EOS R:

  • 30.3 megapixel
  • Full frame CMOS sensor
  • Adapter allows for using EF lenses
  • Phase detect AF
  • 5,655 selectable AF Points
  • 5 frames per second with continuous AF
  • ISO Sensitivity of 100-40000
  • Low light focusing of EV -6
  • No in body stabilization
  • Same battery as other Canon DSLRs
  • One SD Slot
  • 4k video capabilities
  • Battery life of 350 shots (EVF)
  • $2,999 CAD

Canon Announces Full Frame Mirrorless EOS R

 

Last week I posted about the recent Canon announcement that I was the most excited about, the new 400mm f/2.8.

 

I am almost as excited about the announcement of the full frame mirrorless, EOS R.  I am excited to try this out in comparison to the Sony a7iii that I recently purchased.

 

EOS R
Priced at $2,999 CAD, Canon’s first step into the full-frame mirrorless comes with a 30.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. An interesting feature of the EOS R is that when the camera is turned off the curtain is closed to protect the sensor against getting dust and dirt on it.  Dust on the sensor has been something that I have noticed quite often with the Sony a7iii, so I am interested to see how the “closing” of the sensor works, and whether it does keep dust off the sensor.

 

When it comes to autofocus, Canon is using a phase-detect system with 5,655 selectable points…no that is not a typo they are actually advertising over five thousand AF Points. With this many AF points, 100% of the vertical and 88% of the horizontal sensor is covered by autofocus points.  This is pretty impressive, and hopefully this is something that can be carried over to the DSLR, because this is one of my biggest frustrations with the 1DX Mark II, sometimes the points are not where I need them, especially in the low end.

 

Another feature of the EOS R that Canon has added is making the AF available for “nearly the entire image” when shooting at f/8 or f/11.  So this means that you could attach a 2x extender to an f/5.6 lens (turning it to f/11) and still have AF, something that cannot even be done with my 1dx Mark II.  I am interested to test this and see how it actually performs, and whether it is an available feature that isn’t really all that useful in practice.  I have used the 1.4x extender on the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II to see how it performed, and I found the autofocus to be incredibly slow.

 

The frame-rate is advertised as 8 frames per second. However, with closer reading that 8 frames per second is only when not using continuous AF.  When switched to continuous autofocus the frame rate decreases to 5 frames per second, and will drop to 3 frames per second if you have selected focus priority in your settings. I do not even remember what it is like to shoot wildlife with a camera at 3 frames per second.  The buffer is advertised to be 47 Raw files.

 

Low-light focusing should not be an issue with the EOS R, it has the ability to focus at EV -6, and has ISO range of 100-40000.

 

Surprisingly, and somewhat disappointing, is that the camera does not come with any in body image stabilization, a feature available in both of the competitors (Nikon z6 and Sony a7III). I am not sure what drove the decision by Canon to skip it, maybe they are trying to drive the sale of the IS lenses, and intend for all the RF lenses to be image stabilized and thought it was unnecessary.

 

For this camera Canon has created a new mount, the “RF” mount, but also has three different adapters available to use existing EF lenses with the camera.  This is a benefit over my Sony mirrorless which has a Metabones adapter that allows me to use my Canon lenses, however the autofocus is so slow that I find it is not even worth trying to use it.

 

The battery life of the EOS R has room for improvement, with life of 350 shots per charge, however that’s consistent with other full frame mirrorless cameras.  The benefit for anyone that owns another Canon camera, like the 5D Mark IV, the battery is the same, at least you do not need to bring an additional charger.  The camera only has one memory card slot, which holds an SD card, so there is no ability to record backup, or have image overflow.

 

I am really looking forward to getting my hands no my camera, which is expected to be here mid-October (of course, right after I get back from the Great Bear Rainforest). I plan to keep my Sony a7iii in order to compare the two.

 

More about the EOS R can be found on Canon’s website.  If you have questions, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

Canon 400 f/2.8L IS III

  • Incredibly Light (2840g)
  • 1000g Lighter than vII
  • Improved IS – 5 stops
  • Balance Redistribution (towards back)
  • Coatings – Less Ghosting and Flaring
  • $15,799 CAD

My last blog post was asking, maybe even begging, Canon to step-up and compete the with recent Nikon announcements of a full-frame mirrorless and something that could compete with the 500 PF.  Well I guess I owe Canon a “thank you”.

 

Canon announces the release of the lightest 400 f/2.8L on the market (the 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM)

 

Before the new Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM was announced, I was talking to my sales guy at The Camera Store here in Calgary and said that unless they shaved a lot of weight off the lens, I was not going to be getting a new one (I have only had my current one for 1.5 years).  Well Canon did just that. The new version 3 of the 400mm f/2.8 weighs in at just 2840g, which over 1000g lighter than the previous version of the lens, it is an over 25% reduction in weight….this is absolutely incredible.  Needless to say the minute I saw this spec, I put my name on the list to get one.

 

Other than being incredibly lightweight, now topping Sony by being the lightest on the market (by 50g), the 400 f/2.8L III also has improved image stabilization, and now comes with 5 stops of image stabilization compared to “only” 4 stops in the 400 version 2.

