"A big step forward": master the move to mirrorless

Pros from different genres reveal how moving to the EOS R System created new opportunities for them, and how it can revolutionise your craft too.
A man skydives over a valley as the silhouette of a plane is visible in the distance, shot on a Canon EOS R5 by Samo Vidic.

Canon Ambassador Samo Vidic uses the AF-ON button to start and stop autofocus, and has customised the depth of field button on his cameras so that it toggles the autofocus between One-Shot AF and Servo AF. "It means that when the subject stops, you can change the way the autofocus responds," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/1000 sec, f/5.6 and ISO100. © Samo Vidic

Canon EOS DLSRs and EOS R System mirrorless cameras have a lot of features in common. They have a similar intuitive control layout and familiar menus, and you can even use your favourite EF DSLR lenses on the mirrorless RF mount via the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

The EOS R System is more advanced, though. Cameras in the range are crammed with cutting-edge technology, such as highly responsive electronic viewfinders (EVF), In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) and intelligent AF that can identify different subjects and track them automatically.

If you're new to the system, it can be hard to know where to start when first exploring its possibilities. So we asked Canon Ambassadors from a range of genres – wildlife, portrait and travel photographer Pie Aerts, adventure sports pro Samo Vidic and wedding photographers Carmen and Ingo Leitner – to explain how they got to grips with the new features and customised their cameras to realise their full potential.

A bride and groom in their wedding attire kiss as they stand on rocks with a body of water and mountains visible in the background. Shot on a Canon EOS R5 by Carmen and Ingo Photography.

Wedding photographer Ingo has customised many of the buttons on his cameras so he can react more quickly to proceedings. "I've changed the function of the AF point selection button, so I can quickly change the drive mode from full speed to single frame, and I've set up the Multi-Function button so it switches between stills and video recording," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens at 1/640 sec, f/3.5 and ISO320. © Carmen and Ingo Photography

Customise the buttons and menus

Canon EOS R System cameras offer a tremendous degree of customisation, enabling you to tailor the buttons and dials to the way you want to shoot stills or video. The Custom Functions menu lets you fine-tune an even wider range of camera features to save time when you're shooting.

Ingo suggests using the My Menu tab to create a shortcut to your most frequently adjusted menu items and Custom Functions. "I use this feature a lot," he says. "I store all the functions that I use heavily, including Shutter Mode, External Speedlite Control and Cropping/Aspect Ratio, which lets me quickly apply a 1.6x crop."

The controls on the EOS R System can be configured in more ways than they can on DSLR bodies. But RF lenses – such as the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, the RF 28-70mm F2L USM and the RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM – can also be customised, enabling you to adjust shooting parameters with a turn of the control ring.

The Never Break Your Flow EOS R System logo.

Built around you. For you.

The award-winning EOS R System offers a highly intuitive approach to photography and video, working seamlessly with you to keep you focused on your subject and craft.
Adventure sports photographer Samo Vidic stands beside rocks above a fast-flowing river photographing a canoeist.

The intelligent subject detection on high-end  EOS R System cameras enables you to prioritise people, animals or vehicles. "For portraits, the Eye AF works amazingly well," says Samo.

Set up Autofocus shortcuts

You can manually select an AF point by using the physical controller on the back of an EOS R System camera, or by tapping on the vari-angle touchscreen display. You can also activate Touch & Drag AF to turn the rear display into a large trackpad, moving the AF point with your thumb while you look through the EVF. With Eye Control AF activated on the Canon EOS R3, you can select the object you want to focus on just by looking at it.

The subject detection and tracking autofocus available in the more advanced EOS R System cameras can identify the subject you've preselected in the AF menu and track it with precision as it moves through a scene. "It's completely changed the way I focus," says Pie. "I always used to work with a single focus point, but I use the animal detection in the Canon EOS R5 all of the time now." By pressing the SET button, Pie is able to reset the focus point to the centre. "But I never use my thumb to move the focus point around," he continues. "I just quickly switch between the animal eye tracking mode and centre spot focus.

"When this worry about getting a pin-sharp eye is absent, there is more freedom to explore different compositions. You just have more time to think about creating something that is unique."

Discover how other Canon photographers are maximising the potential of the EOS R System

Shoot with the EVF

You're able to preview images in real time in the electronic viewfinder of a Canon EOS mirrorless camera, complete with your exposure, white balance, Picture Style and other effects applied. "Unlike in the optical viewfinder of a DSLR, you can customise the information that's displayed in an EVF via the setup menu," explains Canon Europe Product Marketing Manager John Maurice. "You can also access the camera menus and play back images directly in the viewfinder. This is particularly useful when you're shooting in very bright conditions."

Samo uses this feature to review images when there's a lull in the action. "I review my images in the viewfinder when I have five or 10 minutes to spare," he says. "I can go through 20-50 images in that time, blowing them up to check they're sharp and then rating them. It saves me a lot of time later on."

Photographer Pie Aerts stands in a field, holding his Canon EOS R5 up to his face.

