From social media to smartphones, the technological landscape has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. The camera industry has experienced transformational change too, with the rise of mirrorless machines helping to drive a new era of innovation.
With their small size and compelling blend of photo and video functionality, mirrorless cameras perfectly suit the discreet and diverse nature of photojournalism in 2020, and the latest Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 full-frame mirrorless bodies show just how far the technology has come.
So what technological development – mirrorless camera or otherwise – has made the most difference to the working lives of leading photojournalists? We spoke to Visa pour l'Image stalwarts Brent Stirton, Francis Kohn, Ilvy Njiokiktjien, Pascal Maitre, Anush Babajanyan, Laura Morton and Daniel Etter to find out.
"You can shoot practically in the dark now, which helped on my Wild West Tech project on the startup technology industry. I wanted to keep the atmosphere of fluorescent lights in a bad office, so I didn’t use flash, just the glow off people's screens," said Laura.
"A lot of that project was shot on the Canon EOS R. Another great thing about this camera is that it’s so small and compact. In my current project, University Avenue, having a small camera put people at ease and made them a little bit more comfortable."
"The leap in resolution and performance that's been made with the Canon EOS R5 means that I no longer have to compromise," said photographer Brent Stirton. "I used to always have to carry a Canon EOS 5DS R and two Canon EOS 5D Mark IVs. If I wanted to make a 50-megapixel file I would use the EOS 5DS R, but if I wanted to shoot in low-light I would have to switch to the EOS 5D Mark IV. Now I have it all on one body.
"At the same time, this camera doesn't look like a big, threatening professional tool," he said. "It doesn't attract a lot of attention, which is often a good thing in my line of work."
"I finished school in 2009, which was around the time the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was released, and that was a big change. It was one of the first affordable full-frame cameras with the ability to make videos, and that was a big paradigm shift," said Daniel.
"Now we are seeing the shift from DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, which are now technologically on par. I've completely shifted from a DSLR to only using the Canon EOS R. It is much smaller and much lighter. Now I can take my camera everywhere."
"For me, the most game-changing technology has been video being added to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II," said Ilvy. "I never thought it would become such a big part of my daily work, but clients keep asking for video. It gives a totally different perspective to my job, and I really like it.
"Things have got even better with the latest mirrorless cameras such as the Canon EOS R6. This camera focuses so quickly and it sees more than I could with my naked eye," she said. "The new technology is so inspiring and I will be able to shoot things that would not have been possible before."