A Bad Day With A Camera

Black Magic

My first “good” single lens reflex (SLR) film camera was a Canon T70, and I was twenty-one years old. One of the first things it taught me was how hard it is to focus a manual telephoto lens quickly and accurately. This is doubly so when you wear glasses. That’s why the picture I got today is so extraordinary to me.

Beggars can’t be choosers, My Back Yard, Strathmore, AB, 2024-04-05

I took this picture of a robin eating a dried up Mountain Ash berry from across my yard this afternoon. The poor thing was picking through the last berries left from two seasons ago and choking down the most edible of them. I felt for it. You have to be starving to eat something that nasty.

The bird was jerking and jumping around, and it was behind several twigs. I would not have gotten the shot at all with my old T70. Before purchasing the Canon EOS R5, I had a Canon EOS 5Ds, which I have since gifted to my daughter. The 5Ds had a very good autofocus, but it would have locked onto whatever was in front and the bird would have been out of focus. And that is IF it had locked on at all. The light was low, and I was using a long lens. The 5Ds could not have pulled off the above shot.

The Canon EOS R5 has an AI-trained, eye tracking servo autofocus, which is the next best thing to black magic. You can choose to track either human or animal faces and it works. I mean, it really works. As soon as it found the bird’s eyes, a small, terminator like targeting reticle appeared over the bird’s head and stayed there. I could hear the lens servo working to keep the bird in focus as it hopped around. Not a single image was out-of-focus once the camera found the bird’s eyes. Amazing.

A lot of the features that show up in the latest mirrorless cameras seem to be of the because we can variety and are often a solution in search of a problem (e.g. IBIS high-resolution mode). However, this, this autofocus. It makes the camera so much more usable to where I will never consider purchasing another high-end camera body without this feature.

I say again: Black magic. I just hope no blood sacrifice is required for it somewhere down the line.

If you guessed that I used a Canon EOS R5 today, you are very observant and you get a Scooby Snack for it. BTW, yes, I am also getting tired of bird images, but we got another major dump of snow last night and I couldn’t find anything else interesting to point a lens at today.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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