A production model of the Canon EOS R5 has been in my hands for less than 24 hours now. The big headline going into its release was that the 45MP full-frame mirrorless camera could shoot 8K RAW video using the full width of the sensor. But there is a lot more going on under the hood.
It can capture 4K DCI and 4K UHD 10-bit 4:2:2 internally up to 59.94 using Canon Log. It features Canon’s new Dual Pixel Autofocus, in-body image stabilization, HDR shooting, 10-bit HDR stills, dual card slots, and a complete body redesign compared to the EOS R.
Before diving in, full transparency. Canon provided an R5 and an RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens, as well as an R6 for review. That said, I am not an ambassador for Canon or paid by Canon in any way. In fact, I’m not paid by any company that I write about. Journalistically speaking, it’s an enormous conflict of interest. Let’s get into it.
Out of the box, the R5 handgrip has a different feel than the original EOS R due to its slightly wider width and taller body. How much? The R5 is approximately 4mm wider when measuring side to side and about 1mm taller. 4mm may not seem like much, but it’s a whole new feel.
Even with the R5 body only being approximately 0.2 lbs heavier, it took some time to get used to. It doesn’t seem as airy as the EOS R. With the R5, I needed to make sure I had a firm grip on the camera where with the EOS R, I could blindly grab it and go. That said, after some time, the change in the handgrip will probably go unnoticed.
The back of the camera sees several changes. Canon replaced the multi-function bar with the multi-controller joystick, added a dedicated magnify button and Q button to access the menu. The rear dial has changed from a D-pad to the quick dial found on the EOS-1 DX Mark III and other Canon cameras.
Personally, I like the D-pad found on the EOS R. To me, it’s much faster and more precise than the joystick. In certain menus, like the movie record format, the joystick can be less precise, especially when trying to change settings in the sun or with a glove. If you don’t push the joystick exactly left or exactly right, or up or down, it may move in another direction. It’s most likely because of my big, dumb thumb, but with the D-pad, I knew exactly which way I was pressing because of the space between the arrows.
Thankfully, Canon included several different ways to navigate the menu system, including using the main dial and second quick dial located on the top or via touchscreen. Because of the way I hold the camera, I don’t see myself using the joystick. But if you’re a joystick fan, you’re going to feel right at home.
The articulating LCD screen has grown in physical size, but the size of the monitor – what actually is being displayed – is identical to the EOS R. It measures about 3.15 inches and touts 2.1 million dots. Without reaching out to Canon to fact-check, I believe it’s the exact same display found on the EOS R but in a slightly taller casing because of the physical size difference.
While on the subject of the LCD, Canon added a new function to how the LCD and EVF automatically display. Below the EVF is a sensor. The sensor picks up any movement and switches the display between the LCD and EVF when set to automatic.
The problem on the EOS R was that any time a hand or something crossed the EVF sensor, it would switch to the EVF. So when shooting low angle video with the flip screen open, if your hand brushed up against the EVF sensor, it would switch, causing the LCD screen to go blank. Canon did have a manual option to force the display to be the LCD or EVF but to switch between was a big to-do and not efficient.
The R5 fixes the debacle by adding two different automatic display modes An Auto 1 only screen option and an Auto 2 auto-switching option. The auto-switching works just like the EOS R. However, the screen option switches to the EVF only when the LCD is in its home position. Meaning, if the LCD is flipped out, the view mode stays on the LCD even when something passes the EVF sensor. This mode is the default viewing mode and ideal for those who flip out the screen often.
Also located on the back, Canon added rate/voice memo button. This is a handy feature to have. By pressing it quickly, you can rate videos or images with a number of stars. Prefer one take over another, slap it with a star. By pressing and holding the button for 2 seconds, a voice recorder will appear allowing you to record a voice memo up to 30 seconds. It’s worth noting only images can have a voice memo recorded and not video, but it still can be helpful when scouting locations. Take a photo. Record any notes about the area. Done.
The top layout of the R5 and EOS R are nearly identical. You’ll find all the same tools, including the main dial, second quick dial, a dedicated mode and video record button, and the top display. What’s different is the EVF eyecup and the on/off switch.
