Neptune Photo Newsletter
October 2018 Volume 81
by Steve Zimic
Canon EOS R Mirrorless
How interesting that both Nikon and Canon announce FF mirrorless cameras within weeks of each other and just before the big Photokina show in Germany. At least neither company was caught with their pants down like when Minolta released the first auto focusing DSLR back in the 80’s. It leaves me wondering if these companies actually communicate with what their working on to some degree, or perhaps there’s a bit of computer espionage that keeps them apprised. I’ll let you sort that one out. Let’s look at what Canon has come up with. The FF mirrorless EOS-R is a 30MP camera that boasts an incredible 5,655 dual pixel AF points with 384 zones to choose from. And if I understand it right you can actually choose any single one of those 5,655 points. Unlike Nikon’s latest offerings, the Canon has no IBIS so you’ll have to rely solely on image stabilization in their lenses. Weather sealing is included along with a fully articulated 2.1MP LCD display. The 3.7MP high resolution viewfinder should easily satisfy anyone switching from an optical viewfinder. Canon has gone with the SD card format which supports UHS-II cards, but sadly has only included one card slot. Besides the mechanical shutter there is a totally silent shutter, although only available in single shot mode. Continuous shooting is a maximum 8 FPS in single AF, 5 FPS in CAF and 3FPS with CAF and tracking priority.
The FF mirrorless EOS-R is a 30MP camera that boasts an incredible 5,655 dual pixel AF points with 384 zones to choose from. And if I understand it right you can actually choose any single one of those 5,655 points. Unlike Nikon’s latest offerings, the Canon has no IBIS so you’ll have to rely solely on image stabilization in their lenses. Weather sealing is included along with a fully articulated 2.1MP LCD display. The 3.7MP high resolution viewfinder should easily satisfy anyone switching from an optical viewfinder. Canon has gone with the SD card format which supports UHS-II cards, but sadly has only included one card slot. Besides the mechanical shutter there is a totally silent shutter, although only available in single shot mode. Continuous shooting is a maximum 8 FPS in single AF, 5 FPS in CAF and 3FPS with CAF and tracking priority.
Along with the camera, Canon has announced three EF to RF adapters, a battery grip, 4 R lenses, and a new compact speedlight. All the adapters are reported to deliver AF speeds comparable to or better than the DSLR counterparts. The basic EF to RF adapter does nothing more than adapt an EF lens with full compatibility ($99). Same with the second although there’s an added control ring that will allow you to set it to control one of four adjustments, aperture, shutter, ISO or exposure compensation ($199). Perhaps the most interesting adapter is the one with a built in filter slot which comes with either a drop-in circular polarizer ($300) or variable ND filter ($399). What’s a little strange is that the Canon website shows the variable ND filter alone is $450 - huh?? Despite the rather steep cost of the last adapter, I think it might be quite popular for those users with big fast lenses where those two filters are either unavailable or perhaps cost prohibitive - kudos to Canon for that one.
The LP-E6N battery will yield around 350 shots. The BG-E22 battery grip connects via the camera’s battery compartment and holds two LP-E6N batteries for extended shooting. It has a release button and other controls which are yet to be specified.
The four lenses currently scheduled for release show Canon is quite serious about this system with the RF 28-70 F2.0 L being the prime example ($3000 by the end of Dec.). I imagine the RF24-105 f4.0 L IS will be the more popular choice but you’ll have to wait until Dec. for that one too. The 24-105 lens however will be available as a kit with the camera for $3400 by the end of this month. Also available by the end of this month is the RF50mm f1.2 L and the RF35mm f1.8 IS Macro at $2300 and $500 respectively. The three L lenses have an additional ring that acts the same way as the ring on the adapter. Canon has wisely created a different texture on the control ring which will hopefully be enough to tell which is which, although not with gloves. I imagine there will be a setting in the camera to disable it if one finds it annoying.
