Review Canon EOS R5

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EISA CAMERA INNOVATION 2020-2021
Canon EOS R5

As the first mirrorless camera to be capable of recording 8K video, Canon’s EOS R5 was the outstanding candidate for our Camera Innovation award this year. This extraordinary stills/video hybrid is capable of recording 4K footage at a remarkable 120fps, and shooting 45-million-pixel still images at up to 20fps. It also claims the world’s most effective image stabilization. With a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, articulated rear screen and professional-level controls, along with an optional grip that incorporates professional Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, it promises to be the complete all-around package for demanding photographers and videographers.

The Canon EOS R5 was awarded an EISA Award 2020-2021.
Visit eisa.eu for an overview of all winning products from all categories.

 

Canon is not in the habit of announcing a camera far in advance. But for the EOS R5, Canon made an exception. The EOS R5 will be the (provisional) new R-Series flagship, featuring a full-frame 45-megapixel CMOS image sensor with built-in image stabilization and dual card slots and is the first full-frame system camera to film on a memory card in ultra-high 8K resolution in RAW format.

Click on the camera for specifications, prices and test results.

CAMERA TEST RESULTS: Canon EOS R5:

PROS

CONS

  • Built-in image stabilization

    Double card slots

    Weather resistant

    Good ergonomics

    8K video RAW video at 30 frames per second

    4K video at 120 frames per second

    8K and 4K video without crop  

  • Card slots are for different sizes

If we look at the video options, it is clear why there had to be at least 1 CFexpress. The EOS R5 offers 8K RAW video.

After months of building excitement, Canon pulled the sheet off the EOS R5 in early July. This system camera will be the new top model in the EOS R family. Together with the EOS R5, Canon also announced the EOS R6, a model with lower resolution.
Does the EOS R5 meet the high expectations?

After the EOS R (September 2018) and the EOS RP (February 2019), the EOS R5 is the third camera in the EOS R system (not counting the EOS Ra intended for astrophotography: that’s a modified version of the EOS R). Where the development of the EOS R and RP took place in the greatest secret, Canon has been releasing titbits of information about the EOS R5 since February of this year. This led to a lot of interest for the new camera in a low-news period where large photo fairs such as CP+ and the Photokina could not be held due to COVID-19. Especially the news that the EOS R5 could film in 8K drew attention.

SECOND START FOR THE EOS R SYSTEM

It was natural for Canon to get that attention, because the EOS R5 is not just a camera. The press release talks about “the most important product launch in Canon’s history.” This wording is striking, because when the EOS R system was unveiled in September 2018, Canon spoke of “the most important announcement since the introduction of the EOS system in 1987.” How can the announcement of a single camera be more important than that of a brand new camera system?

With the EOS R5, Canon rectifies a skewed situation. At the start of the EOS R system, excellent lenses such as the RF 28-70mm F2L USM and the RF 50mm F1.2L USM were ready. The Canon engineers have also pushed boundaries with the RF 85mm F1.2L and the “holy trinity” of professional zoom lenses – RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM, RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM and RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM. That optical excellence was in stark contrast to the rather modest specifications of the EOS R. With a sensor of “only” 30 megapixels, 4K video with an annoying 1.7x crop, the lack of image stabilization in the body and experiments with unusual controls such as the touch-sensitive Touch Bar, the EOS R seemed to play a division lower than the RF lenses, even though the EOS R itself offered good image quality (see the test in Focus 11-2018). With the EOS R5, Canon wants to demonstrate that it can produce cameras as excellent as its lenses, and the EOS R system gets a second chance.

It is a strategy that Canon has used before. Before the arrival of the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R, models with a demanding 50-megapixel sensor, Canon renewed a number of lenses that so far seemed more than good enough. In this way, a large number of lenses were immediately available for the new cameras, which performed well with the new sensor.

