I’ve dabbled with photography for many years, often looking for good shots and using some combination of decent point and shoots and then the iPhone for a long time. When I was a kid I played with a Polaroid my mom got me quite a bit, and also used one of the first Kodak digital cameras they made. I believe it was a whopping 1 megapixel.

A few years ago I got my hands on a used Samsung NX30, which taught me a whole lot about manually exposing and using real lenses.

I outgrew the camera as it began to wear out. First its shutter speed control ring started getting wonky, then the mode switching dial would misfire and often have trouble going from Manual back to Auto. That and, while it was a good starter camera, the images weren’t as sharp or detailed as I was looking for.

After saving up for over a year, I eventually got my hands on the Canon EOS R in May this year.

This move felt significant, and not simply because I’d saved for it. But because for me it marked the moment photography was an occasional hobby and became a serious interest. Something I intend to do regularly and become as skilled as I can at.

Coming from the Samsung, I was excited to move to a system that wasn’t all discontinued products, and I’d read many nice reviews about the EOS R’s ability to capture sharp, beautiful images.

For me, another plus was knowing that with the EF->R adapter ring I could also keep my eye out for great deals on used EF lenses and greatly expand my lens selection.

At the time of writing this, there aren’t any third party lens makers I can find other than Rokinon, reportedly because Canon hasn’t released its spec details for the RF mount system to third parties. On the older EF mount, however, there are a bunch of alluring options. Some of Canon’s older lenses still seem to produce nice images, based on what I’d seen, and brands like Tamron and Sigma offered even more choices.

I started with just the kit lens, 24-105mm F4-7.1 STM. The focal range seemed great to cover a lot of my bases, and I didn’t yet have experience with prime lenses, and wasn’t sure which focal length would otherwise be a good place to start.

Most of the photography I’ve done is of architecture, construction, and old, forgotten buildings. I’ve recently gotten into street photography as well, but don’t find myself often needing really zoomed in focal lengths.

On the NX30 I had a lens that went to 200mm, but I often found it difficult to get clear shots without a tripod zoomed that far in.

It made sense to me to begin with a versatile kit lens and then begin getting the major primes — namely 35mm, 50mm, and either an 85mm or 100mm.

The EOS R Feels Great In The Hand.

I always thought the NX30 fit my hand like a glove, and felt light and nimble. My first day shooting with the EOS R I noticed how much more room I had for all 4 fingers on the grip. It wasn’t something that’d bugged me before, but I did appreciate the righter grip I could get.

The EOS R is definitely heavier than the APS-C Samsung I’d been using. With the kit lens, though, I have not ever felt like it was clunky or tiresome to carry while out and about. That may indeed be different if using a 200mm+ lens.

The grip’s surface is comfortable and easy to get a firm hold of, which is great for street photography where using the shoulder strap can get in the way.

Controls Are Pretty Intuitive and Easy To Learn.

At first I missed the location of a lower dial on the NX30 that allowed for smooth aperture changes on the fly. However, the first time I tried the control ring on the 24-105mm kit lens I discovered I could set it to do the same.

And now, whatever I’m shooting, I can widen or close the aperture while I’m framed in nicely. That makes Aperture Priority Mode shooting awesome.

I had a couple different sit-down sessions where I went through all the different menus and explored the options. I like the way everything is organized and it was pretty easy to remember where to quickly go to adjust certain things on the fly, such as autofocus and metering settings.

Lens Image Stabilization

This was actually my first experience with image stabilization. Not because my old NX30 didn’t have it, as it did feature Samsung’s OIS switch on the lens. But I never really played with it.

Looking back, I wasn’t as experimental as I could have been.

But with the EOS R I was determined to try everything. Man was I glad I flipped the kit lens’ switch the first time with the image stabilization. Taking indoor shots with limited light was way easier, even on low shutter speeds like 1/30 where I’d rarely gotten a shot I was proud of in the past (without a tripod).

That’s particularly important if you’re using the kit lens since it can’t go wider than f4. That’s decent in good light, but still falls pretty short other times. It often means high ISO or slower shutter speeds than you’d like, so the IS is valuable.

Speaking of that…

The Kit Lens’ Aperture Leaves Some To Be Desired.

You know going into most zoom lenses that you’re not going to get those great wide open apertures.

But the last lens I used was 18-200mm, f3.5-5. In this case, the 24-105mm lens is f4-7.1.

4 is already a slight bummer when other lenses are in the 3 range, some even 2.8, but particularly when you know the minimum jumps up to f7 as the focal distance increases. That really renders the zoom of the lens less useful in certain situations, because without a tripod having to go to almost f8 indoors to zoom in doesn’t leave many options for ISO and shutter speed.

In fact that’s probably the kit lens’ greatest shortcoming. It feels well-built and it takes sharp pictures, at the cost of rather middling aperture range.

Not being able to go wider than f4 isn’t simply a limitation of light input for faster shutter speeds. Some of those stunning, professional looking shots with that creamy bokeh effect are just not viable; f4 just doesn’t collapse the depth of field enough.

It definitely motivates me to get my hands on some primes as alternate lenses ASAP.

More to come.

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