Canons New Mirrorless Camera Thoughts and Musings

Over the last couple of weeks I have fielded a few emails and phone calls asking me my thoughts on the new mirrorless camera coming from Canon (to be announced officially in the next few days – Nikon’s is now formally announced). Honestly, I have not been given any information on this camera from Canon. None of my Canon contacts have mentioned it even in passing or provided any detail about a mirrorless camera whatsoever (nor have I bothered to ask). Even if they had, I would no doubt be under an NDA (which I am not) and unable to talk about it. Regardless, the specifications for the new Canon mirrorless camera have leaked on-line over at Canon Rumours and I have now had a bit of chance to gather my thoughts on the published specifications and what it might mean for my own photography. In case you missed the published specifications they are included below: (keep in mind none of this has been confirmed by Canon).Canon EOS R Specifications (still not confirmed by Cannon)

  • 30.3mp Full Frame CMOS
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF
    • 100% vertical x 88% horizontal AF coverage (We think)
  • EV -6 low brightness autofocus
  • 4K video
  • Touchscreen LCD
  • Articulating screen
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Microphone jack
  • Headphone jack
  • Dustproof
  • Drip-proof
  • Magnesium body
  • Battery: LP-E6N
  • Battery grip: BG-E22
  • Size: Width of about 136 mm × height of about 98 mm
  • Weight: Approximately 580 g
  • Mount: inner diameter 54 mm, flange back 20 mm, 12 pin
  • Mount adapter: “Mount adapter EF – EOS R” “Control ring mount adapter EF – EOS R” “Drop – in filter mount adapter EF – EOS R”

A new mount?

From what I can surmise from the information available online it does indeed appear that the new Canon RF mount on this new mirrorless camera is a shorter registration than the EF mount, and it therefore will require an adapter to use EF lenses. That is sure to please some that want to adapt lenses to the RF mount, and will disappoint others (myself included) that were hoping for native EF compatibility. As of today we have no idea what (if any) implications there are for requiring an adapter for EF lenses, but the bottom line is a native EF mount would have zero implications – and that would have been my preference.

Am I about sell my DSLR’s and jump to mirrorless?

Before I answer that question it is important to understand that mirrorless cameras fill a certain niche. If you are street photographer, wedding, or a general jack-of-all trades shooter then mirrorless may well be the answer to all your prayers. However, contrary to what you might have read from the many zealots and pundits online mirrorless is not the be all and end all of cameras and it certainly doesn’t spell the extinction of the mirror SLR camera. Mirrorless cameras suffer from a number of different problems not the least of which is predictable and consistent failure in cold climates (and questionable weather sealing). Over the last few years I have seen numerous mirrorless cameras fail (including latest models from Sony, Fuji  and others) in extreme cold on workshops and expeditions and whilst they come back to life once warmed, the shot has been long missed (along with many others). Simply put, with current technology EVF’s (Electronic View Finders) cannot be relied on in temperatures below about -10º Celsius. In temperatures of -20º Celsius and below you can expect failure to occur in as little as just a few minutes. This makes mirrorless useless for a lot of the winter photography I do in extreme cold. Just as an aside, once temperatures reach -20º Celsius and below you can expect problems even with most DSLR’s. Focus points start to ‘ghost’, batteries drain super quickly and electronics freeze and fail. Only the toughest and most rugged cameras such as Canon’s 1DX MKII and Nikon’s D5 can be relied on these sort of conditions. To date, I have never had a 1DX or 1DX MKII fail in extreme cold and have used these cameras for many hours at a time in temperatures as low as -40º Celsius. Try that with mirrorless and see how you get on…

With the issue of cold temperatures aside, mirrorless offers many advantages (not the least of which is a smaller size and less weight) that are extremely appealing and put simply I am excited about Canon’s new mirrorless camera. And yes, I will almost certainly be purchasing one and adding it to my camera kit. However it is important to understand that it certainly wont be replacing my DSLR’s any time soon. The new mirrorless camera will serve me as a lightweight travel camera and landscape camera for all but sub zero conditions. Mirrorless will not replace my DSLR cameras for wildlife in the foreseeable future (irrespective of climate).

I am still formulating my thoughts on what a new RF mount means for me, but its unlikely I will purchase new RF lenses in the foreseeable future. I will instead adapt my current EF lenses to the mirrorless camera. Of most interest to me is the option to adapt my Tilt Shift lenses to the new camera for landscape work.

As yet I have no idea when Canon will actually be able to deliver this new mirrorless camera (keep in mind its not even officially announced yet). I hope (although I think its unlikely) it will be in my hands in time for my Namibia workshop early next month.


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