Review: Canon EOS R5

    Canon’s lineup of Mirrorless cameras continues to grow and one of the more recent additions is the stunning EOS R5. This camera offers a massive 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor which also doubles to provide 8K video, or 4K at up to 120fps.

    For anyone coming from the 5D series, this camera will feel very familiar, but the R5 is the new benchmark, surpassing almost every single feature of the 5D Mark IV.

    Being a mirrorless camera, it moves past the mechanical noise produced from the DSLRs, but after using it for a few days, honestly, I never missed it. Without those moving parts inside the camera, the R5’s body is more robust and should last you many more shoots.

    I’ve spent lots of time living with the Canon EOS R5 over the past few weeks and it’s now time for a full review. Canon did also send along a 70-200mm and 50mm lenses to help test out the camera’s abilities.


    Familiar with some twists

    When you hold the R5 in your hands, it feels very familiar for a Canon user and generally the most important, frequently used features are conveniently positioned, in easy to reach locations.

    What is interesting is the sheer volume of buttons on the camera body. While each has their purpose, there really is an abundance of buttons and dials on the top and back of the R5 and that’s before we get to the touchscreen menus.

    The design of this camera definitely feels like an attempt to give absolutely everything professionals asked for, and in that quest, Canon has said goodbye to any conversation around simplification.

    Despite all of these buttons, it’s actually not as easy as you may think to switch from photo to video mode. This actually requires a press of the mode button (hidden inside the mode ring selector), then a tap of the Info button. This is a really interesting design decision, given it requires you to take your hand off the shooting to position to use two fingers to switch.

    I think in the modern use of a camera, be it a smartphone, point, and shoot, or a more professional camera like this, content creators often require both still and video assets, so switching between the two rapidly would be an advantage. I understand Canon may have wanted to avoid any accidental mode switches, but there has to be a better solution to this challenge than what we have here.

    The lens system is familiar and the R5 body will happily accept the vast majority of Canon glass (R5 mount). Switching lenses is fairly easy, although you always want to find a dust-free environment and make the switch as fast as possible.

    After using a couple of cameras without a fold-out rear display, I did really appreciate its inclusion on the R5. This makes it great for anyone who wants to use the camera as a webcam using Canon’s EOS Webcam utility. Just grab a tripod, fold the screen out to frame your shot and connect via USB-C cable. The foldable screen has always been a great option for those looking to shoot up high, or down low, with the design allowing for the screen to be angled towards to for better visibility.

    The body feels nice and solid in the hand, but at 738grams, not too heavy. The grips offer a good level of security and leave you confident you’re not going to drop it.

    Overall the design is complex and familiar, but the easy access to the most common adjustments like exposure, combined with the focus joystick, make for a great photography experience.


    How does it perform ?

    In terms of performance, the Canon EOS R5 is nothing short of amazing. It offers some incredible specs, including 45 Megapixel photos, capturing raw files as big as 65MB every time you press the shutter.

    If you hold the fire button down, the R5 will capture continuously at a speed of up to 12fps mechanical and 20fps electronic making it easy to capture fast-moving subjects.

    When it comes to video, this camera is easily the highest quality video I’ve ever captured. It offers stunning 8K video at 30fps, or drop the quality to 4K and you unlock 120fps. Right now, there’s a real dilemma in the world of 8K TVs, with a severe lack of content available for them. With a fairly affordable camera like the R5 now supporting 8K quality, I expect this content issue to be resolved quickly and services like YouTube start to house an increasing amount of it.

    A big part of capturing content on a camera like this is the focus. The camera’s autofocus system does a great job when required, tracking as many as 1053 segments to make sure the focus is perfect.

    When you’re trying to achieve that depth of field look, there’s a helpful joystick to move your focus points around. Half depressing the shutter button will even zoom in digitally on the image to enable you to more precisely select the part of the scene you want in focus.

    If you’re shooting talent, then you’ll be able to leverage face and eye detection to ensure you capture people at their best, perfect for portraits and using a technology called Dual Pixel CMOS AFII, the Canon R5 allows for this autofocus track human subjects with eye, face and head detect.

    It is still possible to take a bad photo, but the technology on the R5 really helps photographers capture amazing photos, more often.

    As you get about taking those high quality photos and video, you’ll be writing out a lot of data every second, so to support that bitrate, you get access to the EOS 5D storage options. This means the camera offers dual-slots (CF Express and SDXC cards).

    Sample Photos


    Stand out features of this device.

