Canon Eos R for concert photography ?

Canon finally came out with his first full frame mirrorless camera. A lot of review are available online to know everything you need about the details of the camera, and I made a more broad article about that on Studio-Horatio. But the true question is… is the Eos R will be good for concert photography ?

Disclaimer: This is my opinion about the camera based on the specs and what I saw about it online. I did not have the chance to play with it yet, so some aspects of the camera may need to wait some real life tests and not only read a specs sheet.

FPS: Frame per seconds

The camera can shoot 8 frame per second which is a real good number in my opinion, but only in “one shot” focus mode. In continuous focus mode, it drops to 5 frames per seconds. Which is really sad because during live show most of people are generally shooting in continuous focus mode.

In my opinion 7 to 10 frames per second are the best for concert to be able to capture the “right”moment especially when people are jumping or stuff like that. You could always need/have more, but like 14 or 18 frames per second for a concert… I do not think you will need that really often.

Now it will depends on what you are currently shooting with. I am shooting with the 6D (4.5 FPS). So 5 FPS is not bad for me, but it will certainly not be a reason for me to upgrade or change system. If you are shooting with a 5D MKIV (7 FPS) you will loose some.

So depending on what you shoot (if you shoot only classical music, I do not think you will need more than 2FPS) and the gear you have right now, this can be a good thing. But for me this is the minimum they could have done and it is still good, but not a revolution.

Silent mode

The silent mode is something that came often as one of the big advantages to shoot with a mirroless. You can shoot doing literally no sound at all and not disturb anybody around with your “clic clic clic”.

Again if you only shoot metal or electro concert… it is not something you will pay attention are generally the band is far more louder than you. But for intimate concert or some theater or this kind of show, sometimes photographer are not tolerated except during the rehearsal because or the sound of the camera disturbing the audience, it can be a real advantages.

Again not really a reason to upgrade for me, but a nice thing to have in future.

Last detail, for some reason the silent mode in the Eos R is not able to do continuous shooting (you click on the shutter and it will do only one photo even if you do not remove your finger from it…) only one shot… Seriously Canon ? Fortunatly this will be fix with a firmware update later on.

Battery life

One of the biggest issue with mirrorless for me right now: battery life. They announce that one battery could last about 350-400 shots, this is not much, but around the standard of mirrorless (except sony which is a bit more better).

Side note: I am not sure how they are measuring Battery life (if you got infos post it in comment I would like to know more), but I think that they are doing it with a “normal” use of the camera. As concert photographer we generally are bursting a lot of pictures during 3 songs/15 minutes. And because of that I think that one battery will deliver us much more shots before shutting down. Again this would need to be tested in real life.

This reduce battery life is not really an issue for a one night show, as I think you will only need one battery (if you need two for a one night with let’s say 4 bands… then we definitely have an issue and prepare to bought a lot of batteries). In case of a festival it may begin to be a bit trickier and you may need 5-6-7-8 batteries when you only needed 2 or 3 before. With my 6D I never used more than 2 batteries per camera during festivals (Osheaga 3 Days or Heavy Montreal 2 Days).

A good thing though is that canon is using the LP6 battery which are the same as several DLSR cameras (6D, 5D etc…). So if you already have some, you will be able to reuse them which is a great news.

Image quality

This is the part we do not know much about as we will need full test reviews with shooting in real condition.
What we know so far is that the image will be 30 Mpx which is in my opinion a good thing. Not too much, but enough to be able to crop a bit inside of it.

The sensor is the same as the 5D MKIV (for half the price) so it should be also really good ! Should have great dynamic range, ISOs should be able to be pushed a lot without so much noise.

Again, not a revolution from Canon, but everything seems really great on paper and perfect for concert photography, even if a new sensor with better ISOs performance would have been also a good news.

Autofocus

This is one of the area where Canon is currently a leader, and this new camera seems to keep up with this reputation. Canon announce 5000+ points of focus (I think this is kind of “marketing” and no one will need that much focus points, but need to wait tests in real situation to see if this is useful or not) and dual pixel autofocus.

On paper we could not really have better than that for concert photographer as focus is always tricky.