The eyecup on the R5 has a little more give than the EOS 5 but I wouldn’t say one is more comfortable over the other. The on/off switch of the R5 is now plastic with a tab that protrudes outward a little. It’s small detail, but I prefer the metal design of the EOS R on/off switch. It seems to have a better build quality, and I wonder if a neckstrap loop might snag the tab. Doubtful, but something to be aware of.
The bottom features a single 1/4"-20 and the battery compartment. Inside the battery compartment is where you will now find the communicator which is a nice change over the EOS R. You will no longer have to worry about losing that little tab that covered the port on the EOS R. Canon also kept the DC coupler hole to keep everything clean.
The left side has dual card slots. Slot 1 is for CFexpress Type B cards. Slot 2 is the SD slot. Recording is card dependent, meaning certain video formats, like RAW, only records to one type of card. In that instance it’s CFexpress.
The right side sees a shakeup in ports. Mentioned before, Canon flipped the microphone and headphone jack with the PC terminal flash connector. Doing this puts the microphone input higher and the cable will interfere less with the LCD in front view mode.
The front of the R5 gets a remote control sensor as well as remote control terminal and a depth of field preview button. The DOF preview button only works in stills mode and will show you what the image will look like before it’s taken
Overall, the body of the R5 sees subtle changes in all the right spots. It’s like when your favorite pair of running shoes comes out with a new version that has slight changes to make them better. That's what Canon has done here. They kept the body compact, light, and more importantly, weather-sealed. That last part is a big thing, especially for still shooters. To me, rain covers should be part of any camera kit, but the majority of people are not going to invest in them. Having a weather-sealed body is going to put people’s minds at ease.
The R5 menu tree sees a bunch of new changes starting with the shooting and recording menu (red). To me, everyone should read the manual of any new device or piece of gear they own. Or at least, navigate each option to see what the function does. Doing it yourself allows you to retain the information faster and get to know what’s in your hands. When you’re out in the field, it’s not a great look if you have to reference some random video (or an article) to get up to speed.
It is worth pointing out the menu tree does have a new dedicated menu for wireless settings (purple). It’s to connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Before, Canon buried all these settings on the EOS R in the setup menu (yellow) panel 5. Canon also added an Airplane mode which quickly disables the wireless connections but doesn’t lose any stored connections.
Canon has further simplified the connection process when pairing the camera to the Canon Camera Connect app on a smartphone. They have added a QR code option. Connecting the R5 to the app via Wi-Fi was easy. All the familiar control functionality is there, including the ability to switch video record modes.
Like the EOS R, the R5 dials, buttons, and lens control ring can be customized. The buttons can be customized for still or video mode. The one exception being the magnify button. That can’t be customized at all.
To switch from still and video, you still need to click the mode button and then the info button. It would have been nice if Canon created a dedicated video mode switch like the one found on the Sigma fp. When using gloves, the process is not as responsive as I’d like.
The movie record format menu is straight-forward. Top row is resolution, middle is frame rate, and bottom is codec type. You can use the touchscreen, joystick, or different dials to control the menu. The touchscreen seems to be the fastest without gloves. After selecting the record type, be sure to actually hit the set button or ok button on the touchscreen. You just can’t back out of the menu. It has to be set first.
Depending on the record mode, a CFexpress card or compatible UHS-II SD card is needed. 8K RAW files are recorded as .CRM files. ALL-I or IPB files are recorded as MP4 files.
8K RAW can only be recorded to a CFexpress Type B card. However, if you want to record 8K IPB, that can be done with an SD card. A 64GB SD card will yield about 12 minutes of 8K DCI or UHD IPB footage. Note all the info is based on NTSC mode but there is a PAL mode.
Here’s a rundown of the record type and storage type for video:
- 8K DCI RAW: CFexpress
- 8K DCI ALL-I: CFepxress
- 8K DCI IPB: CFexpress or SD
- 8K UHD RAW: (not a recording option)
- 8K UHD ALL-I: CFexpress
- 8K UHD IPB: CFexpress or SD
- 4K DCI 59.94 ALL-I: CFexpress
- 4K UHD 59.94 ALL-I: CFexpress
- 4K DCI 119.fps ALL-I: CFexpress
- 4K UHD 119.fps ALL-I: CFexpress
- All other 4K “Normal Quality Modes”: CFexpress or SD
- All 4K “High Quality Modes”: CFexpress or SD
- All full-HD modes: CFexpress or SD
4K High Quality Mode
Canon added a 4K HQ mode on the R5. When enabled, the R5 will oversample the sensor to produce the 4K image. While activated, the movie record menu only displays the record formats available in 4K HQ mode.
