EF 11-24mm (left) and RF 15-35mm (right)

The Canon RF Revolution – More Gear Changes Than Ever Before (Podcast 712)

Canon's imminent release of the EOS R5 is exciting, and a catalyst for more gear changes for me in a short space of time than ever before.

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
19 Comments
  • Bryan Hudson
    Posted at 20:47h, 20 July Reply

    Amazing images! Wow!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:30h, 20 July Reply

      Thanks, Bryan! I’m very pleased you like them.

  • Wade Gibbons
    Posted at 09:47h, 21 July Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Yes, there is certainly a lot of options out there right now regarding mirrorless cameras! Exciting times!

    Out of curiosity, given you are making a wholesale change in both cameras and lenses, were there any specific reasons why the Nikon Z system wasn’t on your radar given the similarities in the size/flange distance of the Z mount vs the RF mount, or was it also the comfort level you have with Canon cameras after all these years plus the positive and rapid direction they seem to be going with mirrorless cameras that won the day? I ask because I am currently evaluating my next step regarding mirrorless camera systems and obviously Canon and Nikon are likely options (for some reason I can’t get on board with Sony but perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss them too quickly).

    Cheers,
    Wade

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:08h, 21 July Reply

      Hi Wade,

      Exciting times indeed!

      The Nikon Z system is, of course, very good, but as I’m already two, three lenses in, including the 15-35mm, my investment in Canon gear is still significant, even with these sweeping changes. But, so be completely honest, your other point about my comfort level is probably closer. I know the Canon system like the back of my hand, and when I do get a chance to play with a Nikon during my tours, they always seem very alien to me. It’s just what you’re used to, I’m sure, but these things all mount up, but in addition, I honestly believe that Canon has the best lineup of lenses already in their RF range, and their strategy seems very strong, so I am happy to stay with them.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Mike Cullis
    Posted at 20:01h, 21 July Reply

    A most interesting article – and how alike we are with our thinking! I spent a year deliberating over a switch to Sony, but the Canon intrigue gripped me! Canon did a great job of keeping me on the hook! So pleased I waited – the Sony A7R4 switch bothered me – the poor ergonomics, buffering issues, too many pixels and the sweet spot I sought was 45MP for both landscapes and cropping for wildlife – and – the Menu system!

    So now my money is in the ring for an R5, 15-35, 100-400 and 24-105. I will use my 500mm and 300mm primes with an adapter and wait and see re. the real world images from 100-500 with tele extenders. There’s a whole new world out there, waiting for us it seems!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:10h, 21 July Reply

      Hi Mike,

      Wow! That’s great to hear! I’m sure you’re looking forward to getting started with all that. I can’t wait!

      Let me know your thoughts when you have had a chance to shoot with your new gear.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • William S Gulker
    Posted at 22:00h, 21 July Reply

    Martin, you are the man! Great work and very interesting.

    When I listened to this podcast, I could help but think how I am like you in terms of looking for justifications to get the latest gear. I do think you are the ultimate gear head. You must know in reality, you don’t need all the latest stuff. Right? Its want vs need. In your case it is maybe a need to support your podcast.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:18h, 21 July Reply

      Hi William,

      I’m pleased you found this interesting.

      I do like to think through my purchases, and explaining my reasoning sometimes helps others. Yes, for sure, I could stay with the gear that I have and still make images I’m happy with, and I find it very easy to ignore some updates, but there is a sweet-spot in Canon’s line-up that I know that I will ultimately buy into, and financially it makes more sense for me to buy when they are new for two reasons. The first being, as you mentioned, it helps me with the Podcast. If I can get a review out quickly it helps to increase visits and that leads to a wider audience. The second and equally if not more important reason is that if I wait until the used market is flooded with the gear I’m selling to help finance the upgrade, I get less money for my old gear.

      Of course, there is always an element of want vs need, but in the current climate, my wants are all being put on the back burner. That doesn’t mean I don’t “want” this gear, but I believe it will help me to take my photography to another level as well. Having better tools gives us options and that isn’t a bad thing.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Omar Gonzalez
    Posted at 23:12h, 24 July Reply

    Ok, you convinced me. 🙂 You mentioned shooting with the same bodies. Image shooting with two systems! My strategy is to sell off my Sony lenses and cameras as it has become inconvenient carrying it all. The Sony a7III is perfect for my event photography, but I can’t get rid of my 5DMIV. That sensor is just amazing. Cheers!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 18:50h, 25 July Reply

      Hey Omar,

      I’m pleased that you are coming around. I understand that you don’t need 45MP for your event work, and the CFexpress memory is a little on the high side (especially for people overseas unless you buy ProGrade DIgital because they have worldwide same price) but I honestly believe this is the camera to answer most of my dreams.

      Now the only thing that I’m concerned about is that the store I ordered from just called to let me know that I won’t get mine on the day it is released. I called just minutes after they put the camera on and this is the first time they’ve done this to me, but it’s going to slow down my review, and that annoys me intensely!

      It’ll be here at some point though, and I can’t wait!

      Cheers,
      Martin.

  • Mark Overgaard
    Posted at 23:49h, 27 July Reply

    Thanks for this fine writeup, Martin. I share your optimism regarding Canon’s R strategy. I bought an R and a 24-105L, but wasn’t prepared to switch to R in full, so my workhorses now are a pair of 5D4s and EF lenses. However, I have the R5 and 100-500 on pre-order and am plotting a complete switch to R bodies and lenses over the course of the next few months. Your comments have nudged me in the direction of replacing both my EF 11-24 and 16-35 f/4 by an RF 15-35, among other things.

