Mirrorless viewfinders and wildlife photography

Jan 29, 2014
7
5
UK
As an owner of an overworked 5d Mk III, I recently bought an R to replace it. Whilst it is an excellent camera in many ways, I was quite aware of its deficiencies in terms of wildlife photography which I do a bit of. I have found the R is excellent for macro photography and as well as other non-action based photography. I love the articulating screen for more interesting shots in particular. As others have reported the camera is poor at tracking objects and I also found accurate and repeatable focusing of small birds and animals at a distance less than optimal - both slow and front/back focussing quite often. It seems that the new firmware due towards the end of September is going to be addressing exactly these auto-focus issues so my findings don't seem out of line and I look forward to these improvements.

However one area I find more frustrating than any other for wildlife photography with the R is the viewfinder. With the EVF it seems that if your focus is off by just a little bit when you point your camera at your target it is often impossible to make out your target against the background. With my 5D and its OVF, as long as the focussing wasn't miles off I could generally pick out the bird or animal even though it was blurry. Now perhaps with the new firmware and hopefully snappier focussing then perhaps that will help but I don't think it will really address this fundamental deficiency. Have any other R users found this too and have you found any techniques that can help?

The rumoured pro-mirrorless for next year I'm sure will be a step or two ahead again on auto-focus and tracking compared to the R but unless it has one of those combined OVF/EVF viewfinders that were shown in patents a while back then it may still not meet my wildlife needs.

I am therefore seriously thinking of picking up a 90D for my wildlife photography with my R for the remainder. Are there any R owners with 80D/7D mkII cameras filling the wildlife role and if so, how is that working for you? Any more related thoughts?
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,309
502
I have the Olympus E-M1X and find the same thing - I find it harder to identify an OOF subject in the electronic viewfinder than I do on the optical viewfinder. But I suspect that this is part of the learning curve because I also found that after an hour or so I started 'recognising' the visual cues that helped a lot.
The other issue about many mirrorless cameras is whether they are genuinely 'blackout free' - many are not because after a shot is taken the camera shows a brief review of the shot you have just taken and this interrupts the viewing no differently to a mirror flapping up and down. If you then add the refresh rate of the viewfinder then it can add complications to tracking fast-moving birds in flight. As I said that is all part of the learning curve - but still not as 'friendly' as an optical VF.
 

PCM-madison

EOS 80D
Dec 9, 2013
116
56
I agree with your points about the R/RP for wildlife. I have the RP not R. I also have a 5Ds R, 7D mii, and SL1. All of the DSLRs are better for wildlife with my telephoto EF lenses. I have some hope that native RF telephoto lenses will help greatly. I just got my RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM (yesterday), and in about 45 minutes of shooting including birds in flight, my impression is that acquiring and tracking wildlife is much better with the RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM than with adapted EF lenses on my RP. I still prefer OVF over EVF for wildlife.
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
786
814
I agree, therefore I prefer to use my 5 D IV or III for anything moving fast.
Also, it can be hard to recognize a little birdie against the foliage with the R, with spot metering on, since (in my setting!) viewfinder brightness changes constantly if I move the camera a little bit.
BUT: for macro and landscape, the R beats the DSLRs thanks to focus magnification, depth of field control without the viewfinder getting dark (f.16), and less vibrations due to the absence of a moving mirror.
But for now, my opinion, for most uses, the DSLR can't be beat! So, your idea to get an additional 90 D is convincing.
 
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AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
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Whereas EVFs have real pluses in some areas, the OVFs of DSLRs are much better for wildlife photography where you are using the telescopic nature of lenses for observation. For close ups of animals or birds where you have no problems of seeing the subject, EVFs are fine. This factor is just ignored in some reviews. I could not use an M6 II as a wild life camera whereas the 90D will suit me fine.
 
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CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
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Irving, Texas
The other issue about many mirrorless cameras is whether they are genuinely 'blackout free' - many are not because after a shot is taken the camera shows a brief review of the shot you have just taken and this interrupts the viewing no differently to a mirror flapping up and down. If you then add the refresh rate of the viewfinder then it can add complications to tracking fast-moving birds in flight. As I said that is all part of the learning curve - but still not as 'friendly' as an optical VF.
You can turn the review off on the R. Menu, Shooting (Red Camera icon), screen 1, 4th choice down. Voila! ;) Now the R is blackout free. There is a tiny bit of stutter in servo mode (not enough to interfere with tracking IMO, but none at all in one shot high speed shooting.

I also turned it off on the wife's Olympus E-M5 II: Setup menu, wrench, Rec View, set to off. Again, now blackout free.

