R5 Portal

Canon EOS R5

Crowdsourced Review; Manual Supplement; Known Issues; Hacks; Insights; User Forum

Known Issues

Hacks

Inquiries

SD Cards Compared for R5 Performance

SD Cards Compared for R5 Performance

Camnostic has been testing most popular SD card brands (and some pretty obscure ones) in a few R5 cameras to see which ones perform best in various ways. This is similar to the review published last month of the R5 CFexpress card performance review.

While the review is still under way at the moment, we do have a great deal of raw data to share. The chart below shows the critical variable: the number of shots a card can hold in a 30-second burst in mechanical first curtain shutter mode. The upshot: The Delkin cards win, with the ProGrade card essentially equivalent.

Canon R5 SD Cards Performance

wdt_IDCardUHSShots/:30$/GB
CardUHSShots/:30$/GB

One of the Delkin cards – the “Power” one – is quite reasonably priced (the other is the “Black” line of cards that are toughened in various ways), and the ProGrade card is even cheaper at the time of publishing than the Delkin Power, although it doesn’t perform quite as well as the Delkin in the as-yet unpublished electronic shutter version of this test.

Index to Canon R5 Feats, Foibles & Hacks

We’ve found the R5 to be – by far – the best camera we’ve ever used for stills, and the one that takes the best quality video (requiring me to use my external recorder if done for any serious length of time). 

Click on a tab below to get a run-down of the feature’s performance; known issues; hacks; and comparisons with models from other companies. 

Overall Verdict:

This is a once-in-10-years milestone camera, beating the other offerings on the market at the time for most uses. This is the one camera in existance that you can use to take 20 pictures per second with resolution of 45 megapixels. It is, in this crucial combination of capabilities, a camera that is better than the “flagship” 1DX Mark III by having twice the resolution. For most wildlife, sports, wedding, event and portrait photographers, this is sell-my-old-camera-now development that has somehow been downplayed to date in reviews of the R5. Pro users are going to wind up shooting this camera. Some know it (but can’t get one due to early supply constraints), and some just don’t know it yet.

The Big Picture:

There are a few factors to consider at this moment: the camera itself; the move to mirrorless; and the move to a new mount system. Interestingly, with the move to the R5, the issue of mirrorless is largely resolved. We are now enjoying the fruits of mirrorless (exposure simulation, better lens possibilities, etc.) and almost none of the early negatives (perhaps battery life being the big exception). But the mount issue is an important one. Yes, it gives us new lens possibilities, but it also nukes a very powerful capability Canon EF glass used to give us: universality. Previously, if you had a collection of EF glass, you could dally with a Sony body or a Panasonic body, and simply use one of the Sigma adapters to get just about the same autofocus you would get with system-native lenses. Moving to the new RF glass is expensive and forecloses two important powers Canon users have long enjoyed, if perhaps taken for granted: not being tied to a particular brand of body; and no longer benefitting from being the go-to mount the good third party lens makers design for. That title has now been safely won by Sony, who has been more open with its mount standard.

 

Best Camera For:
– Wildlife
– Sports
– Theater and event
– Weddings
– Portraits
Decent, but Not Best Camera For:
– Product photography
– Landscape
– Video
– Macro
Not Appropriate For:
– People with lower budgets
– Long-form video shooters lacking external recorder

Major Capabilities; Issues; Discussions

Overview

The R5 sits in the hand a little easier than the EOS R, and certainly the RP, if you know and like the DSLR 5 series. It is, however, just about as heavy as the last 5 series DSLR, the 5D Mark IV, which might be a little more than is optimal (1.6 pounds). The controls are intelligently placed and feel very much like a Canon – in a good way. And it is zippy in almost all ways, which is a big deal when it comes to perceptions of interface quality. It hits you right at the start. The on switch gives you a camera ready to take a picture in 0.4 seconds. The Sony A9 takes 50 percent more time, and – oddly – the A9 Mark II takes 4 times as long. You notice it. The R5 feels like the old DSLRs, which didn’t need any fancy firmware boots to do what you needed to do.

The Theme: Speed

The back screen is maximally used for control as well, even more effectively than the previous R models or the M models, due primarily to a zippy processor that eliminates what occasionally had been glitchy response lag. Moving the focus point with your thumb on the screen, without even looking away from the viewfinder is finally the magical experience it was meant to be. The M cameras almost had it. Sony, eventually, almost had it. Canon finally put all the pieces together. 

Gone is the track bar formerly seen on the EOS R that never quite made our lives easier due to – again – a slowness to be responsive. We wonder if, with the new processor internals, the track bar would be a success in that alternative universe. In its place, though, is the most responsive joystick we’ve used on a camera. There it is again, the responsiveness of the controls is a detectable characteristic down to milliseconds, and this R5 has got the power to make this feel really, really good.

