The Canon EOS R is one of the best cameras I’ve ever used, but it’s also far from perfect.

Canon did an admirable job with its first full-frame mirrorless camera. It feels much more refined than Sony’s early offerings, and I have to say I really like the camera’s ergonomics and layout – for the most part anyway.

But in designing the EOS R, Canon definitely made some questionable choices that have left me scratching my head, not the least of which was the decision to forgo the AF joystick for the oft-maligned multifunction bar.

After six months shooting with the EOS R, here are my top three tweaks for getting the most out of it.

Multifunction bar

Ever since EOS R’s release, the multifunction bar has been almost universally panned by reviewers, but that’s not to say it’s useless. In fact, I use it all the time.

The touch-sensitive strip at the right of the viewfinder functions almost like the portion of a laptop trackpad. It can be used to “quickly” navigate through settings like white balance, ISO or autofocus, to name a few.

Since I exclusively shoot raw and have already mapped ISO to the lens’ control wheel, white balance and ISO control don’t do me much good. However, the ability to quickly switch between single-point AF to real-time tracking is genuinely useful.

Having said that. I would have much preferred another control dial and a dedicated AF joystick.

In playback mode, I’ve set the multifunction bar to assign ratings and write-protect images. I don’t do this often, but if you know you’re not going to be in front of a computer for a while it can be really handy.

If you haven’t tried out the multifunction bar, you might be surprised by how useful it can be.

Touch & Drag AF on demand

Since Canon decided in its infinite wisdom not to include a traditional AF joystick, the company decided to include what it calls “Touch & Drag” autofocus. This essentially turns the rear LCD into a trackpad allowing you to quickly move to the AF point anywhere you need it.

I’ve been using this since my first day with the EOS R, and I have to say it works way better than any joystick. At least, that’s what I thought until the moment my nose decided the AF point absolutely needed to be at the bottom of the frame.

You see, I’m part of that small subset of photographers who are left-eye dominant, and this means I’m constantly squishing my nose into the back of my camera.

Thankfully, Canon does allow you to choose whether you want to use the entire LCD as a touchpad or just one of the corners. In my case, changing it to use the top-right corner pretty much ruled out any chance of my nose getting in the way again.

Even better, you can assign a button to enable and disable Touch & Drag AF on the fly.

Under the custom button menu, you can remap pretty much any button you want to turn Touch & Drag AF on and off on demand. In my case, I remapped the focus point selection button (the one under the * button on the right).

Custom button selection EOS R
Image Credit: Canon

For more information on customizing the EOS R, including remapping buttons, you can find Canon’s guide here.

Fixing the lazy EVF

By default, the EOS R, like most mirrorless cameras I’ve used, automatically switches between the EVF and LCD as you raise it to and from eye level.

This can take a little while to get used to, but most of the time it works surprisingly well. However, I’ve found the EVF can be a hair too slow to start up when capturing fast-moving subjects.

Thankfully, this is another problem that is easily remedied. The quick and easy solution is to close the LCD, but this means you can’t use Canon’s excellent touch and drag AF system.

Instead, I recommend remapping the Auto Exposure Lock button (The * button next to AF On) to turn the EVF on and off. After that, all you need to do is change the display setting from “Auto” to “Manual”

It’s not a perfect solution, but it works.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

  • How have you customized your Canon EOS R?
  • How do you use the multifunction bar?
  • Have you tried Touch & Drag AF? Does it replace a joystick for you?
  • What are your biggest complaints with the camera and how have you solved them?

If you liked this guide, you might enjoy my other stories and how-tos on photography, check them out here. And please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and anyone else you know using a Sony A7 II or its variants.