After back to back trips to Kabini all these years, this one was a bit special. A new addition to my family- The #Canon #EOSR5! I was waiting to get my hands on it but had decided not to until I take it to my second home, Kabini. Couldn’t wait to explore and analyse results myself than reading it on the web! The beginners mindset kicks in all the time. Always had this dream of exploring such a camera, push its limits, review it extensively, within my strengths and limits. So glad that the day  came, rather, running into me. Kabini has always given me more than I asked or! She always gave me more than I hoped for. Be it rain or sun-shine, it has given me unexplainable feeling – at times words does not do any justice. The thick woods, canopies hanging over my head, unseasonal and seasonal rains, heavy downpour, the sizzling sun and of-course, taking me to the state of Nirvana, every time I am there – It is just that I can’t get enough. 

Back to the point, guess there is something to do with my trip and rains. The time I got behind my steering wheel to the time I got into Kabini – it was overcast weather– rained, drizzled and the next two days, it poured! In-between, the sun god didn’t show any mercy by burning me up all through. Upbeat about the game drives, I quickly assembled my equipment – R5 mounted on 500mm F4 and my ever dependable #IDX-MII on 70-200,f.28. I was all set. R5 came with an Adaptor Ring for #EOS Lens as a Kit. Keeping my feelings and emotions aside for another blog and focusing on the task at hand- after years of usage of Rebel, 550D, 70D, 7D, 1DX and IDXMII straight-away holding #R5 ( Note, I have a battery grip) – lightweight but yet, the structural design was easy to hold and didn’t pose much problems. I got the battery grip for two reasons. A)I have always used my other cameras with battery grip and it would have made some difference to my hand-holding. B) In my earlier reviews, I did hear about the challenges in battery/power draining aspect associated with R5. To cover both, battery grip made me feel comfortable. At home, I did dabble around withMacro subjects testing basic functionalities (AF Points, Mechanical Shutter Vs.Electronic Shutter, played around with Animal face tracking on few pigeons in and around my home, short-cut keys, and challenged lighting conditions to get some good frames), settings ( tracking subjects, power-saving mode, crop features, AF functionalities,) such that I could feel at ease out in the field.  Q button I’d say has always #Canon’s go-to functionality as it lets you control almost all essentials in a single menu – The UI has gone through some change – While toggling from Left to right in moving from one functionality to another, one may get confused ( but with few tries, you will get an easy grip) – So even in R5, it lets you control or have all menu options on a single key. 

The first game drive – I was anxious to use R5 more than spotting any Cat or mammal. Until 5:00pm, I could spot Deer, Langur Monkeys, a stray Indian Gaur and few elephants but didn’t take any pictures. I have the habit of keeping my lens in between my legs that rests on a cloth bag (floor of the jeep) and my hands firmly on the camera body. I accidentally pressed a button (the body was covered in dust proof cover)and something happened. I looked at it – I had pressed the Recording button unintentionally. Had to undo the damage and mentally tracked the position of the Recording key. Perhaps this could have been positioned elsewhere or an option in Q button would have been ideal.  This was new as neither in my other cameras, Recording button was kept on the top of the body.  A bit disappointed, I moved on.  At around 5:30pm, typical time-frame in Kabini that sets the momentum of game drives, there were few alarm calls raised by deer close to a big water hole. We waited for 10/15 minutes – nothing happened.I was very bullish about spotting a cat for sure. We went ahead by around 150meters to look around. The sun was going down -sooner than I expected – Light started to fade just like the hope I had for that evening – I bumped the ISO suiting the need of the hour but with time ticking by, darkness enveloped the entire zone. Breaking the silence, all of a sudden there were fleets of alarm call given by Langur Monkey, Deer and Sambhar Deer. We drove back on the same road towards a junction and strayed hard at a place where the calls originated. After few seconds, I could see this male leopard walking just beside the bushes and into the clearing. I whispered – Leopard! Leopard! It was around 6pm.



ISO 3200, f4, 1/100, #CANON #EOSR5 Mounted on #Canon 500mm F4 Lens (60% Cropped)

He crossed the junction and walked beside the road. #R5 in my hand,I had assigned a key for Face Detection, so let #R5 track the face on a continuous mode. To much of my amazement, it worked just brilliantly. In my mind, I was worried on the low-light, noise and the final output of the work.He moved quickly, stood still and again moved along – All through, R5 tracked the Leopard face beyond my imagination. After giving us a good show, the Leopard quietly moved into the bushes and it was 615pm – We called it a day. 


ISO 3200, f4, 1/100, #Canon #EOSR5 Mounted on #Canon 500mm F4 Lens (Cropped)

Day 2, a new beginning! Was able to put #R5 to use under extreme conditions – Misty morning, ISO at 5K, 10K and15K. Couldn’t have waited to look at the outcome. Few hours later, we spotted a Leopard on a tree but very far. It was sheer luck we could even spot him hiding under a thick cloak of branches. He was seriously far but the output was definitely better (I had imagined worse); Here is a cropped image of the Leopard.


ISO 600, F4, 1/1000, #Canon #EOSR5 Mounted on #Canon 500mm f4 Lens (Heavily cropped image - "Fragment" of Original)


The 45MP added lot of value Vs. 20 odd pixels I had in #IDXSeries.  Continuing the day, I worked in capturing as many moments under different conditions – Harsh light, low-light, shade, moving subjects, low ISOVs. high ISO – While I am still so emotionally attached to my IDX and IDXMII –I should detach myself on emotional grounds to say, R5 really worked well under duress. With a dry game drive that evening, I put a rest to my experiments while back at the camp, was busy in looking at the outcome of all the frames i shot under extreme settings.