Pie uses his Canon EOS R5 to shoot wildlife videos for his social media pages. He also makes sure to capture behind-the-scenes footage which he then edits together later. He'll often switch to Full HD if he needs to save on memory card space.

Explore high quality video

Canon EOS R System cameras are equipped with cutting-edge tools for video. "The autofocus technology makes filming much easier," John says. "The RF lenses are better for video than their EF counterparts too. The Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is an excellent crossover lens, for example, with smooth, silent focusing for video."

The Canon EOS R7 and EOS R6 Mark II are equipped with dials that let you instantly toggle the camera between stills and video. You can also set up individual Custom modes for both stills and video using the C1/C2/C3 settings on the Mode dial.

Pie recommends pre-programming settings to save you time. "I constantly switch between stills and video when shooting wildlife," he says. "I've pre-programmed my go-to video settings of 4K/50fps and 1/100 sec shutter speed, which makes it very easy when I switch to video. Even when I'm shooting video, I'm using the Movie Frame Grab option a lot. It might only give you 45MB images that are not RAW, but it's still a very cool feature to work with."

All EOS R System cameras enable you to shoot 4K video, but some bodies enable you to shoot at a higher resolution that is then 'oversampled' to produce a better quality 4K image. Select the EOS R7's 4K Fine mode, for example, and the camera will oversample the video from 7K to produce more detailed 4K clips.

Five elephants walk towards the camera, shot in black and white on a Canon EOS R5 by Pie Aerts.

Pie often uses a remotely operated camera trap to get low-angle images of elephants, such as this photograph taken in Amboseli National Park in Kajiado County, Kenya. The electronic, silent shutter of his Canon EOS R5 proves advantageous in these situations. "It allows the camera to be almost non-existent in their world," Pie says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 23mm, 1/500 sec, f/11 and ISO640. © Pie Aerts

Seven bridesmaids look at a bride holding a bouquet of flowers, shot on a Canon EOS R6 by Carmen and Ingo Photography.

Ingo mostly shoots with his camera set to mechanical shutter. "When you work with people, they are used to hearing a click when you take a photo, which you don't always get with an electronic shutter," he says. "If I'm shooting a wedding ceremony or I'm close to a microphone then I will switch to the silent shutter." Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/1.8 and ISO160. © Carmen and Ingo Photography

Take advantage of the electronic shutter

The high-speed electronic shutter in an EOS R System camera makes it easier to capture the decisive moment. For instance, the Canon EOS R7 can shoot at up to 15fps with its mechanical shutter, and up to 30fps with its electronic shutter. The ability to shoot at the intense speeds offered by an electronic shutter opens up new opportunities for creative photography.

"If I'm shooting a slightly slower sport, such as motocross, I will use the electronic shutter to catch the brief moment that riders are in the perfect position on a corner or a jump," says Samo. Being able to shoot at 30fps with his Canon EOS R3 means that he always gets the shots he needs. "Before this, it was a little bit of a lottery," he says.

Silent shooting is useful when you don't want to draw attention to the camera. "I often employ remote-controlled camera traps for elephants and lions," Pie says, "and the Canon EOS R5's electronic shutter is beautiful for this type of work. Animals respond differently to sounds, but the noise of a DSLR's mechanical shutter usually scares them away."

The speed of EOS R System cameras can take some getting used to though. "Be careful with the burst mode, because it's easy to take more photos than you intended," says Ingo. "For the first wedding we shot on the EOS R System, we ended up with 12,000 images instead of our regular 8,000."

A common goldeneye swimming towards the camera, reflected in the water below.

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Two lions rub their faces together, taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Pie Aerts.

Pie says that the sophisticated image stabilisation of the Canon EOS R5 has enabled him to work more freely with long lenses. "It means I can be quicker to react as a result," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x lens at 560mm, 1/200 sec, f/5.6 and ISO500. © Pie Aerts

Shoot more freely with image stabilisation

Many EOS R System cameras are equipped with IBIS that can deliver up to 8-stops of stability, depending on the lens. It also brings the benefits of image stabilisation (IS) to non-IS lenses. And for video recording, IBIS can be combined with both lens IS and Movie Digital IS to give footage a gimbal-like smoothness.

"IBIS is a game-changer for video compared to previous cameras," says Ingo, who now shoots everything handheld, rather than having to use a monopod as he would when working with a DSLR.

It's a similar story with Pie, who describes the Canon EOS R6 Mark II's stabilisation for video as extraordinary. "I love working with tripods and monopods, but you have a lot of moving variables when you're shooting animals from a vehicle," he says. "But the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM and the RF 600mm F4L IS USM lenses that I use are so light, and the IS performance so impressive, that it's encouraged me to work more handheld now."

Canon EOS R System cameras offer such a wealth of time-saving technology and creative features that it's worth setting aside some time to explore the functions and customisation offered by your new kit.

"I've been shooting Canon all my life and EOS DSLR cameras had essentially become an extension of my body, so I was hesitant about moving to the EOS R System," admits Pie. "But it's proved to be such a big step forward that I would encourage people to keep their minds open to the possibilities."

Marcus Hawkins

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