Canon Mirrorless Lineup Explained for Underwater [VIDEO] - Ikelite

Canon Mirrorless Lineup Explained for Underwater [VIDEO] - Ikelite

By Jean Rydberg, Ikelite

With over 50% of the camera market, there’s a good chance you’ve either been shooting or thought about shooting a Canon camera. And with their current camera line up, I think there’s never been a better time to do that.

6 of these 7 cameras were released since May 2022 which makes Canon the most prolific manufacturer of interchangeable lens cameras over the past year. Each of the models has its own unique strengths which makes them all worth considering if you’re in the market for a new camera body.

Let’s get right into it and talk about the differences between the cameras. Watch the video below, or scroll down to read more.

Canon EOS R100

The R100 is the most budget friendly of all compact mirrorless cameras - not just within the Canon brand. It’s an outstanding entry point for anyone who’s new to underwater photography, new to mirrorless, or new to interchangeable lens cameras. If you’re looking for an affordable and compact system that doesn’t limit your creativity, you can’t beat the R100 right now.

What you get:

  • 24 megapixels resolution APS-C sensor
  • Single exposure dial with a button to switch back and forth between shutter speed and aperture
  • Fixed rear LCD screen - it doesn’t flip out, tilt, or swivel.
  • 4K video at up to 24 frames per second (fps) with a cropped portion of its sensor.
  • 1080 HD 60p using the full width of its sensor
  • 430 shots per charge which is a perfectly respectable number and will get you through a full day of diving.

Get the 200DLM/D Underwater Housing for Canon EOS R100 #69750

Canon EOS R50

Canon released this camera right in between the R10 and the R100 in both price and features. We do not support this camera primarily because of Canon’s decision to remove the traditional hotshoe contacts and support only the new multi-interface connector. This limits your flash interface options.

In terms of usability underwater we also think that the secondary control dial and 4K 60p video recording are more than worth the price difference to move up to the R10.

canon r10 for ikelite underwater housing

The Canon R10 Camera + Underwater Housing Complete Kit # 69744 is less than $2,400USD and provides everything you need to take one of the most budget-friendly Canon cameras underwater today.

Canon EOS R10

For our dollar, the Canon EOS R10 hits the sweet spot between performance and price. We particularly appreciate the addition of a second exposure dial and it’s the only camera in its class to offer 4K at 60p video resolution.

Advantages over the R100:

  • Canon’s latest Advanced AI-learning autofocus tracking which really shines with its tracking of moving subjects. They don’t advertise it as working with fish but it does!
  • Fully articulated LCD touchscreen which doesn’t affect us underwater but it is great for shooting selfies on the surface.
  • Dual exposure dials – I rely heavily on these to be able to change shutter speed and aperture quickly underwater.
  • Burst shooting up to 23 fps which is more than we need underwater.
  • 4K at up to 60p – If you’re going to be shooting a decent amount of video underwater you’ll appreciate this, I almost always shoot at 60 fps so that the footage can be slowed down in post production for a more cinematic look.
  • 1080 HD at up to 120p
  • 450 shots per charge which is only very slightly more than the R100.

Even when combined with the kit lens this camera is still more affordable than the Sony RX100 VII compact camera which has a much smaller image sensor and a built-in, non-interchangeable lens.

Get the 200DLM/D Underwater Housing and Canon EOS R10 #69742

Canon EOS R7

The R7 is our pick for shooters that have a heavy focus on video and photographers who want extra resolution in their images. It packs a high-resolution APS-C sensor which is perfectly suitable for wide angle and particularly good for macro photography. In-body image stabilization combines with an IS (image stabilized) lens to give you sharp photos and video. Battery life is also best of all the 2023 Canon mirrorless camera line.

Advantages over the R10:

  • 33 megapixels resolution which is best in its class.
  • In-body image stabilization. Every bit helps when shooting video underwater and I love having this in this camera body. The R7 is the only compact body Canon with in-body stabilization– the other compact Canon models rely on the stabilization built into the lens.
  • 30 fps burst shooting
  • 4K video at up to 60p using the full width of its sensor. Remember that the R100 shoots 4K 60p but only with a cropped portion of its sensor.
  • 10-bit C-Log 3 profile which is great for color correction in post production.
  • Second SD card slot
  • 660 shots per charge which is also best in class.

Get the 200DLM/D Underwater Housing for Canon EOS R7 #69746

canon rf mount lenses for ikelite underwater

A great lens is one of the best investments you can make in photography. Read more about the Best Canon RF-Mount for Ikelite DLM Underwater Housings.

Canon EOS R8

The R8 is the last in the series of compact mirrorless bodies. It is our choice for compact shooters looking to move to full frame, and full frame shooters interested in either down-sizing or adding a second camera body. The R8 is one of the smallest and arguably one of the most powerful full frame camera systems on the market.

Advantages over the R7:

  • Full frame sensor. Now there are some merits to shooting a cropped (APS-C) sensor, but some photographers really want a full frame sensor and it’s incredible to have one in such a small system.
  • Up to 40 fps continuous shooting which is great for action and sports photography.
  • 4K at up to 60p downsampled from 6K footage.

