Canon EOS R5 Review

September 2, 2020 | Mark Goldstein |


The EOS R5 is the new all-singing, all-dancing flagship mirrorless camera from market-leader Canon.

Designed to appeal to professional photographers and videographers alike, the Canon R5 sports a 45 megapixel sensor and the ability to record 8K video - yes, that's 8K DCI footage at 30/25/24 fps, in addition to 4K DCI at up to 60fps.

With a price tag of £4199.99 in the UK and $3899.99 in the US, body-only, it's a substantially more expensive camera than the next camera in the range, the EOS R6.

In terms of its main rivals, they include the Sony A7R IV, Sony A7S III, Panasonic Lumix S1R and the Nikon Z7.

We've been testing a full-production EOS R5 camera for the last few weeks, along with the RF 15-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm F2.8 L-series zoom lenses.

So read on for our full Canon R5 review, complete with full-size sample photos and videos for you to download and evaluate.

Ease of Use

Canon EOS R5
Front of the Canon EOS R5

The EOS R5 utilises a magnesium-alloy body that's more robust than the polycarbonate shell found on the cheaper EOS R6, but ultimately both new cameras offer the same level of weather-proofing as each other.

Subsequently the R5 is quite a bit heavier than the R6 - 650g body-only or 738g with both a battery and memory card fitted - versus 598/680g on the R6.

It measures 138.5 x 97.5 x 88mm, making it virtually the same size as the Canon R6 and slightly bigger than both the EOS R and especially the tiny RP.

As with the R6, the Canon R5 benefits from having a very deep handgrip that comfortably accommodates four fingers, something that can't be said of some of its main rivals.

The minimalist front plate houses two controls. There's a brand new Function button that can be customised, including controlling the auto-focus. By default it activates the classic Depth of Field preview function, which helps you determine what your photos will look like before the image is taken, and a port

There's also a rubber flap that covers the N3-type socket for a remote switch at the bottom-right corner of the front of the camera. There's also a porthole for the AF assist light and a lozenge shaped button for releasing the lens.

At the heart of the EOS R5 is a brand new 45 megapixel sensor. Canon claim that the EOS R5 is the highest resolution EOS camera ever, with its 45 megapixels producing more detail than even the 50 megapixel EOS 5DS and 5DS R DSLR cameras.

The EOS R5 certainly has a high enough resolution for its professional target market, especially true if you like to heavily crop your images in post-production, where it has the edge over the 20 megapixel EOS R6.

Canon EOS R5
Rear of the Canon EOS R5

The ISO range runs from 100-51,200, which is actually one stop less than the cheaper EOS R6. This can be further expanded up to ISO 102,400 and down to ISO 50.

The EOS R5 is the first ever full frame mirrorless camera to be capable of recording 8K RAW video up to 29.97fps internally,12-bit (non-cropped).

That's right - the EOS R5 uses the full width of the sensor to record 8K video at up to 30p, and employing Canon's renowned Dual Pixel CMOS AF system whilst doing so.

Compared to Canon's previous implementations of 4K on their other mirrorless cameras (the EOS R has a 1.8x crop when recording 4K), this is very welcome news indeed.

It also offers 8K internal video recording up to 30p (non-cropped) in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265).

It also offers the ability to capture 35 megapixel frame grabs from the 8K video!

When shooting 8K video at 30fps RAW, the camera can record for up to 20 minutes before it overheats.

In practice, we found this to be a mostly true claim, with the proviso that the camera then needs to cool down before you're able to record any more 8K clips.

Also, if you shoot a lot of short 8K clips one after the other, this also causes the camera to overheat before the official 20 minute limit is reached.

Note that for camera to cool down sufficiently, you're unable to use it for shooting stills or video, or even operate the menu system.

Canon EOS R5
Top of the Canon EOS R5

Finally, recording 4K video at 120p or 60p also runs into the same overheating issues - only shooting at 4K 30p or below avoids this real-world limitation.

The Canon EOS R5 can record 4K video up to 120p. It features 4K internal recording up to 119.88fps (non-cropped) in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265) and 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ output via HDMI at 4K 59.94fps.