 

In addition to the improved weight and image stabilization, Canon has also changed the balance on the lens so that it has more weight toward the back closer to the mount.  I am looking forward to seeing how this lens is to hand-hold.  I find with my current lens hand-holding it can be a challenge because I have to hold it so far out that it’s hard to get my arm properly braced (because I’m so small). Weight distribution and balance can be more important than just total weight, especially for hand-holding lenses…airlines won’t care though, they will just care about total weight.

Coastal

The lens comes with “Super Spectra Coating and Air Sphere Coating” which should help reduce flare and ghosting on the lens, although truthfully, it is not something that I have noticed being a real problem with the 400 version 2.  There is also some improved weather sealing and ability to use the lens at higher temperatures, however that’s not a feature I need, because it’s not like the Great Bear Rainforest ever really gets that hot.

 

As to be expected, this lens doesn’t come cheap, it is listed on Canon Canada’s website at $15,799 CAD.

 

I’m really excited to get my hands on this and compare it to the version 2 of this lens.  I’m really hoping that weight savings doesn’t translate into optical performance sacrifices, but I’m optimistic that this soon might become my new favorite lens. This image of a coastal wolf “Coastal” was photographed with the version 2 of the lens in the Khutzeymateen in 2017.

 

More about the lens can be found on Canon Canada’s website and feel free to reach out to me with any questions contact@wildelements.ca.

 

Stay tuned for when I get my hands on one and can start comparing it to the version 2 of the lens.

Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF

  • Incredibly light – 1,460g
  • Price $4,900 CAD
  • Weather sealed
  • Nikon’s Fluorine Coating

Nikon z7

  • 45.7MP
  • 493 AF points
  • 9 frames per second
  • Weight – 585g
  • 330 shots battery life
  • $4,700 CAD

Nikon z6

  • 24.5MP
  • 273 AF points
  • 12 frames per second
  • Weight – 585g
  • 310 shots battery life
  • $2,800 CAD

Well if you are a Nikon shooter (which I’m not!), you have noticed a couple of exciting announcements, and all I can say is “Canon – You’re Next” (PLEASE!).

 

Nikkor 500mm f/5,6 PF

The announcement that I am most excited for, at least for my Nikon friends, is the release of the Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR. I have always been incredibly envious of the 300 PF whenever I have seen one on the trip, so now that Nikon has stepped it up and released a 500, I’m hoping it is a kick in the pants that Canon needs to start releasing some newer and lighter equipment.

 

The biggest surprise for me is the price tag of the 500 PF, at just under $4,900 CAD, this compares to the Canon 400 f/4 DO of over $8,800 CAD.  The price is absolutely incredible, and gives photographers (well Nikon shooters) the ability to get a longer focal range at a lower price.  Especially when compared to the Nikon 500mm f/4 at just under $13,000 CAD.

 

In addition to the lower price tag, this lens (and one of the appeals) is that it comes in at a lower weight, weighing less than half of the 500mm f/4, coming in at 1,460g (compared to 3,880 for the 500 f/4). This makes the 500 PF a great lens for photographers who travel often, and and restricted for baggage size and weight.

 

Of course, I’m not about to get too excited for Nikon shooters, or jealous, just yet because it still all hinges on image quality, but assuming it’s anything like the 300 PF, I think Nikon shooters are lucky and have one more option when it comes to lenses.

 

It also comes weather sealed and with Nikon’s Fluorine Coating, making it a capable lens for rugged shooting conditions.

 

More information on the 500 PF can be found on Nikon’s website.

 

Nikon Full Frame Mirrorless  (z7 & z6)

The next announcement that has me begging Canon to step-up is the announcement of two full-frame mirrorless cameras, which compare quite closely to the Sony a7iii and a7riii.  Both of these cameras come with a different mount, but have the ability to use an adapter to make it compatible with the existing f-mount lenses.

 

The z7 is a full frame 45.7MP camera that has 493 AF points, and shoots at 9 frames per second.  The price tag of this body is just under $4,700 CAD, and weighs in at just 585g.  It also comes equipped with video capabilities including 4k video. And one thing this camera has that the Sony’s do not, are xqd slot, but only one, which could take some getting used to for shooters used to two.  More about this camera can be found on Nikon’s website.

 

The z6 is a full frame 24.5MP camera that comes with 273 AF points, and shoots 12 frames per second.  The price tag of this body is just under $2,800 CAD and it weights 585g.  It also comes with the ability to capture 4k videos.  More about this camera can be found on Nikon’s website.

 

Two common complaints with mirrorless cameras are the autofocus, and battery life.  The battery life of the z7 is advertised to be 330 shots and the z6 slightly less at 310 shots. This battery life is much less than the Sony a7Riii at 530 shots, and the a7iii of 610 shots.  For the autofocus, I am curious at how closely it will match that of the full frame dslr cameras, based on the technical specs, it has many of the similar AF Area Modes as the DSLR’s but we will see how well it functions.

 

Hopefully in the not too distant future I am excitedly writing and gushing about the new releases from Canon (hopefully!).  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

Pleasant Surprises:

  • Image quality
  • ISO Performance
  • Dynamic Range (high ISOs)
  • Metering
  • Frame-rate
  • Size/Portability

Disappointments:

  • Autofocus (initial acquisition)
  • Electronic viewfinder

I have had the Sony a7III Mirrorless camera for a few months now, and while some things have surprised me, there are still a few things that I will say continue to disappoint me.