STABLE IMAGE

When introducing the EOS R, Canon avoided questions from journalists about the absence of in-body image stabilization (IBIS) by pointing out that many RF lenses had image stabilization (IS). The full-frame system cameras from Nikon and Sony do have IBIS. But image stabilization in a lens is less versatile than IBIS, because it cannot compensate for all forms of motion. For the EOS R5, Canon did develop an IBIS system and thus immediately took a lead on the competition. The large diameter of the RF lens mount ensures that the sensor can shift very far horizontally and vertically while still remaining within the image circle. As a result, the IBIS system delivers a maximum gain of no less than 8 stops in combination with certain RF lenses according to the CIPA test method; with other lenses, the gain is 7.5 to 6 stops. The IBIS also works with Canon EF lenses – with or without image stabilization – which you use via an adapter on the EOS R5.

Because even the RF 15-35 mm f/2.8 L IS USM had image stabilization, this is nevertheless a surprise. But a very nice one. As a result, the bright RF 28-70 mm f/2 and RF 50 mm f/1.2 have now also been stabilized. The image stabilization is an important advantage in video, and that is the second area in which the EOS R5 has to make up for the EOS R.

The camera is also fast, with a mechanical shutter up to 12 frames per second and an electronic shutter up to 20 frames per second. In order to be able to write all these images away quickly, the camera has two fast card slots. One is a UHS-II SD card slot; the other is a CFexpress. Too bad Canon didn’t choose two of the same slots. If we look at the video options, it is clear why there had to be at least 1 CFexpress. The EOS R5 offers 8K RAW video. And that’s a lot of data.

 

BUILD AND OPERATION

 

The Canon EOS R has the typical design of the R series, which in turn is a continuation of the SLR models. The EOS R5 is housed in a weatherproof aluminum housing. It has a great grip that ensures good ergonomics, and many of the buttons are located in virtually the same places where they are on the SLR models. As a result, the camera feels familiar to Canon users, and the learning curve will be minimal. As before on the EOS RP, the EOS R5 lacks the touchbar of the EOS R. It was a priceless step by Canon to introduce a truly new way of operating, but in practice, the touchbar proved not useful enough for many users. The camera has an AF joystick and the well-known large selection disc on the back. The screen turns and tilts, making selfies one of the possibilities. The EOS R5 is bigger and heavier than the EOS R, because of the addition of the built-in image stabilization.

The electronic viewfinder has a resolution of 3.69 million dots EVF and operates at a refresh rate of 120 fps. As a result, the display delay is minimal, which is very important in sports and action photography. The 3-inch vari-angle LCD screen with a resolution of 1.62 million dots is folds out and rotates, which allows photography from creative angles.

Autofocus

The EOS R5 naturally features Dual Pixel AF, with a 45-megapixel sensor with a sensitivity of ISO 100 to 51,200 and offers 5940 selectable autofocus points. That works not only for stills but also for video and even in 8K. And that is extraordinary. It makes it clear that 8K is not just out for attention, but that it is a really fully functional, well usable film format. Another special option is the ability to focus on the eyes of dogs, cats and birds. This is not only in the single S-AF autofocus mode, but also in tracking AF.

The EOS R5 can shoot in full resolution at 12 images per second using the mechanical shutter. With the electronic shutter, this becomes even more: up to 20 images per second.

 

The iTR AF X autofocus system was trained by Canon to recognize faces and eyes and to keep the focus on them, even if someone turns their face away from the camera for a while. The same system is included in the EOS-1D X Mark III, and it works extremely quickly and reliably there. What is new is that this eye and face recognition on the R5 also works for animals: not only cats and dogs, as with Sony, but also for birds.