Photographers seeking the very highest 4K quality can use the 4K HQ mode to reproduce incredible detail at frame rates up to 30p by internally oversampling 8K footage.

When recording 4K 30p video, there is no over-heating at all, so you can record for as long as you like up to the capacity of your memory card.

As with 8K recording, the camera uses the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, including eye AF, whilst recording in 4K.

For the first time ever in the EOS series (alongside the EOS R6), the Canon EOS R5 finally incorporates 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS). The EOS R and RP both eschewed this much-requested feature.

It has been designed to work collaboratively with the IS system that's built into many RF-mount lenses, with the lens and the sensor working together to correct pitch and yaw and the sensor correcting the X-Y and roll movements.

This intelligent stabilisation system provides a frankly incredible 8-stops of stabilisation with some lenses, allowing you to hand-hold the camera for up to 4 seconds and still get critically sharp results.

Even some non-stabilised lenses such as the RF 85mm F1.2L USM or RF 28-70mm F2L USM offer 8 stops of stabilisation when they're mounted on the EOS R5, thanks to the large 54mm diameter of the of the RF Mount.

The EOS R5 can also stabilise older, non-IS lenses including any EF lens that is fitted to the R5 via the Canon EF-EOS R mount adapter.

Canon EOS R5
Tilting LCD Screen

The stabilisation system will also work with lenses from other manufacturers – you just need to input the focal length into the camera's menu system.

In practice, the EOS R5 stabilisation system is excellent, making it possible to hand-hold the camera at previously impossibly slow shutter speeds and still maintain critical sharpness.

The EOS R5 is noticeably thicker than the EOS R when viewed from above, presumably to squeeze in the new IBIS unit, but it's not too thick.

It reminded us of the difference between the recently announced Fujifilm X-T4 and its non-IBIS predecessor, the X-T3, in that you can tell that the newer model is slightly thicker, but not objectionably so.

Another very impressive headline feature, especially considering the massive number of megapixels on offer, is the EOS R5's ability to continuously shooting at up to 20fps using its silent electronic shutter, or 12fps with the mechanical shutter, both with full auto exposure (AE) and auto focus (AF) tracking.

There's a tiny amount of viewfinder and LCD blackout between each frame when shooting at 20fps, but it's barely discernible to the naked eye.

Unlike the Canon EOS R6, which can record 1,000 or more compressed raw images at 12fps before its buffer becomes full, the EOS R5 is a little more constrained in terms of its buffer size, being able to shoot 350 JPEG or 180 RAW images in one continuous sequence.

Obviously there's a big difference in the megapixel count, but for sheer shooting speed and buffer depth, the EOS R6 clearly wins out here.

Along with the EOS R6, the R5 is the first Canon camera to feature the next generation Dual Pixel CMOS AF II focusing system.

Billed as the world’s fastest AF, the camera is capable of focusing in as little as 0.05 seconds.

Canon EOS R5
Memory Card Slots

It has 5,940 selectable AF points, which is slightly less than the EOS R6, with the same 100% frame coverage.

Impressively the EOS R5 can also focus in light levels as low as -6EV (when used with an F1.2 lens), although this is actually 0.5-stop worse than the EOS R6.

Thanks to its brand new Digic X processor, the EOS R5 offers the same deep-learning based automatic face, eye and animal AF tracking modes as the R6.

The Canon R5 can now recognise and track eyes from much further away than previous models, and subject tracking works for humans and also dogs, cats and birds, the latter even in flight.

In practice we found both the new eye AF and animal subject tracking system to be on par with that found in Sony Alpha cameras, which have long been the leader in this area, so kudos to Canon for catching up so quickly.

The EOS R5 is the latest Canon camera to support Dual Pixel RAW. This allows correction of the focus and contrast in the background using the Background Clarity mode and changing the lighting in portraits via the Portrait Relighting mode after capture, just using your finger/thumb on the EOS R5's touchscreen LCD!

In terms of its exterior design, the new Canon EOS R5 brings together the rear panel from the EOS R6 and the top plate from the EOS R.

So instead of the conventional shooting mode dial found on the top-right of the EOS R6, the R5 has an LCD status panel and Mode button instead, just like the EOS R.