 

This blog post is by no means meant to be a true “camera test”, but more of a “in the field” and “gut-feel” assessment.

 

Pleasant Surprises:

Image Quality / Image Sharpness
I continue to be quite surprised with the overall image quality that the Sony a7III is capable of producing. I find that when the photo is in-focus they are really quite sharp.  I think I am even more surprised by this because I’m using a lower-end lens than I am used to (using the Sony 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G OSS vs. the Canon L-Series lenses that I am used to).

 

I would like to try out the Sony with the 100-400, or even the new Sony 400 f/2.8, but with the rumours of Canon releasing it’s own full frame mirrorless sometime in the future, I have limited budget that I really want to invest in the Sony system.

 

In the future I plan to still do some head-to-head shooting with the Canon, including the Sony vs. Canon 100-400’s with the 5d Mark IV, but just haven’t had the time that is required for detailed testing and reviewing.

 

ISO Performance / Dynamic Range
For the price of the camera, I’m continued to be extremely impressed by the ISO performance of the Sony a7III. I find that it rivals that of the 5D Mark IV, and with good post-processing skills can get useable images at ISO 6400+.  This makes the camera more well-rounded than some of the similarly priced DSLRs in terms of being able to use it in darker settings (thinking the Great Bear Rainforest), or with lenses that aren’t f/2.8.

 

I have been finding that when an image gets noisy, it gets really noisy.  What I mean by that is that I feel like it goes from hardly any noise, to so noisy the image isn’t useable, I guess it’s a good thing that you are able to pus the ISOs otherwise you would be stuck with a bunch of really noisy images.

 

I am also finding that the dynamic range on this camera is incredible, even at the higher ISO’s like 5000+.

 

Metering
I find the meter on the camera to be incredible, it does a really good job at reading the scene and not blowing highlights or blocking up shadows, and I find that I’m required to do less compensation when shooting in multi-segment mode compared to what I have experienced in other camera.

 

Frame-rate
There is nothing to complain about when it comes to frame rate, the 10 fps seems to play out as advertised in the real world.  While it is no D5 of Canon 1dx Mark II, and there would be certain scenarios when you would want to manage your buffer (like a Humpback Whale breaching), it’s perfectly capable buffer size, and it outperforms the 5D Mark IV (7 fps), which I use plenty

 

One word of caution, if you turn your camera to silent mode, it is literally silent, so if you accidentally sit on the cameras shutter you will have no indication that it is taking 50 or more shots of the zodiac floor.

 

Size/Portability
The main reason I decided to buy the camera was because of the size.  Sometimes it is one thing to read the specs of a camera and think “wow, that is light (or heavy)”, but it is another thing to actually use it in the real world, because weight distribution and ergonomics can play a big role in whether something actually feels light, or heavy.

 

After using it on a trip, taking it for some walks, having it in my backpack, and generally just using it, I am still finding it to be quite light and portable. I am even able to throw it into my relatively small hydro pack with the 70-300 on it.

 

Disappointments:

Autofocus:
I said it in my initial impressions blog post (here)  and I am going to say it again, I am still disappointed with the autofocus.  And while I am aware that it is much improved over previous versions of mirrorless cameras, for me, where I am used to flagship Canon cameras I remain to be disappointed.

 

Initial acquisition of objects, especially small, quick moving objects, is still slow, causing me to miss shots. I find that after initial acquisition the autofocus does a reasonable job sticking on the subject, and locking and keeping focused.  So while it is not all bad, if you cannot acquire initial focus you will not need to worry about maintaining focus.

 

While the autofocus is a bit annoying at times, having the ability to put the AF point pretty much anywhere in the entire image is pretty awesome, although in practical terms it is likely pretty rare that you would use some of the extreme edges for the AF Point.

 

Electronic Viewfinder:
In my initial thoughts blog post it was one of my biggest annoyances, the electronic viewfinder, and if I recall I said it would take some getting used to….well I am still not used to it.  I find it to be less noticeable if I am just shooting with the mirrorless camera all day, but if I am switching back and forth between the mirrorless and DSLRs, it becomes very noticeable.

 

Conclusion:
I’m not ready to throw away all my DSLRs just yet.  They are still highly capable, and in my opinion more highly capable, than the Sony a7III, however when I want something small and light for walking around “in case” I see something, I don’t feel like I am grossly under-equipped and will be left with images no better than a cheap point and shoot camera.

 

I am looking forward to continuing to taking the Sony a7iii on my next photo tour, Marine Mammals at the beginning of August, and putting it to the test some more.  If you are considering the a7III and have any questions, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

I have just put my order in for the newly released 70-200 f/2.8L IS III, unfortunately it looks like I need to wait until August until I get to put my hands on it.

 

I think that the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM was the first L-series lens that I purchased when getting into photography, and while I tend to use it less now with the release of the new 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, every time I do use it, I’m still impressed with the results.

 

One of the biggest improvements over the predecessor is that both the front and rear element has a  air sphere coating which should reduce the flaring, and suppress the reflection of light.  The new fluorine coating is supposed to help reduce smearing and fingerprints on the glass.

