Sunday, April 7, 2019

Canon EOS RP Mini Review

     A few weeks ago, I decided to go to the Canon Experience Center in Costa Mesa to check out the EOS RP camera.  I was on the fence about picking one up, (because really, how many cameras should one person own), but decided it's probably a good idea to use the camera in person first.  As an owner of an EOS R and a 6D Mark II, I need to sell one of these in order to buy the RP.  However, I didn't feel it was a good idea to sell my R to get the RP since they are very similar, and honestly I know I paid too much for the R and right now I'm perfectly happy using it.  

     Many previous reviews label the RP as the mirrorless version of the 6D II and I would say that's an accurate comparison.  They both have a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, and that was the only thing I found limiting about my 6d II.  There are ways to get around that though, and for what I would use these cameras for, it wasn't a deal breaker.  Right now, the 6d II serves as my back up camera and my R is what I use for photos I take for the blog or my personal photos.  For these purposes, all these cameras are more than sufficient.  

     I wanted to see the RP in person to check out a few key features that would make a difference to me:  size, weight, and handling.  

1)  Size

This thing is small!  When I went home and was organizing my gear, my original 5D felt like a heavy giant.  I love the size of the RP.  This is something that would definitely fit in my purse that I could easily take along anywhere.  The only issue would be when there is a lens attached.  Aside from the RF 35mm F1.8 lens, everything else on the RP would look huge, including any native RP lenses and EF lenses (even more so because of the added length of the adapter mount).  I really had to ask myself if having my RF 35mm mounted to this 95% of the time would be something I would use, because if I were to lug around all the other lenses, there really is no point to this smaller size camera that I'm longing for. 

2)  Weight

If you're looking for a lightweight camera - this is it.  I tried it with the RF 35mm, and it was light as a feather.  I know it sounds insane, but this alone almost had me ordering online when I got home.  While being light, it didn't feel cheap, which is important to me.  I've considered buying a EOS Rebel series camera to have something lightweight, but I couldn't get over how cheap it felt (not to mention that accessing features for manual mode just aren't as intuitive).  At $1,299, the RP felt like a camera priced right for someone who wanted a lightweight full frame camera, but doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles.  Part of the reason why it is lighter and smaller is that Canon got ride of the slide bar.  While I thought it was an interesting feature on my R, I still don't use it very much, so it's a feature I won't miss.  The OLED screen on top is also replaced with the classic knob to change modes, which I actually prefer.  

3)  Handling

This is biased, but because I have smaller hands, this felt just like using my R.  I didn't even feel that I needed the extension grip (which currently comes free in a bundle along with the adapter from Amazon , B&H, or Adorama).  They had a few models to shoot, so I decided to take a few shots to see how it felt to use the camera.  The EVF was great, and if you're already a Canon shooter that owns an R, this feels familiar to shoot with.  As far as image quality, I feel digital cameras have come such a long way, they're all sufficient if you're a hobbyist.  I plan on using this when I'm out and about, and I found these images (that were shot in very low light) to be more than enough.  

     While I appreciate that they provided some models and stations to shoot at, I really wish Canon would spend the money to diversify their set ups.  All it would take is a little time on Instagram, and I'm sure they could come up with something cute and varied, so that we could test these cameras out in different types of lighting and environments.  (Note:  I did edit these images, but not heavily.)

     Is this the camera for you?  If you're looking for an inexpensive way to go full frame - yes.  If you're heavily invested in Canon glass, but want to dabble in mirrorless - yes.  If you're looking for a compact and light travel camera - yes.     

     Will I be selling my R?  No.  Will I be selling my 6d II?  Maybe.  I was really hoping for dual card slots, but knew it wasn't going to happen with this camera.  I did think about holding out for the pro version of this mirrorless series that should have two slots, but I read it's priced at almost $4,000. 😳😳😳  I've told myself that I can only get the RP if I actually sell one of my cameras - so we'll see! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Yosemite National Park Photography


      It's been about 10 years since I picked up photography as a hobby.  I am proud to report that unlike the junk that claims the space in my craft room/office (a.k.a. where hobbies go to die), I still feel as passionate about taking photos as I did when I bought my first DSLR.  Now if you're a photographer, you will understand that there's a lot of trial and error when it comes to seeking that perfect shot.  Photographers often find themselves going to places two, three, or maybe even four times before we decide that we're happy with our photos.  Growing up in the central valley, I've experienced my fair share of Yosemite National Park.  While I always thought it was beautiful, photography makes places like Yosemite even more majestic, and the photos you long to take that capture this seem even more out of reach.  About six years ago, we made a trip out to Yosemite while it was covered in snow, and it was amazing.  Well, one unexpected trip to the central valley, and one night scrolling Instagram about this phenomenon called "firefall" later, and I was able to con one of my friends into driving us there for the day.

