Built for adventure: the Canon EOS R System

French extreme sports photographer and filmmaker Teddy Morellec reveals how his EOS R System cameras and lenses turn tough shooting situations into exhilarating stills and video.
Motocross rider Tom Pagès performs a stunt mid-air with mountains in the background. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens by Teddy Morellec.

The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is only marginally heavier than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM but features Dual Nano USM motors for rapid autofocus. Combined with the high-speed burst of the Canon EOS R5, it proved the perfect lens for extreme sports photographer Terry Morellec to capture this image of French freestyle motocross rider Tom Pagès mid-flight. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens at 109mm, 1/1000 sec, f/5 and ISO200. © Teddy Morellec

Extreme sports photographer and filmmaker Teddy Morellec is always on the move. Even when he's not taking artistic pictures or shooting breathtaking video for clients, such as Red Bull, Nike and Lacoste, he's travelling. One day he'll be journeying around the Alps in his campervan, the next he could be learning to paraglide.

"I shoot so much different stuff throughout the year, it's crazy," says Teddy. "It can be sports or music festivals one minute, then fashion, portraits or corporate work the next."

In his challenging line of work, getting the right access, knowing the sport and the capabilities of the competitors involved, and being able to anticipate the moment, all help to solve problems. But having a high-performance camera that you can rely on to never miss a beat gives him the edge.

Teddy's day-to-day kit includes a Canon EOS R5, an EOS R3 and a handful of RF and EF lenses. He was also one of the first photographers to use the Canon EOS R6 Mark II – a high-speed camera that's perfectly suited to his high-intensity work.

Here, Teddy shares four times when the features of the EOS R System have saved the day or helped him get a killer shot in tough situations.

A man performs a trick on a skateboard in a colourful public space. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Teddy Morellec.

Some skateboarding tricks are repeatable, but with others you might only get one shot. Having a camera and lens system that handles fluidly ­– which tracks people with precision and power through rapid sequences time after time – makes all the difference. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens at 1/1250 sec, f/2.8 and ISO400. © Teddy Morellec

A man performing a stunt on a bike is reflected in a mirror held up by a pair of hands. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Teddy Morellec.

Timing is everything when you're looking to get a creative shot like this. A fast drive enabled Teddy to capture the bike reflection in the perfect position. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 35mm, 1/800 sec, f/4 and ISO100. © Teddy Morellec

"The high-speed burst options that are available on EOS R System cameras have been a game changer for me," says Teddy. "I have 20fps on my Canon EOS R5 and 30fps on my EOS R3 with full autofocus, and it helps me to follow some very fast action and be sure that I have the perfect picture that I'm looking for.

"It's hard to choose a specific example of when it has saved the day, because honestly, the high-speed drive is something I make use of all the time. But I would say that skateboarding is one subject where being able to shoot so quickly always makes a difference. You need to be very fast to get the best skateboarding picture because the skateboarder has to be in the perfect position, and the board has to be turning or just be in the right position so that viewers can get a sense of the trick being performed.

The Never Break Your Flow EOS R System logo.

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The award-winning EOS R System offers a highly intuitive approach to photography and video, working seamlessly with you to keep you focused on your subject and craft.

"Sometimes the riders won't be able to repeat a trick multiple times and you have only one chance to get it. So having a full sequence of shots to choose from means that you don't miss the best moment."

A green lizard with dark orange spots on its back sits on a leaf. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Teddy Morellec.

"This is not the usual type of shot that I do for my work, but it was an image that proved to me how good the combination of the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens and Canon EOS R5 is," says Teddy. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens at 186mm, 1/400 sec, f/5 and ISO500. © Teddy Morellec

A zoomed in, cropped image of the same lizard, appearing to look directly at the camera. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Teddy Morellec.

"The image quality is so good, and the resolution is so high, that I could frame a wider shot and then crop into a close up later," says Teddy. © Teddy Morellec

2. Realising new opportunities with the unique design of RF lenses

One aspect of the EOS R System that has made Teddy's life easier, he says, is the design of the RF lenses. "I'm switching everything to RF now. The Nano USM motors in many of the lenses are really convenient because they're super-silent and super-fast, and something that I need for my video work."

Teddy, who uses the high-speed Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, is especially fond of the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM. "I didn't own the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and I was basically a 70-200mm guy until this amazing lens came along," he explains.

