The Canon EOS R5 leaves little doubt that Canon is now serious about the mirrorless camera market. It has phenomenal specification with features like uncropped 8K video recording, uncropped 4K recording at up to 120p, 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.
Canon has finally played its hand. How will the rest of the industry respond?
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 its CFexpress card. What’s more, it can do so with autofocus tracking in action. That’s quite a step up.
Sensitivity range: Stills: ISO 100-51,200 expandable to ISO 50-102,400, Movies: ISO 100-25600, expandable to ISO ISO 51,200
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 bird 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 to 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!
The IBIS works in tandem with any 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.
Unusually for Canon, it has been drip-feeding information about the EOS R5’s specification, particularly the details of the video system. The main headline is that the Canon R5 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’s 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.
Heat generation is often a concern when shooting high-resolution video but Canon has used materials that offer good heat dissipation and Canon’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.
Why Shoot 8K video?
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 maybe 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 as this lets you see and set the exposure mode without having to power up the camera.
It’s also 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 see 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.
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, which is great news. In addition, the refresh rate has risen from 60fps in the EOS R to 120fps in the R5. It should mean that there’s plenty of detail visible and movement looks natural.
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.
Over the last few years we’ve become used to inserting the word ‘but’ into any discussion around the video features of a Canon EOS camera, ‘it shoots 4K but there’s an extra crop factor’, ‘the video quality is great but the screen is fixed’ etc. With the EOS R5 it seems that Canon has delivered what people want and more.
The 8K video capability may seem over the top for some, and it will certainly fill up storage drives very quickly, but it opens 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.
Canon’s advances in subject detection and eye AF are also very exciting. It’s great that it works with animals (including birds) and in both stills and video mode.