We actually prefer this less than the R6's shooting mode dial, which we think a lot of photographers will also favour more.

It's undeniably quicker to change the shooting mode using an external dial on the R6, rather than having to press a button and navigate through an electronic menu, as on the R5.

Canon EOS R5
Front of the Canon EOS R5

The main advantage of the EOS R5's approach is being able to quickly see the current camera settings by simply glancing down at the top-plate LCD.

It provides quick and easy viewing access to most of the camera's key settings, with the dedicated button alongside it toggling between two different screens of information and also allowing it to be lit up in the dark via a longer press - very neat.

Less satisfying, though, is the shooting mode dial - or rather, the lack of one. Despite years of refinement on their DSLRs, Canon has decided to completely omit the traditional dial and instead opt for a Mode dial, as on the EOS R.

You have to press this button once, then choose the still shooting mode which is displayed in the EVF, LCD screen and top-panel LCD using one of the control dials, then go back to shooting. If you want to choose one of the video modes, there's an extra press of the Info button to view them.

It's at best a curious design decision that makes the EOS R look less cluttered and complicated, but ultimately slows down the operation of the camera, especially if you tend to switch between shooting modes a lot.

Both a shooting mode dial and a top-plate LCD screen would be ideal, but EOS R camera bodies are simply too small to accommodate them together.

Most of the other controls on top of the EOS R5 are identical or very similar to those found on the EOS R.

So there's a small On/Off switch over on the top-left, with the camera leaping into life almost instantly.

There's a small but responsive shutter release button at the top of the handgrip, with the tiny M-Fn behind it. This provides quick access to some of the camera's key controls, including ISO, continuous shooting, AF, white balance and exposure compensation.

Behind that is the front control dial for principally setting the aperture or shutter speed, with a small, red one-touch movie record button sitting proud of the camera body.

Canon EOS R5
Bottom of the Canon EOS R5

The Lock switch on the EOS RP has now become a Lock button on the new EOS R5. As its name suggests, this locks the two control dials on top of the camera and the rear control wheel so that you can't accidentally change the camera's key settings.

Completing the top of the camera is the rear control dial that's ideally placed for thumb operation, into which is set the aforementioned Mode button.

Overall, the Canon EOS R6's top-plate is less successful than on the R6, with the main difference being an LCD screen and Mode dial rather than a conventional shooting mode dial.

Turning to the rear of the Canon R5, it offers an array of controls that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used an EOS 5-series DSLR camera before, including the classic Canon control wheel. There's also a very welcome joystick instead of the controversial Mfn bar found on the EOS R.

Joining the Menu bottom on the far left is a new Rate button, which allows you to assign star ratings to your images during playback (Off, 1-5 stars).

More highly specced as the one on the EOS R6, the 0.5inch 5.76 million dot EVF on the EOS R5 is very impressive to look through, working up to 120fps for minimal lag when shooting fast-moving subjects.

To the right of the electronic viewfinder is the new thumb operated joystick.

This means that the innovative / controversial (delete as appropriate) Mfn bar that made its debut on the EOS R is conspicuous by its complete absence on the new EOS R5, and indeed on the EOS R6 too.

We'd be very surprised if the Mfn bar ever appears again on a Canon camera, so if you're a fan, the EOS R is the only camera for you.

While the inclusion of the joystick is very welcome, we were one again struck by just how high the joystick is positioned. It's almost inline with the centre of the viewfinder, rather than where the Magnification button is, which at least initially seems rather too high to find easily, especially compared with most other cameras that have this key control.

We eventually got used to it higher position, but still can't help feeling that it was lower down.

Canon EOS R5
Tilting LCD Screen

The other main control innovation on the EOS R5 is the return of the classic Canon control wheel with the SET button at its heart, something that the previous EOS R and RP models both lacked.

This will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used a Canon EOS 5-series DSLR camera before.

The one on the EOS R5 actually serves less purpose than the one on the EOS 5-series, though, simply because there are already two control dials on top of the camera for setting the aperture and shutter speed, and one on the RF lenses which can be usefully configured to control the ISO speed, amongst other things.

