The EOS R5 – The Best Canon Camera To Date – Period (Podcast 714)

The EOS R5 – The Best Canon Camera To Date – Period (Podcast 714)

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It’s Here! On August 6, a week after the initial release, I picked up my new Canon EOS R5! As usual, I have watched with a smile as most of the online photography community has bashed this camera and looked for reasons not to buy it. The video overheating issues we’re hearing about is the most common and seems to have somehow been extrapolated out to give people what they feel to be a valid reason to spout negativity about a camera that hardly any of them have even held.

Well, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that this is without a shadow of a doubt, simply the best camera that Canon has ever made, in all respects, including video. If you need an 8K video camera, buy an 8K video camera, but if you need a stills camera that does everything it was designed for, including up to 20 frames per second stills photography at 45 megapixels, you can’t go wrong with the EOS R5. The 8K video features are awesome, as is the ability to shoot full-frame 4K video at up to 120 frames per second! But these are, in my opinion, bonus features, and should be treated as such.

If Canon intended the R5 to be a video camera, they would have added fans and vents to keep the sensor and memory card cool, but guess what? Adding vents on a stills camera compromises the weatherproofing, and personally I prefer to own a camera that I can use in bad weather rather than a camera that allows me to shoot unlimited length 8K video. I’m excited about the 8K video and high frame-rate 4K video, but as I said, this is a bonus and I’ll use it as it allows.

Main Points

I’m not going to list all of the features of the Canon EOS R5, mostly because you can get a full rundown of this amazing camera on Canon’s websites worldwide, but I do want to quickly mention the main points and the reasons why I ordered this camera as soon as it was possible to do so. To me, the two most exciting features of the EOS R5 are the fast frame rate and high-resolution images. These two things never used to come together. For the first two decades of mainstream digital photography, we could have one or the other. Fast frame-rate and lower resolutions, or higher resolution and low frame rate.

The Canon EOS R5 Body
The Canon EOS R5 Body

When I saw the specs for the EOS R5 I knew that Canon must have moved to a new card format, but I admit that I did not have my antenna out to catch information on the CFexpress standard until I saw the specs for the R5. It was not much of a surprise for me to learn that ProGrade Digital, the memory card manufacturer that I have been using exclusively for the last few years, was on the bleeding edge of this new technology. In the spirit of full disclosure I would like to mention that although I bought my first 512GB ProGrade Digital CFexpress card and their Thunderbolt 3 card reader, they were kind enough to send me the other cards that I have tested and reported on in the previous post and will also be using for the tests that I report on in this review as well.

Back to my point though, it is completely awesome that the Canon EOS R5 has delivered both high frame rate shooting with high-resolution 45 megapixel images. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but as my test results have showed, it absolutely is, and I’m completely excited about this.

The other thing that I knew would happen, is the improved refresh rate and clarity of the electronic viewfinder. I really enjoyed shooting with the EOS R bodies over the past two years, but it was without doubt a stepping stone camera, and using it to shoot wildlife worked, but it required patience to work with the viewfinder for fast paced shooting, and on occasion would cost me a shot or two as the camera simply wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pace of shooting and my often very quickly moving subjects.

I can’t share footage of this, but I have had my wife dart around our apartment and disappear behind sofa and doors, and I am completely confident that the improvements that Canon has made to both the viewfinder and the autofocus system are worlds ahead of what we have in the EOS R, and I knew that would be the case.

I have also been highly impressed with the ability of the new autofocus system to track with the eye of not only humans but with animals now. I found that the EOS R worked well with monkeys because they are similar to us, but the EOS R5 now supports tracking of a number of animals, including dogs, cats, and birds, so I’m looking forward to getting out in the field more with the R5 and really putting these new features to the test.

Last, but not least, I was somewhat excited by the addition of In-Body Image Stabilization, and have been blown away to find that this works incredibly well with my RF 50mm f/1.2 L lens, despite it not having IS built into the lens itself, and I’ll touch on this more in my review as well.

Note that when I moved to mirrorless with Canon I made a decision to no longer buy the battery grips for my cameras. I sometimes miss not having the vertical grip, and I have found that with the R5 the batteries do run out relatively quickly, probably due to the in-body image stabilization and perhaps also the extra power needed to run the CFexpress cards. I’ve not checked on this, but the CFexpress cards are generating heat, and that has to come from somewhere, so I assume they are using more power. I’ll correct myself later if I’m wrong on this. I decided keep my cameras lower profile from now on though, and initially wondered if this might prevent the camera from reaching the maximum frame rate, but that was not the case, as I’ll share with you shortly.

Articulated LCD - Yes!
Articulated LCD – Yes!

Thinking about it, one other thing to note is that I was at one point concerned that the EOS R5 might not have an articulated LCD, as this somewhat compromises the weatherproofing, and Canon have historically only used an articulated LCD on lower-end cameras, so I was happy to read a while back that the R5 does indeed have an articulated LCD. I have become accustomed to pulling out and using this for low angle shooting, and also for video when I have to see what I’m shooting from the front of the camera, so I didn’t want to lose the functionality in the R5. OK, so with those observations out of the way, let’s jump deeper into this, as I share some of my findings, having actually used the camera.

