The EOS M5 advantage
© Ekaterina Mukhina
Canon Explorer Ekaterina Mukhina’s brand of romantic location shoots has taken her around the world in flurry of glorious sunsets and tender moments. Here she tells CPN writer Mark Alexander about her latest South American adventure with the compact EOS M5...
Ekaterina Mukhina has successfully carved out a niche as a roving wedding, lifestyle and travel photographer who journeys around the world shooting couples on their special day. She rarely experiences searing pangs of jealousy as she organises her shoots in Mauritius, Seychelles or Bora Bora. For her, the glamourous locations are merely a perk of the job. More important to her is capturing the moment. “I am interested in capturing emotions that show true love,” she says. “I capture those precious moments. Those true feelings.”
Finding the balance
Since first combining her wanderlust with on-location shoots in 2003, Mukhina has completed 150 destination weddings in more than 30 different countries. She has also become a much sought-after wedding photographer at home in Russia where demand for her globetrotting services is high. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the 34-year-old photographer.
“It can be difficult,” she says. “I usually take pictures of people who have never had a professional photo session, so they really don’t know how to pose. It’s my job to make them feel relaxed and look beautiful. I make them look like movie stars, that’s why I have more and more clients coming from Asia because they love this style.”
Last year, Mukhina was invited to Canon’s Moscow office to test out the fast mirrorless EOS M5 with an APS-C, 24.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor. Weighing just 427g (including battery and memory card), it made quite an impression on the globetrotting shooter. “I had a chance to try out the M5, and it was like 'wow!' It was a very dark office with no daylight and the camera was still able to focus. And it didn’t weigh a lot; so I asked if I could test it in the field on my travels in South America. That was in November and since then I’ve been using it every day.”
Despite being one of Russia’s top wedding photographers, Mukhina balances her busy schedule by incorporating a healthy dose of travel and adventure. And so, while visiting Navarino Island in Chile and trekking along Dientes del Navarino (the southernmost trekking route in the world), she tested out the mirrorless marvel.
“Every day I would find a cool new feature,” she says. “When I first turned it on, I was immediately impressed with the touchscreen. I found it easy to find the focus point with my thumb. It was even more convenient than on my big cameras. It was so precise.”
The EOS M5 features a super high-resolution tilting, 8.0 cm (3.2”) ClearView II touchscreen providing approximately 100 percent coverage. It can be customised to include image details, grids and electronic levels and teams up nicely with the EOS M5’s dual pixel CMOS AF system ensuring accurate, DSLR-like autofocus and high-precision tracking. It has all the power but none of the bulk, which is important when you are on the move.
“When you are in countries that are a little bit dangerous, it is better to have a smaller camera because it attracts less attention,” says Mukhina. “I can do street photography more easily, especially with a screen that you can lift up and then shoot from your hip.”
She continues: “When you have a camera that is light, you never give up a chance to bring it with you. Sometimes people don’t want to carry heavy cameras, but the M5 is so light you can easily explore with it. It gives you more chances to be a photographer. You can always have it with you, which means you can take more pictures, and that makes you a better photographer.”
Her travels around South America took Mukhina to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), which is the world’s largest astronomical project. Located 5,000 metres above sea level in northern Chile, it is a single telescope made up of 66 high-precision antennas located on the Chajnantor Plateau.
“Usually it is very difficult to get into ALMA, but if you have a chance to visit a place like this, you go! It is very interesting and very technical. It is a unique place. I am not into astronomical photography – I was there during the day; so I went there as a tourist. I took some images of the scientists working inside the building, so this was not the type of photography I normally do.”
The opportunity to visit ALMA presented Mukhina with testing conditions that were far removed from the idyllic early morning light of a deserted beach. But it gave her an insight into the versatility of the M5 and the kind of files it produces. “It is a very versatile camera, it works really well up to 6,400 ISO. I thought I would test it at ALMA to see how far it could go.”
She continues: “I worked on the RAW files in Lightroom using exposure compensation and the tone curve, and there are lots of details in the shadows and the highlights. I can sell these files to my clients easily. No client would be unhappy with the quality of the images from the M5.”