There are options for 4K DCI and 4K UHD up to 29.97fps. Canon differentiates the 4K HQ mode and 4K normal mode with “Fine” written below 4K, making it easier to know exactly what you’re shooting in Live View mode.
It’s worth noting, you won’t be able to disable or enable the 4K HQ mode in the Live View menu. It can only be done using the camera menu. The same for the R5’s high frame rate options. For now, only 119.9p is available which can be recorded at 4K DCI or 4K UHD.
The R5 oversamples an 8.2K sensor to produce its 8K and 4K images. In 4K HQ mode, the oversampling is as follows:
- 4K DCI 29.97/24/23.98: oversamples 8.2K
- 4K UHD 29.97/23.98: oversamples 7.7K
Bit Depth / C-Log / HDR PQ
For the flack the R5 is receiving for its potential overheating (more on that later), what's lackluster about the camera is its bit-depth. The R5 does have internal 10-bit 4:2:2, but in order to use it, C-Log or HDR PQ must be enabled. This means shooting Canon's standard picture profiles directly out of the camera in either 8K or 4K has a bit depth and color sampling of 8-bit 4:2:0. 8K is compressed in H.265/HEVC and 4K is H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.
Shooting Log in any camera – Sony, Canon, Panasonic, etc – is going to give you more flexibility with the image. Log footage is essentially a flat picture profile that gives you the ability to adjust the exposure, contrast, color, and the shadows and highlights. It's similar to RAW but not as robust and not as storage-intensive. But with it comes extra steps in post where you will need to apply basic color grade or LUT to the footage before delivery. While grading Log footage has gotten easier in non-linear editors, if you need a fast turnaround, it's something you need to allocate time for.
When shooting C-Log, the R5 has an option to enable a Live Assist view. Doing so will change the Live View to a standard color profile instead of a flat profile. This helps with critical focus. C-Log works in all normal shooting and 4K HQ modes as well as the different crop modes and high frame rates. The R5 can also playback C-Log files in-camera.
Canon added a movie crop mode. When enabled only 4K DCI, 4K UHD, and full-HD movie modes are available with frame rates up to 59.94. In crop mode, you cannot access high frame rates or the 4K HQ mode. Additionally, even in crop mode, the same storage type is needed as recording the full width of the sensor. Meaning, 4K DCI or 4K UHD at 59.94 ALL-I will need a CFexpress card to record video.
Leading up to the release, there was a lot of talk about the R5 (and R6) overheating. For those hearing about it now...when recording higher resolutions with specific frame rates, there's a recording limit to keep the camera from overheating. If the camera overheats, it needs time to cool down before resuming. This is only in video modes, not stills.
R5 formats that potentially overheat:
- 8K (approx. 20-minute limit)
- 4K 120p full width (approx. 7 minutes)
- 4K 60p full width (approx. 29 minutes)
- 4K 60p crop mode (approx. 25-minute limit)
- 4K 30p in 4K HQ mode (approx. 30 minutes)
So 4K DCI or 4K UHD at 29.97/24/23.98fps and other formats are free and clear. Same if you record externally. No Film School will post more thorough tests in the future, but out of the box, I wanted to push the sensor. I wanted to see how easily the camera could overheat shooting 8K at the lowest bit rate.
All of the short test footage above is 8K DCI 23.98fps 8-bit 4:2:0 IPB except for the first shot which is 4K DCI 23.98fps 8-bit 4:2:0 IPB. The picture profile is neutral and the footage is straight from the camera. Nothing has been graded or touched besides edit points. Everything was shot internally using an older Delkin Prime 64GB SDXC V60 II UHS-II card. I point out the type of card because each card will perform differently when it comes to overheating. CFexpress and other SD cards will yield slightly different results.
