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.

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