Camera giants go mirrorless

Photo of Mogens Johansen

After a long hibernation, the two giants of the camera world, Canon and Nikon, have finally woken from their slumber and announced serious high-end, full-frame, mirrorless camera systems.

They may have been dreaming that their big DSLR cameras would stand the test of time, but they’ve been shaken into action after  losing sales to the likes of Sony. 

Sony’s reputation for producing top-quality mirrorless systems has tempted a steady stream of users to change over, despite the cost of dumping one system and starting with another. But many dyed in the wool Canon and Nikon owners with thousands of dollars invested in their systems have been reluctant to take the leap. 

The new releases, Canon’s EOS R and Nikon’s Z6 and Z7, gives photographers with their gear a way forward, because although both manufactures have changed the lens mount on their new cameras, they have lens adaptors, which means existing lenses are  compatible with the new cameras. 

This is welcome news, as it allows photographers to add as-new, full-frame mirrorless camera, use their existing lenses and gradually change their kit. 

Mirrorless cameras use an electronic view finder instead of the traditional method of looking through the lens through a mirror, so manufacturers are able to build the cameras smaller and lighter.

Both manufacturers have changed the mounts to take full advantage of the compact nature of the mirrorless system that allows the lens to be much closer to the sensor because of the elimination of the bulky mirrorbox.

We were amongst the first to get a sneak peek at the new Canon EOS R when and Canon national trainer Dan Hahn made a brief visit to Perth. “Handling and optics were the primary objectives when we designed the new system,” he says, handing me the new camera.

It is unmistakably Canon in both looks and ergonomics. The large grip is comfortable, the new dials and buttons feels well placed and uncrowded, but the most obvious thing is the weight. Compared with my Canon 5D Mark IV, whose technology is very similar to the new Canon EOS R, it is much more compact and lightweight. 

Each with their relevant 24-105mm f4 lenses, the EOS R kit is 325g lighter than the 5D, roughly the same as a 350ml bottle of water. The EOS R has a powerful full frame DiG!C8 processor with 30.3 megapixels, a super-fast 5655 point AF system, 3.15 inch vari-angle LCD screen with touch screen and drag auto focus feature and 4K video.

Canon has announced four new lenses to complement the new camera — two zooms and two primes. They all have a new lens control ring that allows you to easily control your choice of aperture, shutter speed, ISO or exposure compensation.

A stand-out feature of the camera is a new FV mode, which combines beautifully with the lens’s control ring to quickly take charge of either shutter speed or aperture while the camera looks after the rest.

The new Canon EOS R will sell for around $4849 with the new RF 24-105 f/4 and $3229 for the body only. Nikon has announced two new full frame mirrorless cameras, the 24.5 megapixel Nikon Z6 and the 45.7 megapixel Nikon Z7, and four new lenses.

A Nikon Z7 with the new Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4 will cost around $6188 and the Z6 with the same lens around $4188.

We will bring you detailed reviews as soon as cameras are available to test.

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