For those wondering, in-body image stabilization and optical IS for the footage was turned off on purpose. Depending on the IBIS mode, the frame crops. The idea of the footage was to capture using the full width. Plus, in general, I strip the camera down to its barebones when first turning on a camera. To see what it can do as a "black box" before turning on any features. There have been many of times when a camera fails. Knowing what it can do when something does fail is important to me.
The footage was recorded in downtown Los Angeles on an 80-degree afternoon. I was able to record about 16 minutes of 8K DCI footage before the camera started blinking an overheat warning. Mind you this was not 16 minutes straight, but shooting different video lengths over the course of about an hour. While the camera no longer allowed me to shoot 8K, it could continue shooting 4K DCI or 4K UHD to that same SD card immediately.
For me, the camera overheating is not an issue. Is it the best outcome? No. But I'm holding a camera that can fit in the front pocket of my jacket. What I care about more are companies that move the industry forward – that push things, be it with limitations or not, to new areas that we haven’t seen yet.
RED pushed digital cinema forward with high resolution in an almost square camera body. At first, the form factor was laughed at. Now, it’s being copied. Sony Alpha cameras pushed full-frame recording in a mirrorless body. Now, companies are catching up. Sigma is making things more compact. Panasonic is pushing video in fantastic new areas as well. Moving the industry forward is important.
It's interesting to watch people endlessly complain about one camera manufacturer or another. Brand name aside, a camera may not be exactly what you want, but it may be perfect for someone else. Plus, consider the history of digital image capture. My first article about digital video was over 20 years ago. Back then, we were talking Betamax, DVC Pro, DV, and Mini DV tape along with 3-CCD image sensors on cameras that cost over $5000. It’s incredible what’s available in comparison today for the cost of an Apple iPhone.
Now, this is not to say there aren't issues with modern cameras. There are. With. Every. Manufacturer. Including the R5. It's why I'm story loyal and not brand loyal.
Would I have preferred an endless runtime without any overheating issues in the R5. Yes, of course. Canon probably wants the same thing. But is it simply possible the technology isn't available yet in this form factor? It’s similar to Blackmagic Design's release of the URSA Mini Pro 12K. It may not have autofocus or IBIS, but still, they are moving the industry forward.
The R5 also has a big disadvantage right out of the gate. It’s a mirrorless hybrid that’s designed to do two things: stills and video. It’s not a dedicated video camera. If you lean more towards being a video shooter, here’s a wakeup call if you didn’t know it already: you are in the minority. Video shooters are a small piece of the pie when compared to still shooters in the mirrorless and DSLR worlds. Canon generally puts photographer's priorities first when it comes to features, but like Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, and Nikon, things are starting to lean more towards the middle. But if you want a video camera, you should consider a dedicated video camera.
In-Body Image Stabilization and Autofocus
IBIS is new for Canon. When paired with the optical stabilization (IS) it offers up to 8 stops of shake correction with certain Canon lenses. Without a full test, there doesn’t seem to be a noticeable difference when comparing it to the lens stabilization, or when the Digital IS enabled. So let's leave this one pending for now.
However, the autofocus on the R5 is definitely better than the EOS R. The eye-tracking has improved, and the new animal tracking is solid. Canon also allows you to adjust the speed of how fast the tracking switches from one subject to the next, or it can be turned off completely.
When shooting stills, you’ll get 100% of the 1,053 automatic AF zones on RF lenses. For movies, it’s slightly less with 819 zones. In manual focus modes, the R5 has all of the same features of the EOS R including peaking and focus guide settings.
Having had the camera in-hand, Canon probably missed the mark when it came to marketing the R5. They touted it as an 8K camera with photo capabilities when it may have been better off to market the camera as a stills camera that can shoot 4K video very well, plus it has an option for 8K.
That’s how I see the R5 right now. It’s a mirrorless camera that shoots 4K as good as any camera on the market today using the full width of a full-frame sensor. But on top of that, it has 8K RAW recording in a very compact footprint.
For companies like RED, Canon, Sony, and others, it's important that they keep taking chances. There's going to be a lot of criticism to do something first, but it's a starting point that can be improved upon. Here's hoping companies continue to take those chances, so creators can reap the benefits.
No Film School will be posting more detailed tests on the R5, so stay tuned.