"It's really helped with other genres as well as sports. With the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens I've been able to pick out the summit on a mountain, for example, which is something I couldn't do with a 200mm maximum reach. When it's combined with the 45MP sensor of my Canon EOS R5, I've been able to crop in like crazy and still pick out all the details."

Bikers at the Enduropale du Touquet race against each other, with the focus on a rider in a Red Bull helmet. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Teddy Morellec.

There's no need to keep staring at the subject when you're using the EOS R3's Eye Control AF. Once the camera detects the subject you want to track, it takes over, keeping that subject in focus as it moves through the frame. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens at 428mm, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3 and ISO400. © Teddy Morellec

3. Using Eye Control AF to pick out a single athlete among hundreds

While shooting the Enduropale du Touquet – a gruelling three-hour motorcycle beach race held annually on the coast of northern France – Teddy relied on the EOS R System's autofocus technology. The Eye Control AF of his Canon EOS R3 saved the day.

"The Enduropale du Touquet was the first opportunity that I got to use my EOS R3 at a sport event," Teddy explains. "Before that, I had been using the camera to shoot landscapes in the mountains. The race takes place on a 13km track, which features long full-speed areas and tight turns, and there's a lot of sand flying everywhere. My main mission was to follow and photograph one rider among 1,000 entrants!"

Teddy had a rough idea when the rider would pass him, as he knew how long it would take his subject to complete a lap. He was also using a stopwatch to time him. "I was ready and waiting with my Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens at the side of track," he says. "But there were so many people going by, and so many colours of bikes and helmets and everything, it was a really difficult job just to see where my rider was, let alone focus on him. Thankfully he had some signs I could recognise, like the Red Bull helmet and his number on the bike.

"If I was using a larger AF area, I couldn't have been sure the camera would have focused on him, as there were other riders at different points within the frame. I could maybe have got some pictures if I'd set a smaller AF area, but I would have had to move my camera to reframe the shot – and if I'd instead kept my framing and moved my AF area with the touchscreen or the controller, I'm sure I would have missed my rider."

It was at that point that Teddy realised how "mind-blowing" the EOS R3's Eye AF is. "I was looking for my rider, and the yellow target was following my eye movements. Then when I finally spotted him, I just held the shutter button down and I knew that I had sharp pictures of him. The moment I used it, it just worked," he enthuses.

The moon, with a halo around it, shining down on trees covered in snow. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Teddy Morellec.

The Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens that Teddy used to capture this 'moon halo' shot has a built-in 5-stops of image stabilisation. But it works cooperatively with the EOS R3's Image Stabilizer to deliver even more rock-steady results. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 1/8 sec, f/2.8 and ISO8000. © Teddy Morellec

4. Shooting a sharp winter moon with the aid of IBIS

Although Teddy's main focus is action sports where fast shutter speeds and flash are often required, he also shoots creative shots in low light. His Canon EOS R5 and EOS R3 are each equipped with In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) that works in tandem with a lens' IS unit to enable handheld shooting in situations where he couldn't have shot without a tripod before.

"It was winter, and I was going out to a restaurant with my friends," Teddy begins, "and I saw the moon with a halo around it. It's something I hadn't seen before, so I ran back into my house, grabbed my Canon EOS R3 and framed the moon with the snow-covered trees in my garden. At 1/8 sec, it was not the longest exposure that I could have used, but it was still amazing to be able to capture the shot without a tripod.

"I'm often in my van on location at night and want to grab a quick shot of the vehicle. The image stabiliser means that I don't have to worry about setting up a tripod to do this. Of course, there are situations where I do need a tripod, such as when I'm shooting self-portraits in a landscape setting, but not having to worry about camera shake for handheld video and stills is great."

A photographer with a camera on a tripod photographs a mountain bike rider performing a stunt in mid-air at night.

Teddy Morellec's quest to capture perfect mid-air moments

On an ambitious video and photo assignment where speed and accuracy were of the utmost importance, how did the Canon EOS R6 Mark II fare?

It is important to trust your instincts when you're out in the field, and having the right kit can help you get the best shots. You can count on the features offered by the EOS R System and RF and EF lenses and use them to your advantage while capturing stills and filming video. With these, you'll never break your flow.

Marcus Hawkins

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