As a Temecula wedding photographer, I’ve always been slow and methodical in building up my cache of photography gear. I’ve had my DSLR camera, the 5D Mark IV for over two years now. When Canon released their first mirrorless camera in 2019, I was intrigued. However, it was a no-go for me since the camera had only one memory card slot and I always, always, ALWAYS shoot while recording to two cards just in case a card gets corrupted. These are wedding memories, after all!
However, when the internet started buzzing about Canon’s 2020 mirrorless cameras, the Canon R5 and R6 respectively, my interest was once again piqued. I had heard raves about, in particular, the improvements in the focusing system. After careful deliberation, I decided on the R6 body and have been very happy with the upgrade so far! Below are what I think are the major improvements to photographers currently using any of the Mark bodies, and why Canon’s R6 is a worthy upgrade!
When most photographers talk about their love of Canon, it has to do with their superb lenses. They have truly outstanding lenses that produce gorgeous bokeh, compression, and color. However, most photographers HAVE NOT been happy with Canon’s focusing system. I found myself overshooting a ton at weddings and portrait sessions when I wasn’t completely sure the image was tack sharp. Focusing and recomposing was common, and the focus points didn’t extend to the width of the viewfinder.
The R6 resolves these issues quite beautifully. There are now only 2 focusing modes, One-Shot and Servo. What you’ll have heard the most about is Canon’s Eye Autofocus system, where the camera finds the eyes in the frame and focuses accordingly. This can make your work much faster, although of course without eyes in the frame the camera has to take more direction from you. I can see myself using this focus setting in fast-paced shooting scenarios.
The entire screen is also now a focusing pane. No more recomposing! Many photographers will utilize the right side of the touch screen to move their focus point; sadly my small hands don’t allow me to keep my index finger on the shutter while dragging my thumb on the touch screen, but I have no problem using the joystick as I normally do, and you can also use Live View and touch the screen to focus.
This is definitely the biggest single improvement and one that, by itself, has made me thrilled with my upgrade!
Being a photographer with a DSLR has meant you typically use your in-camera exposure meter to determine your exposure before pressing the shutter; then, you’d likely check the back of the screen to see if your exposure is correct. No more! You can actually see your exposure in real-time THROUGH the electronic viewfinder. This felt pretty bizarre at first (in a good way!) but I was able to quickly adapt. This feature alone will make shooting so much quicker and produce more accurate exposures.
A very savvy move by Canon was to create an adapter that would allow users to use all of their (very expensive) EOS lenses with this new mirrorless system. I opted for the control ring adapter, and programmed the control ring to change the white balance. So not only does the adapter allow me to use all my existing Canon lenses, I’m also able to walk into a room and immediately dial in a custom white balance.
The new RF lenses are, in many cases, drool-worthy but they’re also incredibly expensive right now! Having used the adapter with a variety of my lenses, it is really a flawless integration and I don’t feel a need to get my hands on all the new RF lenses.
This was a factor in my decision between the R5 and R6. The R5 takes CFexpress cards, which are more appropriate for videography. Overall if I was a videographer, the R5 seemed the better choice, but for my use and my dollar, I was very happy I could continue to use my existing stash of SD cards with the R6.
I typically shoot in Manual mode, and will continue to do so. However, Canon has a setting called Flexible Priority mode, where you can choose a few aspects of your exposure and your camera will adjust the other aspects based on your priority. Where I see this being useful is in situations where I’m shooting in a very dark setting, and want to ensure I have a minimum shutter speed to reduce blur, or in a situation like family portraits with small children, where I spend more time chasing the kids and want to set a static aperture and shutter speed, and have the ISO make adjustments to keep me at the minimum shutter speed. In short, in specific situations, it will let me focus more on the moments instead of constantly adjusting ISO to ensure my shutter speed doesn’t drop too low.
So, now that I’ve finished gushing, are there any downsides? Well, you’ll probably have to change your batteries more frequently. With COVID happening and myself shooting weddings and portraits with a mask, I have been using Live View on my Mark IV frequently. These meant I would go through 3-4 batteries during an 8 hour wedding. This isn’t a big deal to me – just bring backups and keep an eye on your battery. I’ve also realized most of the batteries I have now are over 5 years old. Another great feature is compatibility of Canon’s batteries across camera bodies; but it’s definitely time to buy a few new batteries to ensure I’m getting maximum performance on long wedding days.
Overall, I would highly recommend this if you’re considering an upgrade! Canon has also recently announced they will be discontinuing their 5D DSLR line, which is a signal they are investing their resources in mirrorless technology. For my business, I’m glad I’ve moved to mirrorless and I can only see it helping me to become a better, faster and more accurate photographer (and now I have Daft Punk song in my head)!