Memory Cards

The R5 now sports two card slots – a legacy SD card (finally UHS-II) and the new CF Express card format, which should take over the world shortly. Yes, that’s another card format you need to sink half the cost of a camera into, but this one is the forever card. We think. We can be certain that it’s working, at least. The CF Express cards are taking data so quickly off the R5 that it runs 10 frames per second without a buffer. So after you fill the buffer shooting 20 FPS with the electronic shutter or 12 FPS with the mechanical shutter, you still have 10 FPS as the punishment for having been so gluttonous with the shutter button. [See the part a few sentences back about needing to sink half the cost of the camera again into new memory cards.] Because tests run by Camnostic on four brands of cards (more later) showed that most are giving only about 60 percent the sustained write speed the standard allows for, we expect new cards to come to market that will at least outpace the mechanical shutter. Imagine, we are at the cusp of an era where wildlife shooters just don’t care a fig about buffer capacity. People taking up photography today will look at us quizzically when we ask what the buffer capacity of a new camera is five years from now. Boomers, all of us.  

Canon always does a good memory hatch – at least with their higher-end models. A great memory hatch can be fully operated with one hand. We can open, remove a card, and shut the hatch in about 1/3rd of a second. It’s a beautiful, human design that is obviously unappreciated by other manufacturers. Sony has begun to improve theirs deliberately over the last round of ergonomic reforms. Most others appear to be two-handers. 

Control Placement

The top screen is more useful than the old timey digital watch version the DSLRs used to sport. There are some small refinements on the screen and on the control of the screen, but it is mostly similar to the previous screen first introduced on the R.
An odd design choice was the use of the entire left-hand top of the camera for an on-off switch. I think most people expected this to be refined and expanded in the new R releases, but nope. We aren’t fans of the nature of the on/off switch. It is a dial that marks on/off on the opposite side from where your finger touches the dial. Which means, of course, that when you rotate the dial one way, the indicator moves in the opposite direction. It’s a lost millisecond when glancing down and ensuring that you’re in the right position. When the on/off switch was on the right-hand side of the camera, there was a charm to it in that you could one-hand a 5-series camera and turn it on as you brought it up to your face; again saving some milliseconds. Now you need to wait until your second hand comes into contact in order to flip the switch. 
Back in the late days of the DSLR, we could just leave the switch on for months at a time – maybe cycling the switch during a lens change – and didn’t much worry about effects on the battery. Perhaps firmware upgrades will gift us that capacity in the future. 

The dials are deliberately segregated into three pieces of real estate. You have your front dial running vertically, designed for the right forefinger; the top back dial, oriented parallel to the floor, designed for the right thumb, and then the back dial, oriented parallel to the screen and designed for the thumb as well. This mentally segregates these dials in one’s mind by location and by axis. This is the sort of touch Canon uses to make its ergos just feel right. Panasonic copied a good deal of it over time, culminating in the S series, which is the other camera series with a similarly-satisfying feel. The uneven topography of the top plate shows this design philosophy. The front dial lives on its own plateau, with the shutter button falling forward, not just on its own plane, but on one whose tangent is precisely the angle of a shutter finger pulling itself into its palm. The lizard instinct of a shutter finger is to pull on this axis, and Canon angled the plan of the surface on which the button stands with this in mind. 

The camera fields a tilty-flippy screen, a term once used by pros to make fun of the consumer cameras that sported them. Canon calls it a “vari-angle” screen, but we think that’s just one of the terms from the original patent, and it just sort of stuck. Whatever you call it, it’s a better way to manage your screen angle, allowing for over-the-head shots and all sorts of strange, improvised angles. The tripod-bound may not appreciate it, but polls done on user boards revealed no greater instances of screen problems with the flippy versions, so there’s no harm outside of bruising any self-perceived tough-guy personas.
The viewfinder resolution was pretty much as good as you could get until Sony announced their new A7S III, which upped the game by about another 50 percent. That said, the roughly 6 million dot screen still looks a whole heck of a lot like real life. Punching in to 1:1 pixel viewing while reviewing photos leaves nothing to be desired. It defaults to 60 frames per second refresh rate, but you can push it to 120 frames at the expense of some battery life. 
Viewfinder lag was a big question among people wringing their hands about pre-ordering. The best mirrorless action cameras, like the A9 series, suffered from viewfinder lag, especially in long bursts, when each frame would wind up being some 10s of milliseconds further behind due to image processing needs to paste it up in front of your eye on the viewfinder. After a burst of 80 shots, you might think you had the bird in your bird in the frame, when in fact was already flying ahead of your panning. Given Canon’s reputation for being parsimonious with speed, people were rightly pessimistic that it would do better. As it happens, we were all very wrong. In real life shooting and in staged tests, the viewfinder keeps up. 

The receipt of two R5 cameras coming in early August is good timing for autofocus testing, as here in Vermont the nighthawks tend to move up the Connectcut River valley and provide a beautiful, frustrating autofocus and tracking challenge. Nighthawks are aerial insectavores, so they constantly swoop in unpredictable vector changes, typically about 100 to 200 feet in the air, and typically in terrible lighting situations, just at dusk. Perfect.

Shooting them requires very long glass, so autofocus difficulties are compounded by having a bit of a soda straw effect. AF needs to happen quickly, or the bird will be out of the frame before the camera starts to track.

