The Canon EOS R8 in the hands of pros

Behind the scenes of Aline Deschamps' street photos and videos, Ian Hippolyte's fashion shoot and Marisa Martins' family reportage with the full-frame mirrorless EOS R8.
A woman wearing a yellow dress poses against a door with distressed walls on either side in a photo by Ian Hippolyte taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Fashion photographer Ian Hippolyte's shoot involved moody side lighting for some shots, motion, smoke and coloured gels for others, and also combined flash with natural lighting to freeze movement in the clothes – taking full advantage of the EOS R8's full-frame mirrorless capabilities. Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 70mm, 1/30 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 1600. © Ian Hippolyte

From sun-kissed video montages to moody fashion shoots, street portraits to action-packed family travels, the Canon EOS R8 is a great all-rounder for a variety of photo and video shoots. It's an incredibly lightweight mirrorless camera (the lightest full-frame camera that Canon has produced at the time of its release), yet delivers impressive full-frame features.

Three photographers who tested the EOS R8 shortly before its release were French-Thai documentary photographer and Canon Ambassador Aline Deschamps, who shot video and still street scenes on the seafront in Tripoli, Lebanon; British fashion photographer Ian Hippolyte, who particularly pushed its fast burst speed and low-light capabilities in a gritty fashion shoot; and Portuguese documentary family photographer Marisa Martins, who used it in sessions where the camera's light weight and ease of operation enabled her to react quickly to capture children's playful movements and expressions. Here we reveal the stories of the shoots, and the camera features that brought them to life.

A woman sits outdoors at a table with an umbrella overhead in a photo by Aline Deschamps taken on a Canon EOS R8.

With her photos and videos, Aline wanted to challenge stereotypes of Tripoli, Lebanon, which she says is most often seen through the prism of poverty and violence. "I want my photos to say 'Hey, there's a common life that we share' and create a visual bridge," she explains. Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens and Mount Adapter EF-EOS R at 1/4000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 400. © Aline Deschamps

An empty table and chairs with a large umbrella tied to one table leg stand on the seafront in a photo by Aline Deschamps taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Aline found the EOS R8 well suited to her day-long photo and video shoot in Tripoli. "The camera being so versatile and quick is a real advantage," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM lens at 40mm, 1/640 sec, f/5.6 and ISO 400. © Aline Deschamps

Aline Deschamps: street portraits and video

Documentary photographer Aline is passionate about challenging stereotypes and showing the different sides of a story, place or people in her work, so took the EOS R8 to the seafront in Tripoli, where she captured beautiful video and stills of everyday life and interactions, showing people gathering with friends, children enjoying fairground rides and street sellers amid classical architecture.

A street scene is captured at night, with buildings illuminated from within and cars parked either side of the road, in a photo by Aline Deschamps taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Aline says the full-frame EOS R8 offered a wide dynamic range, crystal-clear detail, strong low-light performance and reduced image noise. "Even when I was shooting at high ISO levels, I got very decent images with no sign of noise," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM lens at 24mm, 0.3 sec, f/4 and ISO 1250. © Aline Deschamps

The sun sets on the horizon, giving the sky an orange hue over the sea in a photo by Aline Deschamps taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Aline loves the EOS R8's light weight, which was a boon during her all-day shoot. She feels the camera is perfect for travel and for carrying in a handbag for capturing everyday life, as well as for vlogging, complementing the EOS R5 that she uses for professional assignments. Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM lens at 105mm, 1/320 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 400. © Aline Deschamps

To capture the full story, Aline mixed still portraits packed with depth and vibrant colours with video footage of children playing, food sellers preparing delicious dishes and more. Often, she captured photos and video of the same subject, using the switch on top of the EOS R8 to change between the two modes even more quickly than on the EOS R5 she usually works with. "I think the strength of cameras like the EOS R5 and the EOS R8 is that they're really strong in both stills and video and it's easy to switch between the two," she says. "This makes them so versatile – you can capture one shot and then one second after you can shoot a three-minute video."

