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Shoot-and-Tell: A Chinese Wedding with EOS R

My day starts at 4am and ends at 12am. We are often the first to arrive and the last to leave our Clients, with the average working hours of 18 hours per day. This is the life of a wedding photographer.

I am Kenn, a professional wedding photographer specialising in destination pre-wedding photography. I travel frequently with my equipment so when it comes to the selection of my cameras and photography gear, they have to meet my 3 criteria: reliability, portability and quality.

When Canon sent me the new EOS R to be used in one of my assignments, I was like a 5-year-old, excited and eager. I have been using the Canon EOS 5D Mark III all these years and knowing that I can now produce photos of better quality using a camera half the weight of my Canon EOS 5D Mark III, is a huge hooray for me!

First Impressions of the EOS R

A compact body with good ergonomics.

As a Canon DSLR user since 2010, my hands have been accustomed to the ergonomics and build of a DSLR body – solid, firm and robust. Before handling the EOS R, I was expecting a different ‘feel’ to the full-frame mirrorless. Mirrorless cameras are known for their smaller bodies as compared to their DSLR counterparts, but the EOS R struck a good balance between a compact size and good ergonomics. Though smaller, the EOS R still fits comfortably in the hands of photographers – a HUGE advantage for wedding photographers because of the long hours of shooting. With an ergonomically stable body, the fingers can comfortably grasp and rest on the handgrip.

Experimenting the EOS R on an Actual Day Wedding Shoot

Covering an actual day wedding shoot is challenging and can be stressful. Every moment is precious. Once you miss it, you can never recreate the exact moment again. I decided to try out the EOS R on a modern Chinese wedding to test its performance. In a typical actual day wedding shoot, the day starts with us (my crew and I) capturing details of the wedding, such as the couple’s wedding band, decorations around the house, the bride’s gown, etc…

Intricate Details of the Couple's Wedding Band

close up shot of wedding band

50mm | ISO 1000 | f/2 | 1/125

The rings were illuminated with 2 LED lights – key light and rim light. I relied on the 3.15-inch, 2.1 million-dot fully-articulating Vari-angle touchscreen LCD to shoot this pair of rings. The Vari-angle touchscreen LCD was especially useful when judging the focus and sharpness of the image.

Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony

Chinese wedding tea ceremony

29mm | ISO 125 | f/2 | 1/500

The tea ceremony was held at a brightly lit area laid with new tiles. A minimalist space like this gives photographers more freedom of expression. I decided to use this space for a reflective shot to present a different perspective of this space and time. Shooting at low angles can be challenging. The photographer would have to get as close to the reflective surface (sometimes even resorting to lying on the floor) as possible so as to get a symmetric shot of the subject with DSLR in one hand and eye on the optical viewfinder. Using the EOS R made low angle shots like this easier. This time, I did not have to lie on the floor. All I needed to do was squat, flip the Vari-angle touchscreen LCD, compose my shot, and touch the LCD screen to capture my shot.

The Bride and Her Wedding Gown

Bride admiring her wedding gown

49mm | ISO 250 | f/2.8 | 1/125

Close up details on a wedding gown

70mm | ISO 250 | f/2.5 | 1/125

Capturing close-ups are important in a wedding shoot. Close-ups are visually impactful because they zoom in to the expressions and emotions of people at the wedding. They also highlight the intricate details of objects that are easily missed in the midst of all the cheer and joy. The photos above show the moment before the bride changes into her gown. I love in-between transition moments like these, as they encapsulate the raw emotions of the bride that many may not see. Colour reproduction in portrait close-ups is extremely important, especially on the skin tones. Like its DSLR counterparts, the EOS R is also capable of capturing skin tones that are natural and accurate to the actual subject.

The Bride and Her Family

70mm | ISO 1250 | f/2.8 | 1/125

70mm | ISO 1000 | f/2 | 1/125

After the bride gets dressed, I always like to capture the moment of her with her parents and siblings. It is the moment where they send their love and wishes to each other before saying "goodbye" to the bride. Expressions in such moments are priceless and fleeting. It is crucial to capture them quickly and accurately. Thanks to Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, I could shoot this moment accurately within milliseconds! 

Gate Crashing Ceremony

Gate Crashing at Chinese weddings

28mm | ISO 50 | f/2 | 1/250

Gatecrashing is a Chinese wedding tradition where the groom and his groomsmen will go through a series of door games set up by the bridesmaid. The objective of this series of games is to get through the gate to fetch the bride. It is a symbolism to show how much and how far the groom will go through in order to get his beloved bride. This segment of the wedding involves many people and many fast-changing movements. In order to capture the perfect moment, the choice of camera has to be equipped with fast autofocus. 

There are 3 features from the EOS R that made shooting in such conditions easier – Face Detection, Touch and Drag AF, and Multi-function Touch Bar. 

With Face Detection on the EOS R activated, the camera constantly tracks my subject's face and locks the focus on his/her face. In cases when too many faces are within a scene, the Touch and Drag function can be used to select the face that I want to focus on. Without moving my eye away from the viewfinder, all I need to do is to place my thumb on the LCD screen and move it around to adjust the AF point. The intended AF point will be automatically locked once I release my thumb from the LCD screen and the focusing will stay locked even if the subject moves around.

During a gatecrashing ceremony, I want to capture as many actions and expressions as possible. This requires me to be able to switch between modes, functions and settings as quickly as possible so that I will not miss any shot. The Multi-function bar comes in handy in situations like this. The Multi-function Touch Bar is fully customisable. It can be set to activate any desired functions from the camera, and in my case, it is to change between the Face Detection and Single Focusing Shot. Talk about setting up a camera to suit one's shooting style and preference!

In my opinion, the Multi-Function bar is one of the highlights of EOS R and it definitely caught my attention (it was one of the first things I explored with when I got the EOS R). However, due to its placement on the back of the camera, accidental touches are unavoidable. Canon anticipated that well by having a lock system to avoid these accidents. The bar is set to auto lock when it is not in use for a period of time. It can be unlocked with a press-and-hold for a good 2 seconds, but with so many things to capture within a short period of time, I decided to use the dedicated lock button located near the shutter button to lock and unlock the Multi-Function bar instead.

You may wonder how I change my ISO settings. Being a Canon DSLR user for so many years, muscle memory from using Canon DSLRs all these years have allowed me to press the ISO button and adjusting using the top dial without even looking. Due to this, I appreciate how EOS R allows me to do the same by customising the AE Lock button as ISO.

16mm | ISO 125 | f/8 | 1/125

I end the shoot with more portrait shots of the couple at their house again. Colour reproduction – I can't stress enough the importance of this. With Canon's superb colour science, colour reproduction is extremely close to the actual subject, which means lesser work done in post-production.

The EOS R in a Nutshell

All in all, I am glad that Canon has decided to advance into the world of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless cameras bear a different system and technology from their DSLR counterparts, but I am glad that Canon did not reinvent the wheels. Instead, Canon built a new mirrorless system based on the strong points of its DSLR core structures. The EOS R feels different from other full-frame mirrorless cameras because Canon has kept comfort as a priority and it still carries on many of Canon's signature technology within it.

 

 

 


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