 

The weight of the new lens is advertised as slightly lighter (1490g vs. 1440g for the new lens).

 

In addition to the new Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS III lens, Canon is also releasing an updated version of the 70-200 f/4L IS II lens, which has improved image stabilization with three modes, and decreasing the minimum focus distance.

 

You can read more about the release from Canon’s press release here.   Feel free to email me contact@wildelements.ca if you have any questions, or if you want share your experiences with the new lens.

Key Specs:

  • Full Frame
  • 24.2mp Sensor
  • 10 fps
  • 693 Phase Detection AF Points
  • 425 Contract Detection AF Points
  • 4K HDR Video

Likes:

  • Size, Weight, and Portability
  • Frame rate
  • Full Frame
  • Image Quality

Dislikes:

  • Initial AF acquisition
  • AF point size
  • EVF (takes getting used to)

I have owned my camera for just a couple of weeks now, and have had the opportunity to take it to some local parks to test it out in nature.  This is no where near enough time to give a full opinion on the camera, however it is enough time to get some initial thoughts and impressions that I wanted to share (I’m not promising that these will not change as I use the camera more, for better or worse).

 

AF Points
The camera has 693 phase-decection, of which 425 of them are also contrast-detecting, AF points, and covers 93% of the viewfinder, that is absolutely incredible, especially in comparison to some of the DSLR cameras out there.

 

When I first started shooting with the camera on “single point”, I was like this AF point is HUGE, especially shooting chickadees at any distance.  What I didn’t realize, and actually didn’t see anywhere in the manual is that the single point has three sizes, small, medium, and large, and I think I was on large.  So that solved, the single AF point is actually a reasonable size.

 

I still haven’t found much use for the other AF points, other than the single point spot assist.

 

I do enjoy, especially being a frustrated Canon shooter, how much of the frame (like all of it) you can cover with the AF point.  This makes it really handy when trying to setup an animalscape type shot, and could see how landscape shooters would find this useful.

 

Autofocus
As for the autofocus itself (once I found the right-size points), was a little on the slow side, especially on the initial acquisition of focusing on something.  This can be a bit frustrating when shooting the popular “little chirpy birds” (as defined in all bird books – haha), because by the time you get the focus they are flying off to another branch, and you have to start the process all over again. I also think that this would make shooting small birds in flight, like Tree Swallows, very frustrating, but when you nail it, you will nail it.

 

I do find however that the camera is actually pretty good at keeping the focus locked on as the subject moves around, and I am not finding a bunch of blurry shots when shooting a burst.

 

Frame-rate / buffering
The camera boasts 10 frames per second, and it was one of the key advertised features is the frame rate of the camera.  While the frames per second is important, to me the more important question is how many shots can I take until the camera slows down and begins buffering.  In my normal shooting, using RAW images, SD card, and 1/1000 shutter speed I was able to get just over 25 shots before the camera started slowing down, which I think is pretty good.

 

Along the same lines as this is the blackout, you know the momentary (can be nanoseconds) where you cannot actually see anything through the viewfinder.  I do find the blackout to be a bit longer on this camera than I am used to when looking through the viewfinder.

 

Something I am finding particularly annoying is if I shoot a burst, and then want to recompose, I need to wait for images to clear the buffer (or at least some of the images) before I can get my AF point back and refocus to take another shot.  I have also noticed that while copying images to the card, you cannot access the menu, or switch from still to video shooting until all the images are cleared.  This could really be the difference between getting and missing the shot.

 

Electronic Viewfinder
I think the biggest noticeable difference for anyone that is switching from a DSLR to a Mirrorless is the electronic viewfinder. While I think they have come a long way from some that I have looked at in the past, it’s still not crisp and sharp, and the colors even seem a little distorted compared to what I am used to with the DSLR.

 

Meanwhile, the rear LCD shows a very nice view of the image, but I just can’t stand to hold the camera out in front of me while taking pictures…I feel like a tourist holding out my iPhone.

 

Image Quality
Outside some of the limitations that I noted above (assuming you aren’t waiting for your buffer to clear and miss the shot), the image quality of this camera is really quite nice.  You get a lot of fine detail, and it certainly is steps above point-and-shoot cameras, and I am very interested to see how it compares to the Canon full frame 5D Mark IV.

 

There are still many things left to test, the one thing I haven’t really tested yet but am super curious about is the ISO performance.  I have several shots at ISO 3200 that seem pretty clean.  I am hoping on the upcoming Great Bear Rainforest trip I will get some opportunities to try it out,

 

I’m excited to take this camera out on it’s first test – the Spring Great Bear Rainforest trip, and see how it holds up under real conditions.  I also still have a lot more testing to do including how it works with the metabones adapter, as well as how it compares to other full-frame cameras.  So stay tuned.

 

Feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca if you are planning to pick one up and have any questions, or to share some of your own personal feedback.

The question of “who needs mirrors” (i.e. mirrorless camera) is one I’m hoping that I can answer in the coming months (or at least form an opinion on).

 

I’m hoping to take possession of on my new Sony A7III next week, where I will spend the next couple months putting it to the test. I will be comparing it not only to itself, but also to the my Canon DSLRs as well.  And also hoping to borrow the flagship Sony A9 to do some more comparisons.

