Last Monday, the 3rd of July, was globally the warmest day on record. Today in the Netherlands we are experiencing the most severe summer storm recorded in over 120 years, and the first summer storm ever to be classified as ‘very severe’. That just fits the long term pattern of increasingly extreme weather events. Meanwhile, arm-chair climate change deniers still think ‘climate’ and ‘weather’ are the same thing, while actual experts grow increasingly concerned about global climatic change.
About a year before the corona pandemic, I suddenly developed a very rare progressively paralyzing auto immune disorder that destroyed the myelin in my peripheral nervous system to the point that I was rendered tetraplegic, and my breathing was also affected to the point that I came close to requiring ventilation. It took doctors about two months to finally figure out what was going on, and progression was finally halted (just in time) with high dose steroid treatment. A slow, painful process of uncertain recovery then began in a clinical rehabilitation centre. Fortunately, I managed to recover enough to awkwardly hobble out of there, limping on crutches. It then took me at least another three years for further recovery, with two relapses along the way. But I was lucky: most in my situation do not recover to this extent, and I was told by the neurologist in charge of the medical specialists treating me that I would likely never recover fully. Indeed, I was told over 90% of the people in my situation remain disabled to some extent. But thankfully I beat the odds. I guess I was just lucky… in a way (of course, truly lucky people don’t get sick like this to begin with.)
Then the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic happened. Not so great timing, as the treatment for my disease (prednisone and rituximab) left met quite immunocompromised and more vulnerable to covid-19 than most. Twitter then became a very useful resource for information on covid vaccine development, new treatments, and just any kind of scientific knowledge on this new infectious disease. There was a veritable explosion of scientific papers. Many good papers, but also many bad papers. Even with my background in biology, it became very helpful to get feedback from leaders in relevant scientific fields to be able to sieve the torrent of publications. Known experts in virology and other relevant medical fields started taking to Twitter to communicate with each other, discuss current literature, and to inform the public about the developments. I started following many of their Twitter accounts. At much the same time, however, a few ‘scientists’—along with many people with absolutely no background in science at all—also started posting misinformation on Twitter.
It then became painfully apparent that the world was woefully unprepared for a crisis like covid. We never really understood just how little the general population knew of science, but this pandemic sure was a wakeup call. The vaccine side-effect monitoring system VAERS, for example, was suddenly widely misinterpreted and misused by anti-vaccine activists. Vaccines and evidence based medicine in general were eschewed, while all kinds of quacks started prescribing unproven vitamin treatments and medicines. Even the then president of the United States of America (Donald Trump) during a press conference bizarrely suggested scientists should investigate injecting bleach into the human body as a potential treatment. It was utterly insane, there was sometimes just no limit to the stupidity. Governments called upon social media to take self-regulation action and help protect public health by limiting the spread of blatant medical misinformation from quacks and covid conspiracy theorists. Finally, rules were implemented by Twitter et al. that forbade, or at least pretended to limit, the spread of medical misinformation surrounding covid-19.
Twitter remained messy, even with the anti-misinformation measures. It usually took great effort and lots of users repeatedly reporting accounts to get Twitter safety to take action. With considerable effort, however, a few notorious covid-misinformation spreading accounts were ‘permanently’ banned from Twitter. Then Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, and all that changed. Since then, many of those banned quacks and grifters have had their accounts restored on Twitter, basically turning the platform into a totally worthless cesspool. The unchallenged publication and widely shared anti-vaccine pseudo-documentary “died suddenly” represented a particularly historic low-point.
Even before Musk, Twitter was often a bit of an open sewer. But it seemed, at least, that there was some kind of equilibrium, that there was still some balance. But post-Musk Twitter has now effectively become the internet’s primary echo-chamber for extreme right-wingers, racists, anti-semites, homo-/trans-phobes, anti-vaccine covid-deniers, and conspiracy theorists. For example, I have recently reported a user on twitter who posted a WWII picture of an apparently obese Jewish prisoner in a Nazi camp along with messages suggesting that the photo proves Nazis didn’t starve Jews, or posted trans-flags arranged in a swastika pattern. Such utterly perverted mixtures of anti-semitism, ironically combined with calling human-rights activists Nazis, have increased noticeably. Twitter ‘safety’ (ahem…) ruled that no violation was detected in both cases I reported. I wasn’t surprised. Since Musk dismantled the moderation system of Twitter by firing most of the employees, virtually no measures remain in place to stem the tide of hate speech, or the deliberate, financially motivated ‘dezinformatsiya’, or plain, ignorant, misinformation. More recently, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists have even gone so far as to resort to stalking and harassing medical scientists and posting the video evidence of their criminal behavior on Twitter, as recently happened to professor Peter Hotez. That was the tipping point for me.
When you can barely tell the difference anymore between Twitter and right-wing platforms like Truth Social or Gab, you know Twitter is done. That, combined with Twitters apparent open support of people spreading just the kind of harmful misinformation that affects people with my medical history, was the final straw. I downloaded a backup for archiving and then deleted my account. Time to move on.
When you buy a high-end camera system, you’re not just buying the camera; you’re committing yourself to the whole lens eco-system of that particular camera. That is because not all lenses work with all camera’s. If you don’t want to use an adapter, then Sony E-mount will only work with Sony, Leica L-mount only with Leica/Panasonic/Sigma, and Canon RF-mount only with Canon. You would think that means you’re stuck with ONLY the lenses that your camera’s manufacturer sells. But thankfully, that is often not the case.