Problem with Adobe DNG Workaround at High ISOs

The first thing I noticed and wanted to talk about is the workaround that most people are using to process EOS R5 raw files. Most photo editing software, such as Capture One Pro, my personal choice, does not yet natively support R5 raw files, and I initially used the Adobe DNG Converter software to convert my images to DNG files and they can then be imported into Capture One Pro. However, when I compared the results of my ISO performance test, pitching the R5 against the EOS R, it became obvious that as the ISO increases, the DNG converted files are not being processed correctly in Capture One Pro.

High ISO Color Degradation of Converted DNG files in Capture One Pro
High ISO Color Degradation of Converted DNG files in Capture One Pro

Here is a screenshot of Capture One with a converted DNG file starting at ISO 100 and working up to ISO 102400, which is the second to last image. The final image in the bottom right corner though is the same ISO 102400 image processed in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, and Adobe Bridge and Photoshop display the image with the correct colors too. So, if you use Capture One Pro and high ISOs, be aware that you may not be getting accurate color until Phase One releases an update with official support for the Canon EOS R5.

Image Quality / Resolution

So, as I work on this review, there are a number of things that are really important to me. The first two being image quality and ISO performance, and then I’m going to test the frame rate, as this camera is opening up some very interesting doors for wildlife and sports photographers. I will also test the raw image buffer, and see if it’s possible to fill it, and if it is, how long it takes to free up and enable us to continue to shoot. Let’s start with a look at image quality.

Because Capture One Pro does not yet support the EOS R5 images and there is a problem with using converted DNG files with Capture One Pro, I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma. I tried outputting TIFF files from Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, but the image quality is not as good as Capture One Pro, which is, of course, why I use Capture One Pro, but I need to show you an apples to apples comparison. What I’ve decided to do for this test, is to share a high-resolution screenshot of four images displayed simultaneously. The top left image is the EOS R5 raw file converted to DNG, and for this test that’s not a problem because the image has no color to get messed up.

EOS R and EOS R5 Resolution Comparison (RF 50mm Lens @ ƒ8, ISO 100, 4 second exposure)
EOS R and EOS R5 Resolution Comparison (RF 50mm Lens @ ƒ8, ISO 100, 4 second exposure)

The top right image is the raw image from the EOS R as a direct comparison for the top left image. The bottom two images are TIFF files processed in Digital Photo Professional with no processing except the standard raw sharpening, which is the same processing as Capture One Pro. What I then need you to do is to click on the image to open it in the Lightbox, and then click on the cloud icon with the down arrow in the top right of the Lightbox, and that should enable you to download the image to your computer for closer inspection.

What you’ll find is that apart from the EOS R5 image being obviously higher resolution, as in, it is larger than the EOS R image because both are zoomed in to 100%, but apart from that, the image quality as such is pretty much the same. This is to be expected because the EOS R with RF lenses is also incredibly good image quality. I’d also like you to look at the bottom two DPP processed images, and you’ll be able to confirm that they are slightly softer. They aren’t as sharp, and that is why I could not do an apples to apples comparison using these TIFF files. I think you’ll agree though that as far as the resolution is concerned, there is nothing to be concerned about. Both images were shot with the RF 50mm ƒ/1.2L lens at ƒ8, ISO 100.

ISO Performance

My dilemma continues now as I try to show you the ISO Performance Test results. What I’ve decided to do is to share pairs of images from each camera, the EOS R5, and the EOS R. The first image of each pair is a 100% crop from a TIFF file with both sharpening and noise reduction applied in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software. The second image has only Sharpening applied so that you can get a better idea of the actual amount of grain in the image, as well as seeing how well this can be cleaned up with DPP. Capture One Pro also cleans up the images nicely even with its default settings, but I’d rather not share the images from the DNG converted raw files because of the color issues at high ISOs that I mentioned earlier.

I’m also going to group all of the images by ISO, so as you click through these in the Lightbox, you’ll see four ISO 100 images first, starting with a pair from the EOS R5, with one image having had DPP Processing, and a second with just sharpening, and then the same processing options for another pair of images from the EOS R for comparison. I selected the area of the image that I focussed on to zoom in to 100% on because it shows both detail and the noise levels in the shadow and darker areas of the image. Note too that I am exposing to the right for these shots, with almost two stops of exposure compensation to ensure that the whites are white. This is how I shoot everything, and it does result in less grain, and therefore better ISO Performance, which is the hole point of this test.

I think you’ll probably agree that there is no real visible noise in any of the images up until ISO 6400 with the noise reduction turned off, but in the images that had DPP noise reduction turned on, it doesn’t really start to be visible until ISO 12800, and even that is very usable from both cameras. ISO 25600 without noise reduction starts to look pretty nasty, but again, very respectable when noise reduction is applied. At ISO 51200 both cameras start to show a lot of grain, although could arguably be used at a push, and then from the massive 102400 that is the highest ISO that both cameras will shoot at, it seems that the Canon noise reduction is actually a little too heavy-handed on the R5 images, as we start to lose detail in the flowers, and the EOS R actually looks slightly better. For the final set I’ve also added a Capture One Pro processed version as I think Capture One is slightly kinder on the detail, but keep in mind that the colors are messed up without official support yet for the EOS R5.

