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New Toy

 

New toys arrive in golden boxes, but what is in it – read on to find out.

Canon EOS cameras have been on a very clear trajectory of recent years, from DSLR to Mirrorless. Firstly we had the EOS R, which was widely panned by internet ‘experts’ who delight in comparing features between manufacturers. Most of the ‘features’ of the EOS R were irrelevant to me as I already shoot an EOS 5D Mark iv and the EOS R was basically the same camera in a different carcass.

Then came the EOS RP, a down-spec ‘consumer’ version of the EOS R, which wasn’t for me either. Like the rest of the world I was eagerly waiting for Canon to release a mirrorless upgrade to the current EOS 5D lineup.

Well this year we have seen the highly vaunted launch of the EOS R5 and R6, mirrorless successors to the EOD 5D and 6D. The fanfare of publicity and internet anticipation surrounding these cameras has been enormous. Finally Canon was going to deliver a high megapixel full frame mirrorless camera to catch up with Sony and Nikon. 

I started reading the specification rumours as they slowly trickled out, probably clever marketing on Canon’s part. Then came the launch announcement with full specification details, followed shortly by reviews from those favoured with pre-release copies. It all sounded like this might be the moment to move to mirrorless.

Then came the more in-depth reviews and more detail. It became clear that Canon had not necessarily designed a camera for stills shooters, but have tried to make a jack of all trades. Nearly all of the significant improvements over the EOS 5D-iv relate to video. I don’t need all this in a stills camera. I already have an excellent (Canon) video camera.

Sure there are improvements to the autofocus and new in body stabilisation, but I don’t need these. The increase in ISO sensitivity is less than a full stop. There are improvements in the sensor’s dynamic range that could be helpful, but I control dynamic range with graduated filters.

The omission of both GPS and wireless connectivity however would have a significant impact on my post capture workflow meaning this is not going to replace my EOS 5D-iv as my primary camera. It could only ever be a secondary body, in which case it is really only the higher pixel resolution that would be any benefit to me.

Year

Mega Pix

Native ISO

FPS

Video

Battery

EOS 5DS / R

2015

50

100-6400

5

HD

700 shots

EOS 5D-iv

2016

30

100-32000

7

4K

900 shots

EOS R5

2020

45

100-51200

12

8K

320 shots

Then came the launch day and the price – £4,200 in the UK, nearly £1,500 more than the EOS 5D-iv currently sells for. 

Furthermore, there is the battery life. The EOS R5 is only able to capture one third the number of images from a fully charged battery. This would put a further dent in my pocket as I would need an additional three new batteries (total £225) to ensure I would have sufficient charge to match a long day shooting with my EOS 5D-iv. A further dent to my finances (£280) would be required by the change from CF cards to CF Express, as I like to keep a large capacity CF card in the camera whilst switching out SD cards frequently to keep as backup.

So, for an outlay of around £4,700 the camera needs to offer me a substantial increase in capability over that which I already have. Sadly (for Canon – see below) the EOS R5 is, in my opinion, terrible value for money. The more reasonably priced EOS R6 doesn’t do it for me either. Instead of offering a stills shooters camera without the bells and whistles, Canon kept feature bloat and reduced the resolution of the EOS R6.

However, the launch of the EOS R5 did prompt me to buy a new camera body. Today I was delighted to receive my new EOS 5DS-R. 

Although this camera predates my EOS 5D-iv by a year, and has substantially fewer ‘features’ it actually suits my style of shooting very well. The biggest attraction is the lack of anti-aliasing on the high resolution sensor, giving me finer details in the RAW files and the option to apply anti-aliasing in post only if necessary. I have had my eye on this camera for ages, but had to wait to see if the EOS R5 range would trump it.

Interestingly, according to Canon Rumours, manufacturing of the EOS 5DS-R was quietly phased out this spring. I have noticed that fewer and fewer retailers have had this camera in stock recently. Now that the EOS R5 has started shipping, retailers are dropping the price of the EOS 5DS-R. I found mine from a European Camera Superstore, which has a UK website, for considerably less than half the price of an EOS R5, and I don’t have to fork out for any new peripherals either.

