The Canon EOS R5 leaves little doubt that Canon is now serious about the mirrorless camera market. It has phenomenal specification with features like a 45Mp full-frame sensor, phase detection autofocusing that covers the whole frame, eye AF for humans and animals that works in video and stills mode and a class-leading viewfinder paired with a vari-angle touchscreen. And of course, the ability to shoot 8K video.
While there are time limitations imposed upon the 8K video recording (and the 4K HQ video that uses the technology), the Canon R5 is a superb camera that delivers stunning quality images and superb video.
45Mp full-frame sensor with full AF coverage
12fps/20fps continuous shooting with continuous AF
Uncropped internal 8K video recording for up to 20 minutes
8K video will require lots of storage capacity
What is the Canon EOS R5?
While the Canon EOS R, EOS Ra and EOS RP are set to continue, the 45Mp full-frame Canon EOS R5 will be Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera. It’s designed to appeal to professional photographers and videographers and it sits above the 20Mp full-frame Canon EOS R6 announced at the same time.
What’s astonishing is that after complaining about Canon’s habit of only enabling cropped 4K recording with several of its cameras (including the EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS R), the Canon EOS R5 is capable of recording uncropped 8K footage to a CFexpress card. What’s more, it can do so with autofocus tracking in action. That’s quite a step up, but there’s a 20-minute limit.
Sensitivity range: Stills: ISO 100-51,200 expandable to ISO 50-102,400, Movies: ISO 100-25600, expandable to ISO ISO 51,200
Metering: 384-zone metering with Evaluative metering (linked to All AF points), Partial metering (approx. 6.1% of viewfinder at centre), Spot metering: Centre spot metering (approx. 3.1% viewfinder at centre), Centre weighted average metering
Shutter speed range: 1/8000sec-30 seconds and Bulb
File formats: Raw + Jpeg/HEIF, MP4
Maximum continuous shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: 12fps, Electronic shutter: 20fps
Maximum video resolution: Uncropped, internal raw recording 8K video at up to 29.97fps in 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265), Uncropped internal recording 4K video at up to 119.88fps in 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265) 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ, 4K output over HDMI at up to 59.94fps
Autofocus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II phase detection with 5940 points in stills and 4500 points in movie mode
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch 5.76million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 120fps display and 0.76x magnification
Autofocus: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II with Advanced Animal AF (recognising dogs, cats and birds) supported in all video modes with 100% coverage and up to 1053 ‘AF segments’
Stabilisation: In-body image stabilisation (IBIS) that works with lens IS and enables up to 8-stops of shutter speed compensation
Storage: Dual slots, 1x CFexpress, 1x SDXC UHS-II
Dimensions: 135.8 x 97.5 x 88mm
Weight: 650 g / 738 g with card and battery
Inside the Canon EOS R5 is a new full-frame sensor with 45million effective pixels. Canon has introduced a new version of its Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor design, called Dual Pixel CMOS AF II and this helps deliver some impressive autofocus functionality in the EOS R5.
For example, 100% of the vertical and horizontal space of the sensor is covered by the autofocus (AF) system and there are 5,940 selectable AF points. In addition, the detection and tracking is said to be improved with better eye-detection performance and it’s capable of detecting human heads and animals including dogs, cats and birds.
The animal detection, combined with the maximum continuous shooting rates of 12fps (frames per second) with the mechanical shutter and 20fps with the electronic shutter should be a major bonus for anyone shooting birds in flight.
According to Canon, the EOS R5 can focus in 0.05 seconds, which is a new world record, and in light as low as -6EV.
Further good news is that all the autofocus functionality is available in all of the video modes.
Interestingly, although the Canon R5 has a lower resolution than the 50.6Mp Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R, a newly designed optical low pass filter means that Canon is claiming that it can actually resolve more details than these cameras.
While the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II sensor design has photodiodes that work in pairs to enable phase detection focusing, it also facilitates some interesting additional features. With the EOS 5D Mark IV, for example, Canon introduced Dual Pixel Raw which enables three types of post-capture adjustment to the image using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software.
Image Microadjustment lets you shift the focus slightly, Bokeh Shift enables out-of-focus highlights to be moved along the horizontal plane and Ghosting Reduction can help reduce the impact of artefacts such as flare.