     Remember when I said I photographed Yosemite in the snow about six years ago?  Well, clearly I have aged to the point where I can't go through winding roads without feeling super ill.  If this sounds like something you can relate to, then I offer you this piece of advice.  The blue line is the road we took to tunnel view.  It is very winding, so if you're susceptible to motion sickness, then I recommend taking the yellow route instead.  One of my friends told me it really helped with her motion sickness.  While that blue route is gorgeous, it was no match for how utterly ill I felt on the drive.  Note to self:  Start packing Dramamine.

     We got a pretty late start, and in retrospect, I realize that we only had about an hour or so of shooting time before sunset.  Part of the plan was to see/shoot firefall if it happened to occur on this day.  Luckily, I didn't get my hopes up because once we were in the park, it was CRAZY full of people and cars.  The park ranger at the entrance said there was something like 6,000 people in the park just there for firefall.  I thought he was exaggerating until I saw all the cars.  Then I really believed him when we couldn't find parking.  See, this is the kind of stuff you learn as you repeated go back to places to shoot, and realize each time how unprepared you are.  😑

     The view from tunnel view has to be one of the most impressive vantage points of the Yosemite Valley.  What you don't see in this photo are the hoards of people everywhere.

     I love to refer to this as the tunnel view monster. 😜

     I'm glad I didn't drive.  First, because my little car would not have done well, and second, there were cars EVERYWHERE - many of them parked in places they shouldn't have been.

     When you're limited on time, there is always this sense of urgency and you know you're rushing through getting your shots.  I really hated this feeling, so next time, I'm gonna plan to stay for a few days.  There were photographers that stayed in Yosemite for well over a week to stalk firefall, and now I see why that's absolutely necessary.  We drove for a while, passing many parking lots that were full.  

     See? Cars - EVERYWHERE!  Luckily, we were able to squeeze into a spot and take a few photos  at Bridalveil Fall.

     I really wanted a picture of the Yosemite Valley Chapel in the snow.  Unfortunately, there was no parking, so we had to "park" and take turns staying with the car in case it had to be moved.

     So you may be wondering where all the photos of firefall are, right?  Well, due to our inability to find parking, there was no way we were going to witness it.  I feel bad saying this because I know there were a lot of photographers there that day hoping to catch it, but I found out later that firefall didn't appear on this particular day, so I didn't feel too bad that we "missed" it.  I had this view as a back up just in case we couldn't get to a good vantage point in time for firefall.  You can't really go wrong with Half Dome, right?  It was a short hike in the snow to get to the bridge that overlooks the Merced River.  During some parts of this hike, I was more than knee deep in snow.  There was one other guy at the bridge shooting, and he mentioned that he drove down from the bay area for firefall and just couldn't find parking.  We feel ya, man.

     I'm not gonna lie to you.  This was tough to do, and like I said earlier, we probably only had about a total of one hour to actually shoot.  It was a long drive out of Yosemite as well, since all 6,000 people were also leaving the park.  I pretty much felt like I was dying from motion sickness on the drive back, too.  But you know what?  I'm still glad I did it!  It was this experience that allows me to offer you these tips if you ever decide to make the trek out to Yosemite during snow season.

1)  Pack some Dramamine - just in case
2)  Bring snow chains - just in case
3)  Wear clothes and shoes suitable for snow.  Luckily, I still had my snow suit from my snowboarding hobby that went to my craft room to die.  😂
4)  Bring plenty of snacks and drinks for hydration.
5)  Don't over pack your photography gear.  I think I brought along four lenses, and I probably could've done just fine with two.   Sometimes keeping it simple allows for more creativity, and definitely a lot less weight in your backpack!
6)  Find a map and scope out where all the parking lots are in advance.  This will allow you to create back up plans if what you originally wanted to shoot falls through.

     Thanks for reading! 😊