When Canon announced the full-frame R5 mirrorless camera body some time ago, I was interested because it was the first mirrorless that seemed to overcome many of the negatives I’d long been concerned with. As many of you who’ve followed these Getting off Auto threads over the years will know, I’m less than keen about the small size and dire battery life of these newer bodies, especially when paired with the bigger lenses (the index of all the GoA & other relevant photography threads is here). However, with the R5, I decided it was time to lose some of my inherent Luddite nature and give it a go. So, here are my initial thoughts and comparisons.
The R5 uses Canon’s new RF mount and there are various new lenses available (including some interesting f/11 long focal length ones). There are no “Big White” lenses yet, but that doesn’t really matter as there are a couple of converters available to allow you to continue to use your EF hardware on the new body. Having tried most of the lenses available to me, there appear to be no issues I can find with doing so – indeed, as the new body has In Body Stabilisation (IBIS), some of the older lenses get a new lease of life. The 400mm f/5.6L lens has always been a great buy for in-flight stuff especially, but was let down by not having any stabilisation. With IBIS (which stabilises the sensor rather than the lens itself), you now get some help when handholding whatever the lens you use. Don’t get too excited – IBIS is less effective the longer the focal length – but it’s noticeably more stable than shooting the lens on one of the DSLRs.
This pic shows the R5 with the 400mm f/5.6L – note the converter between the lens and body.
The Sparrow I took using this setup at 1/400 sec. I would normally push the shutter speed faster with this lens to minimise camera shake, but it wasn’t an issue here.
The R5 is squarely placed to be the mirrorless version of the 5D DSLRs, so it seems logical to compare it to the 5D4. These two pics show the size difference – the R5 is smaller (and lighter) but it’s not too bad (roughly the same size as the 80D). Both cameras have the relevant 24-105 f/4 lens attached (I’ve used the EF24-105 as my general walkabout lens forever, so it seemed logical to get the RF version for the R5). Nothing particularly surprising between the two, though the RF version (in common with other RF lenses) has an additional control ring (at the front). This can be configured in the camera to be used for a variety of things – aperture maybe, or exposure compensation. The converter I am currently using also has the extra control ring, though I have to be honest, I’ve not used it yet. Coming from a DSLR, I’m used to using the camera without it.
So, what about the camera’s abilities? A 45MPixel sensor gives plenty of cropability – and you can even set the camera to work in 1.6x crop mode. This gives you a viewfinder display “zoomed in” and a 17.3Mp (effectively) sensor. It does have an Anti-aliasing (AA) filter in front of it, but a new design (also seen in the 1DX3) which means the 45MP sensor will out-resolve the 50MP sensor found in the hi-res 5DR. As such, I would expect a similar benefit to the crop mode (ie more resolution available than the 17.3MP suggests). Certainly, things like ISO performance, Dynamic Range etc are better than anything else you’ll find in a Canon body.
Large crop detail in this Stonechat
The camera is capable of high frame rates – 12fps with a mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic (it varies a bit depending on lens, state of battery charge etc). The electronic shutter has the potential for odd “rolling shutter” artefacts (where straight lines show up as bent) if your subject is moving – though it would appear to be much better than other mirrorless bodies available. In normal use, I’ve not experienced anything odd with my typical photography, but you’d see odd curved propellers if photographing an air display for example. I’ve stuck with the mechanical shutter for now – the soft clicking helps you realise just how many pics you’re taking. The totally silent electronic shutter racks up images at a frightening rate – and each RAW file is ~45MB! Those big files need a big – and fast – card to save them on. The R5 uses a CFExpress card (and SD). These cards are EXPENSIVE!
The best thing about this camera however, is the Autofocus. It is capable of tracking an animal’s (or bird’s) eye around the whole frame. It is gob-smackingly good. This Sparrow was hidden in the bush, the camera was set to all-points animal-eye tracking AF.
It simply locked on to the bird’s eye, it really is that spookily good. I have told the AF to start in the middle (so it isn’t distracted by other birds around my subject), but this far and away the best AF I have ever seen. This screenshot of the Stonechat shows you not only the crop (with the earlier pic), but the AF point (red box) the camera chose (remember, it was set to All-Points).
The camera uses an up-rated version of the normal LP-E6 battery, the LP-E6NH. Older batteries will work, but obviously with fewer shot capability. So far, the theoretical lower performance than a DSLR hasn’t been an issue to me (we’ll see what happens over time) but the R5 has a trick up its sleeve. It can be run (or have the battery charged) via USB3. That means, if I’m sat in a hide, I can plug in a Powerbank and charge the camera. Brilliant! Far cheaper doing that than buying a spare Canon battery!
So, any dislikes? I prefer the DSLR top screen and button layout over the R5’s, though it’s not that bad. The DSLR is still better for following a bird in flight (the viewfinder on a mirrorless body is a small screen, with noticeable blur when moving, though it’s superb compared to earlier generation models). It will never be as good as a DSLR’s optical viewfinder (Ye canna change the laws of physics!), but again, it’s OK. As the AF tracking is so much better, that less than ideal viewfinder is certainly something you can put up with. When you start taking pics of that in-flight bird, staying on the moving target isn’t as easy as with the DSLR, but again, with better AF tracking and more fps, I can live with that. It’s a bit annoying having to wake the camera up just to peer through the lens, and I have to turn the camera off if I put on its raincoat (covering the viewfinder makes the camera think you’re looking through it and won’t let it snooze). But these are small niggles rather than big issues. I’ve not done any serious video as yet – few insects around at the moment! The camera is capable of 8K – though it will overheat fairly quickly in that situation. Of interest to the stills photographer is the possibility of lifting a ~35MP frame from the 8K footage – which, as it is filmed at up to 30fps, could be remarkable.
I’ll update this thread with other info as I come across it, but by all means ask away if you have any questions!
Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index
Our herring gulls are red listed birds. Think about that the next time you hear some flaming idiot calling for a cull of them.
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
In reply to HAZY:
My Flickr Photostream
In reply to Whistling Joe:
Whistling Joe said:(in the bulgy bit on top)
Yay! That's a technical term I can understand.
In reply to TeeJay:
TeeJay said:I've been following the reviews on YouTube since their launch
YouTube's great for finding stuff out, but I've concluded too many reviewers are simply complete idiots (often without even having the camera to play with). Trouble is, for the professional YouTuber, the aim is NOT to review the product as useful info for people, it's to get as many views and clicks as possible as that is (literally) their bread and butter. So the more contentious and hysterical they can make their video the better - which then gets amplified by the sounding board of the Internet as they all quote each other in pointless videos made just to get some new content out. There is no "issue" with overheating at all with the R5 - it behaves as documented in the user guide with limitations on recording length of some video formats (the processor intensive ones). That makes it a limitation, not a fault, but few YouTubers seem to understand there's a difference. Interestingly, there are ways to improve these times by using external storage (which Pro videographers would be using anyway), but the simple answer to anyone shooting a lot of video is to buy a proper video camera, not a stills oriented hybrid. It's like complaining a sheet of plywood won't fit inside your Ferrari when you should have bought a pickup truck!
Thank you for this thread WJ, I have not looked into them only one is cheaper then the other so I am getting the R6. While on Facebook I saw a picture of a Chaffinch at distance and sent the chap a PM and asked if he would send the Raw file and he did, I had to update DPP to open it with it being a different file then the 5D4 and I am happy with what I saw I did a 50 and 75% and even the 100% looks good, I will ask him if I can show them I'm sure he will but you never know.
Adam said it was ok to show his picture.
1st full frame
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654