The verdict from my ISO Tests is that the ISO performance of the Canon EOS R5 is, pretty much across the board, very similar, even close to identical to the EOS R, but when we consider that the EOS R5 is 45 megapixels compared to the 30 megapixels of the EOS R, keeping the ISO Performance on par with the EOS R is an incredible feat in itself. Based on my tests I always commit to memory a soft and hard ceiling for how high I will take my ISO in the field, and for the EOS R5, as with the EOS R, I’m going to consider going as high as ISO 12800 a no-brainer, and will use ISO 25600 when necessary, and probably also 51200 at a push. I will probably turn off the expandable High ISO of 102400, as I doubt I’ll ever use it, but with a usable 51200, who cares!?

Frame Rate and Raw Buffer Observations

I have also tested the Frame Rate and Raw Buffer so let’s take a look at the results of these tests now. I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot any wildlife yet, so these results are from tests in my studio, but I think you’ll still find this useful. The first observation is that using ProGrade Digital’s Cobalt cards, with the Electronic 1st Curtain shutter, it is not possible to fill the raw buffer. To simulate some fast-paced shooting settings in conditions that I often work in, I increased my ISO to 800 and I used a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second. That could have been faster, but I didn’t have much light and wanted to actually record images rather than black frames so that the camera had some processing to do. When I started to shoot, the raw buffer was displaying as 56, and I mashed down on the shutter button and kept it pressed down for around 200 frames, and with no sign of it slowing down, I released my finger, and the raw buffer still said 56, so the camera was emptying its buffer to the card as quickly as I could shoot them, and that is very impressive.

9 FPS at ISO 800 Electronic 1st Curtain

I counted the number of images that I was able to shoot each second, and for the first burst, shot with Electronic 1st-curtain shutter, I was seeing a constant switching back and forth between 8 and 9 frames, for a fraction over 20 seconds and ended up with a total of 181 images, so my frame rate at ISO 800 was slightly under 9 frames per second, and that is very nice. Just under what Canon claims but with the ISO increased that’s to be expected.

Constant 20 fps with Electronic Shutter!

I then switched to the Electronic shutter and found that even at ISO 800, I was able to get 20 frames per second for the first five seconds. The camera didn’t skip a beat, giving me more than 100 frames at 20 fps, and then I did hit the full buffer from around frame 113, giving me just 13 frames for sixth consecutive second in a burst. That then dropped to 7 frames for my seventh second, then just one frame during my eighth second, and then back up to six frames for my ninth second.

Basically, the 20 fps is available for bursts of up to 5 to 6 seconds, or just over 100 frames, and that is amazing! What’s more, with the CFexpress card, if you give the camera just a second or two, it writes the frames in the buffer to the card, and you are ready to shoot again. I haven’t tested this with wildlife yet, and I do not yet know if there will be any problems caused by the rolling shutter, but I imagine with some fast-moving subjects there will be some tracing of movement during the exposure, so we may have to drop to the Electronic 1st-Curtain shutter anyway. I will still give this a try when possible, and report back on my findings.

Honestly though, if I can get around 8 to 9 frames per second with Electronic 1st-Curtain, that is plenty for me to nail my wildlife shots. I’ve been nailing shots based on good timing and technique with as little as 2 to 3 frames per second for the last five years or so, so anything above that is a bonus for me anyway.

Mechanical Shutter Frame Rate

Finally, I tested the Mechanical Shutter Frame Rate, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is pretty much identical to the Electronic 1st-Curtain frame rate, giving me 9 frames per second for 4 out of 5 seconds, and dropping to 8 once every five seconds, so we’re talking an average frame rate of 8.8 frames per second. Again, for a mechanical shutter, that is incredible, especially when we consider that the images are 45 megapixels!

ProGrade Digital Gold CFexpress Cards

All of the previous frame rate and buffer tests were performed with the ProGrade Digital 325GB Cobalt CFexpress card, so I ran the same tests with their 512GB and 1TB Gold cards as well, as these are less expensive, but come with slower write speeds, as I mentioned in my recent review. I’m really pleased to report though, that with the Mechanical Shutter, the frame rate was the same as the Cobalt cards, coming in at 9 frames per second for four out of five seconds, and drops to 8 frames for one second out of five, so we’re still looking at an average frame rate of 8.8 frames per second.

ProGrade Digital CFExpress Type B Memory Cards and Workflow Readers
ProGrade Digital CFExpress Type B Memory Cards and Workflow Readers

The buffer did not fill while using the Mechanical shutter, and after shooting a burst of around 80 images, I took my finger off the shutter button and the buffer showed that it was around five frames down from 66, which is my buffer at ISO 100, as I had a little more light for these tests. My shutter speed was still at 1/250 of a second as with my earlier tests. With the Electronic 1st-Curtain shutter, I actually got more seconds at 9 frames per second, and once again, the buffer was just a few frames down after a burst, and replenished almost instantly.

With the Electronic shutter, I continued to get straight 20 frames per second for the full 66 frames of my buffer, but when the buffer filled, the camera pretty much locked up and it took around 12 seconds for the camera to write the full buffer of images to the Gold card, compared to just a few seconds with the Cobalt card. When you consider that this was following a burst of 66 images at 20 frames per second though, in practical terms I really don’t think this is a big deal.

