera should now be. (Image credit: Canon)

Times have changed since the Canon EOS M6 Mark II arrived in September 2019, and affordable mirrorless cameras need to be far more capable for stills and, in particular, video.

This is why the Canon EOS R10 now tops our guide to the best beginner cameras. At $979 / £899 / AU$1,499, it’s much pricier than Canon’s old entry-level DSLRs. But the inclusion of features like 4K/60p video (albeit with a 1.56x crop) and powerful autofocus mean it justifies that price tag and is an upgrade from the best camera phones.

It’s possible that the Canon EOS R100 could achieve the same thing, but the rumors so far suggest it could fall just the wrong side of that line. A lower-powered Canon EOS R10 with weaker video skills and burst shooting speeds would be a tougher sell (at least, to non-Canon fans), particularly with only two native RF-S lenses to back it up.

There is a chink of light in Canon Rumors’ claim that “new accessories will launch with the camera”, which suggests some fresh innovation is possible. And who knows, perhaps Canon is planning a fresh new interface, a large edge-to-edge screen, a revamped app and slicker livestreaming powers for its next camera.

Recent history and this new Canon Rumors leak suggest otherwise, but entry-level mirrorless cameras must now reinvent themselves to beat the increasingly capable hybrid powerhouses that are already in our pockets.

By Mark Wilson

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