11 Points you should know about the Canon Mirrorless system

Roger Machin is the head of marketing for Canon South Africa and has been working for Canon for more than 25 years. He recently came to the Wild Eye office to give the guides a presentation on the Canon Mirrorless System. I thought that I would share a few things that I learnt about the Canon Mirrorless System from Roger. So let us get into it...

1. What is the difference between the Mirrorless and DSLR systems?

The DSLR cameras have a reflex mirror inside of them, which bounces light up into the optical viewfinder.

With the mirrorless cameras, light goes directly into the image sensor. Viewfinders on mirrorless cameras are electronic and show the same preview of the image that you'd see on the LCD screen.

2. Can I use my old EF-Lenses on my new mirrorless camera?

Yes you can! Using the EOS R Adapter, you can attach your old EF-S Lens to one of the new Mirrorless Cameras. In doing this, it is important to note that there will be no quality or focus difference whatsoever.

3. Should I invest my money on a new Mirrorless camera body or on the new RF Lenses?

In the words of Roger: "Buy a new Ferrari, put a FIAT engine in it - it is going to perform like a FIAT. Buy a FIAT, put a Ferrari engine in it - it is going to look like a FIAT, but it will be a whole lot faster!"

In other words, put your money into the Lens! It is better to have a Pro lens on an amateur body rather than an amateur lens on a Pro body. For example, having the 45 Million pixels on offer by the R5 Camera with an amateur lens does work and it works well, but rather get the R6 with 20 millions less pixels and a Pro lens. You really are going to get a lot more out of your images using the formula of getting a Pro lens on an amateur body.

Good lenses are lifelong investments. If you spend your money well and look after the lenses, they will last a lifetime.

4. See more than ever before!
  • The canon system is capable of doing MINUS 6 full stops Exposure Value on the ESR,
  • MINUS 6.5 on the R6 and the R5
  • MINUS 7.5 on the R3

What does this mean? A zero exposure value is darkness and every full stop below zero is what we classify as an Exposure Value (EV). When you can no longer see in the dark, the R3 can see and focus at 7.5 EV below Zero. This is the equivalent of taking a photo in darkness with settings of 100 ISO, F 1.4 and a shutter speed of about 17 minutes.

That is what the R3 is seeing at Minus 7.5 EV!

5. Animal eye detection AF

The animal autofocus is extremely good on the Canon System. The software is designed for cats, dogs and birds however it can do a whole bunch of other species including wildlife. Canon employees such as Roger are sending the engineers images all of the time which they then use to update the software and algorithms constantly. These updates are then adopted by your camera through firmware updates.

Interestingly, with the DSLR cameras, firmware updates only ever fixed glitches and it was very rare that performance enhancements came as a result of this. With the Mirrorless cameras however, there are constant performance enhancements through firmware updates.

6. Image stabilization

Using stabilizers in the lenses is something that Canon has always done because there is a vibration sensor in the lens. Within the new R5 and R6 there is an in-body stabilizer and Canon is now able to use the combination factors of the lens and the mirrorless camera body due to the in-body sensor being able to move up and down, forwards and backwards and a tilt rotation.

It is important to note however that in-body stabilizers are great for lenses less than 150mm (200mm lenses at the absolute most).

Anything longer than 200mm will result in the lens still stabilizing. It might however switch to an electronic or digital system by cropping in on the sensor with loss of quality due to lower pixel count, but is still actually working.

7. FV Mode or Function Value mode
  • AV (Aperture priority) Mode - you set the aperture and ISO, your camera sets the shutter speed.
  • TV (Time Value) Mode - you set the shutter speed and ISO, your camera sets the aperture.
  • Manual Mode - You set all of the settings or you can shoot with automatic ISO

Function Value is like program mode and it allows you to individually set any of the settings (shutter speed, ISO, aperture, exposure compensation) while everything else continues to set itself automatically. You can set more than one and those that you didn't set will continue to change accordingly.

8. Does the 100-500mm RF lens take an extender?

Yes it does, HOWEVER, it is important to note that you have to zoom into 300mm before attaching the lens. You cannot put the extender on at 100mm. There is a special rubber plate that drops in at 300mm on the camera body which protects the front element of your extender and the back element of your 100-500mm lens.

So the extenders do work, but only from 300mm onwards.

When zooming out, you will not be able to zoom out below 300mm and this is due to the rubber plate that is in place.

9. Issues with the EF lens

If you take an EF lens on an adapter and attach it to the R5 and R6, you will not get get 20 frames per second. You will get about 16/17 frames per second and the reason for this is that these lenses were not designed to take anything faster than this frame rate for the DX3.

Is this really an issue though?

That is your only limit in using an EF Lens with an adapter on the new Mirrorless System. Optically, these lenses are superior. With the EF Lenses, you can now upload your entire range of lenses using Canon software to the R5. As soon as you put that EF lens on the adapter the camera will use this digital lens optimizer on the EF lens and not the camera. So the new RF lenses have got this built in, but with the older EF lenses you have to upload that information onto the camera.

10. Can I stack extenders with the new RF Lenses?

No you cannot! With the older EF Lenses you use to be able to stack extenders for example adding a 1.4 x and a 2 x converter together if you really wanted to. With the new RF lenses, you cannot do this.

11. Shift in ISO difference Capabilities on Mirrorless vs DSLR

The parameters around what ISO you were capable of shooting with 5 years ago on the DSLR system VS the ISO numbers that one is capable of shooting with the Mirrorless system these days is incomparable.

On the new Canon Mirrorless system, the camera is capable of shooting at ISO 102,000. ISO ONE HUNDRED AND TWO THOUSAND. That really is incredible, and it's not as if you are going to be shooting at such a high ISO all the time, but the camera is capable if you needed to.

This has been a big shift for a lot people to realize what ISO 10,000 looks like on an R5 or an R6 compared to a 7D or 5D4.

All in all it was fascinating to have Roger come and present to us. Canon has some really innovative and exciting ideas in their pipeline and I am certainly excited to see what is in store for the world!

I hope that you have learnt something new about the Canon Mirrorless System, just like I did! If you are thinking about taking the leap from the DSLR system to the new Mirrorless system, have a look at Andrew Beck's blog below for more information.

If you have any question, feel free to let me know in the comments and I will happily attend to them.

Until next time,


Moving to Mirrorless on Canon: The EF-EOS R Adapter Explained

The RF 800mm F11 for Wildlife Photography

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