Gear - What's In My Bag? My Journey to Mirrorless (2021)


YOOOO!

I hope January has been treating you well and that you've been staying safe x warm whether socially distanced, fully engaged at your job on the frontlines (THANK YOU 🤍!!!), or somewhere in between like me - working from home yet still traveling to take pictures. I start each of these blog posts with something a little casual - what I'm watching and what I'm reading.

I'm currently watching Vikings on Prime Video. Since it appeared on the History Channel in the U.S., scenes that some would skip or find distracting (like in GOT) were cropped in so there's no nudity or were changed entirely. It's been refreshing just to focus on a show just for its story and I can say confidently that Seasons 1-3 were some of the best of any show I've ever watched. Travis Fimmel (who plays the main character Ragnar Lothbrok) is simply AMAZING.

I've not been reading anything so this one is a lot shorter. However, I picked up the autobiography of Fredrick Douglas back in November at a small locally owned bookstore in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas, TX and I need to finish that.

But enough on the casual.


Each blog post will also come with a "Too Long, Didn't Read" or "TL;DR" summary for those of you whose attention span is like mine - extremely short. That begins here and ends with the "***" below. So before I jump into my journey of buying the EOS R, below is a quick summary of what a mirrorless camera is, a summary of the misconception(s) about Canon's mirrorless cameras, and THREE reasons why you should NOT buy the 5D Mark IV (or another DSLR) if it's time for an upgrade and why you should switch to the EOS R (2018), R5 (2020), or R6 (2020) - each retailing for $1800, $3800, and $2500 respectively.


If you aren't looking to switch to mirrorless, I understand it may seem inherently scary due to the fact that it's an unknown OR some of the tech differences don't make sense. Let me see if I can help/clarify some of that. How are mirrorless cameras different from DSLRs? Simply put there is no mirror box inside of a mirrorless camera. If you've ever taken your lens off of your DSLR and seen the slanted mirror that points up to your viewfinder, that is the mirror box, meant to help you see what you're taking an image of before you press the shutter. Once the shutter button is pressed, the mirror flips up (that's the noise we hear) and the image is imprinted on to the sensor. Mirrorless cameras don't have this box and instead have just the sensor - making the overall camera lighter and lessening the chance of mechanical problems from the shutter box itself. How do you see what you're taking? Mirrorless camera have an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that shows you what the image will look like WHILE you're changing settings. No more taking a test image to see what the lighting/white balance look like. They're right there in the viewfinder.


Misconceptions:

  1. "It's a brand new camera. I won't know what I'm doing. I'm going to freak out. And when I freak, my workflow is messed up". So to start, the R, R5, and R6 are all still Canon cameras. The menus, screens, and layouts are ALL the same and the buttons generally the same too - everything looks like it should. It took only an hour (one shoot) and a MAX of a day or two to get the hang of my R. Don't believe me? Rent it for a lowkey shoot you have. The thing I personally love about the R is how its technology (the touchscreen focus, electronic viewfinder, etc.) works FOR ME and not AGAINST ME. Just to give you an idea, the iPhone 7 (2016) was Apple's newest phone when the 5D Mark IV was released. Think about how far technology has come since then. I generally only use one to two batteries on a wedding day, still use my EF lenses with absolutely ZERO loss in image quality (and WAY better autofocus), have better low light, and my images are SO SO much better than before.

Reasons to buy:

  1. What you may not know is that the EOS R has essentially the SAME sensor as the Mark IV. Canon was still working on improving their sensor for video capabilities to be able to shoot better video and so instead of delaying the release of the R and being even further behind in a competition they should've been winning (think of it as the space race with Canon as the most advanced nation, but the very LAST to get their man on the moon) they took the sensor from the Mark IV and placed it in the R with a few modifications. Same sensor, but $700 cheaper than the Mark IV. In my mind, that's a point for Team R.