    My question is: are you really saying that the 15-35, 24-105 and 100-500 will be your full lens kit (leaving aside extenders) for (say) a Namibia trip? I can see that set doing just fine for a wildlife focused Africa trip, but I worry that the 100-500 is not fast enough for cultural portions of such a trip. I guess you have the RF 50 f1.2 for lowlight contexts, but I worry that’s not enough reach. My last trip (more than 7 months ago now, sadly!) was to the Omo Valley of Ethiopia and my EF 70-200 f2.8 was my workhorse for the tribal people there. With luck, I’ll be in Papua New Guinea on a combined culture and wildlife (mostly birds) tour in May of next year, so I need to take that sort of hybrid trip seriously. There are severe weight restrictions on that trip as well.

    I welcome your comments and look forward eagerly to your R5 review; I hope your store gets it to you quickly!

    Mark

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 12:27h, 29 July Reply

      Hi Mark,

      Congratulations on your plan and upcoming changes. These are exciting times!

      My kit for Namibia will be, as you say, the 15-35mm, 24-105mm and 100-500mm along with the 50mm ƒ/1.2. This is perfect for the low light work, but I will also probably make use of the 15-35mm there too, as it’s ƒ/2.8.

      But, for all other work, the three RF lenses will be fine, including the smaller aperture 100-500mm, because I can increase the ISO. Even now, I’m generally shooting at around ƒ/11 anyway, as the depth of field is too shallow otherwise, so I already have to increase my ISO some. Nothing will really change. I’ll just have an extra 100mm without the Extender, and I honestly think that this will be enough for most of the wildlife work I do, but when I do need a little extra reach, the Extenders will be there to help.

      Now, your specific question about the 100-500mm not being fast enough for the cultural part of the trip; the only cultural part that I would use the 100-500mm is the Himba goat herding and maybe some ad-hoc shoots along the road, and they’ll be fine with higher ISO.

      My biggest and most important advice to you, and anyone thinking about this, is to not be afraid to increase the ISO. In fact, I take it a step further and generally advise people to take the ISO at least a full stop over what you think you need, fear aside, because that actually helps you to get less grain because you’d be exposing to the right at that point. You need to control the exposure, probably in Manual mode, but as long as you are exposing to the right, high ISOs with the currently available cameras is absolutely nothing to worry about, and I’m talking 6400 and even higher when necessary. It’s a leap of faith, but it works.

      I hope that helps!

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Russell Haddock
    Posted at 12:05h, 29 July Reply

    Hey Martin, I greatly appreciate your guidance on all of this. I’ve been listening to your podcast for awhile so I know you’ve done all the necessary research on everything here, which means I don’t have to ;-). I’ve been using the Canon 7d with the Panasonic GX8 and love them both. But not I’m thinking about selling everything I have and started fresh with this exact model that you are doing. I have a 70-200 2.8 lens comparable on both platforms and then a wider angle for both. If I consolidate, what two lens should I start with on this new platform? Thank you sir!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 12:14h, 29 July Reply

      Hi Russell,

      You’re very welcome for the information etc. Thanks for listening!

      If the ƒ/2.8 aperture is necessary, then an RF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 and the RF ƒ/2.8 70-200mm would perhaps be a good choice. I personally like to keep one mid-range prime lens with a super-wide aperture, so right now for me, that is an RF 50mm ƒ/1.2L lens and I then use the ƒ/4 24-105mm and the 100-500mm when it arrives in September. As I also mentioned in this post, the RF 15-35mm has just replaced my 11-24mm, so I’ll be covered from 15-500mm with these three lenses without any gaps in the range of focal length. If you shoot anything that requires more reach than the 70-200mm gives you, I can definitely recommend my strategy, starting with the 24-105mm and the 100-500mm. That would cover most of my needs because I don’t really need the ƒ/2.8 aperture.

      I hope that helps!

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Mark Overgaard
    Posted at 09:00h, 30 July Reply

    Thanks for your comments, Martin.

    I’m not sure yet what I’ll do regarding culturally focused >100mm lens choices. I see the point you’re making regarding the speed of the 100-500, but I like to have the option for a faster >100mm lens. I’ll think further.

    Thanks especially for your larger comment on using higher ISOs, but with an emphasis on ETTR. I use higher ISOs, but I’m not always good about ensuring ETTR, with sometimes unfortunate downsides.

    Turns out that my R5 will arrive tomorrow, so I’ll be experimenting soon!

    Mark

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:37h, 31 July Reply

      Hi Mark,

      The RF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L might be another option if you don’t necessarily need the full reach of the 100-400mm.

      I hope your R5 arrives today. I’m envious! 🙂

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Mark Overgaard
    Posted at 09:51h, 31 July Reply

    Thanks, Martin. To get the news out of the way, I do have my R5 and I’ll be diving into it this weekend (!).

    And yes, the RF 70-200 f/2.8L would be ideal for a culture-only trip and may be necessary for me on a hybrid trip as well. Sadly, that lens is not compatible with extenders, which would otherwise have been a fine compromise, I think. We’ll see!

    Mark

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:06h, 04 August Reply

      This seems to be the only downside of the mirrorless system – no room for extenders! I’m disappointed that the full range of the extenders can’t be used with the 100-500mm as well. Thankfully the long end works, so that still makes them useful. The 70-200mm is too short a range though, which sucks.

      I hope you’re getting along well with the R5. Mine will be here in two days, so I’ll be reporting on my findings soon too.

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Lamide Osinkolu | With Prayers
    Posted at 16:44h, 29 August Reply

    The image are very sharp !

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