A wedding with the Canon EOS R

A friend’s wedding in Galway provided a good excuse to rent Canon’s new mirrorless camera, the EOS R, which I paired with the equally new 50mm f/1.2L. This was by no means my first foray into mirrorless, as I’ve dabbled before with both the Panasonic GH5 (mostly for video) and the Fuji GFX. Nonetheless, as a long time Canon user (EOS Rebel 2000, Elan 7, 20D, 5D2, 5D3) I was particularly curious to see what I’d make of the presumptive heir to the EOS DSLR line.

First off, though, and most importantly, the wedding was great fun. A lovely church service was followed by a wonderful reception!

At the reception

Irish dancing

The EOS R experience was also very positive. For the most part the camera behaves just as expected, which is to say very similarly to Canon’s recent DSLRs. The changes to the ergonomics struck me as a mixed bag. The addition of a control ring on the lenses – virtually an admission that removing the aperture ring all those years ago was a mistake – is a definite plus. I set it to adjust ISO, and it was very convenient. The smaller size is also welcome, though with a large lens such as the 50mm f/1.2L there’s only just enough room between the lens and the handgrip. The removal of the rear dial (or rather its replacement with an Apple touchbar-style thing) and the loss of a few other physical buttons I wasn’t so keen on, but I think those are things you’d adjust to pretty quickly. The battery lasted for 450 frames with plenty in reserve.

Also pretty similar to a Canon DSLR is the focusing and image quality. Focus can be set using the touch screen, which works pretty well, and Servo mode worked well enough to track dancing with a reasonable hit rate under very low (and difficult) lighting. ISO 1600 and 3200 looked, to my eyes, neither markedly better nor worse than 5D3 files.

(I did start with a screw up. After taking a few photos as people were gathering in the church I decided to get clever and switched into silent shooting mode. Alas the lighting and the electronic shutter didn’t play well together, and a bunch of frames were ruined with prominent dark horizontal bands! Lesson learned, I switched back to the regular shutter and enabled the anti-flicker mode.)

More interesting than the camera was the lens. The 50mm f/1.2L is a magical optic. I shot at f/1.2 whenever possible, and unlike the legendary f/1.0 the new R mount lens is both sharp and fast to focus. It’s really a joy to use!

For now I’m perfectly content with my 5D3. My guess though is that the R mount lenses, at least on the normal and wide end, are going to be enough of an advance over the EF ones that many people will consider switching before too long. A higher end EOS R body, with full frame 4k video and the new ergonomics tweaked a bit, would likely be enough to tempt me.

Manhattan

Stopped by the Empire State building on my way home this evening to catch the sunset. The view from the observation deck on the 86th floor is of course amazing and iconic (and surprisingly photographer friendly, although there are no tripods allowed the wire mesh barrier allows good angles and can be used to brace a camera). Avoiding the classic buildings the view down toward the East Side of the city has a pleasingly abstract feeling.

Manhattan

Manhattan

After 16 years in Colorado I’ve moved to New York! The new job will see me commuting into Manhattan two or three times a week, with a walk from Penn Station to the Flatiron Institute a block or so from the eponymous building. A few snapshots from the first few trips.

Darent Valley path

A Saturday walk along the the Darent Valley path, starting where the river meets the Thames and ending at Sevenoaks station. My GPS recorded a touch over 20 miles (plus 3 extra miles if you start, as we did, at Dartford station). The part from Eynsford to Otford is very familiar territory, but it’s a lovely route, mostly in the country, almost the whole way.

Darent Valley path between Eynsford and Lullingstone

Capitol Reef’s Navajo Knobs trail

The Navajo Knobs trail in Capitol Reef National Park is a 9.5 mile out-and-back hike that starts from the main canyon floor and climbs to the eponymous “knobs” – small rocky outcrops on the canyon rim that offer panoramic views over the desert. Chris and I tackled this hike on our Spring trip to Utah and it made for an excellent, not too demanding, day out.



I continue to think that Capitol Reef is the most under-rated of Utah’s National Parks (all of which, of course, are objectively fabulous!). It’s not too crowded, and offers hikes that cater to whatever mood you’re in. My recommendations for hikes are:

  • Upper Muley Twist – if you’re up for a long day hike, this is my favorite route (not really a trail) in Capitol Reef.
  • Sulphur Creek – a non-technical route down a narrow canyon that makes for a fun adventure.
  • Sheets Gulch – one of three narrow canyons, with decent slot sections, that can be explored on the eastern side of Capitol Reef.
  • Navajo Knobs – a maintained trail that unlike most of the hikes in this region follows a canyon rim with excellent views.
  • Spring Canyon – a quiet backcountry canyon that makes for a good out-and-back day hike from Chimney Rock, a one-way shuttle trip that ends with a ford of the Fremont River, or longer backpacking trips that include the upper part of the canyon.
  • Grand Gulch – Frying Pan loop – a sampler of the scenery in the core region of the park.
  • Gateway Arch

    Stopped by the Gateway Arch in St Louis the other day, just for half an hour or so with no special light or weather. It’s really an amazingly beautiful monument. We took a bunch of pictures before, walking away down to the river, my wife spotted the second image, which is my favorite.

    Gateway to the West

    Gateway Arch, St Louis

    Shot with the Sony RX100 Mk 2.

    Hiking Sheets Gulch

    A short video showing the hike Chris and I did into Sheets Gulch, in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. It’s an unmaintained route, but at least in good conditions (such as we had) it’s not difficult. In fact, among the small number of parties we met there was one with fairly young children. Of course it might be tougher if there had been recent rain leaving pools of water to contend with in the canyon! Continuing my flirtation with mirrorless the footage was shot with a rented Panasonic GH5 and a 24-70mm (equivalent) lens. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t quite nail all the shots as I would have liked, but my feeling is that the footage overall is still better than from my Canon 5D3.



    Mdina, Malta

    A couple of images from a weekend trip to Malta. These were taken with the Sony RX100 II that remains my go-to choice for non-photographic vacations and work trips.

    Stumbling across a Maltese wedding in Mdina

    The Old City of Mdina, Malta