So the classic Canon control wheel is mainly used for quickly scrolling through the menu system and during image playback instead.

As the camera also has a touch-screen, both of these functions can be more quickly and intuitively controlled via touch, which does beg the question as to why Canon decided to include the control wheel at all. Nostalgia, perhaps?

The EOS R5 has a very well-specced 3.15-inch, 2.1 million dot, vari-angle LCD screen which tilts out to the side and faces forwards for more convenient vlogging and selfies.

It can also be usefully folded flat against the back of the camera to protect it when in transit in a camera bag.

A proximity sensor is located directly beneath the viewfinder, which automatically switches between the EVF and LCD screen. When the LCD screen is swung outwards, the EVF is cleverly turned off automatically.

A tilting LCD screen always helps to encourage shooting from creative angles and it also helps make the EOS R5 ideally suited to movie-shooting.

As mentioned above, the LCD screen is touch-sensitive, allowing you to control everything from setting the AF point and firing the shutter, navigating the menu systems and browsing your images during playback. It's a very precise, responsive system that's a veritable joy to use.

Canon EOS R5
Front of the Canon EOS R5

Alongside the rear joystick are three classic Canon controls - the AF-On button for people who prefer back-button focusing, the Auto-exposure Lock button (denoted by a star) and the AF area selection button which makes it easier to switch the autofocus point when holding the camera to your eye.

Underneath the AF-On button are a cluster of three buttons - the Magnification button, Info Button and the Quick button which opens the Quick Control screen, which provides instant access to 10 key camera controls.

Completing the rear of the EOS R5 are the self-explanatory Playback and Delete buttons located underneath the rear control wheel.

On the right hand-side of the camera is the memory card compartment. The EOS R5 supports one SD UHS II card and one CFexpress type B card via dual slots, which a key difference to the EOS R6 which has two SD-card slots, and you can choose to record to both cards simultaneously.

On the left hand-side of the camera are three rubber flaps housing five different connections.

The Canon EOS R5 has a microphone port, headphone jack, remote control port, USB-3 port and a HDMI connection - all the things that any enthusiast photographer or videographer would need from a connectivity point of view.

The Canon R5 benefits from using the LP-E6NH, a new longer life battery that is supplied with both the R5 and EOS R6 cameras.

The LP-E6NH effectively replaces the existing LP-E6N, reaching 2130mAh and offering an increased capacity of 14%. In reality this translates into 320 shots when using the EVF and 470 when using the LCD screen, less impressive than the EOS R6.

Canon EOS R5
Front of the Canon EOS R5

Thankfully it's also backwards compatible with all existing cameras that use the LP-E6 series batteries,so you can use an older LP-E6N in the EOS R5, and the new LP-E6NH in an older EOS camera that uses the LP-E6N. All of the various chargers are cross-compatible too.

If one battery isn't enough for you, the EOS R5 is also compatible with the brand new BG-R10 Battery Grip.

This is exactly the same battery grip that the new EOS R6 also uses.

It gives users the ability to power the EOS R5 using two batteries (LP-E6/N/NH) and also offers duplicate controls for easier vertical shooting. Note that the batteries have to be charged whilst the grip is fitted on-camera.

With built-in Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi, the EOS R5 can be easily connected to a smartphone and networks allowing high-speed file sharing and FTP/FTPS transfer. Note that the R5 additionally offers support for the faster 5Ghz Wi-fi standard,which the EOS R6 doesn't.

The R6 can also be remotely controlled using Canon's Camera Connect and EOS Utility apps and tethered to a PC or Mac via Wi-Fi or high-speed USB 3.1.

The new WFT-R10 Wi-Fi transmitter features 2x2 MIMO antennas for faster and longer-range transmission, plus enhanced network processing enabling SFTP via Wi-Fi. It also includes a gigabyte speed via ethernet port. Note that this accessory only works with the EOS R5, and not the EOS R6.

Overall, the new Canon EOS R5 is a big step forwards when compared to previous Canon full-frame mirrorless models, although we actually slightly prefer the handling of the cheaper EOS R6 thanks to its more conventional shooting mode dial.