For Aline's people-packed street shoot, it was important for her to be able to photograph and film her subjects while keeping them at ease. She points out that the camera's diminutive size and impressive balance in the hand, paired with image stabilisation in her RF lens, gave her the ability to shoot video without an external stabiliser, making for a far less "intrusive" feel than her former DSLR setup. "A big lens or big camera can make you seem like a 'professional photographer', so of course people may question themselves and feel self-conscious," she says. "But with the EOS R8 you're discreet, so there's an easier connection with people. It was very easy to approach people randomly."

When it came to capturing stills, the EOS R8's full-frame quality and advanced autofocus held up. "The fast tracking of the camera was amazing to track people's faces but also the animals – there were horses, dogs, etc. It's crazy to see the evolution of the artificial intelligence that Canon has brought in to make the life of a photographer easier," says Aline. "You don't have to focus so much on shooting. It gives you more time to discuss, connect and tell stories."

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A figure is captured mid-movement, their hair and yellow dress fanning out around them in a photo taken by Ian Hippolyte on a Canon EOS R8.

"I wanted to play with this idea of being whimsical but still a bit edgy," says Ian, "juxtaposing the distressed look of the space with the styling that we had and then using posing that had a lot of movement to really get a sense of the space." Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 34mm, 1/200 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 1600. © Ian Hippolyte

Ian Hippolyte: fashion with movement and attitude

Ian, who is typically a Canon EOS R5 user, tested the EOS R8 on a fashion shoot in a location that he'd wanted to work in for a while – a ruined former chapel, with distressed stonework and stained glass windows, which made for a moody low-light aesthetic. He combined the gritty location with feminine dresses paired with chunky boots and accessories to mirror the edgier side of the backdrops, which then influenced the poses that he directed the models to make.

The feel of Ian's final shots was also led by the personalities of his two models, who he spent time getting to know and responding to during the shoot. "I could see that they had different styles, different vibes. We had the two dresses and I assigned each one a sort of character," he says. "For the model in the yellow dress we did some shots that had a bit more attitude to them, but then we decided to go with a lot more movement. So she was moving and spinning around the space, and we had smoke, and that was when the sun was coming through the window. Then with the second model, it was a lot more edgy. She had the gloves and the zebra boots and it was a bit more high fashion and had a bit more attitude to it."

A medium close-up of a person wearing a pink dress and long black gloves leaning against a wall in a photo by Ian Hippolyte, taken on a Canon EOS R8.

"A lot of time when shooting fashion, the model almost becomes a character," says Ian. "So I can visualise who that character is through the clothes that they're wearing. And then that leans into the posing, lighting and everything else." Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 70mm, 1/30 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 1000. © Ian Hippolyte

A person wearing a pink dress, long black gloves and zebra-print boots reclines on a flight of stone steps in a photo by Ian Hippolyte, taken on a Canon EOS R8.

"I like to get involved with the styling and the general creative direction of things to bring the ideas to life and fully realise the idea I have in my head," Ian says. For this shoot, he picked the accessories and shoes. Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 38mm, 1/30 sec, f/4 and ISO 1000. © Ian Hippolyte

Both parts of the shoot presented creative and technical challenges, which the EOS R8 helped to solve. To freeze movement and capture that perfect frame of the first model twirling, Ian took advantage of the EOS R8's fast burst speed, which can capture up to 40fps using the electronic shutter. This, in combination with the AI autofocus with eye detection, gave him an excellent hit rate of sharp shots from the full-frame sensor. "It meant that I could focus on directing the model and on seeing what the movement looked like, take a burst of shots and then check back to see if we got it," he says. "So that helped the flow of the shoot to keep going, to run smoothly."

Ian also took advantage of the camera's 24.2MP resolution by shooting wide and cropping in tighter in post, to offer maximum flexibility in choosing compositions later. He also pushed up the ISO to adapt to the falling light levels while photographing his second model, with little noise.

Overall he was pleasantly surprised by the EOS R8's capabilities, combined with its small size and light weight, which helped him to keep going on a long day in which he shot handheld. He sees its worth as a complementary camera to his EOS R5, for shooting behind-the-scenes videos or for travel.

Alexandra Andreeva stands holding a Canon EOS R8, with a large building behind her out-of-focus.