 

In the past I have shied away from Mirrorless Cameras because the electronic viewfinder made me feel seasick, and the reviews were just never that good that it made sense for me to own one (compared to my DSLRs).  But with Sony’s latest cameras and with rumours of Canon and Nikon coming out with their own full-frame mirrorless cameras, it seems like the have taken a bit of a leap.   While trying them in the store the Electronic Viewfinder seemed to be way less nauseating than before, and the AF was really quite something.

 

I’m excited to try out my new camera when it gets here, and start reporting on my results.  I’m going into it will a completely open mind, and maybe my mind just might be blown.

 

Stay tuned to my blog for my thoughts as I put the camera to the test, and also feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions that you would like answered.

Kashmir UL

What I like:

  • Fits more like a backpack
  • Fits small body structure
  • Sleek and light
  • ICUs provide options
  • Carry everything you need
  • Comfortable for hours, even when loaded

What Can it Hold?

  • Either 400mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4
  • 100-400mm (attached to body or not)
  • Two Pro camera bodies
  • 1.4x & 2.0x Extenders
  • Tripod plus Jobu Gimbal Head

Being a smaller female, I have always had trouble finding a camera bag that fit all my gear, plus fit my body, and didn’t make me feel like I suddenly became a turtle and acquired a shell.  When F-Stop announced that they were releasing a bag that was specifically designed for females, I was rather intrigued, and put my name on the list to get one right away.  The pack they released is called the Kashmir UL, and can hold up to a Large ICU.

 

I’ve had the bag for over a year now, and I can say that it has met, and probably even exceeded all my expectations.  To begin with it is light when it’s empty, so unlike other bags that I have tried in the past which already felt heavy, and bulky, before you added any camera gear, this isn’t the case with this Kashmir UL bag.

 

To understand one of the benefits of this bag, you have to understand how the F-Stop Gear system works.  Basically the offer a selection of bags, and then all you to buy different Internal Camera Units (ICU’s) that you can fit within the bag.  The benefit of this system is that if you are trying to lug around all your gear, as I often do, then you would go with the largest ICU for the bag, which in my case is the Large Pro ICU.  If you are going for a day of macro shooting, and packing a lunch, then you can go with a smaller ICU, and then have extra room in your bag for the extras that you will need throughout the day, and use it as more of a traditional backpack instead of a camera bag.

 

Another benefit of this ICU system, is that when you are travelling, you can remove the ICU and pack it in a carry-on roller (why f-stop doesn’t make their own is beyond me), and then your backpack folds up nicely and fits in your checked bag.  This allows you to not have to carry around your overstuffed backpack if you have multiple stops or layovers, but then when you get to the field you just have to switch it over to your backpack and it’s all ready to go.  However, if you do want to, you can carry the Kashmir onto the plane and it easily fits either under the seat in front of you, or in even the smallest of the overhead bin.

Kashmir Bag Loaded

What is always hard to tell by looking online and reading spec sheets, is what can I actually fit in this bag.  The one downside to this pack is that if I take my 500mm, or 400mm f/2.8 then I can’t have it attached to the body, so it’s not in the “ready to shoot” condition.  But otherwise I am able to fit either my 100-400 or Sigma 150-600mm attached to a body in the bag.  I can (not always easily) fit the following in the bag together:
-either the Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II or the Canon 500mm f/4L IS II not attached to a body;
-100-400mm attached to a body;
-second body;
-1.4x and 2.0x canon extenders.
-Tripod and Jobu Gimbal head
-Note, I have carried both a 1dx and 1dx mark II at the same time.

 

The other great thing about this bag is the fit.  Now I haven’t tried (other than for a few seconds) any of the other f-stop ultra light series bags (i.e. those that aren’t specifically marketed towards females), but even when this bag is loaded so full that you wonder if it’s going to burst at the seams I am still able to comfortably walk around with it for a few hours.  The waist belt, which in my opinion is one of the most important aspects of the bag, is able to tighten for my waist size (which is on the smaller size), and keeps the strain off my shoulders. So carrying everything I mentioned above and walking around for several hours, I am still able to function afterwards.

 

So in summary, here’s what I like best about the bag:
1 – fit – sleek, and doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a turtle shell
2 – ICUs – allows me to re-arrange based on the days activities, or remove for travel.
3 – Weight – UL stands for Ultra Light, and I 100% agree with that.  It is one of the lightest bags (empty) that i have tried.

 

For more information about the Kashmir UL, you can visit the F-stop website here. If you have any questions about my experiences, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

 

I have more recently purchased the F-Stop Red Bull Photography Ajna bag in order to have the ability to carry my larger prime lenses with the body attached, so stay tuned to my review of that bag.

Key Features

  • 26.2 megapixle full frame sensor
  • 45 cross-type AF Points
  • 5 AF area selection modes
  • 6.5 frames per second
  • ISO range 100-40000
  • Weather and dust sealed
  • Vari-angle LCD
  • Wifi, bluetooth, and GPS
  • $2600 CAD body only

Canon has just announced the EOS 6D Mark II, and if you have been following any of the rumor websites, this doesn’t really come as much of a surprise.  For those less familiar with the Canon camera body line-up, the 6D’s are the entry into the full-frame Canon camera bodies.