It basically means that both the ProGrade Digital Cobalt and Gold cards work incredibly well with the Canon EOS R5. I will use the Cobalt cards for critical frame rate fast-paced wildlife work, but the Gold cards are a chunk of change less than the Cobalt cards, and with these results, I’d say that they are a very good alternative, giving excellent results if you are watching your pennies.

ProGrade Digital Cobalt SDXC Test

Note too that I also tested shooting stills with the ProGrade Digital Cobalt SDXC card, and got 83 frames in a single burst, and once the buffer filled, it took just six seconds to write the images to the card and the camera was ready to shoot again with an empty buffer. That means it took half the time to empty the buffer than the CFexpress Gold card, so if you don’t need to shoot 8K video or high frame-rate 4K video, and you want to save even more pennies, then a Cobalt SDXC card is a viable alternative, even compared to a Gold CFexpress card!

This is also good to know if you already have a fast SDXC card, and makes using the SDXC slot a valid option for switching cards, and even as the first choice to store your images to, say for example, if you want to store just your videos on the CFexpress card, and automatically write your stills to the SDXC Card. Under the Record func+card/folder select option on SET UP1 screen in the R5’s menu, you can tell the camera to record stills and video to separate cards, or have either stills or video automatically switch cards when one is full. You can also save raw format video on the CFexpress card MP4 compressed video to the SDXC card. I’ve had video cut-out due to a full card on the EOS R because it only had one slot, so I will be leaving a Cobalt SDXC card in the second slot and allowing at least video to spill over to the second card when necessary, assuming it doesn’t overheat first, of course, and we’ll get to that in a moment.

Lightening Fast Workflow

I was so impressed with the speed at which I can transfer my images and video to my computer that I created a short video in which I monitor the time required to copy a 107.5GB 8K video file and just short of 200 50MB image files from the ProGrade Digital 325GB Cobalt CFexpress card using the their Thunderbolt 3 card reader. The video is to provide proof rather than for entertainment, so to be a blatant spoiler, the video file takes just 1:07 seconds and just under 200 image files take a hair under 10 seconds to copy across, which is about 20 images per second!

Overheating When Recording Video

Although stills are my main gig, I do shoot video sometimes, and as I mentioned earlier, I am excited about the 8K video and high frame rate 4K video, so I’ve done limited tests of recording video, to see roughly how bad the overheating issues that everyone is complaining about really are. In my studio with the air-conditioning on, and the temperature still sitting at around 32° C (90° F) and using the fastest ProGrade Digital 325GB Cobalt CFexpress card, I recorded about a minute of 8K-D 29.97 ALL-I video, stopped it, and then recorded another 11 minutes, at which point the overheat icon displayed on the LCD of the EOS R5. I was holding the camera with both hands, so not letting much air circulate around it, but that’s all I got.

After letting the camera cool down for an hour or so, I switched to 8K-D 29.97 IPB video, and this time also used the 1TB Gold CFexpress card from ProGrade Digital and was able to shoot for just over 17 minutes before the overheat icon started to flash on my screen. I could probably leave it running a while longer, but the manual says to turn the camera off when that icon is displayed, so I have been doing just that and allowing the camera to cool down for an hour or so.

As a third test, I switched to the 512GB Gold card from ProGrade and started to shoot some 119 frames per second 4K video, which is also very demanding on the camera and memory card, and I was able to record without any problems speed-wise, but I had only given the camera about 10 minutes to cool down this time, so it started to overheat again after just four minutes. Once again, my studio was warm, and I didn’t give the camera long to cool down, so this is about what I expected.

I’m going to stop my video tests there because I’ve found that I can shoot clips that are probably plenty long enough for my usual video work, as it’s usually not a big part of my work, and I have also confirmed that I can write to the ProGrade Digital Gold cards pretty much in the same way as I can write to their Cobalt cards. I do still intend to pick up a 650GB Cobalt card, probably in September when I get the 100-500mm RF lens, and sell my EOS R and my 100-400mm EF lens, as they along with what’s left on my camera store point card, will cover the cost of a second EOS R5. And, of course, because I do always travel and work with two identical bodies if one overheats for video and I really need to continue shooting, I can always switch bodies while the other cools down.

Overheating Does NOT Prevent Shooting Stills

One thing to note, and this is a very important aspect for me, is that you can always shoot stills. If the camera is in an overheat state from shooting video, and you switch to stills, you can continue to shoot without any problems. The overheating applies to video shooting only and does not hinder the shooting of still photographs.

The Cocoon Building in Shinjuku
The Cocoon Building in Shinjuku

Example Photos

Before we start to wrap this up, I’d like to share a handful of example photos that I shot on the day that I got the camera and the following day, to start to get used to shooting with the Canon EOS R5. Again, these are converted to DNG and processed in Capture One Pro, but the ISO was down at 100, so the colors shouldn’t be out of whack.

I would usually make the blues a little more vibrant, as I was shooting towards the sun a little, but I’ve left this as it was shot so that you can see what we get in these conditions straight out of the camera. I was impressed with how well the EOS R5 handled the contrast, with the starburst on the tower and the shadow side details looks great, as does the detail in the dark green summer leaves.

