Dancing through Sicily:
first video shoot with the
Canon EOS R6

A ballerina dances inside a ruined temple near Palermo, Sicily.

Spanish cinematographer Javier Cortés was the first pro to take the Canon EOS R6 on a video shoot – filming two ballet dancers on a journey through Sicily, starting at the Temple of Segesta. "For me, it's always more than just shots – I want to try to tell a simple story," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 24mm, 1/5000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO400. © Javier Cortés

Weaving through the columns of an ancient temple, a ballerina is caught in the light of the breaking dawn, her flowing dress highlighted against the shadows thrown by the crumbling colonnade. The scene marks the start of a voyage through north-western Sicily, captured by Spanish cinematographer and Canon Ambassador Javier Cortés on the full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R6.

"Filmmaking has the power to take you on a journey," says Javier, who shoots video and stills for high-end fashion brands and editorial publications, including Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. "My goal was to capture the fluidity of the dancers' bodies, the sensation of strength."

With extra-wide dynamic range thanks to Canon Log, up to 8-stops of Image Stabilization,1 4K video at up to 60p, and support for 10-bit YCbCr 4:2:2 internal recording, the Canon EOS R6, the latest addition to Canon's EOS R System family of cameras, is a formidable filming tool. From temple to theatre, pavement to palazzo, Javier put it through its paces, capturing cinematic footage from a full- frame mirrorless workhorse.

Faultless AF tracking and 8-stops of IS*

Javier's narrative began at the ancient Temple of Segesta near Palermo, the capital of Sicily. "I've always been interested in movement and how bodies look in front of the camera," he says. "I used slow motion at 50p to capture the dancer, her dress and how her skin looked in the morning light. I wanted to show how she tells a story with her body."

The Canon EOS R6's intelligent AF system enabled Javier to lock onto the ballerina's face and keep it in sharp focus while moving around her. "I wanted to shoot wide open shots that finish on her arms or face," he says. "She was pirouetting and jumping but the camera stayed focused. I couldn't believe it – I thought I'd lose the focus on her eyes."

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A ballerina dances in the light from an open door. The rest of the room is in shadow.

"The AF tracking is really impressive in the photographs, but in video it is crazy – I couldn't believe it." Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/750 sec, f/2 and ISO200. © Javier Cortés

A close-up of a woman's face as she looks up and away from the camera.

"With this camera you can be flexible. The Vari-Angle screen means you can easily change the angle you are shooting from." Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/1.4 and ISO100. © Javier Cortés

In his commercial work Javier often operates with large crews but he relished the opportunity to return to his single-shooting roots. "I've got used to having big teams, but here I came back to working just with the camera," he says.

The Canon EOS R6's innovative in-body Image Stabilization (IS) – offering up to 8-stops of IS1 – meant that Javier could shoot handheld and capture perfectly smooth video footage.

He tested the IS by shooting with two cameras, one in each hand, each fitted with a stabilised lens but one with IS on and one with the IS off. "I was moving around with the cameras on my arms and it was amazing," he says. "The stabilisation is very effective."

A ballerina dances on a moonlit beach with buildings lit up behind her.

Dancing in the sand at Mondello Beach. "The moonlight should create high contrast, but there are details in the shadows and the clothes, and I could capture the movement. I'm not used to seeing these kinds of images [when shooting] at night," says Javier. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/40 sec, f/1.4 and ISO32000. © Javier Cortés

"At sunrise you don't have much light or contrast, so I started shooting with higher ISOs," Javier says. "I was really impressed with the camera's performance in low light – the colour rendition was amazing. Colour is important to me. I decide which camera and lenses I am going to use based on how they develop colour. When I was shooting at the temple, I imagined the colour of the sunrise, and everything I imagined, I got."

The other locations provided further lighting challenges, from a darkened theatre to a beach illuminated only by moonlight. Inspired by moonlit portraits he'd previously taken in the Sahara Desert, Javier hoped to translate his creative concept to video, shooting a ballerina dancing along the water's edge at Mondello Beach.

