The EOS-R Low Light Torture Test with the 50 1.2 and VS the 1dXII

The EOS-R Low Light Torture Test with the 50 1.2 and VS the 1dXII

By Steve Huff

Going to try and keep this short as I posted a video about this last night on my YouTube channel.

I went out to test the EOS-R and older 50 1.2 EF lens last night at a place I go to often, when I want to really push limits of a camera. This venue will stress any camera and many can not do it. Cameras that can are the Sony A7SII, A9 and A7RIII. Hasselblad X1D as well. The best camera I have ever shot here for IQ, low light performance, DR and overall vibe though has been the Canon 1dxII. Without question that camera gave me the best image, low light AF and lack of noise of any camera, even the Sony’s and X1D.

Only issue is it is huge, a beast and I did not buy it for taking photos : ) (I’ve posted all about that a while ago)

So I do not like taking the 1DXII out for things like this, as it’s heavy and huge but at the same time it is beautiful and just inspires confidence as it is a true pro level camera, and when you shoot with one you can really tell the difference. After testing the EOS-R in this venue last night the 1dXII still is champ here but the EOS-R did about as well as the Sony’s here.

Video Below…

Below are some images and above is the video on this test where I show some 1dXII shots, but if you want to see those images just CLICK HERE for that post.

Very quick, I will say that the EOS-R shocked me in one area last night. Auto Focus with the old 50 1.2 was instant. As in, INSTANT. No hunting to speak of, even in crazy low light scenes with the AF assist OFF. I thought something was defective and it wasn’t focusing but it was so damn fast and accurate that I soon realized it was focusing it just happened as soon as I pressed the shutter half way. No camera has ever given me this AF speed in such low light. I think the lens helps here but it did AF quicker than the 1dXII.

I also used the touch AF to move my focus point, while looking through the EVF, using my right thumb. Worked good, and takes some getting used to but once you do it may become 2nd nature. Guess it depends on how long your thumb is as it is a stretch at times.

As I stated before, I do not need IBIS in a camera. It’s not a want for me and also, the EOS-R is a pretty big step up from the 6DII I owned for a while in all areas. All. At $700 more than a 6DII it should be though. Anyway, on to the images!

Click them for larger and to see them correctly. They will look soft and weird if you do not. Thank you. 

ISO 5000, OOC JPEG, shot in Manual mode at f/1.2

ISO 5000, same settings as above. 

ISO 5000 as I wanted to see how the noise was. This lens is a light sucker so it would have allowed me a much lower shutter speed but I wanted to push it. Shot in the in camera Mono mode. 

This one was using the in camera Mono mode, ISO 6400, f1.2, 1/400th

ISO 500, f1.2

As I say in the video above, this is a unique location. Most who shoot here only shoot in B&W as some cameras blow that red too much, and it’s a challenge to dial in the exposure. I find manual shooting is all that works here as the in camera meters on any camera I have shot here just can’t cut it.

I have one more shot in Mono at ISO 10K of another photographer who shoots music at least 3 lights per week in Phoenix. Bill Goodman. This was just a raise the camera and snap as I wanted to test ISO 10K and see how it would focus as where he was, well, my eyes saw in, he was hard to see. The camera focused instantly and snapped. You can also see what ISO 10K looks like out of camera. I think NR was set to LOW in camera.

When you shoot at high ISO in actual low light this is a true torture test for a camera. The more light you have at high ISO the better it will look, the less, the worse. This EOS-R, in real world use in low light is about equal to what I see from the A7RIII here. 

So that’s it, I am still evaluating the EOS-R. I like it MUCH better than the 6DII but it’s not in the same league for photos as the 1DXII. For video, if you shoot HD it’s equal or slightly better than the 1DXII (sharper). Great camera so far, and I will be using it over the next few weeks as I continue my evaluation of it. You can see my other post HERE on this camera.

You can order the EOS-R at B&H Photo below:

Order the EOS-R at B&H Photo 

Also available at Amazon via Prime:

Amazon Prime EOS-R


  1. This is strictly my personal opinion, everyone welcome to disagree.
    How is it shooting with a very fast lens at around ISO 5000 a torture? I would imagine a torture test is shooting with slow zoom (5.6 or slower) at ISO 12800 or above.

    • It’s the location which finds me shooting at 25,600 at times, even with fast glass. I did my Leica M10 review here in part, and shot at f/1.4 and ISO 25k. For some reason the Canon allowed for lower ISO speeds than my Sony, Leica or other cameras. Though I do show an ISO 10k shot in the dark. I’d never shoot an f/5.6 lens in this place which is lit with two red light bulbs. You must have a fast lens to shoot here, and most cameras can’t even do it.

  2. Just curious as to why you don’t shoot the Canon 1dxII? Many concert photogs do shoot with those monsters, or something like it. I would love to know what your buddy that shoots music 3 nights per week thinks of the new Canon mirrorless.

    • I have twice, but it’s just not something I enjoy. Too large, heavy and the artists in these small clubs look scared of it ; ) I bought the 1dXII for video use only really. It’s a monster.

  3. I had a love hate relationship with the old Canon 50/1.2L, getting the 5D3 to actually AF accurately on portraits was a nightmare, and it was so unreliable @ f/2 (where I shot it) because of the focus shift issue — its a unique, and lovely rendering lens though.

  4. Nice to look at and i like the music. Seems to be a great atmosphere there.
    The only thing i´d like to see are some lowlight photos with the R.
    With lowlight i mean full-spectrum-light, not only the red channel. Especially the blue channel is interesting to me because in night-shots and during the blue hour the blue cannel is much more critical than the red one.
    Nice to hear about the autofocus doing a good job.

  5. Very nice images as always, but isn’t the criticism of Canon that if you try and pull detail from the dark shadows there tends to be banding? This isn’t really going to test that as the shadows have remained black. A contrasty scene where you try to recover shadow detail would be more challenging.

    • That is because they are all high ISO and I had NR set to lowest but not off. I normally have ALL cameras set to off, as NR always adds mush, no matter what camera brand you shoot. NR sucks detail. Thank you.

  6. A really great set of images!
    Using only a normal lens makes for beautiful perspective.
    The ultra high ISO simply blows my mind..
    A great new camera and Well done Steve.

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