Last summer, we tried out the Sony A9 and A7R Mark IV, the Panasonic S1R and the Canon 1DX Mark II. Of all of those, the A9 was the clear winner for tracking and autofocus. With this sort of a target, tracking is very much linked to autofocus capabilities, as these birds are impossible to hold on a static autofocus point. If you don’t get initial AF, you won’t be able to track, and if you don’t get tracking, you’ll fairly instantly lose AF. But the A9’s resolution is a weak point, and this is the sort of reach-limited wildlife photography that often requires hard cropping. My favorite subjects captured were by the A9, but my favorite final images wound up being from the A7R Mark IV, heavily cropped in.

After three nights of shooting the birds this week, we can definitively proclaim the R5 the top of this camera pile. The autofocus is as fast as the A9 and A9 Mark II, but the tracking is – surprisingly – even better. I never imagined that a camera would be able to interpret through 840mm of focal length a bird 200 feet up in the air twirling and be able to put a little box on the eye of the bird so as to autofocus at just the right plane of focus for that creature in that position at that moment. The deep learning technologies available now in cameras are already surpassing not just our human capabilities, but also our very expectations of what might be possible. This is one of the reasons why the introduction to this R5 crowdsourced portal spoke of this being a generational camera release.

The earlier generation of Canon tracking would focus on people, bodies, heads and eyes, but not do terribly well with inanimate moving objects that didn’t trigger one of those tracking responses. This was a clear advantage of Sony’s, which would allow you to define by focus point what to start tracking, and then stay on it like a dog with a bone. With this release, Canon can provide the same functionality. The “stickiness” of the tracking of inanimate objects is not as strong, though, with default settings. You must goose these up in the settings to get the sort of obsessively-determined tracking as you see on Sony with non-living things.  

Relative to previous Canon models, like the 5D Mark IV and the 1D series, and any of the previous R models, the R5 is a clean break, but for the liveview mode of the 1DX Mark III, which is very similar, but an awkward way to shoot wildlife, requiring that one hold the camera out to view the screen rather than look through the viewfinder. Aside from the leap in tracking, the most notable new capability is the ability to keep on a subject without getting suckered into jumping to a complex background. Moreso than with Sony cameras, Canon autofocus would work great for a nighthawk against the sky, but as soon as one dipped below a treeline, you’d expect the autofocus to jump back to the background. Not so anymore. Really this is a function of how much bird is in the frame versus the background.

Estimating roughly, the earlier DSLR autofocus systems would require a bird take up at least 10 percent of a frame in order for they AF to reliably stay on the bird and not slink off to the background. The R5 was holding birds steady in tracked autofocus against contrasty backgrounds while an imaginary rectangle around the birds comprised only 1 percent of the frame or less.  The shot at left was taken at 840mm from a half mile away. There are four birds in the picture. The camera was tracking the one at the bottom middle. It is in perfect autofocus in this easier situation with a relatively low contrast background. Counting pixels, this bird is about 0.1 percent of the frame. Of course, there aren’t a lot of pixels on this bird, as it’s too far away, but this is just to show that autofocus is no longer the limiting factor.

If given the choice to use the $6,500 1DX III or the $4,000 R5 for a day of bird shooting, the R5 would be the clear choice, for autofocus and for resolution and cropping ability. 

One limiting factor can be the lenses, which have varying autofocus motors. The R5 is going to tell the lens where to put its elements to get the right focus, but the lenses determine the speed at which that is done. Testing with the 800mm f/11 and the 600mm f/11 showed that they were much too slow to handle the tracking of such fast-moving and unpredictable flyers. 

Frames per Second

This is probably the single factor that is most improved with this 5-series camera. Canon had been lagging behind most other manufacturers in the frames per second (FPS), likely due to various limits it had in throughput to the card, which could include processing power. This is definitively fixed. Past Canon efforts had boasted of higher FPS figures, but after release we found that the real-world usage lowered the frames very signifcantly. The EOS R, for instance, was theoretically a 7 FPS camera, but when you had continuous autofocus on (processer intensive), it slowed to about 3 FPS, which is worse than the lowest of their low-end consumer APS-C cameras from 2013, the SL1.
Better days are ahead. This R5 shoots 12 frames per second in mechanical shutter (either full shutter or 1rst curtain mode) with 13-bit color depth images, or 20 FPS in electronic shutter. If you pull back the frames to 15 FPS in electronic shutter or 9 FPS in mechanical, the camera will automatically save the files in 14 bit color depth – a difference that isn’t really noticeable in most applications.