Ballet dancer Lee Jay Hoy poses in front of classical buildings in Palermo, Sicily.

Dancing into the light: first stills shoot with the EOS R6

Canon Ambassador and fashion photographer Wanda Martin on the first-ever shoot with the full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R6.

"I didn't have the supermoon I wanted, but I had three quarters of the moon and the lights of the city. I was using high ISOs – ISO64000 and ISO32000 – and it worked well, giving impressive colour and high dynamic range.”

A ballet dancer in an adjacent room is captured framed in the doorway.

Javier relished the chance to return to his single-shooting roots. "I'm used to working with cinema cameras and with a team, but I love to shoot on my own – this camera gives you a lot of creativity and you can improvise a lot." Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 24mm, 1/350 sec, f/2.8 and ISO800. © Javier Cortés

Flexible, creative hybrid shooting

Originally a stills-only fashion photographer, Javier has become known for working across stills and video and is regularly tasked with delivering both on editorial and commercial jobs. Having a flexible hybrid camera that can switch between the two at the touch of a button was particularly welcome. "On every shoot I have my photo camera and my cinema camera, but in this case I could continue shooting with the same camera," he says. "It's really magical."

The Canon EOS R6's high-resolution Vari-Angle touchscreen allowed him to capture the action from all angles. "I am always on the floor shooting or leaning on walls," explains Javier. "With this camera, without needing a big ladder, I can put the camera above my head, tilt the screen and see the image."

A ballerina leaps across an ornately decorated room.

Javier was particularly impressed with the camera’s dynamic range and the quality of the colours in the highlights and shadows. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/1.8 and ISO1600. © Javier Cortés

A ballerina poses in the light from an open door. The rest of the room is in shadow.

The EOS R6 is particularly effective in low light, especially when paired with a fast aperture RF lens. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/2 and ISO200. © Javier Cortés

Javier primarily shot in 4K 50p, his preferred frame rate for fashion. "At first I shot at 25p because I was worried about the speed and the available light, but after seeing there wasn't much grain, I started shooting in slo-mo," he says. "When I had movement and the dancers' clothes were flying, I wanted to capture it in slo-mo so I could work with that in the edit."

Shooting in Canon Log is a must for Javier, who was particularly impressed with the Canon EOS R6's expansive dynamic range. "The Canon Log is really good – you have a lot of information and colour in the highlights and the shadows," he says. "The style of video is closer to the EOS C300 cinema series than a stills camera that shoots video. This Canon Log feels similar to the Canon EOS C300 Mark II."

Cinematographer Javier Cortés films two ballet dancers on stage at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily.

The final scenes were shot in Palermo's Teatro Massimo – the largest opera house in Italy. "I'm always inspired by how I feel in a place, and in Palermo I was like a kid trying to find the perfect spot all the time," says Javier.

For the final scene of Javier's film, he shot under the iconic lights of Palermo's Teatro Massimo, Italy's largest opera house. It was the backdrop for the final scene in The Godfather: Part III and it was a place where Javier had long wanted to film. "This is the climax of the video – the place where the two dancers meet," he says. "I wanted to show how they move, how they feel and the contrast of the space.

"One of my main aims on any production – personal projects or fashion films – is to shoot with freedom and try something different, something I'm not used to. Palermo was beautiful – the locations and the light. It was an amazing journey and I think you feel that in the video."

Written by Lucy Fulford


Javier Cortés's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

Two Canon EOS R6 cameras and Canon lenses laid out on a tiled floor.

Camera

Canon EOS R6

Canon's full-frame mirrorless camera is the ultimate hybrid for video as well as stills, with intelligent Dual Pixel CMOS AF, support for a range of video formats including 4K 60p, in-body IS and outstanding low-light performance. "This camera gives you a lot of creativity and you can improvise a lot," says Javier.

Lenses

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

A lens that sets new standards in photographic performance, delivering supreme sharpness, extra creative control and a low-light performance that's simply remarkable.

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    1. 8-stops based on the CIPA standard with RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM at a focal length of 105mm