  2. One of the coolest parts of the R (right before the EVF) is that it has 5600 autofocus points. Yes. You read that right. 5.6K. The entire back of the touchscreen can be used to focus. As in you drag your thumb around the screen and the camera focuses on whichever part of the image your finger is at. The Mark IV only has 61 autofocus points. I think this point speaks for itself. Another point for Team R.

  3. For some, a dual card slot is a necessity. In my personal opinion, if you’re constantly buying new and GOOD (like SanDisk Extreme Pro Class 10) SD cards the chance of failure just isn’t that high. This is where the R comes up short. It only has one card slot. That's a point for Team Mark IV. However, the R5 (that retails for only 300 more than the Mark IV did at its release) DOES have dual card slots.

***

This is an update of the "Gear" series found in the archives. Much has changed since 2018. If you haven't checked the others out they're not required reading, but the one before this goes into the difference between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor something that's very important and honestly may be the topic of a future blog in and of itself.

In October of 2018 the EOS R began to hit the shelves around the globe. It was Canon's FIRST full frame mirrorless entry and LONG awaited by so many. Why long awaited? Because Sony AND Nikon had already released their entries. The former, Sony, several years before. Canon is a giant in the imaging industry and so the EOS was their dignified response to every mirrorless entry put out by other companies that had come before it. And...it fell kind of flat. Reviews were split ranging from "It's a great first stab and has the potential to be revolutionary" to "it leaves a lot to be desires and, quite frankly, Canon should've done better".


Regardless I was pretty sold. Purely from a camera perspective it was WORLDS better than my 6D Mark I. A sensor that was 6 years newer than mine. A touch screen that rotated and flipped no less. 4K video (even though limited) was also in the picture. What wasn't to love?


So in March I rented the R. Both for a wedding and trip I had with my best friends (Cadillac Ranch, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Great Sand Dunes National Park). But just to test it out I shot with my friend Darby before the wedding. You know just so I wasn't walking into a wedding with a camera I'd never shot with before. And to be honest within the first 10 minutes I was SO frustrated. The EVF was taking 15 minutes longer to get used to than I'd wanted (I'm v impatient if you can't tell). I wasn't used to seeing the image before I took it. After another 15 or so though I was getting the hang of it. After a total of maybe an hour, Darby and I finished the shoot. Later that night I popped open my MBP and started editing...and saw the image below.

My mind was blown. It's still blown now. The colors. The tones. IT WAS INSANE. No way had my 6D produced anything like this before. And there was no way it COULD. It was so different. The wedding images I took looked like this.

And the images on the trip looked like this.

And if you can't guess, I came back from the trip with one intention - to get the R as soon as possible. And later that summer I was blessed to be able to do so.


One last difference between now and 2018 is the lenses that I use. Generally, I only use one. Canon's 35mm 1.4L II USM. I no longer use my Canon 50mm 1.2 L USM simply because it's a little too tight for my liking these days. I like to include more context surrounding the subject vs. focusing simply on the subject and relying on bokeh for a wow factor. Previously, I had the Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART DG. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Sigma. In fact it's a DOPE lens for basically half the price. But I'd wanted the Canon for a while (because Canon) and decided to go for it. To be honest for the money it's not a HUGE difference so there's no sweat if you decide not to upgrade, but 3-4 months in and I have no regrets :)


So where does that leave you? Hopefully willing to jump into the mirrorless world. But maybe not though. Either way I highly recommend that you rent the R or the R5 (or heck even the R6) before buying another DSLR. Advantages again? Just for kicks.

  • newer tech (EVF, touchscreen focus, better autofocus) that works to improve the shooting experience

  • greater image quality

  • more autofocus points

  • no need to buy new lenses (adapter works seamlessly)

  • the R is $700 cheaper than the Mark IV and has relatively the same sensor, the R5 has a much better sensor and is only $300 more than the Mark IV was at its release

  • the R5 now has a dual card slot (!!!) for all of my dual card slot needing pals

👀 what's not to love friends?


Alright it's time for me to get out of here. If you want feel free to check out the camera Basics series. Or...go buy a new camera.


Catch you on the flipside!

Isaiah

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