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A child pushes another child on a board with wheels next to a fence with the beach in the background, in a photo by Marisa Martins taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Photographer Marisa Martins tends to work with families who prefer candid photography to formal poses. "This way they don't have to work," she says. "They just have to play and do whatever they want, and I have to work." Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/1000 sec, f/6.3 and ISO 400. © Marisa Martins

A child is pulled by another child on a board with wheels, the beach and ocean in the background and a rainbow in the sky, in a photo by Marisa Martins taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Marisa enjoys capturing the individual personalities and dynamics between the family members that she photographs, from the "diva" to the quiet child. She has known the family in this picture for years, and says "the more I know the family and each of their personalities, the more interesting it becomes to capture their growth and how their personality is unique." Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/1000 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 100. © Marisa Martins

Marisa Martins: capturing family life

Whereas Ian's shoots riff off his creative input and direction, Marisa's family documentary photography is very much led by its main protagonists – the children – and their activities. She has been able to capture several sessions with the EOS R8, including a day with one of her regular clients, close to home in Lisbon, then following the same family on holiday in Marrakech, and even taking it on her own family holiday to Italy. Her style of working sees her following families from morning until night, trying to make herself and her kit invisible in order to capture genuine moments of connection, rather than posed shots with "unrealistic" perfect hair and spotless clothing.

Echoing Aline and Ian, Marisa has found the camera's small size and light weight ideal for these purposes. She adds that it helps her to continue shooting everywhere that the family needs to go that day. "Imagine I go to a supermarket and I'm photographing the family shopping. I don't want people to come and say, 'Oh, you cannot take photos here because you are a professional'. The EOS R8 is smaller, and it's more discreet, but with the same quality that I'm used to from my EOS R6."

Two figures run along the sand, with a third figure watching, in a photo by Marisa Martins taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Marisa photographed this family on holiday in Marrakech, capturing vibrant colours and a broad range of tones in high-contrast conditions. "With this camera, you can bring back the information in the shadows as it has such a good dynamic range," she says. "I have taken shots that have half of the face in direct sun and light, but you can still see the other half of the face that's in the shadow, so you don't lose expressions." Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 125. © Marisa Martins

A child is captured from above, jumping down steps to the beach, in a photo by Marisa Martins taken on a Canon EOS R8.

Marisa also took the EOS R8 on her own family holiday. "I've been using the EOS R System since the beginning," she says. "It was a game changer for me. I started with the EOS R, the first big step, then I evolved to the EOS R6 and now I use the EOS R8 as a complement to my professional work and for my personal life, travel – and its lightness allows me to have it always ready to use in my bag, with the amazing quality and performance I am used to." Taken on a Canon EOS R8 with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/800 sec, f/5.6 and ISO 1250. © Marisa Martins

Marisa's documentary style means that she works exclusively with available light, whether that's overcast daylight, unflattering strip lights or dim lamplight at bedtime, "so I have to have a great tool to capture this," she says. "I have to feel comfortable whatever the light, whatever situation I'm in today, as I don't know what's going to happen." The EOS R8 has coped well with many low-light conditions, with Marisa shooting at higher ISOs but seeing no grain when she processes the images. The camera also delivers the colours that made her choose Canon cameras over other brands. "My heart truly melts with the Canon colours – I like real and natural photographs and that's the only way I can achieve the tones that match what my eye sees," she says.

For Marisa, authenticity is key, so capturing split-second, spontaneous moments is a big part of her brief. The EOS R8's intelligent autofocus with face detection helped her to capture more of those moments with ease. "Sometimes the moment is so fast that in the past I've failed to focus – it's been impossible, particularly in low light, even after 10 years as a family specialist. But now, the EOS R8 follows and tracks subjects wherever they go, so I always have the focus on them. It's amazing to me," she says. Marisa frequently prints her photographs for display, for clients and for entering contests, so high-resolution, sharp image files with high dynamic range and faithful skin tones and colours are crucial.

The EOS R8's light weight belies its versatility, with the camera proving it can succeed in a range of situations where once you may have needed a larger body. Paired with fast RF lenses, it's easy to have a feature-packed, high-quality tool in your bag at all times.

Ella Taylor