Since picking up my first full frame camera a little over a year ago I’ve been lucky enough to try out some pretty epic gear thanks to the team at Canon New Zealand, I’ve taken the 6Dmkii through the heart of the South Island and put the 5Div through its paces in the arctic wonderland, Iceland. This time I’ve been given Canon’s first full frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R to try out in my home city, Auckland. Admittedly I didn’t have the best time shooting largely down to the fact that I was a little out of my comfort zone with what I was shooting, nonetheless I got to put the R through its paces and became very comfortable and dependant on the camera and its many features, it is definitely a huge step up from my 6D.
From the moment I got my hands on the R I was blown away, unlike the other full frame mirrorless cameras on the market this camera was a delight to hold, this might seem unimportant to some but anyone who has shot for days on end be it out in the mountains or in the city shooting event, the ergonomics of your camera are essential. The first thing I tasked myself with was getting to tabs with the new button layout including the swipe bar next to the view finder and the additional adjustment ring on the new RF lenses. Very quickly I could see how these features would become a game changer, with an individual slider for shutter speed, iso and aperture I’ll never have to take my face away from the viewfinder which is particularly useful for weddings, with the tap of my thumb the camera would automatically revert back to iso 100, with another tap I could turn on focus peaking and with a swipe I could magnify to 5 and 10 times which is optimal when manual focusing, you simply won’t miss focus again. Now this set up was primarily for use as a cityscape/landscape photographer, how you set it up is completely up to you which is probably why I loved it so much.
A feature I that cant go without a mention is that the bottom right of the screen can be used to move focus points through the image, that blew my mind a little and with over 5,000 manual focus points I almost feel the days of missing focus are far behind us. Canon also nailed the viewfinder, I like many have found the viewfinders on the Sony and Nikon equivalent to feel a little unnatural or fake, now I can’t quite put my finger on it but in my opinion the Canon has both of its rivals there, hands down.
For my first night in the field I took to shooting cityscapes in some of Auckland’s most famous spots, now this is completely out of my comfort zone but I felt the images came together beautifully, the RF 24-105 f/ 4 lens is sharp corner to corner from f/ 4 up, in fact I rarely shot at anything higher than f/ 8, typically only going higher to create the star burst effect with lights or the sun. The first night was a good test to see how I really felt about the customisable buttons and new features, they all came very naturally and at no point did I feel like I was being let down by a camera that felt uncomfortable or unfamiliar with its user interface, something Canon excel at.
Aside from having to update Camera Raw, Photoshop and Lightroom I had no issues importing images and was pleasantly surprised with the images that came from the shoot.
The shot above would have worked perfectly as a single image had there been more traffic so due to the quiet roads I’ve had to blend in light trails from different images. I did notice that compared to my 6D the battery did drain a lot faster than what I’m accustomed, that said I still didn’t use more than one battery for a solid 4 hours of long exposure shooting.
In the days that followed I didn’t get a lot of chances to get out and shoot until a week later where I shot several places over the course of the night all the way through to sunrise. The first spot was Te Toro, now the image I captured was a pretty run of the mill moonscape but I’d wanted the image to kick off a series of composite I was creating called ‘Northern Lights and where NOT to find them’. Again in the dark I had no issues with the camera whatsoever, the moonlight provided the perfect balance for the image and made my life very easy for bringing the composite to life.
Following on from Te Toro I drove East to Hunua Falls in the hope of capturing a few astro shots to see what the R was truly capable of, I decided to approach the situation as if I was shooting on my 6D, using my go to settings of 13s, f/ 2.8 and iso 10,000. The 6D can shoot relatively well at high iso, normally I’d stack the images but to remain true to the experiment, no stacking or noise correction has took place in my edit of Hunua Falls, the image itself isn’t one I’m particularly stoked with but nonetheless proved to me that this is no slouch when it comes to astro, though I might just prefer the 5Dmkiv but without having them side by side it’s too hard to tell for sure!
Initially I intended to go to Magazine Bay to capture the rise of the Milky Way but curiosity got the best of me, checking out the various dam reservoirs in the area to see if anything would line up, unfortunately due to the angle of the Milky Way combined with the lack of water no compositions jumped out to me, now that the window the shoot the Milky Way rise had well and truly gone I mission north to a place I’d always wanted to see the sunrise, Torbay. This sunrise mission produces my favourite images while I had the R in my possession, gorgeous golden light on the horizon making the water look as if its dancing as the light glistened on the tops of waves. Due to the incredible lens stabilisation I was able to capture 0.4s exposures handheld that are tack sharp, granted it does take some effort, even the best stabilisation can be ruined by shaky hands.
Through the night of shooting I only just chewed through one battery, a pretty valiant effort for the new mirrorless camera that was feeling like more and more of an extension of my body by the day, the only real pity was that I never got the change to take the camera out into my favourite place, the Southern Alps.
A few things to add before concluding, the EF-RF mount is no bigger than an extender and comes in three variations, the standard minimalistic EF-RF adapter which has no additional features, the EF-RF control ring adapter which provides the same control ring you’ll find on the RF lenses which means you’ll be able to use the same set up on your old EF lenses and the final is no doubt my favourite; the EF-RF drop-in filter adapter where you can put a variable ND or polariser behind your lens which gives you all the added benefits of using filters without any vignette which is simply a game changer.
Now comes the important question, I’ve used the 5Dmkiv in some pretty epic places and fallen in love with it, would I buy the R over the 5D? Though it pains me to say it, as it stands I wouldn’t buy the R over the 5D. As it stands I don’t feel like I’ve had enough time with the camera to really compare it fairly to its 5D counterpart. It isn’t all doom and gloom, the R is an unbelievable camera but I’d rather not have to use an adapter to use lenses, the RF range of lenses is growing drastically with 85 primes alongside new 15-35, 24-70 and 70-200 zoom lenses about to hit the market. It really comes down to price and at this stage I can’t justify paying the price that the new RF glass demands, granted it is worth every penny, there just aren’t enough pennies in my bank account.
What does excite me though is that this is only the beginning, I can see future models being far more enticing and convincing as Canon refine their current model whilst adding to the bells and whistles.
Once again a big thanks to Canon New Zealand for hooking me up with the EOS R, hopefully I can have another crack with it in the future so I can really convince myself to fork out the extra cash the body and new glass demands.
You can see the R and more of Canon’s products on their website.