The new Speedlight EL-100 is a rather compact little flash with a guide number of 85 at 50mm and ISO 100. It has no LCD panel but a variety of dial controlled modes including the ability to act as a transmitter or receiver for other Canon Speedlights. It appears that the zoom control is done manually with a minumum of 24mm and a maximum of 50mm. The head will tilt and swivel to any postion within a 360º arc. As I understand it, the other Canon Speedlights will be compatible with the EOSR camera.
I’m not much into video but from what I’ve read the specs are decent, but don’t really match the offerings from Sony and Panasonic
I think this is a respectible start for Canon in the mirrorless sector, especially considering the lenses and accessories initially offered. However I think it’s pretty obvious that the specs don’t come close to Canon’s professional cameras. Both Canon and Nikon have serious investements in their DSLR’s and from a marketing standpoint both companies need to preserve that. Companies like Sony, Fuji, Panasonic and Olympus had very little market share so it made perfect sense for them to develop mirrorless cameras with outstanding performance both in image quality and features.
With Sony dominating the FF mirrorless market I don’t see many of those users switching to Canon or Nikon at this point, and perhaps never. Considering the low $99 price of the EF to RF adapter, I expect there will be plenty of Canon fans ready to give this new camera a try. The battle for dominance in mirrorless FF cameras has just begun, and Panasonic will soon join the fight with a newly announced FF mirrorless camera. Hopefully there’s enough interest for all the players to come out ahead. Time will tell. More info on the EOS-R on Canon’s Website.
Sony 24mm F1.4 G Master
Sony hasn’t announced any new cameras this month, a surprise in itself, but they have revealed this fast lightweight 24mm lens. At only 15.7 ounces, the lens will feel very much at home on any of Sony’s realtively small FF cameras. There’s a new motor driving the focusing which claims incredible speed and near silent operation. Weather sealing is included as it is with all the G Master lenses. There are 11 aperture blades for a smooth and pleasing bokeh. I won’t bore you with all the specific lens elements, but they look quite impressive. Videophiles will enjoy the purely linear focusing and the ability to de-click the aperture ring. The lens should be available sometime this month for $1400. Check out Sony’s website for the details.
Sigma FF Foveon Camera
Sigma has announced that it’s working on a FF camera with of course, their innovative Foveon sensor. Unlike their current APS-H camera with a proprietary Sigma SA mount, this new camera will have the L (Leica) mount, the same as Panasonic’s new FF camera. No details yet on the resolution the new camera will have, but I imagine that going to a slightly larger Foveon sensor will help with high ISO noise which has plagued the Foveon sensor for quite a while now. It looks like the L mount might just be the new universal FF mount, much like micro 4/3 or screw mount from eons ago. Sigma also announced a Canon EF to L mount adapter, so that will not only attract users with Canon lenses to the Sigma camera but also to Leica and Panasonic cameras. There will also be the option to convert Sigma SA mount lenses to the L mount or there may just be an adapter. This is getting very interesting.
This new camera looks and feels almost identical to the XT-2, which based on reader comments is a good thing. There are big improvements to processor, auto focusing and video, but IBIS is sadly lacking. Start up time is now 0.5sec and processing speed is up 3X over the XT-2. The XT-3 sports a brand new APS-C 26MP back side illuminated (BSI) X-trans sensor with 2.16 million phase detect AF points covering the full frame. Focus sensitivity is now -3EV. The LCD is now touch sensitive and besides selecting focusing points can be used to access a variety of settings with a swipe. The highest frame rate goes to 20FPS or 30FPS in 1.25X crop mode and from reading the manual those frame rates work using continuous AF + tracking - impressive. There’s now a Pre Shot mode which continually writes images to the buffer at 30 FPS with a half press of the shutter button. In Pre Shot mode, once the shutter button is pressed fully, you get the 30 frames before you pressed fully and an additional 30 frames for a total of 60 frames. Olympus have this feature on their E-M1 MKII camera I can attest it works brilliantly. 4k 60P video is available with a much reduced rolling shutter which can be recorded to a card and HDMI output simultaneously, I think. To be honest I’m not much of a video guy and find most of the video specs utterly confusing. You can check out all the specs on Fuji’s website. There’s also an excellent review of the camera by a friend of mine here. The camera will be available this month for a rather reasonable price of $1499.