 

Video

The EOS R5 will be the first consumer camera with interchangeable lenses that can film in 8K resolution. Where Sony still does not go beyond 4K in 8 bit and Panasonic has just announced an update for 6K RAW on the Panasonic S1H with an Atomos recorder, the EOS R5 8K RAW offers up to 29.97 images per second. It uses the full width of the sensor for an image of 8,192 x 4,320 pixels, at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second. Even more remarkably, the EOS R5 can capture this video output internally on a memory card, so you don’t need an external recorder. You can choose between 8K RAW (approximately 2,600 megabits per second), 8K IPB (680 Mbps) and 8K ALL-I (1,300 Mbps). The specifications in 4K resolution are also great. Here, the EOS R5 also uses the full sensor width, so without the annoying crop of the EOS R. At 24, 25 and 30 fps, the EOS R4 offers a 4K HQ option, where the 4K image is created by oversampling from a full-frame 8K recording.

The fly in the ointment is that filming in high quality and at high frame rates generates a lot of heat. The maximum recording time in 8K is therefore limited to 20 minutes at an ambient temperature of 23°C. After that, the camera needs to cool for 10 to 20 minutes, after which you can film again for a short period of five minutes. The recording duration is also limited in 4K 60/100/120 fps and in 4K HQ. Canon could have avoided this by incorporating a fan, as in the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H, but that would have made the EOS R5 bigger, heavier and more expensive. An understandable choice, but it makes the R5 less suitable for professional video productions.

The menus for photo and video can be set independently, which is a great advantage. This allows you to switch between stationary and moving images without, for example, having to adjust the focus settings again and again. You do have to choose; it is not possible to take a photo while the camera is set to video.

FAST FOR PHOTOS

With all this attention to 8K, you’d almost forget that the EOS R5 is also made for photography. The new full-frame sensor captures images of up to 8,192 x 5,464 pixels (45 megapixels). Many details are unknown, but according to Canon, the sensor is designed to combine high resolution with fast readout time. In combination with the Digic X image processor, the sensor captures images in full resolution with up to 20 bps with the electronic shutter or 12 bps with the mechanical shutter. The EOS R5 maintains this rate up to 180 images in RAW format or 350 images in jpeg format. The sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 51,200 by default and can be expanded to ISO 50 and 102,400. The sensor uses Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, where every pixel is split in two to contribute to phase-based autofocus detection. For automatic AF selection, the EOS R5 uses 1,053 autofocus points, plus facial recognition and tracking. When manually determining the focal point, you can choose from 5,940 AF positions that cover the full width and 90% of the height of the sensor. Just like with the EOS-1D X Mark III, the camera continues to focus on faces, even if your subject turns away from the camera for a while. Face recognition also works in animals: not only for cats and dogs, but also for birds.

Canon introduced Dual Pixel RAW (DPRAW) on the EOS 5D Mark IV. If you set it up before shooting, you could shift the focus on RAW shots a bit in Canon’s DPP software after shooting. With the Canon EOS R5, DPRAW has a second function: portrait exposure. This function uses the face recognition function of the focus system to simulate a fill light on a face. When viewing a shot with DPRAW, you can adjust the position, spread and intensity of the filling light via the camera menu. The result doesn’t look as natural as when you use a real reflector, and it makes your files twice as heavy. A nice gimmick, but I don’t think it was something photographers were waiting for.

Like the EOS-1D X Mark III, the EOS R5 can save photos in 10-bit HEIF format. These have a larger dynamic range than standard jpeg photos, but to share them you have to convert them anyway.

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FAMILIAR FEELING

On the outside, the EOS R5 looks like a modernized and reduced version of the full-frame 5D Mark IV. The numerous physical controls and buttons are where you expect them on a Canon camera. That will not be a coincidence; a criticism of the EOS R was the rather far-reaching experimentation with controls, with the crushed Touch Bar as the highlight. Canon has listened to user feedback: the EOS R5 will feel much more familiar to the Canon user.