 

The original 6D was announced in 2012, and was a way for photographers to get their hands on a full-frame body without paying the prices of the 5D Mark III or the flagship 1DX.  Five years later the camera comes with quite a few improvements.

 

26.2 Megapixels
The sensor of the EOS 6D Mark II has been increased from 20.2 megapixels to 26.2 megapixels. This is quite a large improvement in megapixels for the camera.  The one concern I have about the number of pixels is that it might be a little on the high-end of pixels for hand-holding the camera in low-light (and low shutter speeds).

 

45 AF Points
The EOS 6D Mark II comes with 45 AF points, all which are cross-type AF Points.  This is a significant improvement over its predecessor which only had 11 AF points, and only the center point was a cross-type AF point.  In addition to the increased number of AF Points, the EOS 6D Mark II also comes with five available AF Area Selection Modes, as opposed to just single point that was available on the 6D.

 

The increased number of AF points, and the addition of AF Area Selection Modes should lead to improved autofocus, and also allows for a more useable range of AF points from just the center point. I think this is a huge improvement for wildlife and action shooters, because I know the 11 points (which we pretty wide spread) was a real limitation for wildlife shooters that had the 6D, and now it looks like there is more of the sensor covered by AF points.

 

6.5 Frames per Second
Canon has improved the EOS 6D Mark II to now be 6.5 frames per second, which is two frames per second faster than the 4.5 frames per second of the EOD 6D.  This is still the slowest frame rate of the full frame cameras, but slightly faster than the 5D Mark III (by half a frame).

 

Weather Sealed
The EOS 6D Mark II now comes weather and dust sealed.  For anyone that comes on any of the trips I go on, this is a very good feature. Shooting in places like the Great Bear Rainforest, not having weather sealing could lead to moisture and internal fogging in the camera, hopefully this problem will now be reduced (or eliminated).  This will also be a benefit for those shooting in dusty environments, like Africa, because it will be less prone to getting dust in the camera.

 

Other Features
The EOS 6D Mark II is the only full frame camera that comes with a vari-angle LCD which makes it easier to shoot at high and low angles (although with the high-angles might be hard to hold the camera steady, especially if hand-holding with a large lens).

 

The 6D Mark II also comes with built-in wifi, bluetooth and GPS. The only of these features that I use personally is the GPS.  However the wifi and bluetooth does allow for easy transferring to other devices and also allows for the camera to be controlled remotely with a smartphone.

 

One of the biggest complaints that I’m seeing from people online is that it doesn’t come with 4k video, given that I don’t shoot video, it’s not really a downside from my perspective.  I guess Canon is trying to ensure some features are left to the mid-level full frame of the EOS 5D Mark IV, which does have 4K video capabilities.

 

Pricing
The EOS 6D Mark II is expected to be available in Canada in early August and will be priced around $2600 CAD for the body only and $4050 for the body plus 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM.  Just for comparison the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV currently sells for around $4500, the EOS 6D Mark II offers considerable savings for those entering the full-frame market, or those that do not require all the features of the 5D Mark IV.

 

It is hard to really give an opinion on the 6D Mark II without actually shooting with it, because it is hard to judge the features based on paper without actually using them.  I do think that it is a significant improvement over its predecessor, especially for wildlife photographers, and also comes in at a nice price-point for those that want to enter the full-frame market or that are on a budget.

 

I hope to get a chance to try this camera out for myself, and will post my thoughts on it when I actually get a chance to shoot with it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca.  Now here’s to hoping that Canon comes out with an updated cropped sensor camera that can compete with the Nikon D500.

I’ve had a couple people ask recently what my thoughts were on the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II lens, and my answer has been the same – to be honest I’ve never even laid my hands on one, so I had absolutely no opinion of it…I couldn’t even tell you if I thought it was really heavy. I decided I should change that, and borrowed one for the weekend from Canon. A weekend isn’t enough to get a full feel for a lens, I would like to have it for months, but a weekend is what I got, which is better than nothing to tell my gut reaction to the lens. I decided to buy the new 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II after only trying it for a weekend.

 

One of the main draws of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM is that it has an f/4 aperture, and weighs just over 4.5 lbs, compared to the Canon 400 f/2.8L IS II which is just under 8.5 lbs (a whopping 4 lbs difference), and the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is 3.5 lbs.
Image Quality
The most critical aspect of any lens, especially once you start spending thousands of dollars on them, is image quality. I found the image quality of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II was actually be quite good, I wished I had the 400 f/2.8 to test it with side-by-side (maybe next time), but I was surprised with the sharpness of the images. I found that there was a good amount of fine-detail that was captured when using the lens, like the fine feathers of the nuthatch pictured here.

 

The images that I took with it were quite sharp, especially compared to the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II at 400, however that isn’t surprising, and it is somewhat expected because one is a prime f/4 and the other is a zoom at f/5.6, and primes generally tend to be sharper than zoom lenses. However, I do wonder if the difference in image quality is enough to off-set the huge price difference, of over $6500 CAD.

 

The out of focus zones, or bokeh, is also another area to assess with lenses, and I found that the bokeh was actually relatively clean, obviously no f/2.8, but actually provided nice smooth backgrounds on the images. The squirrel image was taken at f/4 and you can see the background is quite clean and smooth.

