Canon EOS R5 Long Term Review

The Canon EOS R5 has been out for almost two years now. It’s hard to judge just how revolutionary this camera is. It’s a semi affordable professional camera with price tag of $3900 as of this writing. 

This mirrorless camera offers a staggering amount of technology for the price, it’s just a camera that provides a lot of value, for any type of photographer.

The Canon R5 has made a big name in the industry and brought back Canon as one of the top choices in 2020, 2021, and I would even argue 2022.  It’s really hard to beat what this camera offers for the price.

 So, let’s go right into it. Here’s my experience with the Canon R5 mirrorless camera.

Why I bought the Canon EOS R5?

The main reason why I got the Canon R5 is its resolution and speed. It has a 45-megapixel sensor and when shooting wildlife photography, I usually crop images to get a closer view.

Anyone that shoot birds in flight would appreciate the extra resolution. The large resolution helps in preserving the details when you crop in to aka: digitally magnify the photo. It does this without being overly noisy, shoots very clean images even at ISO 3200 and above.

In fact, for me, it’s hard to imagine that you would need a camera that is less noisy for any type of situation. Of course they will come and will be welcome, but if you’re on the fence the R5 feels just that good, don’t wait, upgrade your aging DSLRs today.

This sounds like I’m pushing the R5 but trust me you’ll be glad you did the upgrade.

I could have gotten the Canon R6, but the resolution difference between the two is huge for me to pass up. I realized that many times shooting wildlife you’re just too far and having those extra pixels let’s you crop in, essentially digitally zooming in.

Moreover, the dynamic range of the Canon R5 is very impressive. I am not afraid to shoot underexposed because the amount of detail that I can recover in post is crazy.  I can recover details in the shadows as well as in highlights.  It really feels like no picture can go wrong with proper post processing.

The burst mode is excellent too. It shoots up to 20 fps at 45-megapixels using the electronic shutter (remember to go into the menu it’s under the camera section 1-6).

Canon EOS R5 menu

The shooting speed is perfect when it comes to tracking birds in flight or just wildlife in general. Careful though, not paying attention could lead you to inadvertently press the shutter speed and shoot hundreds of images really fast

These are the main reasons why I got the Canon R5. Now, I’ll proceed to the things that I like and don’t like so much regarding this camera.

Canon EOS R5 Design, Build Quality, and Handling

Despite being smaller than a full-frame Canon DLSR, the Canon R5 feels great to hold. It is not that lightweight, that’s for sure. But with the added weight comes the assurance of durability and ruggedness, while still remaining lighter than let's say, the Canon 5D mark IV.

It does not have an R3 type body with everything weather sealed, this camera can still handle extreme conditions. 

Canon claims that it is weather-sealed and able to work in inclement weather - that means rain. I have not been brave enough to keep it out in the rain and use a rain jacket, but did manage to get some water on it and it was fine.  

I would say some light rain is ok, but you have to remember that you need to use a proper lens with it, and the gaskets on the lens have to be in good shape, also protect your flash sync terminal port with a rubber cover (I think Canon includes one in the box).  

We could go on about the weather sealing but I'm sure if this concerns you, you can find the info on other websites specifically about this. 

It is my go-to camera for wildlife shooting and it has endured a lot of my trips already, especially vibrations and heat from being in a Safari Vehicle with Kevin Dooley in South Africa.

Also, If anyone is thinking of a Safari trip, we’re going again in October 2023. Join us through this link.

Canon EOS R5 safari shoot

I’ve also taken it to extremely cold places at -15F/ that’s -26C. I keep my camera on the whole time during these times as I want the internal circuitry to remain warmer, just in case. But the camera worked on, without issue and the battery life was also very good. We did have some cameras go dead due to batteries being too cold, but I won’t mention the brand here.

I have no complaints about using this camera for long hours of shooting. The size of the camera, and the grip on just the camera body takes some getting used to since it is smaller than a DSLR.

I have gigantic hands and for me it’s a bit hard to handhold a small camera for entire day, I prefer full size beasts like the Canon EOS R3 or Canon EOS 1D, or even the cameras with the optional Battery Grips. Hence I needed to also add the Canon BG-R10 Vertical Battery Grip to this body.

Of course that’s additional $350, but I’m glad I did it. It is more comfortable to hold on long photo trips, and you have dual battery to last you entire day.  

