Wednesday, March 2, 2022

I have (finally) made the switch to all mirrorless cameras!

I have been a professional photographer for more than 15 years now and have never made a mass change in the camera gear I use over that time. I have upgraded camera bodies, and at times upgraded to a newer version of a lens. But those are incremental changes, done in small doses. For instance, I upgraded from the Canon 5D Mark III to a 5D Mark IV or a Canon 1DX MKII to a Canon 1DX MKIII. And I upgraded from the original Canon 100-400mm lens to the second version of that lens, since it was much sharper.  Those changes were made over many years and did not require many changes in my preparations, shooting style, or after capture. But then Canon came out with mirrorless cameras that upped the game.

When Canon announced the original Canon R mirrorless camera, I was not very impressed with the camera, and suggested that it was not a camera I would be using. But I did see its potential, and I even wrote that in a blog post back in 2018. Back then I viewed mirrorless cameras as "not ready for prime time".  I know that there are plenty of people who switched to mirrorless before I did, many of them using the Sony cameras. I did not want to switch all my cameras and lenses in one fell swoop, and also had faith that Canon would come out with something better.


When Canon came out with the Canon R5 and Canon R6, that was when I got excited. Not only were these cameras a great fit for my everyday shooting, but they were exciting to use. My images were sharper than ever, and the immediate feedback in the eye-piece was just awesome. I started by purchasing one Canon R6 body with the RF24-105mm f/4 lens. I also purchased a couple of the EF-RF adaptors so that I could use my older lenses on the new mirrorless bodies. This has worked great for the last year, with no degradation in image quality, but I really wanted the newer lighter lenses. I got more of the new RF lenses (RF70-200mm 2.8, RF24-70mm, and RF15-35mm), figuring that these 3 lenses were my "go-to" for most of my event photography.  But the big problem was that I was using one mirrorless camera and one DSLR (either the 5D MKIV or the 1DX MKIII), which meant that I had to pack a lot more gear. To use both cameras, I needed to pack a set of RF lenses and a set of EF lenses. 

I also found it hard to go back to the DSLR cameras after using the mirrorless bodies. I have gotten used to reviewing my images in the eyepiece, which I can not do in the DSLR cameras. And most importantly, I am spoiled by the incredible face and eye detection of the Canon R cameras. 

A couple of months ago I decided that it was time to make the switch to all mirrorless camera bodies and lenses. Well...I am not getting rid of all my EF lenses just yet. I am going to keep using my Canon 200-400mm, Canon 100-400mm, and Canon 15mm fish eye lenses, since they are not available as an RF lens (yet) and are still very useful to me. I have the EF-RF adaptors for these lenses and still use them all the time. 

Recently I did also get the Canon RF85mm 1.2 lens which is amazing for portraits (see below), and the Canon RF100-500mm lens for wildlife and sports. I was thinking I would sell my EF 100-400mm lens but still like it so much that it is going to stick around for a while.

(Canon R6, 85mm f/1.2 lens, ISO 320, f/1.2, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

I am now using two of the Canon R6 cameras and a Canon R3 for all my photography. I love the lighter weight of the cameras, the fact that they have two card slots, the ability to shoot in complete silence, the smaller size of the RF70-200mm 2.8 lens, and overall quality of the images. And, as I said before, the eye detection is so darned good that my "take rate" is better than ever before.

Both of these cameras have similar resolution, and each time I shoot I decide on which camera bodies will go with me. For most events I like the light weight and smaller size of the Canon R6, and for any fast action or wildlife shooting, I will grab the Canon R3. It has faster focusing and a faster burst rate if needed. I am still playing with the eye-control of the R3 and determining whether that will yield me better results when taking portraits of multiple people (being able to focus on my main subject just by looking at them). I also like having the larger battery of the R3 and the built-in grip for shooting portraits.

People have asked me why I am not using the Canon R5 in my event photography, and the reason is this: I do not need that high of resolution for my clients, and those cameras are more than $1000 more than the R6. For these reasons, I chose not to purchase the R5 bodies. But, when I go on safari and want the ability to shoot high resolution (to give me the ability to crop in on my images and still have good resolution), I do borrow the Canon R5 bodies from Canon Professional Services (CPS). 

It took a while to make the investment and the change, but it has made a big difference to my everyday work, and I am so happy with the upgrade!

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1 comment:

Ralph Hightower said...

I've been a hobbyist photographer since 1980 when I bought the Canon A-1. In 2013, I bought one of my "bucket list" cameras, a used Canon New F-1 with the AE Finder FN and AE Motor Drive FN.
My wife had been wanting me to go digital, so she bought me a Canon 5D III for Christmas 2013 (mirrorless technology wasn't ready for prime time in 2013).
Recently, Canon announced they were discontinuing some EF mount lenses. I was disappointed, but the writing is on the wall; the moveisto mirrorless. I mentioned about Canon's move to mirrorless to my wife and she said "So we have to buy a new camera?" Since new lenses are expensive, I mentioned buying used lenses. We are going to discuss about staying DSLR or switch to mirrorless.
Right now, I don't see shifting to mirrorless. But, your decision to go R6 instead of R5 may be a factor in my decision if I go mirrorless.