Warning… camera nerd talk ahead. Skip if you’re uninterested in me geeking out over camera gear.
Sooooooo I’ve been using a Canon 5D Mark IV for a few years now and while I love this camera I’ve used the absolute heck out of it and I’ve been super super worried that any day now the shutter would just give out at a really important time like a wedding or something.
DSLR definitions and limitations
For the uninitiated, DSLRs have a limited shutter life expectancy and most decent cameras hover around 150K actuations (mine is close to 200K currently). Once you’re past that number, you can keep shooting fine (some people have millions of actuations on their shutters) but you just never really know if you’re one of the “long shutter life” lottery winners or yours is doomed to fail soon after.
With non mission critical work (like anything non-wedding related) I wouldn’t mind risking it. But you can’t reschedule a wedding haha, so I need something I can rely on 100 percent. So it was time to either send the camera in for a shutter replacement or buy a new one.
I could send in my camera to get the shutter replaced and the the entire camera cleaned and maintained for around a thousand bucks. A lot less than replacing it, but again… the camera still works perfectly… it doesn’t need replacing. I would only be spending this money to ease my mind, but 1000 bucks is approaching the cost of a new camera.
I ultimately decided to replace it and make my current camera the new backup.
Here is the tricky part. Canon (and a lot of other manuf) has made it clear they want to discontinue DSLR cameras and go completely mirrorless. Without getting into too much detail, this would mean all new lenses, making old ones useless without an adapter. I’d be pissed about my $15k+ assortment of lenses going obsolete, but in Canon’s defense they’ve supported the same lens mount since 1987, so I’m just the unlucky idiot who got fucked by buying lenses at the end of their lifespan haha. Plus using the adapter is totally fine.
So here are my real concerns with mirrorless cameras versus DSLRs (which I currently use)
- Latency on the electronic viewfinder (DSLRs use mirrors and prisms. Bulkier, but you’re viewing the actual light through the lens instead of a rendered image by the camera CPU)
- Decreased battery life (since the sensor and viewfinder screen are always running)
- The camera feeling too small and fragile. I’m used to the bulk of a DSLR.
So these concerns would normally keep me away from mirrorless and sticking with DSLRs but I’m scared of being left behind in the camera tech world so I decided it was time to start buying mirrorless cameras and lenses.
Deciding between two camera models
I was deciding between two cameras.... the Canon R6 and the R5. The R5 is the spiritual successor to the 5D that I’m currently shooting with. The R6 is the spiritual successor to the 6D camera lineup, which is the “budget” version of the 5D IV.
I actually own an original 6D and while it was a great first camera, it lacks a lot of features that I consider essential. Fun fact, I still take it to weddings and shoot with it a little bit during ceremonies.
The R5 is $3800 and the R6 is $2500. Pretty big price difference. But during my initial research I though the R6 only had one memory card slot, which was an immediate deal breaker to me. If I’m shooting a wedding, having two memory card slots could be a lifesaver if one of the cards decides to fail, since they’d already be backed up on the other card. So I had already decided that the R5 was the only real option.
However, I found out I had been looking at a different mirrorless camera Canon released a few years back. The R6 has two card slots ! This made it a very very compelling offer, since it was $1300 less.
Why is the R6 so cheap?
So the question is, what are the compromises for this camera? Why is it so cheap compared to the R5? There are differences, but I’ll limit it to any that mattered to me.
- The R6 shoots 20 megapixel photos (versus 40 for the R5)
- It is made of plastic (albeit a really high quality plastic) versus a magnesium alloy for the R5.
- It is weather sealed, but only for light rain, versus the R5 which can handle heavy rain.
In regards to the lower resolution photos, I personally believe anything over 12 megapixels is overkill. When you’re viewing photos on a computer screen, you’re looking at a photo that are scaled down to 3-ish megapixels. 12 megapixels is plenty for any cropping and extra detail for printing. Only when you’re printing super large photos (think massive wall sized images) would the 40mp be a necessity. And my current 5D shoots 31 megapixels, so I still have that option.