Now the Canon R5 introduces Dual Pixel Raw – Portrait Relighting. This lets you select the area of concern in a portrait and adjust the exposure of your subject without affecting the background
In-Body Image Stabilisation
In-body images stabilisation (IBIS) is now an expected feature and although Canon has previously relied upon lens-based stabilisation, the EOS R5 has 5 axis IBIS. It also steals the IS crown with a claimed shutter speed compensation of 8Ev. That’s the difference between 1/500 sec and 1.3sec!
With the exceptions of the Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM and RF600mm f/11 IS STM, the IBIS works in tandem with lens stabilisation to deliver the best result possible. This is facilitated by the improved communication between the lens and camera body which is made possible by the RF mount’s 12-pin connection.
For video, the main headline for the Canon R5 is that it can shoot raw 8K 12-bit video at up to 29.97fps. It’s also possible to shoot in 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265).
In lay terms, an 8K video frame is equivalent to a 35Mp image and shooting in 4:2:2 10-bit with Canon Log means there should be plenty of scope for adjusting/grading footage post-capture. It also means that the EOS R5 can be used alongside other cameras, including Canon’s cine range, and the footage can be made to match.
As I mentioned earlier, the footage is captured using the full width of the sensor so the video isn’t cropped.
Alternatively, 4K video can be recorded at up to 119.88fps in 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265) 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ. That should be great news for slow motion video fans.
If you prefer to record 4K video to an external storage device, there’s an HDMI connection that can cope with recording at up to 59.94fps.
The Canon R5 also has an HQ (high quality) mode that can be activated for 4K recording. This sets the camera to use the 8K technology and downsample the output to 4K.
Heat generation is often a concern when shooting high-resolution video. According to Canon, the materials used to construct the R5 offer good heat dissipation and the company’s engineers have endeavoured to keep heat-generating components apart. Also, technological advancements mean that R5 uses energy much more efficiently than earlier cameras and there’s less heat generated.
Consequently, the Canon R5 can shoot 8K video for up to 20 minutes before it shuts down to protect it from heat damage. Switch to 4K footage and Canon claims that heat will not limit the recording time.
With 4K footage being a stretch for many computers in current use, some people may be wondering why anyone would want to shoot in 8K.
Well, aside from being able to capture huge video files with masses of data and detail, it also means that you can produce 35Mp still images from the movies. That could be a huge bonus in some instances, but it’s important to remember that shooting video constrains the shutter speed (it’s usually advisable to use a shutter speed that’s twice the video frame rate) and of course, you can only shoot for 20 minutes before the camera needs to cool down.
Another benefit of shooting 8K video is that you can make dramatic crops and still produce 4K or Full DH video. If you’re shooting two people in an interview, for example, you only need one camera to shoot both together as well as the ‘cutaways’ of each by themselves. Similarly, when demonstrating a product or technique, you can cut from a full-length shot of the presenter to a tight crop of the product.
Memory Cards and battery
Although it’s great that the Canon EOS R5 has dual memory card slots, some photographers may be disappointed to discover that one is a CFexpress card while the other is compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II media.
CFexpress cards are still uncommon and expensive. However, this type of card is required to facilitate 8K recording.
While Canon has introduced a new LP-E6NH (7.2V 2130mAh 16Wh) battery for the EOS R5, it has the same shape as the LP-6N (7.4V 1865mAh 14Wh) which is used in Canon’s recent enthusiast-level DSLRs and the EOS R. That means that the older battery type can be used in the R5.
As we expect now, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity is built-in to the Canon EOS R5 (5Ghz) and it can connect to a smartphone or a WiFi network to share files. There’s also FTP/FTPS transfer.
The Canon R5 can also be controlled remotely using the Camera Connect and EOS Utility apps, or it can be tethered to a PC or Mac via WiFi or a high-speed USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection.
Images can also be transferred automatically to the image.canon cloud platform to share and print images or integrate with Google Photos or Adobe Creative Cloud workflows.
Build and Handling
The Canon EOS R5 is built to a similar standard to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and has a magnesium alloy construction along with weatherproof seals. Its handling is also similar, but the control arrangement has changed to accommodate the vari-angle screen.
