Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera review

There’s no doubt that Canon feels like the right time to release a camera of epic proportions. With the 5D they succeeded in capturing a professional DSLR market in the 2010s, and with the R5 they are looking to shift gears, bringing high quality technology and equipment to the professional mass market in a form without mirror.

Canon EOS R5: key specs

Processor: Digic X
Sensor: 45MP full-frame CMOS
Video: Max 8K 30p/4K 120p/1080p 60p
Stabilization: 5-axis stabilization
ISO Sensitivity: 100-51,200 (expandable to 50-102,400)
Filter: 3.5 inch fully articulating touchscreen

Released in the midst of the COVID pandemic to great acclaim, the Canon EOS R5 (opens in a new tab) felt like a natural progression from the brand’s Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, with the Canon EOS R released earlier (opens in a new tab) mirrorless camera acting as a test bed to get people used to the idea of ​​a full-frame mirrorless setup. After a few years, fierce competition and a few firmware updates, can the R5 still live up to expectations?

In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the Canon EOS R5, testing it in a range of situations and subject styles, and its video capabilities to see if it’s the best mirrorless package for professional photographers. . available.

Canon EOS R5: Design

Canon EOS R5 rear view

A rear view of the Canon EOS R5 shows the large LCD screen and camera controls. (Image credit: Jacob Little)
  • Excellent advanced ergonomics
  • A heavy and sturdier design than some other mirrorless cameras
  • Customizable buttons and controls for professional photographers

It’s immediately obvious, right out of the box, that Canon is serious about the R5. It looks relatively bulky and feels heavy in the hand, but compared to older DSLRs like the 5D, it’s easy to handle and makes the latter feel like old technology. It’s almost certainly lighter than non-mirrorless cameras, but feels a little more delicate and less impact-resistant than older setups.

5D users, which many R5 buyers will be, will be pleased with a nice balance of design and ergonomics between this and the more modern EOS R. There’s a screen on the top and a fully tilting touchscreen, but the right thumbstick and the rotary dial on the back for adjusting autofocus make a comeback and are a welcome throwback to older versions of the setups. Canon professional cameras.

Canon EOS R5: performance

Canon R5 side profile

The Canon R5’s autofocus system, combined with image stabilization, is one of the fastest systems we’ve used. (Image credit: Jacob Little)
  • One of the best autofocus systems
  • Exceptional resolution and image quality
  • In-body image stabilization works well for pros

The Canon EOS R5’s numbers are exemplary, and the fast processor and professional storage options can keep up with large file sizes and high resolution outputs. A CFexpress slot is available as a backup to an SD card slot. In our testing, we found no problems using high-quality SanDisk Extreme PRO cards, but if you don’t have one, we recommend researching this item and purchasing a high-speed card. to accommodate the file sizes of the R5.

Much fanfare has been made that the R5 uses an all-new processor and the first with in-body stabilization. It works very well, stabilizing dark scenes and low light conditions to allow detail in shadows and blacks to be picked up in Lightroom. It’s also a great option for astrophotography when paired with the right wide-angle lens.

It’s also worth making specific reference to the autofocus system, as combined with image stabilization it’s one of the fastest systems we’ve used. Tracking is probably best in class, with precise face, eye and head detection that aids in portrait, sports or action photography. Continuous Focus Mode has no problem keeping objects or people focused, even in dynamic situations.

Canon R5 side profile

A great camera for astrophotography, when paired with the right lens. (Image credit: Jacob Little)

If you’re looking to shoot top-notch video, though the R5 wasn’t designed for filmmakers per se, as you might imagine. Yet it still boasts incredibly grand specs, offering the possibility of uncropped 8K recording in RAW. That being said, overheating and battery issues are not uncommon, and while it’s impressive that Canon has been able to squeeze so much technology into what is still essentially a small consumer camera, it’s overkill for the purposes of most people. Normal HD at 120fps is still silky smooth and enjoyable to film.

Canon EOS R5: functionality

Canon R5 side profile

A 45MP image sensor can produce a maximum image size of 8,192 x 5,464 pixels. (Image credit: Jacob Little)
  • Easy-to-use Canon architecture
  • Battery life is slightly compromised
  • Core features deliver best-in-class performance across the board

Speaking of batteries, being a mirrorless camera, daytime use took its toll on the power sources, which understandably struggled to keep up with the camera’s specs. Not that it’s entirely disappointing, though, and Canon has managed to pack 2,130mAh into its new battery, which is also surprisingly and warmly backward compatible with any camera that accepts LP-E6.

The headlines keep rolling in as you play around with features and settings. Even burst shooting stands out, rivaling the 1D X Mark III (opens in a new tab), a device that was once considered the gold standard for sports and wildlife photographers. In day-to-day camera use, it’s pure Canon, using the same logic users are familiar with.

Should I buy the Canon EOS R5 camera?

Whether to recommend the Canon R5 is a more difficult question than you might at first imagine. At first sight, absolutely. For semi-professional photographers looking to upgrade to a camera for life, or professional photographers who need to keep up with the speed of change, we think this is a very worthwhile camera to own. It is perhaps the most complete camera ever produced by Canon. That doesn’t mean, however, that everyone should rush to buy it.

If you’re a filmmaker, overheating and storage issues may mean you’re looking elsewhere, such as Sony’s competing options, and if you’re a beginner or an amateur photographer just looking to get into the industry, there’s much, much cheaper options. which will produce excellent images. The price means the camera will probably only ever belong to people who make money from their photography, and in many ways that’s exactly what it was designed for. The Canon R5 is a very impressive piece of kit.

If the Canon EOS R5 is not for you

We know the price of the R5 well, but there are alternatives that fit the bill, even if you want more or less the same performance. The obvious option is the Canon EOS R6, which delivers similar results without the superlative specs but at a more affordable cost. For most professional photographers, this option will suffice.

With a 61-megapixel sensor, the Sony A7R IV 35 (opens in a new tab) The full-frame camera is another obvious choice that on the spec sheet may match the R5, but again, expect to pay for it. For those with a slightly smaller wallet and not ready to take the plunge, you won’t be disappointed with a used Canon 5D Mk IV or Nikon D850 either.

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