So I viewed the 20mp as an advantage. No more storing massive photos on my PC and running out of space constatly (currently have 12 terabytes of space and still running out haha). Also low resolution sensors typically perform better in low light! (The current low light camera champion, the Sony A7SIII, uses a 12mp sensor. That thing practically has night vision, but in color!)
The build quality was definitely one of the things I struggled with. My gear to serves me, I don’t serve them. Meaning I don’t baby the heck out of my stuff, if I’m in a hurry I’ll throw it down on a table no issue. But ultimately, I decided I could probably learn to be a bit more gentle to save $1300 haha.
The weather sealing… meh. If things got really bad, I still have my 5D (which has the better weather sealing) and could easily just swap back over.
I could research all day, but ultimately, I had to just kind of hold these cameras to know which one I want. Plus, I still had some reservations on how a mirrorless camera feels.
I found a camera shop here in Austin that has both models on display so I wanted to check them out. A nice lady (whose name I forget) spent like 30 minutes with me while I held each one, looking through the viewfinders and snapping photos. To my surprise, I didn’t notice any latency in the viewfinder at all and the cameras actually had a really nice size and heft to them compared to DSLRs that I’m used to. And the R6 (the cheaper one) felt just as nice as the R5 to me.
I made up my mind. I wanted the R6.
But before I made the purchase, I called Jessica to talk to her about it. I am not a rich man currently (thanks COVID) and while I can afford this camera, it may put some financial strain on me if I go through another dry spell with weddings. So if I’m going to spend myself broke, I had better make sure it’s fine with the mrs.
Now as you can imagine, I had talked Jessica’s ear off about cameras over the past few days. She was very much over it, but she reminded me of something I had briefly mentioned. I’ve ordered the majority of my camera gear from bhphoto.com and they currently offer zero interest payment plans if you meet their credit standards. Now my credit isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as it was because, thanks to COVID, times got a bit tough and I skipped a few bills. So I didn’t even really consider it an option.
I was so eager to buy the camera I had completely forgotten about it. I had already decided I was going home with that camera, but she was right and I went home. The moment I walked in the door I sat at my computer and applied for the card.
I got approved for $2900 of credit.... what?
I was so shocked, I was sure that even if I was approved it would be a super small amount… like less than 1000. So yes… Jessica was right. I went ahead and paid $1000 up front to lower the monthly payments, but I got the camera!
So after getting the camera, I felt kind of bad for the nice lady at the camera store because I’m sure they work on commission and I ended up buying the camera from a competitor. But I mean… come on anyone would understand my situation here right? Well.... I had to go back to the store the same day and buy something else.
Why? Remember earlier when I mentioned the lens adapter (to make the old lenses fit the new cameras)? Everyone was sold out of them online. But this store had like 2 left in stock and if I didn’t go back and get it right then they might sell it and I’d have a new camera with no way to attach any lenses to it.
So I went back to the store hoping hoping hoping that she wasn’t there. I walk in, don’t see her. Whew.....
…until some idiot is like “Oh hey, you were working with ___ (I forgot her name) a few hours ago right? Let me get her for you....”
Fuck you dude.... haha.
She was surprised to see me back so soon, obviously. I made up a lie about how I was borrowing an R6 from a friend for a few days but they didn’t have the adapter. I could have just told the truth but I’m a wuss so whatever haha.
Using the Camera
This camera… is.... amazing. Like omg the focus modes are insanely fast and accurate. The camera can detect someone’s eyes and perfectly track them. It has image stabilization in the camera (previously, image stabilization was built into lenses only, so if your lens didn’t have it you were shit out of luck)
I’ve been shooting so many photos of Bear lately it’s insane. I’ll leave a few below.
Okay it’s super super time I stop typing up this entry. For the 0% of you who actually read the whole thing, thanks! I mostly just wrote all of this out so I can go back to it in the future and be like “holy hell I was a dork” Hey future David, fuck you man I’m cool. You’re the old fart with forehead wrinkles and probably no hair.
See you all later!
Last updated December 02, 2020