Meanwhile, the buttons of the Canon R5 do not feel mushy and are easy to press. Gone is the multi-touch bar from the original Canon EOS R and I never got used to it. 

I do wish that Canon would move the Menu button, and power button to the right side of camera.  Many times I only shoot with right hand and having to use a 2nd hand to just to turn on the camera is getting annoying.

Shooting in Freezing Chicago weather for any amount of time will require using gloves after a short while. If you have some thin gloves then it’s not a problem you can still press all the buttons and even use the touch-screen menu with specialty gloves.  

Coming from multiple Canon DSLRs, and even Nikon and Sony, I’ve shot them all pretty much, moving to the Canon EOS R5 feels like home. The button layout is familiar, the build quality is great, and the images look stunning too.

Excellent Autofocus

The Canon R5 has a very impressive autofocus system. Canon clearly made this a sports and a wildlife camera. No, it is not perfect, and sometimes I still miss some shots. But this camera is capable of getting sharp images almost all the time. It’s like having a 1D series camera in small mirrorless body with 50 megapixels on top of it.

Of course other cameras have an impressive autofocus system too. However, the R5 is a joy to use. It is very affordable considering how good it is to the DSLRs it replaced. To me I’m only mad I didn’t get it sooner.

Focus is instant, I just press the shutter button and it immediately locks in to focus. This means I can concentrate on my composition or even find the proper subjects knowing that the camera can easily focus on it. It does take a bit of getting used to, and of course you have to have proper settings for the subject you’re shooting.

As mentioned, most of the time I shoot wildlife and birds so scouting for a subject is challenging too. With the R5, once I find a bird or an animal, I make sure I’m in the eye autofocus with Animal selected, and I just point my camera and start shooting. 

Osprey shot in Florida using the Canon EOS R5

Canon did a great job with animal detection. The camera detects non-human eyes quite reliably. The only problem I had was with very colorful birds where it was confusing the tail for the eyes, quite reliably I must say. 

However, this feature is only applicable to dogs, cats, and birds. I am hoping that it extends to other animals too as it will definitely help me on my next safari trip.

I also shoot quite a bit of video. I have actually been shooting video since 1998, right when digital was just entering the mainstream. Quality here is like none other but there are big challenges such as storage management.

R5 shoots a variety of codecs and if you really want it you can also shoot RAW, but I’ll skip the details of this here.

4K video is silky smooth and on the R5 you can also shoot 4K 120fps, which is also amazing. However, I do wish Canon would have adopted what GoPro does and be able to shoot like 2.7k at 240 frames, that would be a nice compromise. 

To this day I also can’t figure out why they disable the microphone when shooting Slow Motion.

When I’m shooting a video, the R5 tracks the subject easily. In my case, it keeps the products or my subject in focus most of the time, as long as the subject doesn’t blend with the background or turn around 180 degrees, it can pretty much stay in focus. 

Remember that for best results you have to use the RF glass, otherwise you’ll hear the motor of the focusing mechanism, and it also won’t be that smooth, and fast.

Are there things that I do not like when it comes to its focusing?

There isn’t much, but there are some things that can be frustrating. 

For example the focus point can easily be moved away from your preset position. But it’s really easy to get it back with touchscreen you just touch it where you want it to be with viewfinder. It’s 2-3 clicks away not too bad, but still, happens quite often. 

There is a bit of learning curve to master the focus settings. I suggest spend some time and learn how to use it best for your shooting scenario.

How’s the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)?

The Canon R5 has an electronic viewfinder and unlike mirrorless cameras of the past, it has no noticeable input lag. It has more than 5.6 million dots with 100% coverage. 

While using it, you can quickly forget it’s actually not an optical viewfinder. It’s big and bright, and a joy to use. I would say in 99% of cases it works as good if not better than optical. Only in super bright scenes, or backlit subjects a mirror might be better, but honestly I don’t miss it at all.

The main advantage of the EVF is it immediately shows the outcome of the photo. It is no longer a guessing game. It is also customizable and I can set it to display the histogram and the exposure triangle while shooting.

Canon R5 with telephoto lens

Canon EOS R5 Screen

Canon pioneered the flip screen or a fully articulating screen many years ago even on cameras like the Canon EOS 6D, typically on less professional type of cameras. These types of screens make the camera more versatile when shooting at unusual angles.