Today I am a very happy tog. I have a shiny new toy to play with, one that meets all of my aspirations for better performance (in my own context). It just isn’t the new toy that everyone else is raving about.

My new 5DS-R ready for an outing dressed in a sleek new RRS L-Bracket and paired with what will probably be its mate for life: my fabulous TSE 17

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about mirrorless. I am already invested in the Canon EOS M series of compact mirrorless cameras. There are many features of the mirrorless systems, such as live focus peaking and zebras that I find extremely helpful and would love to have on my full frame cameras.

I will now be investigating alternative means of achieving the capabilities I wished for. With a port of Magic Lantern being close to ready for both the EOS 5DS-R and 5D-iv, I may soon be able to access the features that would really make a difference, and which Canon could so easily choose to add through firmware.

I do feel sad though that Canon seems to have lost its way with the EOS 5 series. The original EOS 5D was groundbreaking and I sold my Nikon kit in order to shoot with it. The EOS 5D Mark ii was clearly an enthusiast camera, but didn’t try to compete with the EOS 1 range nor with Canon’s dedicated video cameras. However with the EOS R5, rather than making a camera that I really want to buy, Canon has instead made a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

My two camera body set up will now see me through at least the next five years, and probably many more, given my history of shooting until worn out. Unfortunately for Canon this means that I will not only not be buying the EOS R5, I am unlikely to buy the next upgrade of the R5 and probably not the one after that either. By overcharging for features that I don’t want or need, Canon has lost a pipeline of new camera sales.

Ghost Crossing 

I’ve been called mad now call me obsessive: 

This is a photograph that I have wanted to create for some time. I knew that there were piers for ferry services at Aust from the days before the Severn Bridge was built. Some of these relics date back to Roman times.

Severn Bridge at Night (Doug King)

Well last week saw spring high tides peaking at around sunset which were the conditions I needed. However the weather was lousy which nearly spoiled my plans. In the end it took four trips down to Aust Cliffs to get the shot.

When I finally did get this magical combination of conditions, I only had one chance at the shot. It was so dark I was using three minute exposures. The tide in the River Severn has the second highest range in the world and this was a spring tide. The tide was rising so fast that I had to guess when to start my exposure as the water had not even reached the last post in line. By the time the exposure had finished the water was up around my wellies and I had to grab my tripod and retreat. Fortunately I nailed it and caught the water starting to run into the little gullies and runnels in the mudbank where I was standing. 

That’s it. These conditions will not align again for a long time.

Final Tally:

  • 4 Nights (one spent sitting in the car hoping the rain will stop)
  • 7 Hours standing in mud in near darkness
  • 200 Miles driven in total
  • 1 Friend accompanied on 1 night
  • 1 Shot (well I did shoot a couple of others along the way)

I hope it was worth it.

Click on the photo to buy it or to see others in the same gallery.

English Riviera

This week we had a short break in Torquay for my wife’s birthday, staying at the Cary Arms in Babbacombe. Photographically I was not expecting much, maybe a typical beach scene or two. Furthermore, the weather was splendid for a holiday, but far from my usually preference for stormy skies.

However I was fortunate and on a walk along the coast path found this little cove. Returning just before sunset, I was hoping for some great colour in the clouds. Unfortunately they all drifted away before sunset, but this shot from earlier in the sequence turned out all right.

These steps lead down to a tiny cove on the coast path between Babbacombe and Oddicombe Beaches in Torbay. I was hoping that sunset would intensify the colours, but the clouds disappeared about 15 minutes before and denied me. (Doug King)

Shot on the coast path between Babbacombe and Oddicombe beaches, Torquay.

Exhibition Online Today

Bath Photographic Society has been impacted by Coronavirus as much as any other aspect of our lives. But the society has continued its activities, just online rather than in person, concluding with a special on-line exhibition of members favourite works.

