Canon EOS R and a Maui Sunset
An evening sail was part of the Canon Hawaii 2018 announcement event and I saw a great sunset in the making as the boat was coming ashore, returning to the beach in Lahaina. I hurried down the ladder and ran across the beach to find a clear composition. With a Canon EOS R and Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens in hand, the rest was easy.
Photographing the ocean (usually) is a type of action photography as the scene is constantly changing. Water reflects and smooth water provides the best definition of whatever is being reflected. Although they nicely reflect sky color in general, most oceans I've visited are far from smooth. However, the thin layer of water remaining on the sand immediately after a wave recedes is often quite smooth and can provide some definition of the colorful clouds, the subject most often desired to be reflected. Consider timing the capture of some of your beach images for this wave position.
Another beach photography consideration is what the leading edge of the waterline looks like. I like the frothy white roll clearly delineating the sand and water as seen in this image, but other options can also work well.
I always find a great sunset to be photographically irresistible. Islands often have very long distance views of the setting (or rising) sun, making them ideal locations for watching this time of the day through a viewfinder.
24mm f/11.0 1/250s ISO 400
Twin Falls, Road to Hana, Maui
I signed up for an east Maui rainforest waterfall hike and knew that the path could be wet and muddy. What I didn't know was that, thanks to a just-previous hurricane, "wet" meant I would be fording swift rain-swollen streams up to waist-deep with the MindShift Gear Trailscape 18L camera backpack being held overhead. That certainly upped the hike's entertainment value (and provided a new understanding of how well Gore-Tex trail-running shoes hold water).
Having both stories and images always makes an adventure better.
The Canon EOS R and Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens were used to capture this idyllic Hawaiian rainforest waterfall. Aiding was a Breakthrough Photography circular polarizer filter, cutting reflections and increasing saturation. These filters are nearly a requirement for waterfall photography. An f/8 aperture would have provided adequate depth of field for this 29mm image, but the narrower f/11 opening permitted a longer exposure, creating a more strongly motion-blurred waterfall.
29mm f/11.0 1.3s ISO 100
Is the Canon EOS R a Good Sports and Action Camera?
There are a few features that make a camera especially well-suited for capturing sports and other challenging action.
A fast frame rate is one such feature. A camera that can capture images in rapid succession is more likely to capture the perfect subject position than a camera that captures images at low frequency. For this feature, the EOS R has a relatively fast frame rate, but only when not tracking and adjusting the focus distance. Not all action involves changing focus distances (such as the wave crashing example in the Canon EOS R review), but if your subject is moving enough to leave the camera's initially-focused depth of field, as is typical for many sports, continuous focusing is required and in that focus mode, the EOS R's 5 fps frame rate is on the slow side of the spectrum.
Another feature required for photographing subjects in motion is maintaining a continuous view of that subject in the viewfinder. Optical viewfinders have a short blackout period for each image captured (while the mirror is raised) and cameras with short blackout specs are more-highly desired than those with long ones. Electronic viewfinders, with few exceptions, have a pause in the EVF video feed as each image is captured and the duration of this pause can hinder a photographer from keeping a subject properly framed. This pause is only a minor issue for subjects moving directly toward or away from the camera, but keeping subjects properly-framed as they are moving from side-to-side or moving erratically becomes a challenge with most EVFs, including the EOS R's.
If the subject focusing distance is changing, especially if it is changing rapidly, autofocus tracking and prediction performance becomes critically important. If the subject is out of focus, the image, regardless of the frame rate it was captured at, is likely going to be deleted.
The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens and its just-introduced replacement, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens are ultra-popular sports lenses and I mounted one on the EOS R to photograph a cross country meet with. While this lens is not going to create the focus challenge that, for example, the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens will when compared at the same distance, focusing on a very close and fast-approaching runner at 200mm f/2.8 is quite challenging to an AF system. I thought the EOS R did a great job on this cloudy day that included some light rain earlier in the meet. A high percentage of my images were sharp (when I kept the subject properly framed).
Note that, while the image shared here appears very sharp at this resolution, my 1/1250 shutter speed was not quite fast enough to stop the lateral motion at this distance. Though the image is properly focused, the motion blur degraded image sharpness slightly at full resolution. I was starting a burst capture when the subjects came close to being ideally framed and continued to photograph until they passed by.
Another feature that is often helpful for action photography is the ability to sustain the frame rate for a large number of images. The EOS R's buffer depth, when using a fast memory card, is very good, allowing a relatively long period of action to be captured. While usually not as desirable as a fast frame rate, a large buffer can increase the number of great shots captured in a burst and I can credit the image shared here to that feature.
For those using the shutter release to time their captures or to time the first capture in a high speed frame rate sequence, a short shutter lag is important. The EOS R checks that box and the fast AF makes timing single shots quite successful.
Overall, the EOS R is lacking a few key features to make it the ideal sports and action camera. It is not that camera, but it can certainly do that job if needed. I don't recommend purchasing an EOS R for dedicated sports and action photography, but the EOS R stands ready to fill in for the occasional action needs it encounters. Of course, if your action is not leaving the established depth of field, the EOS R can do 8 frames per second and that rate is quite fast, making it suitable for such needs.