I find zero stutter on the Olympus in high speed shooting and the refresh rate isn't noticeable at all. Very smooth. It is unnoticeable when review is set to off. Of course, the Olympus beats the crap out of the R for high speed shooting. But I got my R for portraits, not BIF. The R is absolutely not oriented for sports. The Olympus is better suited to that. Problem is it is M4/3.
 
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AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
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You can turn the review off on the R. Menu, Shooting (Red Camera icon), screen 1, 4th choice down. Voila! ;) Now the R is blackout free. There is a tiny bit of stutter in servo mode (not enough to interfere with tracking IMO, but none at all in one shot high speed shooting.

I also turned it off on the wife's Olympus E-M5 II: Setup menu, wrench, Rec View, set to off. Again, now blackout free.

I find zero stutter on the Olympus in high speed shooting and the refresh rate isn't noticeable at all. Very smooth. It is unnoticeable when review is set to off. Of course, the Olympus beats the crap out of the R for high speed shooting. But I got my R for portraits, not BIF. The R is absolutely not oriented for sports. The Olympus is better suited to that. Problem is it is M4/3.
I turn off the review in my M5 for that reason. The M6 II is reported to have the review image problem at 14 fps but not at 7 fps. My S*ny RX10 IV beats the crap out of all these at 24 fps with AF and AE. You can of course use any mirrorless camera to get results for wild-life action, but if you want mirrorless for serious use for wild life action, then its Olympus, Panasonic (if you can put up with its AF) or the dreaded Sony.
 

gruhl28

Canon 70D
Jul 26, 2013
83
14
Interesting to hear about these real-life issues, thanks everyone for sharing. This is the first time I've heard about the issue of it being difficult to identify out of focus objects with an EVF. Any idea why this is the case?

I wonder why reviews don't mention this issue.
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
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Interesting to hear about these real-life issues, thanks everyone for sharing. This is the first time I've heard about the issue of it being difficult to identify out of focus objects with an EVF. Any idea why this is the case?

I wonder why reviews don't mention this issue.
When the subjects are small, you have problems with the resolution of the evf.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,795
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I find the evf of my R difficult to use, I have managed to change some of the settings to get it looking better, but often use the rear lcd instead. I don't do fast moving wildlife, I've never been very successful at it, even with 1 series cameras and a Wimberly head with my 600. As long as its not moving fast, I'm ok. I think its a matter of coordination and vision.
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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Come to think of it, in the Tony Northrup video about the new Sony 600mm, which I watched by mistake, he complained that the viewfinder had too low resolution to track a distant bird using the lens + 2xTC.
 
Sep 5, 2019
1
0
hey guys,


Maybe I am biased because I have a DSLR and not a mirrorless, but I have never understood the reason to “upgrade” to a mirrorless camera. Besides it being more portable, does it really have any advtanges? The picture quality never seems to be better and the battery life always seems to be relatively horrible in comparison to a normal DSLR. Is there anything I am missing?

regards
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
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AFMA not required or minimal, silent shutter, fewer moving parts, more AF points available for tracking and eye-AF, EVF allows to see exact exposure etc are plus points. Opportunity for Canon to introduce new mount. Others will add more positives. The big negatives for me are the loss of the OVF, which is better for wild-life photography, and for current Canon mirrorless, poor tracking of birds in flight.
 

CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
4,818
2,793
Irving, Texas
hey guys,


Maybe I am biased because I have a DSLR and not a mirrorless, but I have never understood the reason to “upgrade” to a mirrorless camera. Besides it being more portable, does it really have any advtanges? The picture quality never seems to be better and the battery life always seems to be relatively horrible in comparison to a normal DSLR. Is there anything I am missing?

regards
Unless one goes Micro 4/3 it really is not more portable and the ergonomics are terrible on those cameras.

That said, I "upgraded" to the Canon R mostly for the lenses. I shoot portraits/fashion and my hit rate on the eyes has skyrocketed thanks to the eye AF tracking, which is a feature my 5D Mark III didn't offer. An added bonus is no AFMA. So those are huge advantages for me. Photo IQ, as a result, has been better too. Canon has yet to offer a sports/wildlife version. Probably in 2020.

The sharpness of the new RF "L" lenses is unbelievable even wide open.

I never had to swap batteries on the 5D Mark III unless I was at a fashion show, and managed to get over 2,000 shots out of a battery. It a typical show I shoot about 3,000 images. I was supposed to go to NYFW next week, but doctor appointments prevented me from accepting my invitations to that. I'll probably make the spring shows.

