I recently picked up a new Canon EOS R camera. It's my first experience with a full-frame mirrorless system, so admittedly I'm a little late to the party that has been led up to this point by manufacturers other than Canon. However, now after a couple of months of hands-on use in the field I can confidently join the rising chorus and say that this feels like an irreversible step forward in camera technology. Among a number of novel attributes, I'd like to touch on one of the EOS R's more salient mirrorless features that I've really grown fond of.
After owning the original Canon 5D, followed over time by the Mark II and III, I decided to skip the fourth iteration of this solid line and make the leap from a camera body with an optical viewfinder to one with an electronic viewfinder or EVF. In short the EOS R's viewfinder is killer. Beyond a number of other systemic enhancements that the mirrorless system affords in terms of autofocus point coverage and accuracy, the EVF grants one a live view of the soon-to-be-exposed scene based upon the camera's current shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings. What this translates into among other things is the ability to compose and shoot in extremely low light. The viewfinder no longer simply acts as a mirrored reflection of the world in front of you but instead offers a depiction of how the camera sensor is capturing and interpreting light coming through the lens. As a result, what the EVF displays is an accurate representation of how an image will eventually be exposed once the shutter is triggered. This gives the photographer detailed real-time visual feedback and compositional control before a shot is fired. And because the sensor's signal can be amplified through higher ISO settings, and the EVF seamlessly reacts to such changes, the effect is something akin to night vision when the system is paired with fast glass.
Along with the image above, here are a few additional shots from a week ago that I took while walking across campus on my way home for the day. A steady mist was falling, and heavy fog blanketed the evening. Normally these are tough conditions to grab critical focus and to dial in a decent, balanced exposure. The camera, however, easily excelled in both regards through my use of the EVF while simultaneously toggling a few control dials all within easy reach. No need to fire, slowly chimp the shot, adjust focus or exposure, and then re-compose. Instead, I was handling a tool that was really working with me as I was moving and seeing.
Because I like to selectively push and pull tones in post for creative effect, particularly when working in black and white, some of the resulting shadow regions in these processed shots were intentionally clipped in areas. However, when I initially brought the images into Lightroom for editing, I was pleased to note that the camera raw files had ample dynamic range to work with. This was particularly appreciated in images such as these night shots which contained both very bright highlights and deep shadows. Is the EOS R's available dynamic range as broad as that found in medium format digital camera systems or even other DSLR competitors? Most likely not. But it is certainly usable.
In summary, my early experiences in using a mirrorless system have fostered a growing sense that I'm peering into photography's future. So far I like what I'm seeing.