The Canon EOS R5C is a hybrid cinema camera based on the EOS R5 and aimed at pro videographers, resolving many of the frustrations of the original model. Announced in January 2022, the EOS R5C arrives roughly two years after the original R5 was first officially teased, and costs around $4500 or pounds – so you’re paying a 300 pound or $600 premium over the R5.
As you all know by now, everyone loved the movie quality of the R5, especially 4k HQ, 4k 120 and 8k RAW, but no-one liked the fact it would overheat in any of those modes and require a full shutdown to properly cool down. Some found ways to work-around it, but others wished for a version with sufficient heat management to make it practical for their needs.
And that’s where the R5C comes in, at first glance an R5 with the screen pushed outwards to accommodate vents and an active cooling fan. There’s more to it than just that, but the active heat management allows the R5C to not only record uninterrupted beyond the half hour limit of the R5, but keep recording until you run out of memory or power without overheating, at least in my tests so far. Canon also claims the R5C has equivalent sealing to the R5 and remains dust and moisture proof despite those vents. Oh and it still shoots 45 Megapixel photos at up to 20fps. In my video review below I’ll show you everything you need to know about the R5C, but if you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!
Beyond the vents and fan, what else is new on the R5C? First, it switches the R5’s standard hotshoe for the newer accessory shoe seen on the R3, allowing it to support accessories like XLR adapters.
Second, while most of the controls are unchanged, the buttons now have clear labelling for easier customisation, while the main shutter button is now coloured red. Standard stuff for a Canon Cinema camera.
The most significant control difference is the redesigned power switch that starts the R5C as either a photo camera or a video camera. When booted-up in photo mode, the camera can only take stills, with the menus and user interface being the same as the original R5, but start it in video mode and it becomes a video-only device with the menus changing to Canon’s very different Cinema interface. This adds a wealth of options absent from the R5 like Waveform and Vectorscope monitors, as well as the option of Canon’s XF-AVC codec for 10 bit 4k.
In practice it can’t help looking and feeling like two quite different personalities running on the same device, but it’s actually more sensible than it first sounds. That said, there are a couple of technical inconsistencies to note, like eye-detect AF for animals not being available for video as it’s not part of the Cinema OS yet.
The last physical differences worth noting are the addition of a tally lamp on the front which can not only indicate when you’re recording, but also provide handy feedback on the card or battery running low, and a port for syncing timecode, squeezed-into the new extended portion at the back.
Moving inside the camera, there’s sadly no longer any sensor-shift IBIS on the R5C. Canon says they removed it to reduce heat generation and that most R5C owners would probably disable it in favour of a gimbal or other support instead. Digital stabilisation in Standard or High modes is still available though (albeit with progressively tighter crops), and there’s also the possibility of optical stabilisation in the lens. If you’re using an RF lens with optical IS, it’ll work alongside digital IS, but you can’t have digital by itself unless you have an unstabilised lens. Canon claims RF lenses with optical IS deliver a better result working with the digital IS than EF lenses will.
And finally while the sensor is essentially the same type with mostly similar quality options, the R5C does implement a few important tweaks thanks presumably to a modified processor. For starters it’s officially now a Dual Gain system with bases of 800 and 3200 ISO for C-Log 3.
Meanwhile 4k 120 which was silent on the R5 is now available with an optional audio WAV file, and while the R5 supported 8k RAW internally up to 30p, the R5C boosts this to 60p with an external power supply. Plus you can now forget having to choose between standard and 4k HQ on the R5, as all 4k up to 60p on the R5C is over-sampled and looking as good as 4k HQ.
Beyond this, the R5C shares a lot with the R5 before it, including the same viewfinder with 5.76 million dots, the same 3.2in articulated touch screen albeit mounted further back thanks to the cooling, the same two slots for CF Express and SD memory cards, the same battery and the same main ports too which means the R5C annoyingly inherits the Micro HDMI port of the R5. C’mon Canon, surely you could have switched this for a more robust full-size HDMI port in line with other video-oriented cameras? Oh and despite being part of the Cinema series, there’s sadly no built-in ND filter on the R5C.
Right, now let’s dive right into my tests with a pre-production beta model, starting with overheating, or as it turned out, lack of. Now, your mileage will vary depending on the ambient temperature, but in my tests I placed the original R5, here on the left, next to the R5C, here on the right, fitted with identical RF 24-105 f4L lenses, then set them recording in various modes with all the settings matched. First I’ll start with 8k 24p in C-Log 3, so that’s 10 bit 4:2:2 on both cameras. The R5 had a 128GB card and the R5C a 512GB card.