I was disappointed that Canon decided to leave GPS out of the R5. I know that they’ve built in the ability to link the camera to a phone and use the GPS data from the phone, but I honestly cannot imagine that this is much better on the camera’s battery than simply running an internal GPS unit. I’m honestly tired of attaching the GP-E2 to the top of my camera all the time, and every camera that Canon has released for the last eight years or so that I have not bought, has had GPS built-in, and I find that really annoying. Luckily, that is the only thing that I find annoying about this camera. Everything else is nothing short of amazing!

Here (below) is another test shot, this time looking down the stairs of the Cocoon Building. I like to shoot this as a test because it gives me a good idea of how well the camera handles contrast and shadows. I increased my ISO to 160 for this to get a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second. I was using my new RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L lens with IS, which, coupled with the new in-body IS of the R5 gives me a total of 7 stops of image stabilization, but I didn’t want the person walking up the stairs to blur more than this.

Incidentally, Canon has announced that the RF 24-105mm f/4 lens gets 8 stops of stabilization, and even my RF 50mm f/1.2 lens gets 7 stops of stabilization despite it not actually having its own internal image stabilization. That’s all from the in body image stabilization.

The Bowels of the Cocoon
The Bowels of the Cocoon

Kind of as a test of the old 100mm Macro L lens that I have, along with the Control Ring Adapter, I shot a few frames of the flowers that I bought to use in my tests as well. I absolutely love the soft tones that we get with the EOS R5, and at f/4 at these close shooting distances, the bokeh is beautiful.

White Chrysanthemum
White Chrysanthemum

Capture One Pro R5 (and R6) Support

UPDATE: Note that on August 25, 2022, Phase One released an update for Capture One Pro that includes support for the EOS R5 and R6 cameras. The Shinjuku images above look OK without something to compare them to, but having reprocessed them in Capture One Pro as opposed to converting to DNG, the images came to life! I released another short post to share four of the images from the first day again with before/after sliders etc. You can see that post here:

Sharing My Settings

I’ve been asked a lot about my settings for the EOS R5, so kind of as a second podcast embedded in this one, I have created a video to walk you through every settings screen on my Canon EOS R5 and included specifically my settings for wildlife and fast-paced shooting, so I hope you find this helpful. Note that I do not go into the video settings screens. Video is not my core competence, so I’ll leave that for other reviewers. I don’t go into full detail on every option either, but I do talk about all of the areas that I feel are important, and why I make the selections that I do. The video also has chapters, so you can check out each set of settings screens individually if you prefer.

Note that I have since figured out what the difference between Auto 1 (only screen) and Auto 2 (auto switching) is on the Set up 3 screen, Screen/Viewfinder display option. I couldn’t figure out what was different initially, but since found that Auto 1 switches between the viewfinder and the LCD based purely on whether or not the LCD is folded out into an open position. Basically, if the LCD screen is visible, it will be used, and the Electronic Viewfinder will only become active after you fold the LCD screen away completely. In Auto 2 mode the LCD screen can be visible when you put your eye to the Viewfinder and the viewfinder will activate regardless, so that’s my mode of choice from now on.

Conclusion – 10 Stars out of 5!

OK, so there will be other things that I want to talk about, but I want to get this review out into the world, especially as the camera was a week late, and frankly not having support for the Canon EOS R5 in Capture One Pro caused me more headaches than I’d anticipated, so we’ll blast this out now and I’ll follow up with other findings as time and our not-so-friendly neighborhood virus allows.

I would like to say though in closing that I have literally not been as excited about any camera in Canon’s history as I am with the Canon EOS R5. I’ve been a Canon user since 1991, and I’ve owned some of their best cameras, such as the 1Ds Mark III and 1D X, but the R5 beats them all, in almost every respect. Of course, the 1 Series Canon cameras have much better weather-sealing and they are built like bricks, but that aside, the specifications and image quality of the R5 beats them all.

I don’t usually do star ratings etc. but if I was to rate this camera on a five-star rating system, I’d honestly want to give it ten stars! It really is a stellar camera. Even just using it every day in my studio over the last week has been an absolute pleasure. I’m sure that my wife is sick of hearing me say that Canon has really made something special this time.

As I mentioned earlier, I was enabled by the kind folks at ProGrade Digital by sending me some of their amazing memory cards and a second card reader to test and include in this and my previous review, although that does not affect how I report my findings to you in any way. Canon gives me zip. No gear, and no preferential treatment. I buy all of my camera gear from a camera store in Tokyo, with my own hard-earned Yen, and I still can’t say enough about this camera, so hopefully all-in-all, you’ll trust me when I say that all of the opinions I have shared in this review are simply me telling it how I feel it is.

A Word on the Naysayers

I would like to just add that although I am aware that there is a lot of negative feedback going around about the EOS R5, I want you to be careful as you read or watch some of that stuff. I have always created my reviews straight from the heart, and tell you exactly what I think about my gear, but that is not always true of people reviewing gear. Although I will skim the headlines, I don’t read other reviews, because I want to report my own findings without being influenced by others.

One trend that I am noticing more and more though, is that some reviewers will use negative reviews as a way to draw an audience. Why does this work? Because human nature is essentially flawed and people generally like to hear bad news, but also, many people that are sitting on the fence over new technology want to hear something bad about a product so that they can decide not to buy it.

