In my early days of looking at YouTube for interesting photographic content, there was a channel called DRTV, came from Hong Kong and featured two characters Kai and Lok who in due course left the channel came home or relocated to the UK. They are still in the “YouTube Business” and at the beginning of March released an amusing video comparing the Canon 1DX MkIII which effectively is being replaced by the Canon R3 when the supply chain issues get sorted out, I suppose.
Obviously these type of ‘sports/action’ cameras the same as their equivalents from Sony and Nikon are highly specialized tools that are mainly bought and used by professional photographers rather than your average photo enthusiast.
You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ili62SIqHJI
As I have said, it is an amusing video which echoes some of the rather adolescent content they produced in years past whilst based in Hong Kong but never the less, it set in train some thoughts. Which for me concerned where we are technically in terms of camera design and function and beyond that given my age and stage, is this the moment where I in terms of cameras say “stop the world I want to get off…”
To put this further into perspective there is another YouTube video available by Steve Brazil who fronts a podcast/vlog called ‘Behind the Shot’ and in a recent show had a Canon Technical Advisor Rudy Winston on as his guest. For people who are Canon shooters, Rudy is well known as the “Face of Canon USA” whenever there are major product launches and he was a guest to look at and explain Canon’s autofocus system in terms of ‘use cases’.
If you want to look at this the link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFFKciYlxjQ
In simple and crude terms ‘use cases’ is that within Canon’s menu system, there is a tab that offers a range of preset autofocus functions which fit particular shooting situations, action, portraiture etc would be obvious examples. However it is all a bit more sophisticated and subtle than just that so it was well worth Rudy going through these in some detail.
The particular camera they were using for this discussion was Canon’s mirrorless R5 which I certainly don’t own however this is not something that just appeared when Canon launched the R series, in a very similar form it is also present on my 7D MkII and 5Ds which means it has been around for 7 years at least so I found Rudy’s ‘explanation’ very interesting.
A Kind of Realisation
I will start by saying that whilst I love the engagement DSLRs give me when doing stills photography, it is obvious that the present and future in camera design is purely mirrorless whatever brand you buy and use. There are a number of technical reasons for this not least of which is that it is a far better platform for using the ‘computational’ photography and videography which will inevitably migrate from top end smartphones into cameras.
Although now being an OAP when funds are less plentiful, I do not agree with a view that cameras today are far more expensive than they have ever been because that is not true. If I look back to 2000 when I bought my Canon D30 and one lens, that cost me around £2,300 which allowing for inflation from then up until today, the cash equivalent in today’s terms would be £4,120. Today an R5 with a modest but not cheap lens would come in below £5,000 but a highly capable R6 with a 24-105 mm lens would be £2,700 so no, the price is not excessive for the technology you get.
There is one outlier that might be worth considering when looking at price and that is the Canon M50 which was launched in 2018 and subsequently had a relatively minor upgrade in 2020 to a MkII version. It is a cheap and within its own terms a highly capable small mirrorless camera which with a kit lens costs around £700 and is certainly Canon’s best selling mirrorless camera to date.
Why this is perplexing is not only does it continue to sell well but even to this day, still attracts consumer interest in terms of people looking up reviews on websites such as DP Review. Canon have woefully neglected their M series cameras and lenses and I suspect that the M50 is a bit of a problem to them, do they try and kill it off ? How can they convert these buyers to their R series of offerings ?
However I think that there is another side to all this. Whilst the majority of people today use their smartphones for photography clearly there is a group of people who whilst not ‘enthusiasts’ feel that they want a ‘proper’ camera but for them as it is a totally ‘optional purchase’, and aren’t prepared to spend too much money on it.
Back to the Start
One of the things that I have found over the past 6 months is that between taking photographs and processing them into final images, for whatever purpose, web, print and so on, I have enough to do. I would go further than that and say that I’ve got enough kit to do it with too so even if I were in the position to afford the latest and greatest kit, would I really be interested in learning the foibles and idiosyncrasies of a new system ? The answer is probably not.
The realization came from both the YouTube videos I mentioned earlier. The first about the 1DX and the R3 reminded me just how much fun and satisfaction an old 1D camera has given me over the past few months and the better weather is yet to come. The second on autofocus use cases which frankly up until now I had largely ignored on my 7D MkII and 5Ds made me realise that for me at my time of life, sometimes enough is enough and I can get all that I want from using what I’ve got already.