Fast-forward to 25 and a half minutes later and my CF Express memory card in the R5 filled-up, forcing me to delete it and start again, but note how the R5 is now only estimating five minutes of recording remaining before possibly overheating.
On cue, five minutes and 45 seconds later the R5 started to flash its overheating warning icon, although the camera bravely continued for almost 20 minutes before shutting down due to overheating, so roughly 45 minutes worth of 8k 24p across two clips.
Notice how the red zeroes of doom now appear on the R5 after restarting though, indicating the camera will refuse to record another second unless set to 1080 or non-oversampled 4k. In contrast, the R5C on the right sailed past the half hour limit of all R5 clips and kept recording until its battery ran out after 53 minutes and 15 seconds of 8k 24p.
It is however possible to power the R5C externally for even longer recordings. Canon sells a dummy battery accessory, but you can alternatively use a compatible USB Power Delivery system. I deleted my first clip to clear the 512GB card, connected the USB C charger from my 14in MacBook Pro using an Apple USB C cable, and as you can see, the camera switches the battery icon for USB PD in the top right corner. I started recording 8k 24p again and waited.
Fast-forward over two hours and the R5C managed to record a single 8k 24p clip lasting two hours and eight minutes without any overheating warnings – not to mention following the initial 53 minute clip without any recovery time. The limit here was my 512GB CF Express card.
Now as soon as the R5C becomes more available, I’m sure the internet will be flooded with every type of overheating test you can think of, so I just did a couple more to whet your appetite. First I switched to 4k 25p again in 10 bit 4:2:2, and this time the R5C managed to record for six hours solid without overheating. This appears to be the time limit for a single file, but the camera kept recording for another two hours and 22 minutes after that, so my R5C managed over eight hours of 10 bit 4k before it ran out of memory, and again no overheating.
The key to those long recording times is of course the vents and active cooling, although Canon may have also adjusted the R5C’s tolerance to heat as well. There’s two fan modes: when set to Always On, the fan constantly operates at a choice of three speeds, Low, Middle or High. When set to Automatic, you get to choose different fan speeds while in Standby or during Recording, with the former gaining a fourth Maximum speed option.
With the fan set to Low, it’s very quiet, which is a good job since you can’t turn it off in video mode. Increased to medium it becomes more audible but still not an issue for boom or lav mics more than a meter away, while at High it’s similar to a typical PC. Set to Auto with the Maximum fan level in Standby and it becomes quite loud, but of course this is fine as the camera’s not recording. I look forward to seeing how the R5C handles hotter conditions than mine, but again it resolved any overheating issues I had while testing.
Next for the actual video quality and I’ll start with a look through the menus. The R5C can be rebooted into three system frequencies: 24Hz for 24.0p, 50Hz for 25 or 50p, and 59.94Hz, allowing 23.98, 29.97 or 59.94p frame rates.
You can choose between three sensor modes: Full Frame, necessary for 8k, Super 35mm cropped which supports up to 4k, and Super 16mm cropped which supports up to 1080p.
From the recording format menu you can choose between MP4, available in 8 bit H.264 or 10 bit HEVC up to 4:2:2, Canon’s own XF-AVC for up to 4k in 422 10 bit, RAW over HDMI, or internal RAW available in Standard or Light options, or HQ if the frame size is set to Super 35. RAW only records at the full resolution of the sensor format, so that’s 8k DCi in full-frame mode, 5.9k in Super 35 mode, or 2.9k in Super 16.
In the non-RAW modes, you can choose between 720, 1080, 4k or 8k resolutions, all available in 16:9 or the wider DCi shapes apart from 720p. Note 8k will require full-frame sensor mode, while Canon’s XF-AVC only supports up to 4k.
In Normal Recording mode, you’ll be able to choose frame rates between 24 and 60p depending on the system frequency, but to access faster frame rates, you’ll need to choose the Slow and Fast Motion mode. This allows you to choose recording rates of between 1 and 120fps depending on the resolution, which are then encoded to playback at 24 to 60p. An option to record a separate audio WAV file with Slow and Fast clips is also handy, albeit stored on card two.