Coming from a DLSR, only my 6D had an articulating screen. At first, I wasn’t sure it’s a must have, and it can be quite annoying when it gets in the way when it’s on the side.

However, after using the camera, I am now convinced that it is the way to go. The pros really outweigh the cons and it’s indispensable if you’re shooting video and blogging while being in front of the camera.  

The R5’s screen is bright even under the sun. It provides multiple ways for me to compose my shot. Whether it is a high angle or a low angle, I can easily look at the screen and take a photo.

The touch function is smooth too. I can easily pinpoint where I want to focus and the camera does it immediately. It is faster than using a joystick to move from one focus point to another.

What are the cons of having this type of screen?

The only problem with this type of screen is its durability. I’m not saying that this screen will break anytime soon. What I mean is, with only a small part connecting the screen to the body, you need to be extra careful with it.

Shooting Northern Gannet with the R5

Performance, Image, and Video Quality

I mostly use the Canon R5 for shooting wildlife, events and products, and I can say that the camera and the Digic X processor are doing an excellent job.

Whenever I am outside shooting in rapid burst mode even at 20fps, I am not worried that the buffer will stop me. I can go ahead and take hundreds of shots in action without a problem. Keeping the birds in frame is the biggest challenge.

There is really not much to fault with the R5 when it comes to performance. I can go out and bring one fully charged battery and have around 3-4 hours of shooting. That’s impressive considering that I’ve been using the electronic viewfinder consistently. 

The image quality, as expected from a camera at this price range is phenomenal. ISO performance is fine until around 3200-6400 ISO. Higher than that and the noise gets noticeable, but not to the point that the image is unusable.

The Canon R5 canon goes up to 102,400. You would not shoot that high for print work as the noise is too much. However, image quality is not that bad - details are still recognizable.

Moving on to video quality, I’m not that much of a video guy and I seldom use the R5 when it comes to taking videos. But when I do, I am satisfied with the results.

The 4K 60fps footage is great focus is spot on as well in that mode. I did experience overheating few times. I’d say if you’re strictly shooting video all day with this camera, you’re going to have problems with overheating. But if you occasionally shoot video with photos then overheating is not a problem.

When I sent some footage to my video editor, he mentioned that editing the footage is easy. There are no problems encountered with the LOG files.

Lastly, the in-body image stabilization helped me during low-light scenarios. It is the same as when I was shooting videos. The stabilization helped me take smooth footage, even when riding in a safari vehicle chasing lions.

Shooting with the Canon EOS R5

Is the Canon EOS R5 worth it in 2022?

It has been a while since the Canon R5 came out and Canon R3 is the latest camera from the company’s lineup. The Canon R3 is currently priced at around $6,000 which is way more than the price of the R5.  Even with extra battery and vertical battery Grip the R5 is about $1500 cheaper than the R3.  It offers twice the resolution, while not being too much behind in focusing.  

In that regard, the Canon R5 is a more attractive option due to its price. It is currently available for around $3,900 for body alone. The money you save, you may use to purchase lenses and other accessories.

Moreover, the image quality and performance of the Canon R5 have kept up with the industry since it came out. It is a very capable camera, that will last for several years.

Should you get it right now?

Given that the Canon EOS R5C is coming out soon, it might be wiser to wait and see if the price of the Canon R5 would get lower. 

If you need a camera now, then the R5 is a wise choice if you are going to shoot landscapes, wildlife, and sports.

As much as the video features are impressive, the Canon R5 is pretty much a camera mostly geared to photographers.

Sure, hybrid shooters may benefit from the video quality. But for videographers, you may want to consider the Canon EOS R5C.

That being said, if you want to purchase the Canon R5 now, is up to you. My experiences may not be the same as others. But trust me, the Canon R5 is one of the best cameras that Canon has made in recent years. Combine it with excellent glass and you are all set for years to come.

May 05, 2022

Comments

j Russ

j Russ said:

Why do you always turn the camera off and on? too much for the start up to always be full off/on!!
Why not use the delay off feature of one minute? just half press shutter button to turn the camera on….using your right hand only!!!!!
Wouldn’t one minute of EVF be far easier on the camera than a full off/on sequence?
Why not put all buttons on the right for the right handed people and have special orders for the left handed people?

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