Another cloudy morning with mist in certain parts of the woods.I was fortunate enough to run into three tigers (brothers) not wanting to share their deer kill.


ISO 12800, 1/1250, f4, #Canon #EOSR5 Mounted on #Canon 500mm f4 Lens (Noise Corrections done)

Extremely low-lit conditions, over-cast – at 650am – Wrong time to spot cats! Huh!  But well, that’s how it goes. All three brothers were moving apart, so I had to isolate and shoot few frames of all of them. In low-speed & high-speed continuous mode – R5, literally cracked it. Imagine,at 10K ISO, shutter speed was 1/100 – Light was that challenging. Wrong time to experiment however I wanted a sharp image rather a distorted or shaken, so took huge risk – 20K ISO and took few shots. For few I had to use correction software to mitigate the noise but for some, it worked wonders as is! One can’t believe the output of certain frames I got – Of course I did my set of basic corrections in LR. R5 nailed it big-time.  The Animal tracking mechanism worked supremely wonderful! There was never a point in time that I had to use AF points instead, moved the camera while R5 tracked the eye (I mean, it wouldn’t let go of the subject’s eye) – This takes composition to a different level altogether. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of the images that I made were either early in the morning or quite late in the evening (few exceptions though); Under both circumstances, it really tested the performance. Does the image have the details? What is the impact of high ISO ?


ISO 10000, f4, 1/800, #Canon #EOS R5 Mounted on Canon 500mm f4 Lens (Noise correction software used) 

Can the details be retrieved? Fast moving subjects or subjects perfectly camouflaged still the AF & Face Tracking didn’t miss. Yes there were few shots that got blurred or I missed around 10% of the overall shots because of my own mistake or call it human error – I was switching between two AF Keys(One have it for multi-purpose back -button focus and the other exclusively forAnimal Face tracking). The only time it challenges is when you use AF Assist(multi-focus points) – it goes into a loop. It struggles especially in certain situations (when there is not much of contrast); Also for smaller subject, it gave up. I was lucky to have spotted an Indian Rock Python. I deliberately usedR5 but it didn’t give the desired results. May be because I used AF Assist at that time (in hind-sight, I realised I shouldn’t have); To salvage the situation,  I had to  immediately shift to #IDXMII with 70-200mm which did the rest. 

My luck couldn't have got better! One of the evenings, after few hours of dry spell, got to hear that Black Panther was spotted atop a tree, far from the road. Well, irrespective of the distance, this was something I was waiting to hear. By the time i reached the spot, it was quite late and sun was hurriedly moving behind the clouds. Whatever light was there, it was melting away but good time for testing! That too working on the Phantom of the Jungle. 


ISO 3200, f4, 1/500, #Canon #EOSR5 Mounted on Canon 500mm f4 Lens (50% Cropped)

Guess the above were all the goody-goody notes I made, but one thing that really made me feel very uneasy was the Battery Performance. I am not much into Videos. Even then, R5 gulped battery like I’d have drank water in a desert. This is one of the few things I seriously got disappointed with (It’s a different thing that I carried 3 spare batteries – FYI, the battery I use for 70D works for this as well  );When we are using such a great equipment, it should equate with battery performance. I can only imagine my situation when I go to Africa or outsideIndia, guess I need a bagful of batteries for a day’s work – Jokes apart, was wondering all along if these batteries would last for a day or not – This is definitely not a good sign. It got me worried all through.The other point I mentioned was the Recording button – it is right adjacent to the shutter and dial. When I hold the body, it gives me the feeling what-if I accidentally push the button. This was my first outing with R5 and I just fell in love.


ISO 800, f4, 1/5000, #Canon #EOSR5 mounted on Canon 500mm f4 Lens (Full frame image)

The penultimate day of my trip, it was unusually warm, the sun was beating down on me! While it was a good sign, i was sweating it out. As i moved on, clouds got back, all of a sudden i could sense change in weather. Moving on, I could see few jeeps parked near a water hole and the sheer sight of few jeeps made my heart beat loud - Either it could be a tiger or a leopard! Ahead when we reached I was disappointed as it was a Crested Eagle but few seconds later I was happy - It had a kill (Pond Heron). But it was in shade and perfectly camouflaged. Prior to this, I was working on few settings but forgot to re-set. I shot the entire series with AF Assist mode and had a horrible time in getting the right focus. But then this is how i could test my camera! Be it a human error - I think I got few decent shots and here is one


ISO 1250, F4, 1/800, #Canon #EOSR5 Mounted on #Canon 500mm f4 Lens.(20% Cropped)

If you are a wild-life photographer or candid or be it from any genre, you will love this. I have always been a faithfulCanon guy and guess I have found my Zone w.r.t. MPs , AFs and combating challenging lighting conditions. Full marks but no. I will say, Canon need to do something about the Battery life or may be some upgrade in their firmware! I am heading for another trip early next month – So let me write more post that. Hope you all enjoyed reading this. I am not an expert in writing reviews, so you can consider this a maiden attempt from my side and excuse me for any gaps. The above is purely based on my experience and perspective! Keep the shutterbug on folks! 

Before I sign off, here is "Elephant's eye" - All these years, I had many a opportunity to try this out but guess, I had to wait until now. 


ISO 600, 1/1250, f4, #Canon #EOSR5 Mounted on #Canon 500mm f4 Lens. (80% Cropped)