 

Although the image quality was high, I did find that I missed more shots of my “little chirpy birds” (black-capped chickadees, for example) than what I’m used to. There were two reasons I attributed to missing the shots, with one being that I found the autofocus to be a bit slower than I am used to, and secondly was because of the minimum focusing distance.

 

I’m not sure why the autofocus seemed slower, and resulted in more missed shots, especially when paired with the extenders. But I found that the lens did a lot more searching then what I’m used to with the 500mm f/4 (regardless of whether it’s attached to an extender), and overall just seemed slower.

 

The minimum focusing distance of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM is almost 11 feet, which does sound like a lot, until you have a perfectly perched woodpecker at eye level that must have been about 10.5 feet away, and you miss the shot. A reason for getting a 400+mm lens is to make subjects bigger, but if you have to stand so far away that they are no closer then they would be with a 300mm then it’s not really serving it’s purpose, especially where small subjects are concerned. As a point of reference, the minimum focus distance with the Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM is just under 9 feet, and the the 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM is just over 6.5 feet. So therefore you might actually end up with the same subject size if you can get closer and use the 300 vs. standing the minimum distance with the 400mm DO. However if you are shooting larger subjects, further away, like Grizzly Bears, then this is really a non-issue.

 

Extenders

Barred

One benefit of prime lenses (f/2.8 or f/4) is that you are able to increase the zoom by adding an extender, I find the newer ones (version III’s) perform quite well with the prime Canon lenses.

 

I tested the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II with both the 1.4x and 2.0x III Canon Extenders, and I found the image quality to be quite good with both the extenders, however much better results were produced when using the 1.4x III Extender. I did notice that they were slightly softer than the images that were taken without the extenders, however they were completely useable images, and unless you were really looking wouldn’t notice the difference.

 

However, one thing that I did notice was the AF seemed to be a bit slower then I am used to with the 500 f/4, so I seemed to miss a considerable number of shots, especially of the “little chirpy birds” that I was shooting (like the Black-capped Chickadee, and Downy Woodpeckers). I found it didn’t compete with the AF of the 500 f/4 when used with those same extenders, so I’m going to make the leap and say that based on my experience with the 400 f/2.8L IS II, the 400 f/4 DO does not perform as well with the extenders as the 400 f/2.8L IS II.

 

Portability
As mentioned above, a major highlight of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DI IS II USM is that it is extremely light and therefore quite portable. The 400 f/4 DO is just over 4.5 lbs, which is actually pretty light for a 400mm lens, and if you attach it to a body without a grip, like the 5D Mark IV, this would bring the total weight to just under 6.5 lbs, which is actually pretty lightweight. This is a very convenient camera/lens combination for walking around and portability.

 

The weight also makes it an easy lens for hand-holding, especially for long periods of time, I had no problem hand-holding it for over 30 minutes while photographing a Barred Owl, with both the 5D Mark IV, and the 1DX Mark II. I also spent 4 hours walking around the park with the lens in my hands, and didn’t need a massage the next day.

 

The other thing that I noticed when hand-held shooting with this lens is that the balance is really well distributed, and so it feels quite comfortable when hand-holding it for shooting for longer periods of time. I actually found it nicer to hand-hold than the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II when extended to 400, which I found to be a little less balanced (but still quite easy to hand-hold, especially because it’s light).

 

Overall Thoughts

I actually find the lens to be pretty expensive, with the Canadian Price coming in around $9,300 versus the Canon 400 f.2.8L IS II costing approximately $13,500 Canadian. Also of note the Canon 500 f/4L IS II USM cost around $11,700 Canadian Dollars. For me, I would rather pay the extra and own the 500mm f/4 than the 400 DO f/4, which I guess is why I own the 500 and borrowed the 400 DO. I find the autofocus on the 500mm to be faster, and 500mm has more focal range (which compliments my 100-400 better).

 

The benefit of the 400 DO over either the 400 f/2.8 or the 500 f/4 is the overall weight and size, and the portability of the lens. It makes an excellent travelling around, or walking around lens, especially if you don’t have a tripod to stick it on.

 

While the image quality is quite good, and the performance with the extenders, and the minimum focus distance left a little to be desired, and I feel like the 400mm f/2.8L IS II, or the 500mm f/4L IS II to be better options (for the price).

 

If you have any questions on this blog post, feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

I’ve had a couple people ask recently what my thoughts were on the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II lens, and my answer has been the same – to be honest I’ve never even laid my hands on one, so I had absolutely no opinion of it…I couldn’t even tell you if I thought it was really heavy. I decided I should change that, and borrowed one for the weekend from Canon. A weekend isn’t enough to get a full feel for a lens, I would like to have it for months, but a weekend is what I got, which is better than nothing to tell my gut reaction to the lens. I decided to buy the new 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II after only trying it for a weekend.