Mechanical, 1rst Curtain & Electronic Shutter

The full mechanical shutter is a very satisfying, low-decibel sound and feels very well dampened. Canon has a deserved reputation for “clacky” shutters in its DSLRs, with their “silent shutter” options being a bit of an inside joke. This is different. Full mechanical shutters are generally preferred by people shooting fast-moving subjects. This is because the physical shutter minimizes the rolling shutter, or “jello effect,” that afflicts such pictures – especially when an electronic shutter is used with a sensor that doesn’t move data very quickly.
Perhaps the best compromise option for shutter choice is the 1rst Curtain shutter setting, which leaves the shutter initially open, using the ability to  turn on the sensor to act as the opening shutter, and then using the physical shutter to close off the light after the appropriate duration. The noise isn’t quite halved from the mechanical shutter, but it is even more pleasant, and feels like it conducts less shutter shock through the camera.
The electronic shutter is absolutely silent, and in the case of the R5, does not appear to have much in the way of any disadvantages versus the physical shutter. Unlike other mirrorless cameras tested, the rolling shutter effect is very minimal, a sleeper feature that hasn’t been called out much in R5 reviews to date. The only camera that comes close to this level of speed in offloading data to reduce such distortion is the Sony A9 and its update the A9 II. When those cameras launched, this was the second most emphasized quality of the camera, helping actually define it as a new series, along with its fast frame rates. Sony accomplished this with a new type of stacked sensor that essentially put the bits that read data off of the photosites all over the sensor, so it would happen simultaneously in many sectors. Curiouslyh, how Canon accomplished this hasn’t been divulged or explored yet.

FPS Hobbling

There is a long list of things that degrade effective FPS. The good news is that Canon has eliminated a few of the important ones. Using continuous autofocus, like every action shooter in the world uses, no longer reduces the rate. Yet, there are still some that will lower the rates. Here are two tables of factors that will hobble the frames per second: the first shows the features that simply take more processing power that slows the whole process down; and the second shows factors that increase the amount of data per picture, which in turn takes longer to write to the memory card after the buffer has been exceeded.
FactorFPS Hit
Battery falling below 70%1/4
Anti-flicker1/4
Lens aberration correction1/5
Use of grip???
Wifi use (surprising!)1/4
Auto Lighting Optimizer (ALO)?

The above list is almost certain incomplete. To note errors and omissions, please post the the forum linked below.

The following factors create larger files, which will slow down the frames per second achieved once the buffer has filled; the condition where your FPS rate is determined by actual throughput to the card. 
FactorPost-Buffer FPS Hit
RAW vs JPG/HEIF1/2
Dual Pixel RAW vs RAW1/2
High ISO (>6400)1/5

 

Buffer Depth

The R5, like almost all cameras, writes files first to a memory buffer, and then offloads that buffer over time to the memory card. That last process is the slowest part of the process. This structure allows for faster picture taking until the buffer is full, and then the camera will be limited to the write speed to the memory card. This camera is fast enough in its file writing that if you are shooting JPGs, the card writing can be faster than the camera can even collect information, so there are essentially no limits *if* you are using a fast CF Express card. If you are using a slow SD card, there could be any degree of delay, depending on the sustained write speeds.

When shooting in the larger RAW format in electronic shutter mode (at 20 FPS) we get just under three seconds (59 shots) before it fills the buffer and you become limited to about 10 FPS with one of the several faster CF Express cards on the market currently. The CF Express format has the theoretical capacity to write about 50 percent faster than this, so in the future one could imagine cards that made the buffer superfluous when shooting with 1rst Curtain shutter mode (12 FPS).
While shooting with the 1rst Curtain setting, the camera purrs for 13-16 seconds at 12 FPS (150+ frames), depending on which fast CF Express card is used, and then reduces to 10 FPS, as expected.

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) and Image Stabilization (IS)

New to Canon is the In-Body Image Stabilization system, essentially a moving gimbal of sorts on which the sensor sits, counter-acting any vibrations and human-induced movement. This first try at Canon IBIS appears to be as good as any other manufacturer’s, on the level of Olympus and Panasonic, and significantly better than that of Sony.
Adapted EF lenses without lens IS will be able to use the IBIS. Adapted lenses with lens IS employ the lens IS and will not employ the IBIS. RF lenses with lens IS will allow a choice of using either lens IS or both Lens IS and IBIS. The exceptions so far are the the somewhat strange 600mm and 800mm f/11 lenses, which allow only lens IS.
Most native RF glass with lens IS “speaks” to the IBIS system in a manner to add additional stabilization than otherwise possible with only lens IS or only IBIS. This is not a completely accretive benefit. 5 stops of IBIS plus 4 stops of lens IS will not get you 9 stops of total stabilization, but will get you a few stops more than the individual components. Canon publishes charts to show which combinations give you what effective benefit. The ones shaded in green have been tested by Camnostic. Canon is sending a 600mm f/4 III for a future direct comparison against the 600 f/4 II already in hand, along with another dozen EF lenses to get a sense of IBIS performance with older high-end glass. Out of curiosity, we’re also having Canon send a 1DX Mark III to use as a benchmark against the R5.
LensLens ISWith R5 IBIS
RF 24-70 f/2.858
RF 24-105 f/458
RF 24-70 f/4-7.158
RF 70-200 f/2.857.5
RF 15-35 f/2.857
RF 35 f/1.857
RF 24-240 f/4-6.356.5
RF 100-500 f/4.5-7.156
RF 85 f/1.28
RF 28-70 f/28
RF 50 f/1.27
RF 600 f/1155
RF 800 f/1144
There is some skepticism about people actually seeing 8 stops of IS, which some previously considered impossible. This means that a shot that would require a shutter speed of X would be able to be taken with the same amount of camera motion blur at X*256. So a shot that required 1/1000th of second to be clean could now be shot at 1/4 of a second. This is a bit nuts, so we tested it. It worked with some caveats. Essentially, if the original required speed without IS at least as fast as 1/1000th of a second, we could get 7 stops of motion dampening. If, though, we were starting off at a slower shutter speed, like 1/30th of a second, it wasn’t practical to hold the camera still for 8.5 seconds, as a different – grosser – sort of motion was introduced beyond the capacity of the IS systems to counter. This is likely what accounts for inconsistent findings among initial R5 reviewers.
These tests were conducted on both the RF 70-200, RF 28-70 and the RF 85 f/1.2. That last two are strange case. The lenses don’t have lens IS. So, somehow the information from accelerometers in the lens, communicate back to the camera, managing to increase the R5’s 5-stop IBIS by an additional three stops without actually having any IS elements in the lens. It’s a weird new world that bodes poorly for tripod manufacturers.

