Thursday, September 10, 2020

Canon R5 and R6 - Overall opinion after a month of use

It was just over a month ago when I got the new Canon R5 and Canon R6 cameras in my hands for the first time. And if you have read the previous blog posts, you know that I put both cameras to good use over those 5 weeks. I have tested many of the new features, including face and eye detection, the different shutter modes, high ISOs, file formats, and more. So far I have had really great results in those tests, but then comes the burning question: After testing these new cameras and using them for real jobs, what was my overall opinion of these new mirrorless offerings?

My first real "ah ha" moment was when I went to photograph our friend's son as he tried out his new rifle at a local range. Ethan wanted photos of him shooting, but also asked if I could get a shot with the clip expelling from the rifle after the last round was fired.  I brought both of the new cameras, and I also brought my trusty Canon 1D X Mark III, thinking that this top-of-the-line sports camera would be my choice for this type of photography. 

I started with the Canon 1D X Mark III but immediately noticed that, since Ethan was in less than ideal lighting, he was going to be silhouetted due the background being much brighter than he was. I started to guess at how much exposure compensation I should dial in, but then decided to try the Canon R5 instead.

Knowing that the new mirrorless camera would show me the exposure right through the viewfinder, there was no guessing involved. Looking at the image that was presented to me "live" in the electronic viewfinder, I kept rolling the exposure compensation until Ethan was properly exposed (+1.3) and we both fired away.

Even when zooming in and isolating details, I could see through the viewfinder that I was exposed correctly.

Not only was the camera performing well for metering the scene, but the fast capture rate allowed me to get the shots that Ethan wanted, with the clip and shell being expelled from the rifle.

When moving to the other side of Ethan (with a slightly darker background), I could see in the viewfinder that he was a bit over exposed at +1.3 so I adjusted the exposure compensation down a bit. 

The following week I was hired to shoot portraits of this gentleman and his dog in San Francisco. This was the first time that I relied solely on the eye tracking of the new cameras and was amazed at the "take rate" of my images. When using my DSLR cameras (which do not have the face and eye detection of the new mirrorless cameras), I would typically have at least 10 percent of the images where the eyes were not perfectly sharp. When reviewing the images from the Canon R5 and Canon R6, the focus was almost perfect on every photo. 

What I realized during this photo shoot was that I could trust the camera to determine the focus on my subject's eyes, therefore letting me concentrate on other things like foreground, background, lighting and posing. Having one less thing to worry about is nothing short of awesome.

After photographing the portraits, I decided to play tourist and drive around the city with the new cameras.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of shooting mirrorless, seeing exactly what I was capturing as I was shooting.

I drove over to the Palace of Fine Arts and had some fun with the different focus modes of the new cameras. 

For these photos, I switched the Canon R6 from face detection mode to a single point of focus and loved the fact that I could move the focus point from edge to edge. For this particular photo, I put the focus point on the pink flowers about 2 feet from where I was standing, and let everything else fall out of focus.

One other feature of the camera that I didn't think I would use much was the reciprocating screen. In the past, I have never felt that I needed the moveable LCD display, but I found it really useful for taking this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was sitting on the ground and bending my neck at an awkward angle to look into the display to see if I could get the focus point directly on the chain, until I realized that I could move the display and view my composition from a much more comfortable angle. 

I know that cameras have had these reciprocating screens for many years, but oddly enough, the professional models from Canon have not offered them. 

This shot may look like a simple photo, but actually shows off the power of the Canon R cameras. This photo takes full advantage of two features of the cameras, using the reciprocating screen and the eye detection. I was not standing on a ladder to take this photo. I just held the Canon R6 up above my head, tilted the screen so that I could get the correct composition, and then relied on the eye detection to make sure that the focus point was on the young lady's eyes. The resulting photo was exactly what I was aiming for, and could not have been achieved with my Canon 5D MKIV or Canon 1D X MKIII.

A couple weeks ago, I photographed a Zoom wedding for a lovely couple in Mill Valley, CA. They got married on the front porch of the family's home. I photographed the wedding ceremony using the Canon R6 with my trusty Canon 70-200mm L Series lens (using the RF adaptor). 