Card slots

If you check on the internet this has been THE subject for everyone talking about the new Nikon and Canon Mirrorless. And yes, this new Eos R will only have one slot… This is a shame but as I will say in the Price segment next, for me this body is not targeted to professional and because of that, two card slot are not really needed. I agree that it would have been great to have it, and it may have been a reason for me to upgrade, but this is not something everyone needs.

I shot hundred of shows so far and I started with a 1000D then a 60D and now a 6D. All of this bodies have only one slot and I can totally survive with it. And I think that most of people are in the same situation. Card failure happened to me once in more than ten years of photography and I was able to recover most of the photos from it using the good software.

So yes this is a shame and I would love to have two cards slots, but except if you are shooting professionally events that you can not fail on (like weddings), you can survive without it. And before looking for a very expansive body with two card slots, I will recommend you to start buying good memory cards, formatting them often and have 2 bodies with one card slots. It will be far more useful as a concert photographer.

Price

One of everyone wonders, how much this body will cost ? Answer is 2399$ (us). This is not cheap but not that expensive, leading us to think that this body is targeted for “expert” or “semi pro” and that another body for professional will come in the near future (with a price point around 4000$ or more).

In my opinion this is great price as you can have the power of a 5D MKIV (minus two or three features) in a body almost half his price.

EF lenses

I was hoping that they will keep the same EF mount… but they changed it for the new RF mount. The good news is that it will come with some new great features on the lens (like the new 3 ring which you can program to control another parameter).

Do not throw your EF lens right away, you will be able to use them on the Eos R using an adapter, like most of the mirrorless.

Canon showed us three adapters. The first one is a basic one, allowing you to use your lens as before. The second one is adding the third programmable ring so you will be able to use this new functionality with your EF lenses. The last one is for me the best one, even if not really useful for concert, and will allow you to put some filter (ND or Polariser) at the rear of the lens, between the lense and the sensor, instead of the front.

New lenses

Coming with the Eos R are 4 new lenses using the new RF mount.

  • Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
  • Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro
  • Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM

Again need to wait for real tests. But the last one the 28-70 F2, sound like it will be a killer one for concert photography. It will be an expensive and heavy lens but having a zoom with such an opening.. my dreams come true.

The good thing for us is that most of these lenses have wide aperture (F2, F1.8 F1.2), and if canon continue in this direction, it will be great for low light shooting.

Also all these lens got a 3 rings to have more controls directly on the lens. You can program it to be what ever you want (Exposure correction, isos…). For me this is the revolution from Canon. I always felt it really hard to control my three main parameters (shutter speed, aperture and isos), and end up having most of the time one not moving and playing with the two others. It works, but can be really annoying sometimes (shooting Fire photography for example). And I think this new ring will solve this issue.

Should you buy it ?

This is a hard question and I will try to answer it with different cases.

1- You already have a Full frame DSLR and L lenses (my situation)

I would not buy it. Even with a 6D which is becoming pretty old, the Eos R does not give me that much reasons to upgrade to it. Changing system may bring me some issues, accessories not working anymore, battery life not as good as my DSLR etc…

I would certainly have a jump in image quality, but it will be the only reason to do so, and it will not be cheap (Body + Adapter for my EF lenses).

Mirrorless coming to town does not mean my DSLR will stop working, and you can find in the pit some photographer that produce really good results with 10 years old cameras. Do not forget that these are just tool and except if you feel limited, there is almost no need to change for now.

2- You are shooting with a xxD or xxxD and you are willing to go to a Full Frame system (me two years ago)

In this case, the Eos R would certainly be my choice. If this camera came out before I bought my 6D, I think I would have made the jump to mirrorless. I think mirrorless are the future of photography, and if you are about to go to fullframe, go for the Eos R (instead of a 6D MKII or a 5D MKIV). For this price, it is one of the best on the market for photography for concert photography. You could also go for other brand (Sony, Nikon, Fuji…), but this generally mean changing a lot more stuff to be compatible.

So to conclude I will just say that the Eos R is in my opinion a very good first full frame camera for concert photography. It will have some killer lenses for low light situations. But, the system is too young to justify a switch, and does not have enough lenses, for someone who already have his kit for concert photography.

I did not cover everything about this new camera, I  tried to focus on concert photography. This is why I am not talking about video here for example. For a more complete review you can go to Studio-horatio.

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