 

One of the main draws of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM is that it has an f/4 aperture, and weighs just over 4.5 lbs, compared to the Canon 400 f/2.8L IS II which is just under 8.5 lbs (a whopping 4 lbs difference), and the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is 3.5 lbs.
Image Quality
The most critical aspect of any lens, especially once you start spending thousands of dollars on them, is image quality. I found the image quality of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II was actually be quite good, I wished I had the 400 f/2.8 to test it with side-by-side (maybe next time), but I was surprised with the sharpness of the images. I found that there was a good amount of fine-detail that was captured when using the lens, like the fine feathers of the nuthatch pictured here.

 

The images that I took with it were quite sharp, especially compared to the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II at 400, however that isn’t surprising, and it is somewhat expected because one is a prime f/4 and the other is a zoom at f/5.6, and primes generally tend to be sharper than zoom lenses. However, I do wonder if the difference in image quality is enough to off-set the huge price difference, of over $6500 CAD.

 

The out of focus zones, or bokeh, is also another area to assess with lenses, and I found that the bokeh was actually relatively clean, obviously no f/2.8, but actually provided nice smooth backgrounds on the images. The squirrel image was taken at f/4 and you can see the background is quite clean and smooth.

 

Although the image quality was high, I did find that I missed more shots of my “little chirpy birds” (black-capped chickadees, for example) than what I’m used to. There were two reasons I attributed to missing the shots, with one being that I found the autofocus to be a bit slower than I am used to, and secondly was because of the minimum focusing distance.

 

I’m not sure why the autofocus seemed slower, and resulted in more missed shots, especially when paired with the extenders. But I found that the lens did a lot more searching then what I’m used to with the 500mm f/4 (regardless of whether it’s attached to an extender), and overall just seemed slower.

 

The minimum focusing distance of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM is almost 11 feet, which does sound like a lot, until you have a perfectly perched woodpecker at eye level that must have been about 10.5 feet away, and you miss the shot. A reason for getting a 400+mm lens is to make subjects bigger, but if you have to stand so far away that they are no closer then they would be with a 300mm then it’s not really serving it’s purpose, especially where small subjects are concerned. As a point of reference, the minimum focus distance with the Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM is just under 9 feet, and the the 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM is just over 6.5 feet. So therefore you might actually end up with the same subject size if you can get closer and use the 300 vs. standing the minimum distance with the 400mm DO. However if you are shooting larger subjects, further away, like Grizzly Bears, then this is really a non-issue.

 

Extenders

Barred

One benefit of prime lenses (f/2.8 or f/4) is that you are able to increase the zoom by adding an extender, I find the newer ones (version III’s) perform quite well with the prime Canon lenses.

 

I tested the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II with both the 1.4x and 2.0x III Canon Extenders, and I found the image quality to be quite good with both the extenders, however much better results were produced when using the 1.4x III Extender. I did notice that they were slightly softer than the images that were taken without the extenders, however they were completely useable images, and unless you were really looking wouldn’t notice the difference.

 

However, one thing that I did notice was the AF seemed to be a bit slower then I am used to with the 500 f/4, so I seemed to miss a considerable number of shots, especially of the “little chirpy birds” that I was shooting (like the Black-capped Chickadee, and Downy Woodpeckers). I found it didn’t compete with the AF of the 500 f/4 when used with those same extenders, so I’m going to make the leap and say that based on my experience with the 400 f/2.8L IS II, the 400 f/4 DO does not perform as well with the extenders as the 400 f/2.8L IS II.

 

Portability
As mentioned above, a major highlight of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DI IS II USM is that it is extremely light and therefore quite portable. The 400 f/4 DO is just over 4.5 lbs, which is actually pretty light for a 400mm lens, and if you attach it to a body without a grip, like the 5D Mark IV, this would bring the total weight to just under 6.5 lbs, which is actually pretty lightweight. This is a very convenient camera/lens combination for walking around and portability.

 

The weight also makes it an easy lens for hand-holding, especially for long periods of time, I had no problem hand-holding it for over 30 minutes while photographing a Barred Owl, with both the 5D Mark IV, and the 1DX Mark II. I also spent 4 hours walking around the park with the lens in my hands, and didn’t need a massage the next day.

 

The other thing that I noticed when hand-held shooting with this lens is that the balance is really well distributed, and so it feels quite comfortable when hand-holding it for shooting for longer periods of time. I actually found it nicer to hand-hold than the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II when extended to 400, which I found to be a little less balanced (but still quite easy to hand-hold, especially because it’s light).

 

Overall Thoughts

I actually find the lens to be pretty expensive, with the Canadian Price coming in around $9,300 versus the Canon 400 f.2.8L IS II costing approximately $13,500 Canadian. Also of note the Canon 500 f/4L IS II USM cost around $11,700 Canadian Dollars. For me, I would rather pay the extra and own the 500mm f/4 than the 400 DO f/4, which I guess is why I own the 500 and borrowed the 400 DO. I find the autofocus on the 500mm to be faster, and 500mm has more focal range (which compliments my 100-400 better).

 

The benefit of the 400 DO over either the 400 f/2.8 or the 500 f/4 is the overall weight and size, and the portability of the lens. It makes an excellent travelling around, or walking around lens, especially if you don’t have a tripod to stick it on.

 

While the image quality is quite good, and the performance with the extenders, and the minimum focus distance left a little to be desired, and I feel like the 400mm f/2.8L IS II, or the 500mm f/4L IS II to be better options (for the price).

 

If you have any questions on this blog post, feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.