A year with the R

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lumierephotography Regular Member • Posts: 128
A year with the R
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Almost exactly one year ago I purchased my R with the RF 24-105 f4 L lens from Hunt Photo.  It was there annual sale event and they had the combination at the first discounted price that I had seen for almost $500 less than the usual price.  Prior to getting the R I had used an M5 and 5D ii.  I had committed to primary using a mirrorless camera ever since I had gotten the original M in 2013.  I knew that I wanted a FF mirrorless camera and due to having used Canon since 1975 and having a lot of Canon gear committed to waiting until Canon came out with their own version.

As it often seemed to me that images from the M5 were similar in IQ to the 5D I tended to use the M5 more and more due to its small size weight savings.  Over time I had purchased a good selection of lenses so could accomplish most photographic tasks with it.

After getting the R I was initially somewhat uncomfortable with its ergonomics.  The fn bar seemed to often have a mind of its own in terms of whether it would come on or go off and if I could select what I had programmed it to do or not.  I also found the touch and drag focus point setting less responsive and accurate to what I experience with my M5.  On the R the focus point would often change positions after I lifted my thumb or would balk at moving to the far left side of the screen.  Due to a variety of issues, including my wife experiencing some medical problems I would try to address these issues, then resort to either using the camera as it was or using my M5.

Recently, however, several things occurred that have led to my experience with the R improving significantly.  One was that I went for an almost three week trip to Turkey and decided to use the R as my primary camera.  This was due primarily to having the 24-105 lens, which is a much more useful focal length range that the either the 15-45mm or 18-55mm M lenses.   I had long waited for Canon to come out with a normal zoom that was similar to the 24-105 for the M, but they have obviously failed to so and I have given up on their ever doing so.  Since I would be using the R as my primary camera I committed to learning more about using it effectively and taking the time to set it up in a way that worked for me.  As space and weight were limited on this trip I also decided to take my M5 and 55-200mm zoom for more distant images.  I have the 100-400mm v ii lens but it was much too big and heavy to take on this trip.  I also have previously purchased the 16-35 f4 IS L lens for wide angle shots, which I expected to need due to planning to photograph the interiors of several mosques.

On the trip this set of equipment worked well and I found that carrying the R and its two lenses to not be an issue.  On my return, when processing my images they seemed to have much better IQ than what I was used to from my 5D ii and the M5.  As I showed the images to others they also often commented that images seemed to have improved color and sharpness to other images I had shown in the past.  I was also very disappointed in my M5 and 55-200mm lens images as the IQ was significantly lower than my images with the R.  I had long thought that my copy of the 55-200mm lens was not a particularly good one, but this firmed up this belief.

This experience led me to decided to commit further to the R as my primary camera, including for travel.  I wasn't interested in the recently released 24-240 lens, both because it overlapped significantly with 24-105 f4 and because I wanted more reach, equivalent to the 55-200mm on the M5.  I had almost purchased a refurbished copy of the 70-300mm f4-5.6 L lens, but it was consistently out of stock on the Canon site.  When I decided that I was committed to getting this lens after seeing the results from my M5 and 55-200mm lens I looked on eBay and found one being advertised as in mint condition for less than $700.  I purchased it and when it arrived I was very pleased that as far as I could tell it was a practically new lens.  As I didn't have any 67mm filters and had just seen a review by Dan Carr of the EF - R adapter with the CPL filter and noting that its price seemed to have dropped from $300 to $239 I ordered one from B&H thinking this was a cost effective way to get an adapter for the 70-300 and and CPL filter at the same time.  I already had the Control Ring adapter that I have used with the 16-35mm lens.

Also, almost at the same time I returned from Turkey Canon released the firmware update for the R.  After installing this I found that not only did the focusing improve significantly when using eye tracking but the touch and drag focus selection also was significantly improved to be as good as what I experienced with my M5.  This made the R feel significantly quicker and easier to use as I had struggled with focus point selection all through my trip.

The last event in this saga is followed my reading a review by Dustin Abbott of the 15mm f2.8 Rokinon lens, which he liked but noted as Cons that as a manual lens it didn't report any exif data and the bulbous front lens element precluded using filters such as a CPL.  I checked the B&H used listings and found they had a chipped version of the lens for $300 that they stated was in 9+ condition.  I ordered that recently and when it arrived was also pleased to find that except for the box seeming a bit old and worn the lens had everything that comes with it new and was in new appearing condition.  I was even more pleased when I put it on my R and found that not only would it report exif data but the chip also allowed for apertures to by selected by the camera like any other EF lens and the manual focusing guide was fully operational with full focus point selection.  So the two major Cons of the 15mm Rokinon lens were addressed.  It now functioned like other EF lenses with the exception of manual focusing, which was now very easy to do and accurate, and the CPL filter issue was resolved with CPL filter adapter.

As a result I am now extremely pleased with the R.  It has significantly improved image quality, especially in the low light situations I experienced in photographing in buildings and mosques, in particular, and now seems significantly more versatile than my M5.   Having the 70-300mm L lens will allow me to take distant images with much improved image quality over the M5 and the 55-200mm lens.

Rokinon makes an R mount version of the 15mm lens, but it seems better, to me at least, to have the EF version and be able to use the CPL filter adapter with the lens.  The Rokinon R version seems to just have had a fixed adapter integrated with the lens which actually reduces the ability to use the lens flexibly on the R.

While I am confident that Canon will come out with bodies in the RF series that are improved over the R I feel that the R will be a camera that I can use enjoyably and with excellent results for the foreseeable future.  Canon will also continue to add RF lenses but I am finding that there is little, or no, penalty to using EF lenses and in some ways there are benefits to doing so.

Obviously not everyone will have the same experiences or photographic needs that I do, but I feel that for now the R, with the set of lenses and adapters that I now have will work extremely well for me.

Mark

 lumierephotography's gear list:lumierephotography's gear list
Canon EOS M Canon EOS M3 Canon EOS M5 Canon EOS R Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS USM +18 more
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