Canon EOS R5 Review
The Canon EOS R5 has been one of the most long-awaited and highly anticipated cameras in recent memory.
Finally, in 2020, Canon released a camera that appeared to hold nothing back. The specs of this camera were hard to believe and the excitement among Canon shooters was (and still is) real.
For the hybrid photo/video creator, the Canon EOS R5 appears to offer everything you could ask for and more.
Read on below to see why I think this camera sets a new standard for what a Canon mirrorless camera can do.
Table of Contents
Canon EOS R5 Specs
- Excellent image quality
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Superior ergonomics
- Great dynamic range
- Intuitive menu system and easy-to-use touch screen
- Highly customisable
- Impressive video specs
- Larger / heavier than alternatives
- High price
- Overheating issues
- Lack of affordable Rf lenses
- Sensor: 45MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
- Focusing: Autofocus system w/1053 phase-detect points
- FPS: Up to 12 fps mechanical and 20 fps electronic
- Viewfinder: 5.76M-dot OLED viewfinder
- Screen: 2.1M-dot tilting touch LCD
- 2 Memory card slots: CFexpress Type B & SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
- 8K video: 8K30 Raw and 4K120 10-Bit Internal Video
- Wireless: Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
Build & Appearance
It had been a while since I picked up a Canon camera but the EOS R5 immediately impressed me with its build.
The quality, ruggedness, and durability that I’d left behind with the 5D series when I switched to Sony are evident on this camera.
The rubberized grip and smooth lines combined with the magnesium body make it feel very tough. Like the 5D series of cameras, the Canon EOS R5 is built to endure substantial abuse.
I also appreciate that this camera has an appearance to match its quality. Many recent cameras have focused more on specs than appearance but Canon has excelled at both with the EOS R5.
As an artist and creative, quality design with thoughtful style appeals to me.
Looking through the viewfinder on this camera gives an excellent perspective. It’s bright and sharp with plenty of resolution.
Like many of the specs on this camera, it may not exceed the competition, but I found it to be very nice to use.
As I expected, Canon offered a flip screen with this camera. Many people like the versatility of flip screens for shooting at awkward angles or taking selfies, and the size/resolution is very pleasing.
It seems that Canon has finally embraced the full-frame mirrorless camera as the new standard for professional photographers.
Ergonomics & Handling
The ergonomics of the Canon EOS R5 really stood out to me. It has a very comfortable grip and a larger build that makes me feel more confident when holding it.
My whole hand fits on to the grip of the body and all the controls feel readily accessible. Each of the buttons and dials feels very tactile and firm.
The biggest change in my camera experience is the integration of the touch screen. Prior to using this camera, I was always using dials to control my exposure settings but now the touch screen is almost as fast.
This is especially helpful for learning the camera or when I haven’t had a chance to customize everything to be just right.
You can simply tap on any of the settings on the back of the camera to bring up a sliding scale and swipe until you have the settings right.
Settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, focus mode, etc, are all quickly accessible on the EOS R5 by tapping/swiping on the back touchscreen.
I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for this feature to be developed but I love how Canon has made the interface so comfortable to use.
If needed, the menu system is very well organized and easy to use. Similarly to the back screen, the menu system is also touch-compatible and very user friendly.
My only two complaints with the buttons were as follows.
First, the power button wasn’t accessible from my right hand. It takes two hands to turn on/off the camera because the power button is located opposite the shutter button. It’s not that big of an issue but I like being able to turn on/off the camera quickly with one hand so I can conserve battery power.
Secondly, I felt that the mode dial was a bit confusing. The switch between photo and video mode requires you to press a button instead of simply rotating the dial. I’m sure I will get used to this but it was a bit awkward at first.
Other than those two minor complaints, the Canon EOS R5 is incredibly well designed. It feels great in my hand and I could easily access all the functions and controls needed to make this camera run smoothly.
My standard for assessing a cameras focus system is that I can get sharp images without having to work at it. The Canon EOS R5 exceeds expectations in terms of autofocus.
For years, Canon seemed to lag behind other brands in terms of autofocus but they’ve finally left that reputation behind. The EOS R5 locks focus on your subject and stays locked on no matter what.
It now offers 100% coverage of the frame and a face/eye tracking function. With these two features, shooting sharp images becomes the norm, not the exception.
I will say that that it took a bit of adjustment to get the autofocus controls set up the way I like them. You have to dive into the menu system to enable the joystick for moving the AF point and turn on continuous AF tracking.
Overall, I think the autofocus on the Canon EOS R5 is spectacular. Once set up properly, it will stay out of your way and give you the results you want: sharp images all the time.
Low Light Performance
Because the sensor on the Canon EOS R5 is 45 megapixels, I was concerned about low light performance. Typically when a camera has a higher pixel density on the sensor, the low light performance suffers.
However, this did not seem to be an issue for the R5.
You can be confident shooting up to ISO 8000 on the Canon EOS R5, with a relatively clean image up to ISO 12800. The noise at these settings is impressively well controlled.
It may not be the king of low light shooting (for that, check out my review of the Sony a7S III), but the Canon EOS R5 is completely adequate for most uses.
The astrophotography images I took were easy to edit in lightroom and with a little noise reduction, they were very printable. In addition, having 45 megapixels gives you much more latitude for cropping or printing large.
This was one area of performance that happily surprised me about this camera.