What you lose:

  • The R8 is back down to 24 megapixels resolution but it’s the same image quality you’ll get from the next camera in the line-up.
  • To keep things small Canon removed the in-body image stabilization and the second SD card slot that we found in the R7.
  • Lastly, the R8 is rated for only 290 shots per charge and battery life is perhaps the biggest issue with this camera, A spare battery is always convenient but I would specifically recommend it if you’re going to be shooting video with the R8.

If you want to shoot Canon full frame underwater it’s really hard to overlook the Canon R8. This system is really compact and enjoyable to use underwater. A smaller system is easier to swim around with and of course much easier to pack! The R8 also makes an amazing second camera body for people who are shooting the R5 or R6 series cameras as a primary camera.

Get the 200DLM/D Underwater Housing for Canon EOS R8 #69748

Canon EOS R6 II

If you’re a professional photographer looking for a primary full frame camera body, then you’ll probably be leaning towards the EOS R6 II. While image quality and autofocus performance is similar to the considerably smaller R8 camera body, the R6 II wins out with a substantially bigger battery and a 2nd card slot.

Advantages over the R8:

  • In-body image stabilization which combines with any stabilization in a Canon IS lens.
  • Second SD card slot.
  • 580 shots per charge thanks to the larger battery. I find that I have no problem with battery life when I shoot this camera.

In the housing you also get:

  • Support for a wider arrange of full frame lenses due to the DL port system.
  • Ability to add the USB-C Charging & Data Transfer Bulkhead. I love this new innovation because it allows me to leave my camera in the housing during the whole week of diving if I want to. I just plug in a USB cord to offload photos and charge the camera.

What you lose:

  • The Canon R6 Mark II is a larger camera body. The underwater system ends up being a lot bigger and heavier to accommodate the differential in camera size, plus the ability to use just about any of the high-end full frame lenses which tend to be quite large in diameter.
ikelite housing for canon r5 or r6

Ambassador Gary Burns, Ikelite President Jean Rydberg, and Ikelite VP John Brigham traveled to Catalina Island with the Canon EOS R5 and R6, testing the range of these two full frame mirrorless cameras underwater in the kelp forest.

Canon EOS R5

This is the top of the line Canon camera that we support, and we really recommend stopping here if travel size and weight are any concern to you. If you’re looking for maximum resolution in both videos and stills, then you need to be willing to drop the extra $1400 on the R5. Even 3 years after its release, the R5 continues to be an incredibly capable camera on par with the best of its competitors.

  • High resolution full frame sensor, almost double the resolution of the R6 Mark II at 45 megapixels.
  • Full width 8K video recording making it a great choice for professional videographers. There’s only a small handful of consumer cameras that are capable of this right now and the R5 is one of them.
  • Full width 4K video at up to 120p.
  • Slightly larger rear LCD screen and higher resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF) when compared to the R6 II.
  • CF Express card slot in place of the second SD card slot. A high quality CF Express card is essential if you’re going to be using the camera’s full video capabilities

What you lose:

  • The R5 has a slightly older autofocus tracking system but it still works incredibly well.
  • For sports shooters it actually has a slower continuous drive at 20 fps vs 40 fps for the R6 II.
  • Battery life is only rated at 320 shots per charge though we typically get a full day of diving when shooting stills with this camera, I would definitely recommend a spare battery pack when shooting video.

Get the 200DL Underwater Housing for Canon EOS R5 #71764

Canon EOS R3

Please see Nautcam's NA-R3 housing #17336


With each of these cameras you get the Canon RF lens mount which is compatible with their great new RF-series lenses and also works very well with older EF lenses when using an adapter. We also like Canon’s ergonomics and find that their menu systems are straightforward and relatively easy to navigate.

Let’s summarize where each camera sits in the Canon line-up:

Canon EOS R100

It’s the most affordable in the Canon line up and really among all high-end compact cameras. Upgrade if you want to be able to shoot faster with better battery life.

Canon EOS R10

The R10 is the best overall value. If you’re on a budget but want the best mix of features then the R10 is for you. Upgrade if you want to get more resolution.

Canon EOS R7

We feel the R7 is the most powerful overall compact form camera for both still and video shooting. I would stop here but you can upgrade if you need or want to shoot full frame.

Canon EOS R8

When we say the R8 is the smallest full frame camera, it’s by a long shot. The R8 system is about half the size and weight of the next option. I think you only really need to upgrade if you want to shoot a lot of video. The imaging of the R8 will rival any of the larger cameras.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II

This camera is more than most people need and it is the best value professional-end fast-action full frame camera. Upgrade if you need maximum resolution.

Canon EOS R5

The R5 is the ultimate for still and video resolution – stop here or your underwater system will just be way too big and heavy to lug around.

Which camera are you shooting? If you want one-on-one help with everything from choosing a camera to taking a photo underwater, please email Until next time, happy shooting!

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