Personally, I like to make up my own mind. I’m a lone-wolf in that respect, but some people need a push, and the negative reviews provide that push. I’ve also noticed that people with negative opinions can be very vocal. You’ll see more people complaining about the overheating of the R5 than singing its praises for the amazing things that it brings us because people like to defend their decisions not to buy it. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’d bet there is a term for someone that deep down really wants the R5 but they protect their credit cards and probably their egos too, by gathering and spreading negativity. My advice to you is for you to make up your own mind, but be aware, that the naysayers say it louder and generally based on flawed motives.

Support Our Efforts

If you want to help to support the work I do in bringing you these reviews, please consider buying using our affiliate links, a selection of which I’ve placed below.

B&H Affiliate Links

Canon EOS R5 Body –

Canon EOS RF 24-105mm f/4L Lens –

Canon RF 50mm f1.2L USM Lens –
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens –

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens –

Canon LP-E6NH Battery –

ProGrade Product Links

650GB CFexpress Type B Memory Card (Cobalt): and on B&H
325GB CFexpress Type B Memory Card (Cobalt): and on B&H
512GB CFexpress Type B Memory Card (Gold): and on B&H
1TB CFexpress Type B Memory Card (Gold): and on B&H
Thunderbolt 3 CFexpress Type B card reader: On Amazon and on B&H
USB 3.2 Gen 2.0 Dual Slot CFexpress and SDXC UHS-II Reader: On B&H

Show Notes

Visit the ProGrade Digital Website here:

Music by Martin Bailey


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Canon EOS 5D Camera Review (Podcast 5)

Canon EOS 5D Camera Review (Podcast 5)

Having spent a few days with my new Canon EOS 5D, here’s a first impressions based review, in which I explain the merits and demerits of the 5D, plus give you some examples shots from the field.

Welcome to Episode 5, which couldn’t be more appropriate for a first impressions review of the Canon EOS 5D, digital SLR released last week. I received my 5D on September 28, the day of its release having ordered a month previous, following its announcement. I’ve been waiting for a full sized sensor digital SLR from Canon that are more affordable than the 1Ds series. I remember even predicting that it would be called either a 3D or a 5D a few years ago, when the 10D was released, but then lost confidence in that statement when Canon backpedaled by calling the 10D successor 20D.

I also recall saying in a Canon Japan survey that if they released a full size sensor camera below $4,000 I would buy it. I couldn’t go back on my word now could I? Seriously though, I was actually saving for a 1Ds professional DSLR but was probably going to have just about enough money to buy it by the time the Mark III or whatever the Mark II’s successor will be called. Although I would still love to own a 1Ds, I’d saved just enough to buy the 5D and the 24 – 105mm F4L IS USM lens that what released simultaneously with the 5D, and due to a few other factors that I’ll get to shortly, I simply couldn’t resist the 5D.

Before I start really getting into this, I should say that this will not be a full technical review of the EOS 5D. This is going to be my first impressions of the 5D having used it for a few days, with what I consider good, and what I consider not so good about this new offering from Canon. If you would like to see some technical reviews, and also other interesting articles, take a look at the Podcast notes. I’ll include there a link to a review on and another to Michael Reichmann’s excellent site, the Luminous-Landscape, where you’ll find some excellent reviews and other very interesting articles.


So first, let me explain what I consider the merits of the 5D.

Firstly, I feel I must state the obvious, that the 5D has a 12.8 million pixel full sized sensor. Full size means that there is no crop factor or Focal Length Multiplier to calculate when shooting. That is, if you use a 50mm lens you’ll get a 50mm focal length. There’s no need to multiply by 1.6 or 1.5 or 1.3. You get the full angle of the lens. This is of course excellent news for wide angle shots, but not so good for telephoto, but I’ll get to that in the demerits section. And, at 12.8 million pixels, the image sensor developed especially for the 5D produces amazingly high quality images. The resolution, clarity and contrast in the shots are absolutely amazing!

If you are listening to this Podcast in iTunes, you will be able to click through all the attached photographs, to the seventh and eighth shot. The seventh shot is of a white Cosmos flower at F2.8, which is photo number 711 on my Web site, and the eighth shot is the center of the same shot, cropped to show you the very center of the photograph at 100%. I have done no post processing on this shot whatsoever, apart from adding a frame and a copyright notice. There is also a very week Digimarc digital watermark added so those of you with sharp eyesight might just be able to make out some added grain, but I can assure you that is exactly as the camera rendered the shot. Most importantly I have done no sharpening at all. I shot in RAW and used the Standard Picture Style, which I’ll get to later. If you don’t use iTunes, but would like to see the100% shot, I’ve uploaded it to my Podcasts forum at and I’ll add the link to the Podcast notes.

So, putting the excellent image quality aside, another thing I like, is that the battery grip is a separate module, as with the 20D, 10D etc. before it. It is not included with the camera body, so if you want one, you’ll need to pick it up separately. I always, buy a battery grip for my DSLR as it not only gives you extended battery life, it also gives you the shutter button and other controls for use when holding the camera vertically. I find this incredibly useful, as it helps to keep the camera steady while shooting in portrait format, and also stops you from having to stick your elbows out, which is useful if you’re working in a crowd. Now although the 1D and 1Ds range also have these controls, they are an integral part of the camera and not removable, so you are stuck with the big camera no matter where you go. With the 5D though, I will have the luxury of the full size sensor, but with the option to take the battery grip off and have essentially what looks like any other SLR camera. This is useful for when you are just going on a day out but think there might be some photographic opportunities, but also in some urban situations you don’t really want to be carrying around a camera that screams expensive! Being able to play down the camera a little should prove useful.