When the couple had completed their vows and finished the formal ceremony, they walked over to the laptop and were greeting their friends and family. I decided to switch from the Canon R6 to the Canon R5 with the Canon 50mm 1.2 RF lens. I shot this photo at f/1.4 to separate the couple from the others in the background. 

And then someone on the Zoom call suggested that the new bride and groom should do a first dance. 

In the past, I would have switched lenses to my Canon 24-70mm and rolled the aperture to something in the range of f/4. But I had gained enough trust in the Canon R face and eye detection that I left the aperture at f/1.4 and photographed their first dance. 

Just to clarify...when you have a couple who are moving back and forth, shooting at f/1.4 is very risky. When I have tried this in the past, using older focus systems, I would end up with only a small fraction in sharp focus.

As predicted, using the face detection of the Canon R5 and the narrow aperture, this yielded great shots of the couple, while blurring the foreground and background perfectly.  This is a really big deal for me, since it allows me to shoot moments like this at wide apertures, with confidence that the images will be sharp!

Each of these scenarios, combined with the testing I have done along the way, has culminated into my final overall opinion of the Canon R5 and Canon R6

These cameras are game changers! 

So much so that I find it really hard to go back to my 5D or 1D X. That says a lot!  What excites me most about the new mirrorless cameras is not just one or two improvements, it is the combination of all these new features and benefits packed into new smaller bodies. I can honestly say that this is the first time in years that Canon has truly innovated and raised the bar. The Canon R5 and Canon R6 are not just improvements on their previous cameras, they are a giant step forward. 

The tough part is determining which camera to recommend to all of you who are writing to me asking this question. Since both cameras have more things in common than not, I think it mostly will come down to resolution. If you are looking for a camera with a lot of megapixels, I would recommend the Canon R5 and if 20 megapixels is fine for you, then maybe the Canon R6 is the camera to get. 

Now, the tough part is finding one to purchase as Canon appears to be sold out almost everywhere. Of course, I always recommend B&H Photo, since they are the biggest and best. 

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Garth Scholten said...

I love these reviews!

How do these bodies compare with the 1DxIII (or 1DxII) for shooting sports, particularly in poorly lit high school gyms? I'm guessing that there is a R1 in the works to replace the 1DxIII, but the specs of the R5/R6 look promising for sports shooters.

Also, how do the ergonomics compare with the 1DxIII? Specifically, with my 1DxII, I love that I can activate or deactivate the shooting modes and quickly toggle amongst them with the M-Fn button. I typically set the custom modes to Manual, then activate only M and C1 (and maybe C2). M may be set for shooting fans in the stands with a bias towards depth of field and C1 set for action on the court with a bias toward stopping action. The M-Fn button makes it very easy to toggle between these modes without moving my eye away from the viewfinder.

Old 400 said...

Thanks so much, Jeff. I've been planning on buying the R6 (my first new Canon since the 70D)
and since I trust your judgment completely, I will be making the purchase.

When will B&H have another of your YouTube videos?

Old 400

Old 400 said...

Thanks so much, Jeff. I've been planning on buying the R6 (my first new Canon since the 70D)
and since I trust your judgment completely, I will be making the purchase.

When will B&H have another of your YouTube videos?

Old 400

Bernard said...

Thanks for posting your overall opinion!
Myself I replaced my 5d (mk4/3) this spring with two EOS R. Despite of all the negative criticism on the internet, I found that camera already way superior to the 5dmk4. Apart from your shooting photographs to capture the flying things, everything else would've been possible to photograph with the same convenience as with the R5 - for half the price, and still with 35 Megapixels.
That said, I did compare the R with the R5 last week. On fast action the R5 is way ahead and I've never experienced a camera with such a reliable autofocus. On the action shots the R on the contrary didn't perform well.
The battery on the R5 was draining with impressive speed too - something to watch out for when coming from DSLRs.

Arbica Mriea said...

I truly appreciate your honest and thorough assessment of the Canon Eos R10 and R6 after a month of use. Your insights have been invaluable in helping me decide on the right camera for my needs. Thank you for sharing your experiences and expertise!