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Summary

I have a lot more testing to do for my final EOS R5 review, but first impressions are certainly looking very strong indeed. Canon really does appear to have put everything into this camera with the minimum of caveats other than an understandably high asking price of around 4 grand. You’re getting what Canon claims is its best quality sensor to date, built-in stabilisation, 12 and 20fps bursts, 8k RAW, 4k at 120p, a fully-articulated screen and high res viewfinder packed into a body that ticks all the boxes in terms of traditional handling, controls and connectivity. Other than needing to invest in CF Express to exploit the most demanding video modes along with grabbing a spare battery, there’s no major deal-breakers here, so long as you can afford it of course.

Buy it now!

Check prices on the Canon EOS R5 at B&H, Adorama or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Canon EOS R5 review

Intro

The Canon EOS R5 is a high-end full-frame mirrorless camera with 45 Megapixels, built-in stabilisation, 20fps shooting, 8k RAW video and dual card slots. Teased in February 2020 and launched alongside the more affordable R6 in July, they’re set to transform Canon’s full-frame EOS R system.

After months of teasing, I’ve finally been able to fully test a final production model and in this review I’ll present my findings across several videos. I’ll start with my Hands-on First-Looks video which gives you an overview of all the features, controls and physical comparisons with a bunch of rival models. Next is my EOS R5 for photography review, which as the name suggests is entirely devoted to people who are mostly or even only interested in using the camera for stills photography. I’ll follow this with review of the movie capabilities very soon. And if you prefer a written version of the highlights, just keep scrolling!

Above: I filmed the scene above using a final production EOS R5 in a bunch of different resolutions for comparison, all in 24p and All-i with the RF 35mm f1.8 lens. Members of Vimeo can download the original files using the following links: Canon EOS R5 8k 24p All-i movie sample, Canon EOS R5 8k 24p All-i C-log movie sample, Canon EOS R5 4k 24p All-i movie sample, Canon EOS R5 4k HQ 24p All-i movie sample, Canon EOS R5 4k HQ 24p All-i C-log movie sample, Canon EOS R5 1080 24p All-i movie sample, Canon EOS R5 1080 24p All-i C-log movie sample. Slow motion fans should check out my (silent) Canon EOS R5 4k 120p movie sample.

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Above: Canon launched the EOS R5 alongside the more affordable R6, seen here on the left, and while the R5 employs greater magnesium alloy in its construction, not to mention more sophisticated top controls, both actually share a lot of features in common: full-frame sensors with built-in stabilisation claiming up to 8 stops of compensation, 12fps mechanical or 20fps electronic bursts, uncropped 4k up to 60p with dual pixel autofocus, fully-articulated screens, joysticks and dual card slots, albeit twin SD on the R6 vs SD and CF Express on the R5. If you’re interested in the EOS R6 check out my separate Canon EOS R6 review, but in the meantime it has a 20 Megapixel sensor.

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Above: Many of you will be wondering how it physically measures-up to the EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR, so here it is on the left, clearly giving the R5 on the right some design inspiration. The 5D4 is clearly larger in every dimension though and 150g heavier too for the body alone. The R5’s grip is of course shorter, but still felt very comfortable in my hands and Canon claims the weather sealing is the same level as the 5D4. Thanks to its optical viewfinder, the 5D4 unsurprisingly enjoys longer battery life with two to three times more shots per charge

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Above: For all the Sony owners out there, here’s the R5, again on the right, next to the A7 Mark III on the left; the A7 III is a much more affordable model than the R5 but it is roughly similar in size to the other A7 models for a physical comparison. This time it’s the Sony that’s a little smaller than the Canon, particularly in width, and it’s a little lighter too. Personally speaking though, the R5 felt more comfortable in my hands.

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Above: And finally, here’s the R5 next to the original EOS R that launched Canon’s full-frame mirrorless system. The EOS R on the left has quite a different head shape and a number of control and feature differences, but they’re actually very similar in size. The R is a little lighter, but misses out on IBIS. Both models felt similar in my hands, but I preferred the more traditional controls of the R5, including the rear thumb wheel and joystick. Both share the same degree of weather sealing.

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Above: Ok now let’s have a look at the R5 in more detail. From the rear and top you’ll see while Canon has adopted some elements from the EOS R, including its information screen and mode control, it has sensibly opted to include a rear thumb wheel and an AF joystick. Both transform the usability in my view and make for an easier transition for existing Canon DSLR owners.

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Above: If you’ve not seen the EOS R before, the R5 inherits the backlit top screen and mode control where you press the mode button then turn the chunky wheel around it to switch between Program, Manual, Shutter and Aperture Priority, Bulb and Custom modes. Pushing the info button on the rear toggles between photo and video modes, after which you again use the dial to switch between the various movie modes.