For just about every camera system, you will find that you can get lenses from third-party manufacturers, like Sigma, Samyang, Viltrox, Tamron, etc. These lenses are almost always cheaper than the lenses made by your camera brand, and often compare favorably in terms of build quality and image quality. But the quality of third party lenses does vary greatly; some are just too cheap and really not worth the money, others rival or even exceed the quality of ‘original’ lenses, at a fraction of the cost. Nevertheless, it’s nice to at least have the choice. The competition from third-party lens manufacturers also forces the camera companies to innovate and produce increasingly better quality lenses to justify the extra money you pay for them. Being able to choose between lenses from different manufacturers at different price-points and levels of build quality and image quality, is simply a Good Thing™ for everyone.
But apparently, Canon doesn’t agree with that. At all. Their new RF mount was launched in 2018, but they still don’t have RF versions for some of their older EF ‘L’ lenses, such as the 24mm f/1.4 and the 35mm f/1.4, meaning you have to buy the EF to RF adapter and just use the older lenses for now. So wouldn’t it be great if at least there where at least some third-party lenses to choose from? That would attract new customers to your camera system, right? But Canon doesn’t care. They have actually threatened legal action against third-party lens manufacturers if they sell auto focus lenses for the RF-mount. Korean lens maker Samyang was already selling a well reviewed and very competitively priced 85mm portrait lens for the RF system, but removed it from the market after Canon’s bullying. So as a result, you can now only get third-party manual focus lenses. Fun fact: one of Canon’s MAIN SELLING POINTS for their RF cameras is the advanced autofocus. And there is no way you can use a manual 85mm f/1.4 lens (for example) on any moving subject and expect to nail focus manually. Not unless it’s the Titanic moving along as slow as a drifting iceberg. As a result, we are essentially forced to buy only Canon lenses, or mess around with adapted lenses.
I only I had known this when I bought my Canon R6… Because of Canon’s bad attitude, I now mostly shoot with EF lenses using an adapter. I bought a new 28mm f/1.4 Sigma lens for wider shots, and a secondhand Canon 135mm f/2 EF L lens for portraits. Both those lenses were well under $1000, which is nice. But both those lenses are also older design, and because they require an adapter stick out about an inch further from the camera body. That makes a difference with heavy lenses like these, because it makes the camera more front-heavy and thus more awkward to shoot with—though I do have to say that they still produce great photos.
The only Canon RF lens I own is the cheap plastic 50mm f/1.8 (a.k.a. the ‘nifty-fifty’) that I bought with the camera. The massive f/1.2 version of that RF lens is over one order of magnitude more expensive, but the quality of the photos certainly isn’t more than 10x better. Something that I have also heard reviewers of camera equipment mention on YouTube. I also doubt the 85mm f/1.2 produces images that are 5x ‘better’ than Canon’s f/2 version of that focal length. Of course, if you make your money with photography and you want to deliver the absolute best quality to your clients, then I would get an expensive lens like that too. After all, just one wedding is enough to earn you the money back that you paid for it, and every job after that the lens will just make you money.
But not every Canon shooter is a pro. What about photography enthusiasts? Or someone learning about photography, but not ready to take on jobs yet? There is a giant chasm between Canon’s entry level lenses, and their ‘professional’ lenses, that could easily be filled by third-party manufacturers. Not to mention to be able to buy focal lengths that Canon don’t even produce. Like a fast 28mm prime, for example. That is why I bought the Sigma EF lens. But thinking back, if I had known it would be so problematic to get lenses for my Canon camera, I would definitely have gone for my second choice: the Sony a7 IV.
Looking at the number of lenses available for Sony… it is just NO competition. My favorite camera store shows a total of 160 prime lenses available for Sony E-mount, about 150 for EF-mount, but only 70 for RF-mount. What about zoom lenses? There are only 14 options for RF-mount, compared with 35 for E-mount and 49 for EF-mount. Keep in mind though, that the new third party E-mount lenses often produce better image quality than the ‘older’ EF versions of those lenses, and new EF lenses are no longer developed. So the lack of choice is just going to increase in the next few years, as EF is gradually phased out.
But I’ve made my choice so now it’s too late… right? Well, actually maybe not. Because my Canon EF lenses are highly adaptable, I could just get an adapter and use my EF lenses on the Sony body if I switched. I’d only have to sell my Canon R6 with the cheap 50mm. And then all my other future lenses would be E-mount, and I could eventually replace the EF lenses too. And then I doubt I would ever go back to Canon during my lifetime. I am reminded of the saying: “You date your body, you marry your lenses.” If there’d been a good RF lens selection today, I would have owned only RF lenses, I would’ve been 100% invested in the system and I wouldn’t even have thought of switching to another camera brand. Funny, isn’t it?
It’s actually rather interesting how Canon appears to have implemented a policy that increases their customer’s frustration with the RF-mount, forcing some of them to invest in EF glass instead, and in so doing made it easier to switch another camera system. As a consequence—unless of course Canon comes to their senses and changes their ways—the Canon R6 will be both the first and last camera I buy from that company. If you are currently considering investing in a new camera system, then I would suggest seriously considering the availability of third-party lenses in your buying decision.