High ISO Performance

ISO performance is often mischaracterized as good because the people doing the testing use well-lit situations. In point of fact, photographers use high ISOs in light-stressed situations, and in those situations, the ISO effects on image quality tend to be much worse than in well-lit situations. The best way to test for high ISO performance is to shoot a moving subject at a fast shutter speed, forcing a higher ISO and an underexposed shot. That’s the real world. It’s that adrenaline-filled moment when you know you’re compromising between speed, light and ISO sensitivity. 

In that real world, I’d rather have the R5 in my hands than any other camera. The shot below was taken at 12,800 ISO.

This shot of a great blue heron could not have been taken by my Sony A7r IV (AF would not have tracked it adequately); or by my Sony A9 II (its low resolution wouldn’t have allowed me to crop in this far, and the AF may or may not have tracked the bird); or my Panasonic S1R (autofocus); or my Canon 1DX III (resolution). But all those issues aside, I don’t think the ISO performance would have been as good if all images were downscaled to a common resolution.

The R5 is the first camera I’ve ever set the AUTO ISO maximum to 25,600, knowing I could get keepers. Just a month ago, my daily shooter was the Sony A7R IV, and I had the maximum ISO set for 6,400. I believe that the image quality I get at 25,600 on the R5 is the equivalent of the Sony A7R IV at between 6,400 and 12,800; and that were I to process the Sony files to equivalent R5 resolution (the Sony has 30 percent more pixels), the improvement in the R5 would be roughly half a stop.

The Sony files do appear to hold up better to more radical levels adjustments in post processing. Files – to my eye – tend to get a bit crunchy after moving exposure more than three stops on the R5, where the Sony files typically can be moved 4 stops without similar negative effects. The upshot of all of this is that if you require four to five stops of exposure correction, the Sony files may be just as good, but in almost all other cases, the R5 files will get you better image quality.

The R5 has plenty of different ways to control ISO. You can use the multi-controller, set it to any of the dials, use the Q button, etc. The annoying part is that when you use the Set button, the lens button, or the depth-of-field preview button, you can move the ISO up or down, but you can’t set it back to Auto. This has been true of previous bodies, and it’s very annoying, but the R5 does default it back to the original setting, after the next series of shots is fired, which is a big improvement. Where those ISO switching methods used to only be useful to people who didn’t use Auto ISO, now it can be used by the Auto users who intend to make temporary changes to the aperture and then let it fall back to its original setting after the shot.

It should be noted that the RF lenses (and most adapters) have a new control ring on them, which allows them to be set for any number of functions, including an ISO dial. There is a charm to having them set to aperture, as it harkens back to the days when the apertures were manually set on the lenses.

All of the elements in these various tabs greatly affect image quality, but the combination of all of them generate a rough sense of what you’ll hear fuzzily termed “IQ.” Aside from the factors specified in these tabs, there are a number of potential IQ killers:

  • Anti-aliasing filters that are too strong
  • Dynamic range limitations
  • Color rendition
  • Lower color bit depth used under processor-stressed situations

AA Filter

The R5 does have an anti-aliasing filter, but it is not strong. By way of comparison, the 5DsR does has a negated AA filter and 5 additional megapixels of resolution, but the R5 is demonstrably sharper than the aging high-megapixel DSLR.

Dynamic Range

Canon seldom tells people the expected dynamic range of a new camera, but this time reps were telling some reviewers that it should wind up being about 12 stops. Bill Claff, one of the industry’s data saints, keeps records of actual calculated dynamic range data for most cameras, and the R5 will in fact sling just under 12 stops – a fantastic showing besting both the “flagship” 1dX Mark III and Sony’s A7R Mark IV, probably the two cameras most often considered as alternatives. The R5 has slightly more than a full stop of additional dynamic range at base ISO versus the 5D Mark IV and EOS R, which share a sensor. At higher ISOs, there is little or no improvement. 