200mm f/2.8 1/1250s ISO 250
Canon EOS R, Maroon Bells and Brilliant Aspens
I was in Aspen, Colorado for two nights and the primary goal was to capture another set of classic Maroon Bells lake reflection images that included the amazing fall aspen color. After arriving at the hotel late in the evening on the first night, I set the alarm for 2:40 AM and went to bed. Probably no one thinks getting up at 2:40 AM is fun and ... that I was dragging my wife and youngest daughter with me ... raised questions about my sanity. Still, this is one of the most beautiful locations in the country and I calculated that it was going to be worth the sleep deprivation (and potential grief from the family) to get the perfect position along Maroon Lake.
Upon stepping outside, the heavy cloud cover was obvious and occasional light rain followed us. Landscape photographers live for the openings in breaking storm clouds and I stayed with the plan. I was one of the first photographers to arrive at the side of the lake, but I immediately encountered disruption of the plan. The first issue was that a rope now lines the path around the lake, preventing close access to the water. The second issue was that the lake level was extremely low. The restricted access and now-distant, very shallow lake combined to provide a dirt/stone former lake bottom as the image foreground and the lake was now small enough that the reflections were rather unexciting at the proximity available. In addition, the aspen leaves had changed (and many dropped) about a week early this year, courtesy of the drought that also accounted for the drained lake.
I continued to stay with the plan, remaining standing in my spot, alongside a large number of other photographers, from about 3:30 AM until close to 9:00 AM, waiting for a break in the clouds. That never happened and I finally decided that a decent photo was not likely to happen. The hike I promised the girls was looking like a great option and that became the plan.
After all of the early AM effort, the best scene of the day showed up in front of us while hiking near the far side of the lake. An opening in the clouds allowed sunlight to penetrate, brightly lighting a grove of aspens that were still holding their brilliantly-colored leaves. The key to getting my favorite Maroon Bells image on this trip was just being out in a great location, watching for something good to happen.
The Canon EOS R and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens were perfect hiking companions.
65mm f/8.0 1/100s ISO 100
Curved Aspen Trees of Ophir, Colorado
Upon locating these intriguingly-curved aspen trees in the San Juan Mountains near Ophir, CO (south of Telluride), I had hours of entertainment before me. Aspen tree trunks are beautiful and their fall leaf color is amazing. With the numerous curving trunk shapes (likely caused by an avalanche when the trees were younger), there were seemingly endless angles and perspectives to use for images here. Helping was that the lighting/weather was constantly changing, ranging from snowing to sun shining bright enough to create shadows with subsequent images appearing different without even moving the camera. It was perfect.
I have many hundreds of images to choose from (I'll likely share more). Many of them were captured with a wide angle zoom lens, but this particular perspective seemed ideal for 50mm and I happened to have the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens in the MindShift Gear FirstLight 30L backpack I was carrying. I originally thought this image was captured with that lens, but ... this happened to be the last image taken with the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens prior to mounting the RF 50.
Using a "standard" or "normal" focal length makes keeping both very close and very distant subjects in sharp focus a challenge, even at f/16. For this image, I focused on the foreground trees for one frame and on the background trees for a second frame. For a simple focus stacking technique, I loaded the two images as layers in Photoshop and used a layer mask to determine which image the foreground trees were showing from.
50mm f/16.0 1/5s ISO 100
The Clouds Have Rolled Away and the Sun is Risen
It was an early morning in Crested Butte, Colorado and the sky was dark, heavily overcast and quite uninspiring. Then the clouds rolled away and suddenly there was bright light bringing life to the fall-colored aspens.
I was primarily shooting with the Canon EOS R and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens this morning. As there was adequate light, shooting this combination handheld permitted rapid and significant location and composition changes as dictated by the rapidly changing light.
58mm f/8.0 1/100s ISO 100
Maui Tiki Torch with a Sunset Background
While it is always great to photograph a beautiful sunset, better is to find a way to create sunset images that are different from the hordes of others in my archives. A silhouette often makes a good sunset image differentiator, adding a little something to the image, and in this case, a tiki torch hints at the location the image was captured at.
Note that sunsets do not always have to be in focus. To mix things up a bit, I decided that I wanted the tiki torch and its flame to be sharp with the background going out of focus. Thus, a wide aperture was selected. The wide aperture had the secondary purpose of enabling a flame-freezing shutter speed.
The composition decisions for this image were made primarily for overall balance in the frame. The tiki torch is dark and heavy, so placing it near the center was helpful for balance. I wanted the torch flame in the frame along with the other flame, the sun, along and the color surrounding it was another subject of primary interest. With the latter seeming stronger than the prior, moving the tiki torch slightly to the right seemed to make sense. Keeping the perimeter of the frame clear of lines often helps keep the viewer's eye in the frame.
As the flame was changing rapidly, I captured a burst of images and later selected the flame shapes I liked best.
The Canon EOS R and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens are a perfect walkaround combination. The camera and lens used to capture this image were on loan, but I eventually added this pair to my personal kit.
88mm f/4.0 1/400s ISO 100