    On the back of the Canon EOS R5, you’ll find a 3.2″ LCD Touchscreen, with 2.1 Million pixels. This offers an amazing, clear view of the content as you shoot it, or the ability to review the photos and footage you just captured.

    Thanks to an included mini-HDMI out port, you will be able to connect this camera to an external display, making it even easier to confirm you have the correct focus, composition, and more.

    For many, filming (and editing in 4K) is taxing enough, so not everyone will leverage the 8K quality within this camera. It is a shame that it’s only 30fps, but that clearly provides Canon with plenty of runway on future products to offer the heralded 8K60 or eventually 8K120.

    8K sounds like a doubling of 4K, but is actually the same explosion of quality that we went through moving up from HD to 4K, it’s actually four times more detail.

    Once 8K displays come down in price, more businesses and consumers will adopt them and when they do, they’ll be thirsty for 8K content and this camera enables you to capture that today. Sure, there are some smartphones that technically allow you to capture that many pixels, but that’s really a party trick, rather than a serious attempt to create art. Given you can bolt on so many different lenses to this camera, the ability to capture the world in 8K through that glass offers big opportunities.

    As you move about the real world, there will be times where tripods simply don’t make sense. Canon are mitigating potential movement in your hands, with a 5-axis in-body (read hardware) image stabilizer with lens-based Image Stabilizer in selected RF lenses for increased effectiveness.

    Also, on-board for the ride is support for 5Ghz WiFi connectivity, ensuring those massive media files you create, can be rapidly transferred to your laptop for processing, or at times, to your phone for immediate sharing to social media.

    Overall the Canon EOS R5 offers all the familiar features like the top mount, great for flashes, lights, or external displays. The features like improved autofocus and the AF joystick make common tasks much easier and once you get to know your way around the camera, faster as well.


    Not everything’s perfect

    Probably my biggest issue with the R5 is the crazy two-button combination required to change modes. Other than that, I think the top display is really redundant, with the rear screen offering much more space to display the same information, so there’s a potential cost-saving there to be had.

    The same information is essentially available in the viewfinder as well, so in my time using the camera, I basically never looked at this display. It does have a backlight for reviewing at night, but unless the rear touchscreen can’t be used for some reason, this also feels redundant.

    What I did find strange was the power port on the camera. With the USB-C port available for data and power, it seems redundant to have another separate power connector, other than to appease legacy Canon owners. If that is the reason, I appreciate Canon’s effort, but I’d rather them also remove this and again reduce cost, so more can afford this great camera.

    For a number of years yet, there will likely still be a need to support 3.5mm headphones and microphones, but personally, I’ve completely moved to USB-C or Bluetooth wireless solutions. It would be great to see Canon start to move in this direction for audio in and out.


    How much and when can you get one ?

    The Canon EOS R5 body is available now from all the regular Canon resellers. In terms of Price, it looks like Ted’s Cameras is one of the cheapest at A$5,549.95 (after cashback), while JB HiFi has it for sale for $5,649 (after cashback).

    The regular price is $5,899 which is a steep hill to climb for a prosumer, but for those planning on using the R5 in a professional setting, you should be able to make this cost and the price of glass, back in no time.


    Final thoughts

    The Canon EOS R5 is one final nail in the coffin of DSLRs. With its mirrorless design, combined with its full-frame sensor, the R5 offers you the opportunity to excel as a photographer or videographer, for a relatively affordable price (in the scheme of professional cameras).

    After having reviewed the EOS 1D-X earlier in the year, I really think given the choice, this is a much more practical camera. It’s smaller in size, about half the cost, and achieves quality levels that aren’t far off, with both offering stunning results.

    The array of connectivity ports on the side made it really diverse in it’s potential applications, with the Canon EOS Webcam utility, again providing a great opportunity to extract more value out of the camera, between shoots.

    I love the joystick focus control, the bigger battery, and the ability to capture 8K video with the R5. With all things considered, any prosumer looking to get serious about their work and become a semi-professional, then the R5 would be an excellent choice.

    For those already in the industry, the R5 could serve as an update path if you’re a few generations behind, or as a secondary body during big events.

    As is always the case with cameras like this, the budget spent on the body should be equally matched with an investment in good glass to enable you to capture content in a diverse range of situations. A nice, fast prime lens like the 50mm works great, while a longer zoom lens with 100-200x zoom offers a fantastic ability to capture wildlife, or sporting events, without becoming part of the action. If your budget can stretch to a wide-angle lens, you may also open the door to work like real-estate photos etc.

    Whatever your intentions for considering the EOS R5, I’m confident you’re money is well invested if you decide to go in this direction.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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