There are ways to get more battery life out of the R so it hasn't been a problem for me yet. I'd imagine I'll need to get a grip. However, it just takes a couple of seconds to swap out batteries. The eye AF makes it worth it for me.

As AlanF says, focus points galore, which helps a heap when composing a photo.
 
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bhf3737

---
Sep 9, 2015
523
757
Calgary, Canada
www.flickr.com
I am using mirrorless EOS-R mostly for bird photography and have found that besides the EVF, focus by wire of the native RF lenses is another factor adding to the camera lagging behind. Currently, the longest RF lens is 24-105L and focus acquisition after changing the focal length of this lens is quite slow and the system cannot handle even slow moving objects. Using EF lenses, on the other hand, is much faster and accurate.
 
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YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,856
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Southeastern USA
I am using mirrorless EOS-R mostly for bird photography and have found that besides the EVF, focus by wire of the native RF lenses is another factor adding to the camera lagging behind. Currently, the longest RF lens is 24-105L and focus acquisition after changing the focal length of this lens is quite slow and the system cannot handle even slow moving objects. Using EF lenses, on the other hand, is much faster and accurate.
First time I've heard of this. Wow.

Anybody else?
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,309
502
hey guys,


Maybe I am biased because I have a DSLR and not a mirrorless, but I have never understood the reason to “upgrade” to a mirrorless camera. Besides it being more portable, does it really have any advtanges? The picture quality never seems to be better and the battery life always seems to be relatively horrible in comparison to a normal DSLR. Is there anything I am missing?

regards
I don't look on it as being an 'upgrade' - not at the moment anyway.
What I do like about mirrorless is that the viewfinder shows the exposure you will get in the final image (reduced need for bracketing and less guess work when the background of the subject changes quickly).
I don;t know why you would expect the image to be better, but battery life is the downside, but it is improving rapidly.

I am following Andy Rouse ( highly respected wildlife photographer) who has been running 2 OMD E-M1x instead of his Canon DSLR gear and he loves it. He says he is committed to mirrorless in general because it gives him new opportunities and the Olympus in general for its size over DSLRs (even Sony) - he likes the Olympus 'pro capture' where you can capture an image before you press the shutter button and increase chance of capturing fleeting moments. However, that function is not a function of being mirrorless but a company coming up with the ideas.
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
6,482
5,085
I am following Andy Rouse ( highly respected wildlife photographer) who has been running 2 OMD E-M1x instead of his Canon DSLR gear and he loves it. He says he is committed to mirrorless in general because it gives him new opportunities and the Olympus in general for its size over DSLRs (even Sony) - he likes the Olympus 'pro capture' where you can capture an image before you press the shutter button and increase chance of capturing fleeting moments. However, that function is not a function of being mirrorless but a company coming up with the ideas.
OMD E-M1x camera size? Pull the other leg - the OMD E-M1x is a monster! https://camerasize.com/compare/#812,682

Screenshot 2019-09-05 21.54.31.png
Screenshot 2019-09-05 22.14.29.png
 
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Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,309
502
I never got a shot with a body alone - I need a lens as well.
I am not interested in getting into another long discussion as to whether the 300mm f4 Olympus really is equivalent to a Canon 600mm, but Andy Rouse finds it does the same job for him (which is the only thing that matters) and he says it has not affected his sales to agencies.
But as I said, any such limitations for him are offset by the advantages he has with the mirrorless technology.

Simply the age-old conundrum of which compromises do you prefer. And this is why I said it was not an issue (for me) of mirrorless being 'an upgrade' because mirrorless technology has not yet matched the strong points of DSLRs (for me, quality of viewfinder experience and top-notch focus tracking).
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
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I never got a shot with a body alone - I need a lens as well.
I am not interested in getting into another long discussion as to whether the 300mm f4 Olympus really is equivalent to a Canon 600mm, but Andy Rouse finds it does the same job for him (which is the only thing that matters) and he says it has not affected his sales to agencies.
But as I said, any such limitations for him are offset by the advantages he has with the mirrorless technology.

Simply the age-old conundrum of which compromises do you prefer. And this is why I said it was not an issue (for me) of mirrorless being 'an upgrade' because mirrorless technology has not yet matched the strong points of DSLRs (for me, quality of viewfinder experience and top-notch focus tracking).
The Canon 90D has smaller pixels, 3.19 µ, than the OMD E-M1X, 3.32 µ, and will have better resolution with the same focal length lens than the Olympus. This is not an academic argument, I have thought long and hard over the years about whether to use M4/3 but have found that the high resolution APS-C sensors usually have similar resolution because the M4/3 usually have fewer Mpx.
 
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