Color Rendition

Canon has always enjoyed a reputation for good colors, which probably has more to do with some foibles in competing systems. Tony Northrup did one of his wonderful big data articles, polling his audience to see which pictures they thought looked best, without telling them which images was from what brand of camera. In that blind test, people really didn’t show the preferences that they thought they would. However, having shot Sony for more than a year, we can say that the auto white balance in those cameras is poor in the first few milliseconds of a scene change, and gets better as the frame is allowed to settle before firing off a shot. This sort of speed issue may cause shooters to perceive color problems rather than AWB speed problems. If Tony’s sample images were carefully taken shots, they would not have shown these operational issues, so it would skew preferences. All of this is to say that the color rendition is as nice on the R5 has it has been on previous Canon cameras and that the reasons behind certain preference perceptions haven’t been adequately teased out yet. 

Color Bit Depth

The Canon R5 generally shoots in 13 bit color when running at its highest speed. When the camera is taken off the H+ settings (either in mechanical or electronic shutter modes), the bit depth goes up to 14. This is an interesting, perhaps innovative compromise relative to the Sony A9 systems, which received criticism for dropping from 14-bit to 12-bit color when shooting at the fastest speed. The upshot of that controversy was that people generally couldn’t tell the difference, although our own tests showed that – if you tried very hard – you could. The difference wasn’t enough to take the hit on the frames per second. With 13-bit color, it will be interesting to see if it can be noticed at all.

 

Rolling Shutter

It’s a bit odd that Canon didn’t lead with the lack of rolling shutter – caused by a massively-improved sensor readout architecture – as a key feature. This improvement is the difference between a camera that takes nice still lifes and a camera that can be used for sports, wildlife, weddings and any other genre where there is subject movement. The picture below shows a 2010 Eurocopter 135 P2 helicopter ambulance whose rotor speed at the tip is typically around 450 miles per hour. We were taking shots of a speeding dog chasing around the yard, and a boy on a bike when this aircraft happened to fly overhead. If this rotor doesn’t show a great deal of rolling shutter, your sprinter isn’t going to either.

 

Rolling shutter – sometimes called the “Jello effect” – is where a slower sensor readout causes a distortion effect that gives an image a fun-house mirror effect, typically smudging the image to the left the further down the sensor you go. Our first impression is that the R5’s resistance to this effect is roughly on par with the industry’s current rolling shutter champion, the Sony A9 II. 

 

There is more to the power features of cameras nowadays than just how many pictures you can get out of a battery. Brute force power is important, but also important is the flexibility of power sources, and increasingly, how software reacts to different situations when the camera is powered externally. But first things first…

Battery Performance

The new LP-E6NH batteries have about 1/7th more power than the earlier LP-E6N batteries, now making it competitive with the Sony Z batteries, if just shy of the Z100’s rated power. These new batteries come new with no charge, which may suggest a chemistry change, as Canon previously shipped them with about 60-70 percent power.

The camera is rated to 320 shots per battery, which is of course horse hockey. CIPA ratings are notorious for underestimating actual field performance, as they require much in the way of viewfinder use, post-shot viewing, etc. A rough rule of thumb is to double the CIPA rating. Still, the battery performance is less than that seen with the DSLRs running the LP-E6N batteries by a good margin. Our own performance testing found that the R5 showed inordinate battery usage when we were taking occasional shots, but quite good battery usage when we were shooting at high frame rates. The sample set of two R5 cameras were set to maximum battery draining features, such as the higher viewfinder frame rate. This strongly suggests that the overhead of running the viewfinder and spending more uptime per shot took a toll on the battery. In one instance, we got more than 3,000 shots off of one battery, but that was doing shutter speed tests, involving very large numbers of shots over a short period of time.

A sample set of eight LP-E6NH batteries was run through a Dolgin charger that has an MAH measurement feature. All batteries charged up initially to between 2080 MAH and 2100 MAH. Interestingly, subsequent charges reached lower power levels, but then further chargings brought them back up close to their original spec-busting levels. This is notable in that it is likely that many reviewers will start testing a camera in earnest a few charges in, and that is when they’d get the worst battery performance. It is quite possible the variance we see in opinions on the battery across reviewers may simply be a function of how much their battery happened to have been broken in.

Battery chemistry is a series of compromises, and to all of our tests needs to be added a caveate: the long-term performance of a battery will show itself after a few months of use. The classic mistake many make is to buy third party batteries (nothing against third party batteries) and post an opinion on it after a few charges. They do fantastically. Six months later they will often perform about 80 percent as well as the Canon batteries. So this section will be updated to ensure we can detect any trends.

Speaking of third party batteries, the LP-E6NH does still more communicating with the body, and there are certain functions – some important ones – that work only with Canon’s own batteries. There are not yet any third party versions that claim to immitate the NH status and make the camera provide full functionality with, for instance, maximum frame rates.

