As a Canon Explorer of Light, one of the exciting opportunities I have is to experiment with their latest gear and technology. Sometimes I get to be one of the very few people in the entire country (or world) that has a chance to play with the gear before it is released to the public. Recently, I had the honor of being invited to photograph using Canon’s new mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R—first in a brand new camera system.
I wanted to take a moment to share a bit of the behind the scenes of my experiences with this new camera. It was the very first time I ever had a mirrorless camera in my hands…. ever! Of any brand!
I decided to put the camera through a test and see how it held up in demanding shooting situations. Instead of shooting something easy and controlled in the studio (easy to focus, compose, achieve nice lighting, etc)… I would shoot on location in challenging lighting situations.
I put together two shoots in one evening to create a lot of beautiful images and to test if the camera could keep up with me. Let’s take a look!
Shoot #1 : NYC Rooftop
The first shoot I planned at sunset on a rooftop in NYC. I figured that shooting on a rooftop would have its challenges — safety, wind, gear, plus the ever-changing light at sunset. It was even more unpredictable than I imagined!
Right as we started getting into the shoot a violent lightning and rain storm started to race across the city. While it created a challenge to shoot, it also blessed us with incredible stormy and emotive skies! We watched the storm moving toward us, and we waited until we felt the first rain drops before ‘all hands on deck’ helped to rush the gear (and model) inside. This was no easy task considering all the gear had to make it up (and down) narrow steps to this rooftop (that dropped off 20+ stories to the street below). Not at all for the faint of heart!
The idea of this scene was to create a bit of Hollywood glam but with New York as the fabulous and dramatic backdrop. I utilized old movie lights and a ladder to give a bit more depth and dimension to this otherwise flat scene. A model just standing on a rooftop is a bit dull without something more to work with (like an incredible dress, props, motion, or something to create visual interest). The props we brought gave the model something to work with an allowed me to create compositions that were more compelling than a model with a background distant behind her.
- 2 Profoto D2 strobes
- Profoto Beauty Dish + Grid Main Light
- Profoto 5ft Octabox Fill Light
- 2 Canon 600EXRT Speedlights (in the vintage lights to illuminate them)
- Profoto Air Remote
Here is the final image used in the ad campaign:
Shoot #2: Light Bars
For the second shoot I decided to test how this new mirrorless system would do shooting in the dark. After the rooftop shoot we we headed over to Randall’s Island around midnight. To illuminate my model I used these awesome new colorful LED light bars — they actually come with an app that allows you to program the exact color/hue of each light, and even intervals for them to blink or pulse.
The idea was to use these light bars to create a futuristic scene in the darkness. I knew I wanted to use a dress that looked other-worldly and caught the light, giving it a feel that it was glowing.
So that the hair wouldn’t blend into the background, we actually used a wig made out of tinsel that would also catch the light and harness the shoot’s theme. I also selected my model Helene because I loved her beautiful but also alien-esque look that would be perfect for my concept.
It was a fun (and exhausting) challenge to align the light bars into interesting compositions that created depth in the scene and also interesting lines for the eye to follow around the frame.
Thoughts on the gear
I really put the EOS R through a comprehensive test…shooting a series of creative fashion images in difficult shooting conditions. As I mentioned, I had never shot mirrorless before NOR an electronic viewfinder, and I was thrilled to see how these new tools made my job easier. They didn’t just keep it, but I actually discovered several tools that really helped me out.
Focus: One of the things that most impressed me about this camera was how quickly it focused. Whether my subject was moving or I was shooting in extreme darkness, I had no problem grabbing tack-sharp focus. I had a variety of new tools to help me to do this including eye tracking and face tracking, plus the ability to use the touch screen to quickly (and precisely) place my focus point.
Low Light Capabilities: This is one of the things that I loved the most. Even when I was shooting at midnight it was as if my camera could see in the dark. I didn’t need to shine a light on the subject to grab focus on the eye (or any other tricks for night shooting). The camera and viewfinder made it easy to clearly see the scene and to focus appropriately — I had never shot in the dark and felt like my job was SO easy.
Lenses: I didn’t expect this, but one of the things that was the best about this new system was the lenses. WOOOOWWW. They were some of the sharpest lenses I had ever seen with basically no visible chromatic aberrations, plus they focus extremely quickly. The 28-70mm 2.0 created images that were jaw-dropping sharp, like razor sharp that I kept looking at and saying wow over and over again!
Lens Adaptors: I loved that the new system has lens adaptors so I can use my pre-existing EF lenses. They have a few that offer extended capabilities like a drop-in ND or polarizer (so I don’t have to buy a billion of these filters to fit my lenses) OR the new customizable ring (see below).
Programmable ring: This ring on the new lenses allows me to assign aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed or even exposure compensation to the ring for fast access to those settings. I could quickly adapt to changes in my environment or exposure without having to dive into menus to change settings—everything was extremely customizable and practical. For this shoot I found myself programming the ring to adjust my aperture.
Touch Bar: The camera also has a touch bar that I can program to control whatever I want. At first I wasn’t sure how I would use it, but I ended up changing it to ISO so with one tap I could lower my ISO to 100, another push it up to ISO 2000, or swipe to go between the two. With dropping light at sunset I used this nonstop! With other shoots I could adjust to suit my needs with another settings. SO cool!
I definitely put this new camera through its paces, and it kept up! The images really show this! It’s so exciting to see that Canon has evolved to create an entirely new system that helps make my job easier, even in challenging conditions– and I know there is a lot more coming with this new system. Excited to see what comes next!
- Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera
- Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R
- Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
- Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens
- Profoto D2 1000Ws AirTTL Monolight
- Profoto 20in White Beauty Dish + Grid
- Profoto 5' RFi Octa Softbox
- Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
- Profoto Air Remote
- Tether Tools Cable
- Tether Tools Tether Table Aero for 15" Apple MacBook Pro
- Tether Tools JerkStopper Tethering Kit
- TetherBLOCK QR Plus Quick Release Plate