Ok, now for some real life footage I filmed with the R5C and RF 24-105 f4L at 50mm f10, all in the DCi width at 1080, 4k and 8k 25p. Unlike the R5, 8k is also available in 50 and 60p on the R5C, but only when recording in the RAW light mode, and for 60p you’ll also need to connect an external power supply. I was able to record 8k 50p in RAW on battery power alone though.
Let’s have all three clips again, but cropped-in for a closer look to compare detail, with 1080 at the bottom, 4k in the middle and 8k at the top, where its additional resolving power becomes quite obvious especially if you’re viewing this in 4k on a large screen.
Now briefly back to 4k 25p using the full frame coverage…
Before switching to the Super 35 cropped format, available up to 4k…
And finally the Super 16 cropped format, recorded here at the maximum 1080p.
I love shooting real-life comparisons, but to really see what’s going on, it’s useful to film charts, so here’s my standard resolution test in 4k before zooming in to 600% for a closer look…
Now with 1080p at the bottom and 8k at the top, where again you can see the resolution advantage of filming in 8k. These were filmed with the RF 24-105 f4L at 50mm f8.
Next up a magnified 4k comparison between the R5C in 25p at the top, where it looks the same as it does at 50p at the bottom, so no compromise when doubling the frame rate. Switch out the 50p for 100p though and you’ll see a visible hit on resolution, at least on my pre-production sample. This is a similar result to the R5, where 4k 100 or 120p were softer than standard frame rates.
But now I’ll switch out the R5C at the bottom for the original R5, filmed with the same lens on the same day, here in its standard 4k mode which isn’t over-sampled and clearly shows how much better the R5C is at the top.
Switch the R5 into 4k HQ mode at the bottom and it can now match the R5C’s resolution, but on the R5 this is only available up to 30p and is one of the modes that will overheat this model. In contrast, the R5C can maintain this quality up to 60p and for unlimited recording times.
Next-up for noise levels, so I filmed a standard colour chart in 10-bit C-Log 3, starting at the base sensitivity of 800 ISO for both the R5 and R5C. As I run through the ISO values at one third increments, I’ll present the original R5 on the left and the R5C on the right, with its Base ISO set to Auto. This will gradually amplify the 800 ISO base until it reaches 3200 ISO, where the higher base will kick-in with reduced noise levels as a result. Note the 800 and 3200 bases are when recording in C-Log 3. From this test you can see the R5C on the right become a little cleaner at 3200 onwards where it enjoys an initial benefit over the R5 on the left, although I’d say once they’re both at 12800 and above, the noise levels here are looking similar.
Next for a quick look at dynamic range with some adjustments made in Final Cut on 10-bit 4:2:2 files filmed in 8k, where it’s possible to retrieve plenty of highlight or shadow detail, and easier to make initial optimised exposures thanks to the waveform monitor. Filming in RAW gives you even more latitude with 12 bits, allowing you to make some pretty hefty corrections,
And finally in my rolling shutter tests, the R5C was identical to the R5 at all resolutions.
Canon EOS R5C verdict
The EOS R5C becomes the camera videographers wanted the R5 to be. The addition of vents and a cooling fan banished overheating in my tests with a pre-production model, allowing me to record single long clips limited only by memory or power – connect a USB PD source, like an Apple MacBook charger, and memory becomes the only limit for internal recording.
The R5C is more than an R5 that avoids overheating though. When booted-into Video mode, it presents Canon’s full Cinema EOS menus, complete with Waveform and Vectorscope monitors. It supports optional audio with 120p clips, has dual base ISO, and extends 8k RAW to support 50 or 60p frame rates, albeit 60p requiring an external power supply. There’s also Canon’s accessory shoe supporting XLR adapters, a tally light and timecode port.
That said, it’s still essentially a modified R5 and while that means you’re also getting a very respectable stills camera with 45 Megapixel resolution and 20fps shooting, you won’t be getting all the hardware that dedicated Cinema cameras take for granted, such as a built-in ND filter, full-size HDMI port, and a wealth of mounting options. Plus it loses the R5’s built-in sensor stabilisation, although to be fair most of the target audience would probably have turned it off.
Ultimately by modifying an existing body, the R5C can’t help but look and feel more like a standard EOS body that’s tweaked for video, rather than a dedicated Cinema camera. But that’s reflected in the price, roughly 300 pounds or $600 over the original model, which given the capabilities is a relative bargain in pro video terms and still way cheaper than a Sony Alpha 1. So if you wanted an R5 for its video quality but couldn’t work around its limitations, the R5C is the camera for you.Check prices on the Canon EOS R5C at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!