The other thing I like about the 5D is the sound of the shutter. I know this sounds petty, but the 20D’s shutter unit was a noisy piece of machinery. I didn’t like it from the day I bought it. And not only that, wildlife wasn’t too keen on it either. I would often be shooting a bird when it would, as soon as I started to shoot, turn to look at me, and sometimes even fly away. It was also restricting when shooting environmental portraits. I tend to take environmental portraits from time to time. By this I mean portraits of people in their environment, and not posed shots. This basically means that the subject cannot be aware of me, and that was difficult with the 20D, because similar to wildlife, as soon as I start clicking away, the subject would look up and the shot would be lost, unless I got it in the first frame of course.

I should also say that probably due to the 5D being a full sized sensor, the shutter sound is quite nostalgic. It reminds me very much of my old Canon A1, which is a classic film camera. It almost has a sloppy sound, but is very relaxing while shooting. It almost puts you into a relaxed shooting mode that I didn’t get when using the 20D.

Another interesting feature is the RGB histogram. You can now choose either the standard single histogram or to show an RGB histogram. Although I didn’t really have much idea about the practical use of this until I got the camera in the field, this really is useful. For example, I took one practice shot with some red flowers in the foreground, some green grass and trees in the center and a clear blue sky in the background. From the RGB histogram I could check that the flowers and the grass and trees were just about perfect, but the blue sky was blowing out slightly. I could see this by the small spike to the very right of the blue histogram. I then tried the same shot with minus 1/3 exposure compensation and although the green and the red also got a little darker, they were still as good as perfect and the sky was no longer blowing out. Some of the photos attached to this Podcast also contain a lot of red and green, and I used the RGB histogram in a similar way while shooting these.

The 5D has spot metering, which uses the center 3.5% of the frame to meter the light. I found this very useful yesterday when taking high contrast shots of for example a brightly lit Equinox Flower against a dark background. In fact, that shot is the first shot attached to this Podcast. To get this shot I switched to spot metering and took a reading of the flower itself. There was no exposure compensation needed. This is exactly as the 5D metered the shot. I found this pretty impressive.


Picture Style is new method of choosing how the photograph will be processed within the camera, kind of like selecting particular film for a specific type of scene, such as choosing Fujichrome Velvia for landscape shots for it’s vivid colours. I have seen magazine articles in Japan where Canon deny the direct link to a type of film, but the idea is the same. Canon has also announced the intent to make additional styles available for download from their Web site very soon. The three I see right now are Nostalgia, Clear and Twilight. The colour reproduction for the Landscape Picture Style in my mind though is way to gaudy. It might be OK if only paler colours that could use a boost will be included in your shot, but strong colours, particularly red get blown out very easily. I would recommend if you use JPEG, and therefore burn the effect into the image, you should experiment a lot before taking shots you may not be able to reproduce, or shoot in RAW. If you shoot in RAW, you can select the Picture Style in post-processing and experiment as much as you like. I am setting my Picture Style to Standard, which give very pleasing results, but I always shoot in RAW, so I can change it later to get different results. One other good thing about this is that you can also use Digital Photo Professional to apply Picture Style effects to any older Canon DSLR RAW files, so you can have plenty of fun there if you have some RAW files from a previous camera.

Other improvements in Digital Photo Professional which is a piece of software that ships with the camera are the addition of a ranking system. You can now select rank 1, 2 or 3, instead of the simple flag in the last version. This is useful when selecting your shots after a shoot. Yesterday I took 437 photos, and whereas in the past I would do one full run through my photos initially just to select the one’s I’d delete, and then do another full run to flag possible winners, before narrowing down to find the best shots, I can now combine my two full runs into one. Basically I will now do one full run marking anything I want to delete with a 1 and anything I like with a 2. Then I can select all the 1’s and delete them, then select all the 2’s and start to look through them for the best shots. I start by making anything I really like a 3, then select only the threes and narrow the list down further.

Another nice new feature is actually pretty much essential now that the RAW files are much larger and so take much more time to display in DPP is the Quick Check Tool. Basically this allows you to scroll through your shots in a window or full screen, either fitting the screen or at 50%. For navigation you can use your mouse to click through the shots, or the arrow keys on your keyboard. You can also assign the ranking with the keyboard numbers. From navigating to a photo to it becoming sharp on your screen takes under a second using the Quick Check Tool. In DPP it takes around 8 seconds. 8 seconds might not sound that long, but when you are waiting for each shot to res-in while reviewing them it soon becomes a stressful process. The Quick Check Tool is going to be very useful. Also, at this size image, 50% is plenty to see if the shot is sharp or not, but I found myself going to 100% for some of my final selection, just to be sure they were really sharp, but this is probably not necessary.


OK, so now that I’ve sung the 5D’s praises, let’s talk about the demerits, or at least the things I consider not so good. If you are border-line with regards to buying this camera you might want to consider these things before taking the plunge.