Consequently, the back of the Canon R5 looks like a blend of the EOS R and the 5D Mark IV. Thankfully, the touch bar (aka M-Fn bar) that graced the top of the rear of the EOS R has gone and instead there’s a mini-joystick. I tried to like the R’s M-Fn bar on the EOS R but I got frustrated with it and I’m far happier with a joystick control.
Lower down, the EOS R5 has a large jog wheel with central Set button, just like the Canon EOS 5D IV.
There’s also a healthy collection of buttons to access/activate key features. It’s good to see a dedicated AF-on button. I’m also a fan of the rating button which makes reviewing images (chimping) a worthwhile exercise.
Turning to the top of the camera, I’m a little disappointed to see a mode button with a surrounding dial like on the EOS R. I’d prefer to have a mode dial like on the 5D-series and other Canon DSLRs (and the EOS R6) as this lets you set the exposure mode without having to power up the camera.
To switch from aperture priority to shutter priority mode on the EOS R5, for example, you have to press the mode button and then rotate the dial around it. To switch from stills to video mode (or back), you have to press the mode button and then press the Info button. Then you can use the mode button and dial to set the expose mode – or tap the appropriate icon on the main screen.
It’s good to see a monochrome LCD on the top of the R5, just to the right of the viewfinder. That’s handy for checking the exposure mode and key settings if the vary-angle screen isn’t flipped out.
When the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV came out I asked why a camera with such good video credentials had a fixed screen and I was told that it was for durability. There’s also an argument that really dedicated videographers would invest in an external monitor.
However, Canon appears to have reconsidered its position. It’s great to have a vari-angle screen on the EOS R5. It makes it much easier to shoot video from above or below head-height while keeping the kit size and weight down. Also, as the screen is touch-sensitive you can control the camera with a few taps.
Canon has been quick to see the benefit of touch control and it implements it well in its cameras with no detriment to the physical controls.
And let’s not forget that the Canon R5 is a mirrorless camera which means that its viewfinder is electronic so it can also be used when you’re shooting video.
As usual, it’s worth bumping up the brightness of the screen when you’re shooting outdoors, especially in bright sunlight, and it’s handy to have the histogram view to ensure you’re not going to lose the highlights or darken the shadows too much.
Canon EOS R5 Viewfinder
Like the EOS R, the EOS R5 has a 0.5-inch type OLED viewfinder. But Canon has upgraded the resolution from 3.69million dots to 5.76million dots in the R5. That’s the same resolution as the viewfinders in the Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1. In addition, the refresh rate has risen from 60fps in the EOS R to 120fps in the R5. It means that there’s plenty of detail visible and movement looks natural.
Like the main screen, the R5’s viewfinder provides an excellent preview of the image with all the camera settings applied.
Browsing through my images from the R5 on a computer confirms what I saw in the viewfinder and on the rear screen, it generally captures very attractive images with plenty of detail and pleasant colours.
As I mentioned earlier, the Canon EOS R5’s viewfinder and screen give accurate previews of the image you’re about to capture. That means that there are no excuses of accidental under or overexposed images. I find the easiest way to adjust the exposure compensation on the R5 is to use the control ring on some RF lenses. The great thing about this is that it responds immediately, you don’t need to press any buttons to wake up the camera or select the exposure compensation control.
Canon EOS R5 Image Quality
At the lower sensitivity (ISO) settings the Canon R5 captures lots of detail and images look natural. Looking at an image filling a 27-inch screen seems just like being back at the shooting location. If you zoom in, the detail just keeps coming and the edges are handled well without excessive sharpening.
If you push up to the higher sensitivity settings you’ll start to see some noise appear in raw files, but it’s not excessive. I wouldn’t be too concerned if I had to shoot at the maximum native sensitivity setting (ISO 51,200), but the results at one stop below (ISO 25,600) are very good and a better choice if possible.
There’s a maximum expanded sensitivity setting of ISO 102,400, which could be useful on occasion, but I’d generally avoided it as there’s a lot of noise visible in the raw files and the Jpegs looked too smooth.
The Canon R5 has a Dual Pixel CMOS AF II phase detection AF system with 5,940 AF points in stills mode and 4500 in video mode. It means there’s excellent coverage across the screen and you can target very small subjects.