Old Battery Performance

A hodgepodge set of LP-E6 and LP-E6N batteries – the older ones included with Canon cameras going back to the Cretaceous Period – were run through the R5 cameras. A few things to note:

  1. The shots gotten per battery were – not surprisingly – directly correlated to the MAH levels those batteries showed
  2. The earlier batteries – the oldest of which was 10 years old – performed shockingly well for their age. In fact, some of these batteries were dug out of a drawer that hadn’t been opened in 15 months. One of the older batteries had a charge approaching 70 percent.

Using these older batteries will put the training wheels on the camera for H+ shooting, the fastest frame rate capacity. This will move your FPS down to 15 from 20 when using electronic shutter.

USB Power

USB power is a big deal for some, but there’s USB power, and then there’s USB power. At its most basic, a camera will allow charging of an internal battery when a USB battery is hooked up to the USB port. The Canon R did this – a first for Canon – but it did not all for the operation of the camera under USB power. This precluded the camera from being used as a “remote” hooked up to a big battery, or to be set up in a studio with a larger battery to prevent the hassle of changing out LP-E6Ns. This could be accomplished by using a dummy battery that is then hooked into a battery, but those arrangements more often than not had their own limitations, especially when using USB batteries. Specifically, those batteries tended to turn themselves off after some arbitrarily firmware-determined time, rendering a remote camera useless unless it had been triggered within a specified period of time. Workaround included a small number of batteries that had firmware that did not turn itself off (expensive and quickly drained) or using a product like TetherTools Case Relay device, which had its own hardware that sipped energy from the battery and employed a roughly 1,000 MAH battery internally to keep a larger USB battery on its toes.

The R5 allows for both charging and running the camera, and this is a bit of a game changer for quickly creating reliable remote setups.

Grip Power

 There are two grips designed for the new R5 and R6, the BG-R10, a basic $350 grip with two battery slots, and the other, the WFT-R10A, that costs 2.5 as much and includes faster networking features as well as a rubber interface to allow for a dummy battery to be employed. 

Canon caveats its frame rate statistics indicating that they may be affected negatively with the use of a grip, but we cannot seem to make the grip by itself cause a degradation in FPS. The networking version of the grip can of course enable the use of a faster wifi connection, but the wifi tax imposed on FPS seems to be the same with or without the grip. We’re betting there are readers who have discovered the subtleties of this concern and look forward to hearing more on it. 

Because the amount of juice left in a battery helps determine FPS, it would be optimal if the two batteries in a grip drained in a pattern where one drained to 70 percent, and then the other started draining. This would maximize the times only one battery needed to be removed for recharge, yet keep the highest framerate for the longest time. A pattern very similar to this has been observed with the WFT-R10A, but we are in the process of verifying with actual FPS data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ooh boy.

Ooh boy.

R5 Index To Known Issues

 Known Issues

  1. Canon managed to launch the R5 without testing the intervalometer function. It will work for precisely one exposure and then stop. Which, we suppose, technically makes it just a timer, not an intervalometer.
    1. Update 9/3/20: It appears that the intervalometer stops working only when back button focus (BBF) is enabled and the shutter button is set to not control AF. The fix is to temporarily set the shutter button to control AF as well. This has been tested by camnostic with an R5 camera with the old and one with the new firmware. This issue is considered resolved for users not using BBF. Users that do use BBF can create a Custom mode to use temporarily that does not use BBF.
  2. Random freezes can occur, often requiring battery removal to fix. Of Camnostic’s two R5 units, one exhibited this behavior twice on the first day, and then twice in one evening five weeks later. That camera had about 20,000 shutter actuations between those times. It seems that this is very occasional for those afflicted. Forum dwellers have attempted to eliminate factors through deliberate testing and getting more detailed reports.
    1. Factors known to not be consistent among the freezes (so are likely innocent):
      • NH batteries versus N batteries or the old LP-E6
      • Battery level
      • Autofocus mode
      • Ambient temperature
      • Length of use
      • Control use
      • File type shot
      • EF lenses versus RF lenses
    2. We would be interested to hear anyone’s experience shooting the R6 camera and having this issue. No reports have surfaced yet. Please email editorial -@- camnostic.com.
  3. Manual focus override appears to not work when the camera is set for normal shutter button operation. Back button focus (BBF) users are able to use manual focus as soon as they stop pressing the button set for autofocus, but users who activate AF with the shutter button are unable to nudge focus via the manual ring on lenses. This problem presents a problem for people who wish to both use manual focus override *and* use the intervalometer, as both issues appear related to BBF, but require opposite settings to allow their respective functions.
  4. While Canon mostly meets its disclosed record time limitations in high-bitrate video recording (8k, 120p 4k and 4k HQ), its timer/governor seems at times over-enthusiastic in shutting down the camera. There are reports of very little time being given, despite the camera starting cold. Most people find the camera hews to its limits fairly accurately, but there are instances where warnings appear to be earlier than needed or desired. Some tests have shown that the warnings are controlled by time and not temperature. Tests also show that certain functions that typically do not generate heat (like slow stills work) are counting against these time limits.
    1. [Update] The new firmware release in late August increased recording time when the internal temperatures warranted it. According to Canon release notes, the temperature sensors are now consulted more frequently. This also effectively shortened cool-down times by about five minutes in most cases. People doing short clips (:30 to 1 minute) report being able to alternate recording and resting almost indefinitely, although that is a fairly narrow use case. 
    2. [Update] A workaround is available by recording externally with both cards out. Oddly, recording externally without taking out both cards will not solve the problem, even as those cards aren’t being used. This has been extensively tested (for contiguous hours) by Camnostic and has proven reliable, if less convenient than internal recording. This issue is considered resolved for users of external recorders. Simply take the cards out. The issue of slow cool-down times remains for people wishing to record internally and is unlikely to be mitigated much further by Canon, but the new frequency of polling the temperature sensors may mean that active cooling measures (fans, etc.) may now prove effective where they hadn’t before.
  5. Shooting with the WFT-R10A grip (the more expensive, networked one) can cause the fps to go down to 9 from 12 in mechanical shutter, even when the batteries are fresh and the camera can shoot 12 fps without the grip with its current settings. The only solution to this so far is to reset the network settings.