So, back onto the subject of this being a full size sensor camera. As I mentioned earlier, this is great news when using wide angle and mid-range lenses, but for telephoto and macro shots, you might be disappointed. It really does go without saying, but having used my 100 – 400mm lens with a 1.6 Focal Length Multiplier for the last few years, I’ve kind of gotten used to it being a 160 – 640mm lens. With macro shots too, the subject is all of a sudden 1/3 smaller in my finder at the same distance. I new this was going to be the case, and I decided that was OK, so I should not really be calling this a demerit, but it is a little disappointing if you are coming from a DSLR background. If however, you are coming from a 35mm film background, being able to use the 5D with exactly the same lenses at the same focal length will make the transition painless.

This too really should be a neutral thing and not a demerit, but the shutter button has become a lot easier to press. Which is great as it reduces camera shake, but I found that about 4 times during one afternoon I actually took the shot, when I only meant to be half-pressing the shutter. This is something that happens a lot when changing cameras though, and will not be a problem.

I should really mention here again under the demerits though, that the new Picture Style feature can render your photos in a very loud and gaudy way. I really don’t like what the Landscape mode does to shots that contain lots of bright colours. If you intend to use JPEG, where the Picture Style gets literally burned into the image, I would be very careful with this. Shooting in Standard I found produces nice effects for most scenes, and if you would prefer to tweak the shot a little in post-processing, you might also want to consider the neutral mode. Other than this, I would recommend shooting RAW as you can change it as much as you like in post-processing then. I would recommend shooting in RAW pretty much all the time anyway, but there’s probably a whole different Podcast right there.

One final thing to consider, but so obvious it should not really be classed as a demerit, rather another thing to consider, is that the image file sizes are much larger than lower resolution cameras. Therefore, you are going to need plenty of Compact Flash memory and probably a portable storage unit to backup your images while away from home for more than a day or so. Having used the 5D for a few days I’m finding I get around 84 RAW shots on a 1GB card. Just yesterday afternoon I filled two 2GB cards, one 1GB card and almost filled a 512MB card as well. I don’t know about other countries, but Canon is running a campaign in Japan where if you buy a lens after the release of the 5D up to the end of this year they’ll give you a 1GB CF card. If you buy an L lens, they’ll give you two 1GB cards. I actually bought the EF24 – 105mm F4L IS USM lens release at the same time as the 5D, so I’ll get two 1GB cards, and I can tell you, they are definitely going to come in handy.

Lens Review:

So, that’s all I can think of on the not so good side. Now a quick word on the EF24 – 105mm F4L IS USM lens before I wrap up for this week. This lens is said to be the best match for the 5D, and having used the 5D with both the 28-135mm IS USM lens, and the new 24 – 105mm lens, I can say that the image quality from the latter is definitely much, much better. This really goes without saying as the lenses are in different classes, but I can assure you the 24 – 105mm creates a very sharp image with very nice boke. Boke is a word that I’ve heard used in photography circles outside of Japan too, but basically it’s a Japanese word used to describe the blurred areas of a photo outside of the area of sharp focus. One of the reasons for the nice boke is that the lens apparently has a true circular aperture, with no angles as do many other lenses. The second and third photos attached to this Podcast, which are numbers 705 and 707 respectively, were taken with the EF24 – 105mm F4L IS USM lens.


Incidentally, the fourth and fifth shots, which are 708 and 709, were taken with a Lensbaby 2.0 at F4 and F5.6 respectively.


I’m not going to go into this today, but lens babies are amazing fun and version 2.0 is now much sharper than the first version and also offers an F2 aperture. All of the photos attached to today’s Podcast or linked to Episode 5 on the Podcast page at were taken with the 5D. Also note that you can search on any lens or camera body in my Gallery by clicking the search link from the top tool bar and then clicking on the link in the equipment list. Note also that the search link takes you to different pages depending on whether you’re in the Main Gallery, the Forum or the Portfolio Gallery. The equipment link is only available when you click Search from the Main Gallery. Anyway, you can take a look at the 5D photos for yourself either in iTunes or on my Web site. Remember to decrease the photo to actual size by clicking the center button on the image viewer window in iTunes if it looks a little grainy. iTunes will try to make the shot pretty much fill your screen by default until you toggle back to actual size.


Anyway, I’m not going to go into detail about how I got these shots today, as they were not technically difficult, even if the Lensbaby shots are a bit wacky.

I’m sure I’ll think of more stuff to say as soon as I’ve published this Podcast, but if I do, and it’s important, I’ll drop it into future episodes. The bottom line is on the 5D, if asked would I recommend this camera to somebody, the answer is yes, absolutely! It’s not cheap, so please do read other reviews and compare specs with other contenders, and make sure this is the camera you want before taking the plunge, but if you can get the money together and you can warrant the purchase, then go for it. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Of course, if you do, I don’t want to know. Please don’t mail me saying I recommended the 5D but you hate it. This review is my personal opinion and nothing more. Take it as is.

Here are the other photos from the original Podcast.


Show Notes

There are a number of interesting articles and reviews on Michael Reichmann’s excellent site, the Luminous Landscape:

Take a look too at for more info on this amazingly fun twist on photography:

Music by William Cushman © 2005, used with kind permission.


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