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Above: Round the back is a 3.15in screen with 2.1 million dots and I’m delighted to report Canon has stuck with a fully-articulated side-hinged design that’s ideal whether you’re facing the camera or taking photos at high or low angles in either the landscape or portrait shape. And when it’s flipped-out you can also configure the viewfinder eye sensor to switch off if desired. The fully-articulated screen and great touch interface are key benefits Canon continues to have over Sony, although I know some people personally prefer vertically tilting screens.

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Above: As expected, Canon’s equipped the R5’s viewfinder with a high resolution 5.69 million dot OLED panel sporting 1600×1200 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate and 0.76x magnification. This matches the resolution of the Lumix S and Sony A7r IV viewfinders and delivers a really detailed image that’s fantastic for confirming focus, although it is a power-hungry component and impacts the battery life. Note the cheaper R6 opts for the 3.69 million dot panel used on the R.

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Above: On the left side you’ll find a bunch of ports including 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, a PC Sync port for external lighting, and USB-C and Micro HDMI ports. The USB-C runs at 3.1 Gen 2 speeds and can be used for charging and operation with a compatible power delivery source, and it’s interesting to see Canon finally switch from Mini HDMI. You can use the R5 as a webcam over HDMI up to 4k, or directly over USB using Canon USA’s beta plugin for Windows.

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Above: From the front, you’ll notice another flap to the lower right of the lens mount, which hides the N3-type remote port, while on the opposite side is a new custom function button. The R5 also features 2.4 and 5GHz Wifi whereas the R6 is 2.4GHz only.

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Above: Both the EOS R5 and R6 learned from the mistake of the R and now offer twin card slots. On the R5 there’s a UHS-II SD slot and a Type-B CF Express slot. CF Express is necessary if you’re filming 8k in RAW or 4k at 120p, and also allows the longest burst speeds, but SD can be used for everything else, apparently including 8k and 4k 60, although both will need to be set to IPB compression for SD. You can also record video to both cards, although if you’re filming 8k RAW on the CF Express, it’ll be IPB that goes onto the SD.

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Above: Canon’s developed a new LP-E6NH battery pack for the EOS R5 and R6 that’s the same size as the earlier LP-E6N pack, but with around 15% longer life; Canon’s claiming 490 shots with the screen or 320 with the viewfinder – that high-res panel is hungry – and you can also use it on earlier models to slightly boost their lifespan. The R6 squeezes a handful more shots per charge, but Sony takes a decisive lead for mirrorless here with the A7r IV claiming 670 shots with the screen or 530 with the viewfinder which shares the same resolution as the R5 but maybe drives it differently. Meanwhile the optical viewfinder on the 5D4 lets it take 900 shots per charge.

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Above: For longer life, the new BG-R10 grip works on both the R5 and R6, takes two batteries and provides portrait controls. When attached to the camera, you can charge both batteries over USB-C.

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Above: Canon also offers a new WFT-R10B grip but for the R5 only. This again takes two batteries, provides portrait controls, but also adds much improved Wifi transmission with 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO support and a Gigabit ethernet port for wired connectivity. This grip brings the R5 closer to the networking capabilities of the 1Dx III.

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Above: Ok, now onto the full-frame sensor, confirmed to have 45 Megapixels, a resolution chosen to allow 8k video capture in the DCi shape without any cropping, and easy scaling down to 4k and 1080p. In photo terms, it may be numerically lower than the 50 Megapixel 5DS and 5DSr, but Canon explained to me the use of a new low pass filter actually allows the R5 to out-resolve those models, even the 5DSr with its filter-cancelling path. 

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Above: As a quick aside, you’ll notice the shutter curtain’s closed when powered-down, like the EOS R but unlike the RP and most other mirrorless cameras which leave their sensors visible. On the R5 and R6 you can now choose whether the shutter is open or closed at power-off. When closed, it keeps dust from the sensor, but remember the shutter curtains are actually more delicate and easy to damage than the sensor with its protective filter.

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Above: In terms of pure photo resolution in the 35mm format though, Sony’s A7r IV remains comfortably ahead with its 61 Megapixel sensor capturing images with 9504×6336 pixels vs 8192×5464 on the R5, and both the Sony and Lumix S1R enjoy additional pixel-shifting modes to further boost resolution or reduce colour artefacts that are not available on the Canon. I’ll be directly comparing the resolution and dynamic range of these cameras in my final review.

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Above: In the R5’s quality menus you can choose to record any combination of JPEG and RAW files, with compressed RAW also available. As first seen on the 1Dx III, you can also enable HDR PQ to switch JPEG to the 10 bit HEIF format if preferred, and I have a separate video all about how Canon implements HEIF.