I normally capture images as they are presented to me, either in nature or on location. I have never really gotten the hang of arranging items artistically for still life photos. During lockdown however, options for travel to locations were limited and I exhausted opportunities in the back garden quite quickly. I started collecting bits of garden detritus to see if I could do something with them and after a few attempts I came up with a composition I was pleased with. (Doug King)

Being a mostly outdoors photographer, was quite pleased with this still life image, an area of photography that I am not familiar with.

Black Nore Lighthouse


Black Nore Point, Portishead, at high tide with the old lighthouse in the background. (Doug King)
As lockdown was easing, I started thinking about getting out to the coast again and decided to re-visit Black Nore Lighthouse in Portishead. This listed structure was constructed in 1894 to guide shipping approaching Bristol Docks. The light was decommissioned in 2010, but the structure remains as a prominent beacon on Black Nore Point.

I have been back half a dozen times in the last couple of weeks and I have been amazed at the variety of photographic interest provided by just a few hundred metres of coast with sandstone beds, a pebble beach and Dolomitic Conglomerate, all with an old lighthouse as a backdrop.

Black Nore Point is on the coast path about 1 mile from Portishead Beach.

The Lilstock Serpent

This week marked my return to Bridgwater Bay and the amazing rock formations (at least I think they are) of Lilstock and Kilve beaches, only this time I spent less time on the rocks.

I have been going out in the rain recently in the hope that the weather will break and afford me amazing skies and light. Once again I completely forgot the discomfort of being wet when the light came together for me with the water carved sand and created the Lilstock Serpent illuminating the horizon with her furious gaze.

The Lilstock Serpent - photo for sale

S.S. Nornen

What a Night!

There is a famous old wreck on Berrow Beach, just up the coast from Burnham on Sea. I have seen many photographs of the rotten timbers sticking up from the sand, but I have never photographed it myself. Now that we are out of lockdown I thought that I might have a go for myself.

I went down to Burnham on two consecutive nights. The first was good, but the wreck was surrounded by thick mud and I couldn’t get too close without losing my wellies. I got some good shots, but nothing that I was over the moon with. The following afternoon a big storm cloud blew through Bath and I thought that this might be my opportunity. I was right, as I headed south west I was travelling along the trailing edge of the storm all the way to the coast. The tide was just beginning to fall and amazingly all the mud had been washed away on this one tide leaving rippled sand.

I couldn’t drag myself away until well after darkness!

For a few nights I travelled down to Berrow Beach near Burnham on Sea to photograph the wreck of the SS Nornen. I previously had not realised how mobile the mud in the Bristol Channel is. On previous occasions I was unable to get this close to the timbers as the mud was too deep and sucky. On this night I had the perfect combination of clean sand, falling tide and sunset. (Doug King)The S. S. Nornen was a Norwegian barque wrecked on Berrow beach, Burnham on Sea in 1897. The remains of the wreck are at about the half tide level, North East from St Mary’s Church Berrow.

Bridgwater Bay

Photo for Sale: The rising tide encroaches onto the Jurassic limestone beds at Lilstock beach on the North Somerset Coast. (Doug King)

Fired up after returning from Madeira, I have been doing a bit of exploring more locally. I have (not exactly) stumbled upon a new stretch of coastline to explore in Bridgwater Bay, following extensive virtual travelling using Google Earth.

This stretch of the coast features Jurassic limestone beds, very similar to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. In places the rock has been distorted, giving rise to a series of platforms exposed at the right state of tide. On my second exploratory visit the weather gods rained on me for ages, but then were kind and gave me perfect skies to complement the turbid waters of the Bristol Channel.

This stretch of coastline can be accessed with free car parking at either Kilve or Lilstock. The limestone beds are exposed at low tide.

Severn Structures

Severn Bridge © Doug King

Winter is a great time for low light photography as you don’t have to get up at 3am to catch the pre-dawn. The days are also as often grey as they are clear, giving me some great opportunities to explore low contrast lighting. I have begun to really explore the coastline of the River Severn (and parts of the Bristol Chanel) for man-made objects that will render interesting graphical images in these low light conditions.