Like the Canon R6, the R5’s autofocus performance is very impressive. I think the R6 has a slight edge, perhaps because of its larger photoreceptors (aka pixels), but the R5 is still very good indeed.
The Subject detection (which can be set to Human or Animal) and can be combined with Eye detection is very good and is incredibly useful. It has an uncanny ability to spot eyes and keep them sharp.
It also distinguishes between humans and animals well and can find eyes when they are very small in the frame.
Canon EOS R5 Video Performance
There’s no question that the Canon R5 is capable of producing very high-quality video. The results shot in 4K HQ (high quality) mode are extremely good, some of the best video I’ve ever seen with the same natural appearance and attractive colours that are seen in the stills.
The autofocus system also delivers the goods in video mode, and as the sample footage shared in this review shows, it’s well worth switching between animal and human detection.
Add in the R5’s excellent IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) which makes hand-held footage look very steady and walking footage watchable, and you have a very enticing video camera.
The fly in the ointment is the much-reported heat generation issue. Canon has been open about the 20-minute limit to recording 8K footage. The camera needs to shut down and cool before you can record another clip.
Not surprisingly, shooting in 4K HQ mode also generates a lot of heat because the camera is processing the 8K data to output in 4K. Short clips a few minutes apart present no problem, but I found that if you shoot at 25p for 30minutes non-stop, the camera won’t let you shoot any more until it has cooled sufficiently. I waited 20minutes after shooting a 30-minute 4K HQ clip and then I was able to shoot again.
Turning off the HQ option extends the Canon R5’s 4K video recording capability dramatically. I was able to shoot for over 3 hours before I ran out of time and battery power (having exhausted two batteries). That’s better than with the Canon EOS R6, but perhaps Canon will be able to extend the R6’s 4K shooting capability with a firmware update?
Given the issues with heat generation during video recording, a few people have asked me if there any such problems with shooting long exposures using the Canon EOS R5. The amount of data being processed during a video is much higher than with a still, but as longer exposures are known to make cameras warm up, I thought it worth checking if the R5 is okay or not.
One fully0charged battery enabled me to make 132 30-second exposures on the R5 (recording raw and Jpeg files). That’s a total of 1 hour and 6 mins and each shot was taken immediately after the previous one.
I’m happy to report that the EOS R5 did not overheat or show a heat warning at any point.
The video below was recorded on the Canon EOS R5 in 4K-D Fine (4096×2160) at 25fps ALL-I with 4K HQ (high quality) mode enabled. The in-body-image stabilisation (IBIS) and Digital IS were both on. The autofocus setting was switched between Face+Tracking (Subject Detection set to Humans) and I-point. The white balance was swapped between Auto and Daylight while the Picture Style was Standard. The first half was shot using the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM while the second half was shot with the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM.
There seems little doubt that the Canon EOS R5 is the most exciting camera announcement of 2020 so far. It’s great to see that Canon has woken up to what’s happening in the photographic industry and produced a camera with an exciting set of specifications. However, the excitement has been tempered by concerns about the camera’s heat generation in video mode.
The 8K video capability is above and beyond what many people need, and it will certainly fill up storage drives very quickly, but it could open up some exciting possibilities, especially for anyone working on their own. Instead of having to set up two or three cameras to shoot different details, with careful framing and lighting, it should be possible to get what you need in one take with one camera. However, being limited to just 20 minutes shooting at a time with a break required for cooling is quite limiting.
For most people, 4K resolution is fine. Many computers to struggle with processing that, let alone 8K footage. The results with HQ activated are very impressive, but again you need to factor in some cooling time if you plan to shoot very long clips.
The overheating issues of the R5 (and R6) have somewhat overshadowed the camera’s still capability, which is a shame because it is an extremely capable camera. Its images have lots of detail, noise is controlled very well and colours are very good. Also, Canon’s advances in subject detection and eye AF are very exciting. They transform animal and wildlife photography, making it much easier to get the subject sharp even if it’s moving.
We noticed you're using an Adblocker. We're three photographers who do this because it's our passion. It's the ads that keep this site going and help us pay our bills. If you like our content, please consider turning your Adblock software off!