Revisiting the EOS R after Firmware Update 1.4

Firmware update 1.4 was supposed to improve eye detection auto focus, and refresh for the LCD viewfinder during servo shooting. That would be very nice!

My initial sense, after updating to firmware version 1.4 and trying it out, is that it seems faster and more accurate, but until I try it out at a sporting event, I really can’t tell how much better it really is.

Let me say this – working in the software industry, I’m very excited that the newer cameras can be updated this way, to not only fix problems – but to actually enhance performance, and potentially even add features. It’s one thing to be able to correct something that’s not functioning correctly, but performance enhancements have generally required new hardware. This is very exciting to see.

So, for the last couple nights I’ve photographed basketball games. On both nights I shot with my 5D Mark IV and my EOS R. With my 5D Mark IV I’m using the 70-200 f/2.8 zoom, and on the EOS R I’m using my 50mm f/1.2.

I discovered something that just never crossed my mind before. Performance is better with the the back LCD off (turned inward and closed). With the back LCD screen operating, there’s more of a delay when I put my eye to the viewfinder. With the back LCD turned inward and closed, the screen is off, and there is no (or very little) delay when putting my eye to the viewfinder. This is great for the way I shoot sports, because the delay from the back screen shutting off and the internal viewfinder turning on (which is triggered by sensing my face close to the viewfinder) was driving me nuts. Now the delay is, at least, bearable. Another thing about this, the battery lasts much longer with the back LCD off. The large LCD screens are major battery drainers. So turning this off actually allows for much, much better battery performance. I shot for an hour and a half each of the last 2 nights – maybe 400 photos the first night and 200 the second and the EOS R battery still showed full strength at the end of the game. Much better than I was getting with the back screen on and using it to review shots. I review in the viewfinder which actually works better for me since I don’t wear my glasses when shooting, and the viewfinder is adjusted to correct my vision – so for me, this is a better way to review photos, and it saves battery.

Let me say for the record, shooting with the EOS R takes a little time to get used to. I want to use face and eye tracking, but I’m not convinced it will work with fast moving targets (like basketball). I need to play around with the various AF point selection options to see what works best. It is definitely taking me some time to figure this out. Last night I was using the single point surrounded on all sides by smaller points. This worked pretty well. Here’s a few shots from the games the last 2 nights using this setting for focus.

As you can see, I sometimes have trouble with my white balance – the first game (2 nights ago) was in a different gym than I’m used to. It appeared to have different (maybe LED) lights. They were brighter, but I just couldn’t get the WB correct when I got home. That’s just one of the many problems I need to work out for myself, I suppose.

Now here’s something that bugs me about a feature that I actually love on the EOS R. The new lenses (and the adaptor) have a control ring that can be programmed to server multiple functions. I love the control ring idea, and generally have used it to set ISO. However, when I’m shooting sports, I move my camera around a lot, fiddling with the lens, switching between landscape and portrait, etc. When I’m shooting, I have my finger on the shutter button quite a bit in order to lock onto my subject and track them as they move. Well, while your holding the shutter halfway to lock focus, and you move the control ring, you change your ISO. Not the end of the world – but had to disable it last night so that I didn’t keep changing my settings without meaning to. I’ll figure it out. Maybe I need do switch how that works – but it’s just so convenient when your shooting things like landscapes or people because you can change ISO quickly and easily… well, maybe too easily when shooting sports.

I’m still getting used to slight delays when shooting in servo mode. I like the speed of the EOS R and the tracking ability seems very good too. However, for basketball, it would be nice to have faster shooting. Under the basket, action is difficult to capture. I can get about 3 shots, and the play is over. It would be nice to get 10 shots or more, but that get’s a little pricey. For my next game, I may switch things up, and use my 5D Mark IV under that basket, and use the EOS R for long shots down court.