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Above: New to the R5 is Portrait Lighting, found under Dual Pixel RAW processing in playback. This allows you to actually simulate the position of a lighting source on RAW files after the event and here you can see it being used to lighten my face from below the shadow cast by my hat. As you push the lighting around using the touchscreen you can see the position of the digital light in the upper left corner and a live preview on the actual image. I’ll be testing this lots more in my final review, but in the meantime, it looks a lot more useful than the minor perspective shifts the 5D4 allowed on Dual Pixel RAW processing.

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Above: Both the R5 and R6 are fast shooters, able to fire-off long bursts at 12fps using the mechanical shutter – two more than the A7r IV – and here’s how it sounds – apologies for the windy conditions. The buffer depends on the format and card type, but Canon quotes 350 JPEG or 180 RAW images using CF Express. There’s also silent shooting with an electronic shutter up to 20fps with autofocus, although I can’t comment on rolling shutter yet.

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Above: The R5 and R6 become Canon’s first interchangeable lens cameras with built-in sensor-shift stabilisation, or IBIS for short, and the company is making ambitious claims with up to 8 stops of compensation depending on lens. It automatically works alongside optical stabilisation on RF and EF lenses with IS, but don’t assume these will always deliver superior results. The unstabilised RF 50mm f1.2 supports seven stops, while the RF 28-70mm f2 claims the maximum eight, both due to their imaging circles. In my video above you can see the effect of IBIS on the unstabilised RF 50mm f1.2 lens. Now this is pre-production and may improve further on final models, but I was very impressed by the IBIS on the R5 and it transforms the use of unstabilised lenses for both photos and video.

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Above: Canon’s also improved the autofocus capabilities of the R5 and R6 enough to now refer to them as Dual Pixel AF II. The coverage is 100% across the frame, it’ll work down to light levels of -6EV on the R5 or -6.5EV on the R6 given an f1.2 lens.

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Above: Face and eye detection have both been improved with the R5 and R6 able to recognise and track eyes from much further away as seen in this clip I filmed using the new RF 85mm f2 lens. Animal eye detection is also available and works with dogs, cats and birds, even birds in flight which is something I look forward to testing with Brighton’s seagulls.

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Above: And now to movies, an area where the R5 takes the lead over all rivals at the time I made this video, at least until Sony confirms the specs of its next models. The headlines are impressive too: when most cameras stop at 4k 30p or only offer 4k 60p with a crop, the R5 gives you uncropped 4k at 60p for half hour clips, or uncropped 4k 120p for seven and a half minutes. Some cameras allow 4k or 6k RAW over HDMI to an external recorder, but the R5 trumps them all with 8k RAW up to 30p recorded internally for clips up to around 20 minutes, and I saw and heard no evidence of vents or fans either. And before you ask, Dual Pixel autofocus is available in all movie modes from 1080 to 8k.

After the long-winded and confusing menus of the 1Dx III, I’m delighted to report Canon’s redesigned the movie quality options of the R5 with a surprisingly simple approach and I’ll show you the PAL menus first followed by the NTSC ones. There’s three rows, with resolution and aspect ratio at the top letting you choose between 8k, 4k and 1080, with 8k and 4k available in 16:9 UHD or the wider DCi cinema shape. From the middle row you choose frame rate from 24 to 60p, while on the bottom row you choose compression from RAW, All-i and two flavours of IPB. Depending on the quality and other settings, various options may become greyed-out and unavailable.

For example, 12-bit RAW is only available in 8k in the DCi shape – there’s no RAW in other formats, although you can record 1080 to 8k in 10-bit C-Log 1 or HDR PQ. I’m pleased to report 24p also appears to be available at all resolutions.

8k may be excessive for most videographers, but ironically it may be photographers using it the most. It allows you to effectively capture and subsequently frame-grab 35 Megapixel images in bursts up to 30fps. Many videographers will however adore the chance to film uncropped 4k at 120p with autofocus, albeit recorded without sound and slowed-in camera by four times.

There’s actually surprisingly few gotchas. Heat is an issue in 8k and 4k / 120 that I’ll discuss in detail soon, but in my tests so far I’ve managed an 8k clip lasting just over 19 minutes before a cool-down was required. RAW may be available in 8k, but sadly not in any lower resolution formats, and 120p is only available in 4k, not 1080, although I’ve already put in a request for it. Both 8k RAW and 4k 120 also demand CF Express cards which aren’t cheap, but 4k 60 can still be recorded to SD in IPB. Canon’s even finally included zebra patterns to more easily judge over-exposure.

Check prices on the Canon EOS R5 at B&H, Adorama or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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