When word about the Canon R5 started to leak more than a year ago, I knew it was something I had to have. I began saving my pennies and was lucky enough to be among the first to receive it just more than a week ago.
I know many of my photo enthusiast friends are curious to hear what I think so I thought I would put together some quick-hitting thoughts along with some sample images. It should be noted that most of my usage was in the mountains before the sun had hit the valley floors so these images also show you a bit about the low-light capability of the camera. Much of my impressions will be in comparison to the 5D Mark IV as that has been my primary camera for over a year now.
All images taken with the Canon R5 (obviously) mated to a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM with the EF to RF adapter and a CFexpress card in the camera. As this will be my primary wildlife camera, I have yet to experiment with other lenses with it.
Size. Noticeably smaller than the 5D Mark IV but it still feels nice in my hand. After using the R5 almost exclusively for a week, the 5D seems really big.
Controls. Everything is laid out largely as Canon has done in the past with a few things shifted around to accommodate the large LCD on the back. I am having a hard time adjusting to the new mode switch and having to press a button first just to change modes. It is an extra step that slows me down as I oftentimes would switch between custom modes without ever taking the camera away from my eye.
Menus. Again, much like we have seen from Canon for years and are logically laid out. However, there is a LOT more to go through in them and I have had to whip out the book a few times to look for things, something I haven’t had to do with a new Canon in years.
Resolution. Well, 45MP. What can you say? It is just insane. See the sample images of the sitting humming bird to get an idea of an extreme crop and the quality that can be retained.
Eye tracking auto focus. I was extremely excited about this feature but am not entirely wowed by it in practice yet. It does quite well with birds, even little hummingbirds. With the moose and elk I used it on though, it struggled, oftentimes locking onto an antler or, if the animal was sideways, locking onto the whole body, even if the head was turned toward me. I found myself going back to the expand AF area that I usually use for those subjects.
20fps. Yeah, well, as you can imagine, it is just insane to be able to shoot at that rate. Moving subjects from shot to shot look like a movie when you go through them quickly. Due to operator error, I wasn’t shooting at that high rate with the hummingbirds so I am looking forward to doing more bird in flight work soon with it.
Electronic shutter. In addition to the speed, it is of course silent which is something that I find a bit annoying. With a traditional SLR, you get the feedback of the sound and feel of the mirror and shutter. None of that is there with an electronic shutter so sometimes I am not even sure if I am taking pictures. Honestly, I wish Canon had an option to turn on an artificial shutter click to provide auditory feedback. Heck, even their point and shoots have that option. Sure, there are times when silent shooting is desired but it isn’t always necessary.
Electronic viewfinder. I have no real issue adapting to using it and it does have the capability to display way more information than a regular viewfinder. Oftentimes I forget that it turns off after non-usage so I put the camera up to my face and get a black screen. I will learn eventually to be sure to press the shutter half way to turn it back on before putting it up to my eye.
Battery life. As expected, it is definitely shorter than with a 5D Mark IV. My informal observation is that it gets perhaps 50% of the life. However, I freely admit that as the camera is new and I am experimenting with it, I am playing images back on the screen in the field far more than I normally do so that undoubtedly takes a toll.
Overheating. Much has been made of the R5 and possible overheating issues, mainly when shooting video. I have not seen any problems so far, however, most of my shooting has been only still pictures in the mountains with low ambient temperatures and slow-moving subjects so I wasn’t really pushing it. My friend, who also has the R5, has experienced some warmth coming from the camera and a temperature warning when firing off hundreds of shots in rapid succession. I am hoping this won’t really be an issue and for a still photographer like me, I don’t think it will be.
So, my photo friends, there you have it. I am going to love the R5 and am very happy to see Canon jump in big-time into the mirrorless market. For the most part, I can’t see it as anything but a home run.
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