DSLR vs. Mirrorless

Not sure why I haven’t written about this before. Maybe it was because the mirrorless market wasn’t yet mature or maybe it was because I wasn’t yet mature – at least in terms of my knowledge of the subject. Well, today is the day, and we’ll do a deep dive into one vs. the other.

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Camera IBIS and Lens OIS in Canon EOS R5 – How Good is It?

I’m afraid that this piece is going to be a little bit technical, so for those who aren’t inclined that way, but who own a Canon EOS R5 camera, let me just say that Canon has really brought it home here: a Canon EOS R5, equipped with a native Canon RF mount lens that includes lens-based image stabilization, can indeed get up to 8 stops of improved low light performance. That simply means that you can shoot images with shutter speeds up to 8 stops slower than you normally could and still get sharp, in-focus images in low light conditions. Up to 8 stops. Ok, that’s the non-techie part. And you already knew that anyway. Non-techies can leave now. But stay and continue reading. It seems that “up to” has proven very confusing. Read on to find out why.

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Electronic or Mechanical – The Latest on Shutters

If you own a recent camera, particularly a mirrorless camera, one of the features you likely have access to is a choice of shutter modes.

In the good old days, the shutter, which is the mechanism in your camera that lets the light in your scene into the camera and onto the film plane or the sensor plane, was mechanical. Originally, it was something as simple as a rotating wheel with a hole cut into it. Mechanical means moving parts.

Shutters until recently were still all mechanical. But we recently were treated to the first professional camera with no mechanical shutter at all. In fact, today, you may not have any mechanical parts in your camera body at all. We’ve come a long way.

So if not mechanical, what? Electronic. Of course. Just as everything else in the world has moved from analogue/mechanical to electronic, so to have the mechanisms that control cameras. Virtually all controls in mid-to-higher-range mirrorless camera bodies are electronic. But the technology is not perfect and so most cameras also still include a mechanical shutter and give you the choice of selecting one or the other, or even a combination of both.

My latest camera, the Canon EOS R5 includes both. I’ve never tried the electronic shutter. Thought it was about time that I did. But first, in my usual geeky fashion, I had to learn when and why to use it. Here’s what I found out.

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But I Can Get It Cheaper on Amazon

I work at a camera store.  Have been for the past 5 months.  I love talking with customers about their photography interests and options.  So many different experiences, so many peculiar situations.  Everything from those who have accidentally attached an accessory incorrectly and can’t detach it to those who have a peculiar photographic need such as surveillance in their role as a private investigator.

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Crop Mode in Camera or Crop in Post

There was a bit of a Facebook exchange recently in our camera club about how best to achieve a fill-the-frame image when your lens can’t provide enough reach. This wouldn’t even have been a discussion a few years ago – the only two ways to do it would have been to zoom with your feet (get closer) or to crop in post production. DSLRs offered no other options.

But today’s higher end DSLRs and all (most?) mirrorless cameras offer another option where you can isolate how much of the sensor read-out is captured in the RAW data for a particular image. When converted, that reduced RAW data then “fills the frame” appearing to create a zoom or magnified effect and brings you in “closer” to your intended subject.

The exchange on Facebook fell into two camps: those who called the result magnification and those who said that was misleading. Well, in fact, they are both right.

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Another First for Nikon – A New Lens That Comes with a Health Warning

A couple of weeks ago, Nikon announced a new lens aimed at those (likely professional) folks who want reach, speed and superb image quality. It is the NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S, designed for their flagship mirrorless camera, the Z9. Its cost ($14,000 USD) will make it inaccessible to most, but for those who can, there is one additional consideration: it comes with a health warning. Some people should not use it.

This is a first – I’ve never seen a health warning attached to any camera equipment. I had to explore that further, and found myself quite concerned. This is the actual warning that appeared in their press release on January 18, 2022:

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A Treatise on Tripods

Do you own a tripod? Do you use it? Is it something that sits in the back of the car rarely seeing the light of day? Do they annoy you? Are they more trouble than they are worth?

I see the full gamut of opinions on tripods, with photographers of all genres either swearing by them or swearing at them. Over the course of 40 years of photography, I’ve used all brands at all price points. I’ve now landed on a collection (yes, more than one) that works for me.

This is a YouTube video piece that I hope will help you make an informed decision about using tripods. Hopefully you’ll find a few points that you hadn’t considered – or even a few points that you had that lead you to a specific decision. Leave me a comment here or there about what works for you.

Is It Possible Not to Want the Latest Gear?

I’ve had an interesting experience since my last post (more than one, but only one worth writing about). The Canon EOS R3 was officially released, after many many months of rumor. The announcement confirmed everything rumored.

Full frame, completely new sensor, instant on, super high speed continuous shooting, multiple people and object tracking modes, eye-controlled autofocus, integrated grip for portrait and landscape shooting, huge ISO range. Additionally, file transfer through multiple methods, including wifi and network cable directly to camera. And lastly, new connection options in the hotshoe, allowing for seamless connection of microphones and other accessories.

And I have absolutely no interest in it.

Say what?

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The Canon EOS R5 is NOT a Video Camera!

For the past year, I’ve been using the Canon EOS R5 as my primary stills camera.  It is a superb piece of equipment, carefully engineered to fulfill all of my wildest dreams for stills photography.  I purchased it for what will become a recurring theme for me – how to make photography more convenient.

As I get older, there are aspects of photography such as the tracking of moving subjects, the determination of tack sharp focus, remembering to switch from high ISO back to normal ISO, remembering to switch from single shot to continuous shooting and back, that could use a little help.  The Canon EOS R5 provides that to me exceptionally well.

Its large, high resolution viewfinder allows me to arrange all of the important shooting information around the edge of the frame without affecting the ability to see the subject clearly.  That’s what defines a mirrorless camera frankly and separates it from a DSLR.  That clear view of the subject and the settings allows me to set up the shot easily even with my diminishing vision, and when I can’t, there are built-in warnings and colour overlays to help me.

Likewise, the LCD is big, bright, rotatable to any angle that saves my aging back and knees, and yet lets me get the camera into the right angle to capture any scene, no matter how high or how low.

I can customize essentially every button and dial to perform the function that works for me, I can set up and save custom shooting settings that give me everything from landscape setups to close up to action setups at the flick of a button.  And I can save out all my customizations to a file to store remotely, in case something causes the camera to need a reset.

Sounds like a gem, doesn’t it.  It’s fast, light, smart and takes pretty pictures too.  It even shoots video.

Say what?  Shoots video.  But the title of this blog is that it is not a video camera. Read on, intrepid friend.

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Let There Be Light – The Truth About Crop Sensors and Lenses

I consider myself a photography geek. I love the technical side of photography. Learning about how lenses work, the reasons why aperture, shutter speed and ISO contrbute what they do to image quality, different sensor designs, the technical differences between full-frame vs. crop sensor, etc. etc.

And more than seven years into this full-time journey, I thought I had heard most of the explanations about why cameras work they way they do. I get it. I can explain it. Even as new technology is released, I revel in doing deep dives into that too.

Of course, I should state that none of this helps the artistic expression in my photography nor will reading this article help your artistic expression. But it does lay the groundwork for quick decisions about how to possibly achieve a specific artistic effect. For example, to get that creamy bokeh, I know I need to do x, y, z. So, to be clear, knowing how your camera works isn’t the be all and end all of being a good photographer. But it will get you part way down that road.

That said, I find it fascinating when I run across a technical fact that I didn’t know. That’s what this post is today.

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