Firmware-Addressable Missing Features

  1. E-Shutter FPS: In electronic shutter, the 0nly frame speed is 20 frames per second. This is often undesirable, and Canon reps have been made aware of this from multiple respected sources. 
  2. Card/Battery Door Opening Changes Focus: When you open either the card door or the battery door to swap cards or batteries, the focus on an RF lens is reset. This is obvious if the original plane of focus was far off from the reset point, but it it is close, this may not be noticed and addressed by the user. This also happens if the camera is turned off and on again. A feature could be added to return the focal plane to the previous location.
  3. Unlimited 4Q HQ / 8K recording: Using an external recorder allows for unlimited recording in these high-bitrate formats, but only if both the SD and CFexpress cards are removed from the camera. Firmware could address this by turning off those modules, rather than requiring card removal. It is easy to forget to remove the cards – an arbitrary requirement – and have the camera overheat when recording externally.
Hardware Hacker: R5 + Heat pads = Unlimited 8K

Hardware Hacker: R5 + Heat pads = Unlimited 8K

Petapixel covered Yifan Gu’s geeky blog post providing a how-to on how to thermally modify your Canon R5 to shoot 8K without the normal time limits. Yes, you’ll nuke your warranty, but you’ll do so gloriously – not like all those lame people who merely let condensation collect in their camera bags.

You’ll need some tools, and probably about 40 steps not mentioned in the “step-by-step” blog post comprised of just a few pages. At least that’s what Roger Cicala made it seem like when he and a colleague opened up one of theirs over at Lensrentals [Ed.: Maybe they’re just whiners].

In any case, when shooting the modified R5, with heat pads essentially providing a thermal conduit from the hot bits to the back of the camera case, Gu was able to get unlimited recording in cool temperatures, and longer time at room temperature. The warmer performance was also made essentially unlimited with the adding of a fan on the back. This is interesting because Cicala’s supposition was that the heat problem was most likely due to there not being any obvious way for the heat to move out of the camera guts – the very problem Gu may have solved.

The heat transfer starts

Canon Drops R6 Firmware Update, Also Update to R5 Update

Canon Drops R6 Firmware Update, Also Update to R5 Update

Newsshooter points out that a new firmware release has dropped for both the R5 and R6. The firmware is currently only on the Canon Japan site. Traditionally, these roll out over the timezones over the course of a day. We expect the Canon USA R5 and R6 pages to have the update later this morning or early afternoon.

The same firmware update put out last week for the R5 is now available for the R6 in a slightly-improved form, the one change being that it also addresses a lately-noticed issue of the RF 100-500 zoom lens losing some image stabilization performance in continuous autofocus. Both firmware updates are called the 1.1.1 version. Previously, the R6 launched with the 1.0 version, and the R5 had been revved to version 1.1.

Camnostic has been running two R5 cameras, one with the 1.0 firmware and the other with the 1.1 firmware to assess differences (finding not much to date). This morning, a 100-500 zoom was mounted to both units, and neither appeared to reproduce an image stabilization fault in continuous autofocus, indicating the problem may be under obscure use case conditions.

An RF Heir to Canon 7D Mark II Rumored

An RF Heir to Canon 7D Mark II Rumored

Over at Canon Rumors, there is a hot discussion about how likely it is that a – reportedly reliably sourced – rumor about a new RF-mount APS-C sensor camera coming out in a year or so might hold some truth. Of course, being an internet forum, the conversation quickly morphed to the implications of whether or not Canon will keep the forever neglected M mount – the current crop offering.

CR was told that the camera would be a “higher margin” offering focusing on speed and have a smaller form factor than the R5.

Such an offering would be unexpected, given that Canon is showing the ability to make very small cameras (like the RP) in full frame sensor size and at crop sensor prices. Manufacturing efficiencies mean that a crop sensor is no longer as cheap relative to a full frame sensor, so there is less price benefit as well. But far be it from Camnostic to come between bird-in-flight action photographers and an opportunity to spend another four figures on a new set of bodies and lenses, if true.