Performance without the bulk
Mukhina believes the M5 is the perfect compact camera for photographers who are more familiar with larger, bulkier kit – she normally shoots with EOS-1D X Mark II or an EOS 5D Mark IV. “The M5 is so easy to use if you are a Canon DSLR user,” she says. “You have several dials to use – there are three on the top and one on the back. You have three stops of adjustment on top of the camera. It is very user friendly.”
Bridging the gap between professional DSLRs and handy compacts, the M5 features the controls and flexibility that photographers who want to create stylish imagery demand. “If you are an advanced amateur or professional photographer, you will find everything you need at your fingertips,” says Mukhina. “With controls for shutter, aperture and exposure; in a second you are ready to make a shot. That’s why I wanted to take the M5 with me to South America – I didn’t want to be disappointed with the camera. On this trip, if I didn’t get the picture I blamed myself, not the camera.”
Indeed, with continuous shooting up to 9 fps twinned with the 24.2 megapixel APS-C size sensor, the EOS M5 is designed for those who want DSLR performance without the bulk. “It can shoot a lot of images, so when I was shooting birds or people sailing in a yacht, I was able to select the shot I liked best, and then be ready for the next picture because I could change the settings so easily.”
For a professional photographer, it all sounds remarkably familiar - easily accessible controls that provide access to key parameters. It is the standard, except on this occasion these options are housed in a compact body that is just 115.6mm long.
The modest EOS M5 does have some tricks up its sleeve. For instance, Mukhina says she finds the hybrid shooting mode – when the camera records short video clips before each shot – extremely useful. “It’s very cool,” she says.
More generally, the video function provides almost instantaneous video capture thanks to a dedicated record button on the back of the camera which means she can easily switch between stills and video. “It is very convenient. It is easy to start video recording the moment you need it,” she admits. “You press the button and the camera starts to record video. On bigger cameras, that takes more time – you can’t do that without taking the camera away from your eye. But with the M5, you look through the viewfinder, you focus and you record.”
The camera’s five-axis digital image stabilisation and pro-level video controls also impressed Mukhina. “When you record video, you can use the dial on the top of the camera to adjust exposure,” she says. “When you start recording, it is in automatic mode but it is easy to adjust the exposure using the dial. If you want more control, you can go to film mode and shoot in manual. It is easy. And the image stabilisation is really good, especially as my lens doesn’t have IS, so it comes out much better.”
Mukhina was able to combine her South American adventure with work, visiting Atacama Desert in Chile and Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia to photograph clients. She also made her way to the Galápagos Islands to photograph wildlife and even did some underwater shoots. Throughout her epic adventure, her EOS M5 was by her side.
“If people test it, they might not find all the features, but since I’ve had a M5 for a long time and have used it every day, and each day I find some new, cool features that are really helpful. It really is a great camera.”
EOS M5 – KEY SPECIFICATIONS
- 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100–25,600
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- Continuous shooting up to 7.0 fps (up to 9.0 fps with AF Lock)
- New DIGIC 7 Image Processor with improved AF tracking
- Full HD 60p in MP4 format
- Digital IS with 5-axis image stabilisation when shooting movies
- Built-in high-resolution EVF (approx. 2,360,000 dots)
- Intuitive 3.2-inch tilt-type (85° up/180° down) touchscreen with approx. 1,620,000 dots
- Customisable functions while shooting using the Main Dial, Quick Control Dial, Dial Function Button and Exposure Compensation Dial
- Built-in WiFi and NFC for easy sharing of images and videos
- Equipped with Bluetooth for smooth pairing
- Compatible with EF and EF-S lenses with the EF-EOS M adapter plus Speedlites
Biography: Ekaterina Mukhina
Ekaterina Mukhina is one of Russia’s top destination wedding photographers. Based in Moscow, she is a member of the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers and was the recipient of the first prize for the Best Engagement Album in 2016 in the WPPI Album competition. Ekaterina is a part of the Canon Ambassador Programme and has been chosen to represent the field of wedding photography as a Canon Explorer. Fluent in Russian, English and Spanish, she loves travel and craves the thrill of snowboarding and windsurfing.