Certain elements of the EOS R have been retained. For example, the top plate has the mode button with which you select the various shooting modes. Unlike the EOS R and the EOS RP, the EOS R5 also got a joystick to select the focal point. Too bad that Canon did not choose to make the AF-ON key touch-sensitive, as on the EOS-1D X Mark III, so that you can also choose a focus point with it. You can select the focal point using the touchpad function of the touch-sensitive 3.2-inch LCD screen. That vari-angle screen can fold out and rotate completely, and can be used to set the menu just like on the EOS R. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) was upgraded nicely, thanks to an OLED panel with 5.7 million pixels. That ensures a much sharper image than with the viewfinder in the EOS R. By default, the EVF is set to a frequency of 60 fps. For even smoother viewing, you can increase it to 120 fps, but that costs more power.

The R5 uses a new type of battery, the LP-E6NH. It has the same dimensions as the older LP-E6N but has a higher capacity. According to the CIPA standard, a full charge is good for 490 shots using the LCD screen and 320 with the viewfinder, which matches my findings. The camera comes with an external battery charger, but can also be charged via USB provided the charger delivers sufficient power. The EOS R5 can also be used while it is being charged, so you don’t need a second battery in a studio.

As storage media, Canon chose UHS-II SD and CFexpress Type B. For video in 8K RAW, 8K with ALL-I and 4K with high frame rates or quality settings, however, a CFexpress card is required; even with the fastest SD memory card, the EOS R5 refuses to film. I would have preferred Canon to offer two CFexpress slots, because now you have to work with two different types of cards if you want to use both slots. Last but not least, the EOS R5 has the same weatherproof finish as the EOS 5D Mark IV.

EOS R5 SAMPLE IMAGES

At the debut of the EOS R system, the 30 megapixels of the EOS R paled in comparison to 42 and 46 megapixels that Sony and Nikon were already able to offer at that time. The 45 megapixels of the EOS R5 are a welcome improvement and do credit to the outstanding RF lenses. I used the RF 28-70mm F2L USM and RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM for this test. The combination of the camera and these lenses delivers images full of detail and with a beautiful dynamic range. Like with the EOS-1D X Mark III, a new type of low-pass filter reduces the chance of moiré without compromising sharpness.

The color reproduction is typical of Canon, with neutral skin tones and bright red and blue colors. The camera keeps noise well under control: no noise can be seen up to ISO 3,200, and the sharpness remains very good. At higher sensitivities, light luminance noise occurs.

The most impressive thing about the EOS R5 is the autofocus. As I said, it shares a lot of technology with the EOS-1D X Mark III, and that is noticeable. The focus is lightning fast and accurate. The eye recognition works phenomenally well, and the camera continues to follow a person you have focused on perfectly. In an animal park, I was able to establish that eye recognition also works well for animals. The image stabilization also works very well; I was able to shoot by hand with the RF 28-70mm F2L USM with shutter speeds of up to half a second.

SpecificatiONs: Canon EOS R5

sensorfull-frame 45 mp CMOS
video8,192 x 4,320, 30f
ISOauto, 100-51,200 (102,400 exp.)
series speed20 fps
storage media1x UHS-II SD and 1x CFexpress 
battery capacity320 shots (with EVF)
dimensions138 x 98 x 88 mm
weight (incl. battery)740 g (incl. battery)
list price€ 4,549.00 (body)
importercanon.nl
  
 Canon EOS R5
rating 
image quality9
focus9
light metering9
white balance8,5
screen/viewfinder9
price-to-quality8
bonus9
  
final score8.8


ConclusiON: Canon EOS R5 CAMERA REVIEW

It is the best all-round photo camera Canon has made so far.

The EOS R5 is the camera the EOS R system needed. It delivers both high resolution and high series speeds, so you don’t have to choose between more pixels or more frames per second. It also got an accurate autofocus system with impressive tracking and eye recognition. It is the best all-round photo camera Canon has made so far.

The 8K video feature has attracted a lot of attention for Canon. An 8K shot looks incredibly sharp – on an 8K screen or television, which few people have. In practice, the 4K HQ mode and the 4K slow drive are much more useful. It is a pity that they too suffer from the restrictions on the recording length.