With a top of the line camera, image quality should be excellent. I was very impressed with the images from the Canon EOS R5.
Quality and color rendition have always been a strength of Canon cameras but now we can add dynamic range to that list. In several comparisons, this camera seems to have similar performance to other top performers with a score in the range of 15 stops.
Regardless of the lab specs, this camera works incredibly well in high contrast scenes.
One reason I moved away from Canon years ago was their poor dynamic range but that’s no longer an issue.
When it comes to the RAW images out of this camera, at 45 megapixels, most of the images were in the 45-65 megabyte range. This was nice to see since it won’t clog up your hard drives as quickly as other cameras that produce massive files (ahem, Sony a7R IV).
In addition to excellent image quality, the Canon EOS R5 also has impressive video functions (see the above video I shot for a sample). After all, it seems it was designed as a hybrid camera with all the amazing video features packed into this compact body.
The 4k 120 fps capability and (beyond expectations) 8k 24 fps recording on the Canon EOS R5 are a huge step forward in performance, considering that the EOS R (its predecessor) could only shoot 4k at 30 fps.
Although these impressive specs might make you think that this mirrorless camera is going to replace high-end cinema cameras, you may want to think again. The 8k comes with some overheating issues. Once the camera gets too hot, it stops working and takes a long time to cool down.
Additionally, this is a photo-first camera. It’s intended to perform well as a photo camera and then as a video camera, so the recording functions are a bit secondary.
This isn’t to downplay the impressive features but to say that it’s the perfect hybrid camera and lacks some specific features you might want in a filmmaking setup.
Regardless, I think this is an amazing hybrid camera for someone who wants impressive photo and video specifications!
Overall, I’m very impressed with the Canon EOS R5. It feels like they took all the impressive specs they could come up with and put them into one camera to revolutionize their lineup.
It finally feels like Canon isn’t holding anything back and is giving the R5 everything they have when it comes to development.
This camera is fast. It starts up quickly and has excellent recording speed to the memory cards (assuming you get the fastest cards).
There is almost no lag when you hit record and I never have to wait for it to clear the buffer. All these features make it a great experience to operate.
Other Useful Features
There are so many useful features on the Canon EOS R5. A few that caught my attention were the dedicated record button next to the top scroll wheel. This makes hybrid photo/video shoots that much easier.
Additionally, the customization options on this camera are endless. It may take some time to set up properly but you can program so many of the buttons/dials to operate exactly how you like the camera to function.
My preference is to program the three dials to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO so I never have to press a secondary button to change my exposure controls.
Additionally, I like setting the back button focus to AF-on so that the shutter doesn’t require you to lock on AF before taking photos.
As I mentioned above, if you don’t get your settings just right, everything is available by touch on the flip screen so you never have to hunt through the menus.
Another little feature that stood out was the shutter curtain closing when you remove the lens. This is very helpful in protecting the sensor from dust.
With this feature enabled, I’ve heard that sensor cleanings can be far less frequent (a big improvement over Sony here).
Lastly, I noticed that the EVF sensor that switches the display from the EVF to the back screen is really effective.
Sometimes it can be a pain when the camera thinks you’re looking through the EVF but you’re actually trying to use the flip screen and this issue was minimized with the Canon EOS R5.
Value for Money
As the new top of the line mirrorless camera from Canon, this camera was not expected to be cheap. At a little under US$4,000 for just the body, this camera is pricey.
Mirrorless cameras seem to be racing to the bottom when it comes to price since there are so many options on the market. With the Canon EOS R5, it seems to be the opposite.
Canon is coming up with the best specs available and putting all their technology into one very impressive camera. Because of this, it’s one of the more expensive cameras on the market.
Despite its high price tag, the Canon EOS R5 is one of the best value options when it comes to a hybrid camera. It has some top of the line specs for photo and video and a great user experience to boot.
If you don’t need the absolute best when it comes to photo and video specs, you might check out the R5’s little brother, the Canon R6. The Canon R6 (review) retains some of the specs with lower resolution and a much lower price tag at around US$2,500.
Another thing to consider with this camera system is the lens offerings. The EOS R native lens system is relatively new and very expensive. They offer some impressive lens designs like the 28-70mm f/2, but they don’t come cheap.
Additionally, there are only a few choices (though Canon is working hard to increase their offerings).
You could decide to pair old Canon EF lenses like these with this camera through the adapter but that seems a bit counterintuitive since one of the big advantages of mirrorless systems is the smaller size/weight. However, this could make the system much cheaper if you already have a full lineup of Canon glass.
It’s always a tough decision to make but I can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the Canon EOS R5. For many, this is a perfect camera.
Canon EOS R5 Review | Conclusion
Having tested the Canon EOS R5 for several months, I am very impressed. It exceeded my expectations in many ways and I was surprised by how well I liked the experience.
The only thing that I think Canon is missing with this camera is the size. If there was a way to reduce the size/weight just a bit, I would be upgrading to this system.
If you’re already a Canon user and considering an upgrade, I think you will really enjoy this camera. The Canon EOS R5 is a major improvement on previous offerings and the first seriously professional mirrorless camera from Canon.
I can’t wait to see where things go next as Canon continues to push the envelope when it comes to photo and video specs in a mirrorless camera.
2020 has been an amazing year for camera releases and the Canon EOS R5 is definitely one that stands out!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.