March 13, 2024

My Mirrorless Experience

As with any type of technology, manufacturers are constantly coming out with something newer and better. Mirrorless cameras are the biggest photography fad right now and for good reason. I had the chance to rent the Canon R5 to see what all the fuss was about. There were three main things that I wanted to check out and test before making the financial commitment to upgrade.

The first thing that I was really interested in is the camera's head and eye detection both for people and animals. When I compose my shots at a show, I have a tendency of focusing on the horse instead of the rider, so I was eager to see if the camera could focus on the rider by itself while I was technically aiming at the horse. For the most part, this worked amazingly well. There were times in the cutting when the cow would get in front of the horse and the camera would lose focus, but I believe that was an operator error and lack of proper settings on my part somewhere.

The second thing that piqued my interest was the camera's low light capabilities. If you have any experience at all with a DSLR camera in a covered or completely enclosed arena, you know that it is SO dark and as a result, the proof images are often much darker than the final edited image. In an attempt for people to see something closer to the final product in their proof galleries, and an effort to decrease the amount of editing I would have to do, I wanted to test out the high ISO and see what the image quality was like.

Normally, if you shoot with a really high ISO, your images are going to appear very grainy. With my 5D mark 4, I would try not to go above 6400 ISO with a 1/800 shutter speed. With the R5, I was able to push the ISO up to 10000 and increase my shutter speed to 1/1000 with decent results. That leads me to the third thing I wanted to experience with the new mirrorless cameras. When you look through the viewfinder, you are actually seeing what the camera is going to capture. With my 5D mark 4, I would have to take the picture, and then review it on the back of the camera to see what was captured and then adjust my settings from there. Overall, this feature seemed like it would be very handy especially if I wanted to go from shooting a rider on a pattern in the arena and then turn around and get a picture of someone walking their horse through the open doorway into the arena. I could immediately see what the camera was going to "see" and adjust my settings. With the 5D mark 4, there's no way I could adjust my settings quick enough to get the shot before they walked by.

After using the R5 this past weekend for an indoor show, I would definitely love to work out a few kinks I had and see how well it performs then. I'm definitely impressed but worry that the only area I would see a major improvement in would be in indoor show photos. Since I am trying to use strobes more often and will eventually be in the saddle showing myself, I'm not sure that I can justify upgrading from my 5D mark 4 at the moment. I've told myself I need to rein in my expenses this year. If you're considering an upgrade, or on the market for your first camera, I highly recommend renting first to see what you like and don't like.