Let’s not ignore our pleasure: on paper, the new EOS R5 is the high-end hybrid with full-frame sensor we have been waiting for for years at Canon. Always the world leader in images thanks to a huge SLR fleet and a very strong brand image, Canon has lost its superb technology in recent years to the benefit of Sony and, to a lesser extent, Panasonic and Fujifilm.
With some A Eos and EOS RP (very) disappointing, lagging behind on video (4K modes cropped to death) and serious technological shortcomings (no mechanical stabilization of the sensor, etc.), Canon scared us. This was without counting without Canon’s R&D: the first patent holder in Japan and the first foreign patent holder in the USA, the giant Canon is a huge laboratory that had trouble getting started. But reading the technical sheet of the EOS R5 and its little brother the EOS R6 reassures: Canon is back and wants to strike a blow.
Last on 4K, first on 8K
Canon has missed the 4K turn. In this area, Panasonic first and Sony then took off, leaving the others with the crumbs. But Canon “the almighty” is a proud brand, bordering on arrogance, and therefore refused to play the role of the follower. And accepted its position of lowest bidder on video. But with the EOS R5, the brand intends to “follow in the footsteps of the5D Mark 2 The box through which the digital video revolution took place.
Thanks to its 45 Mpix CMOS Dual Pixel sensor, the EOS R5 therefore goes directly to 8K, without any of the limitations of its previous generations of hybrids: the recording is here in full sensor without cropping and is available in UHD (8K consumer) and DCI (cinema) modes at 30 frames per second. All compressed in h.265 or RAW video. Yes, RAW video directly in the camera, thanks to the CF Express memory card slot, the only format capable of holding 2.6 Gbit / s. Beware of memory cards, since this represents 19 GB of data per minute of shooting! An SD card slot replaces the CF Express location, but the 8K is inaccessible to it.
8K benefits 4K
These video specifications have something to make everyone in the world salivate. And not only for the “pure” 8K. 8K shooting is indeed a rarity in the world of video and this image definition is currently used above all… for 4K. On the one hand to make panscan – I shoot a scene in wide plan in 8K and I move the 4K frame according to my needs – but also for the image quality. 8K oversampling makes it possible to produce much more detailed 4K files than native 4K files. In addition, the image processing capabilities of the processor suitable for 8K allow 4K frame rates of up to 120 frames per second. Without sound capture unfortunately on this EOS R5, the microphone being active only up to 4K60p.
The EOS R5 is therefore the first consumer camera to be equipped with a sensor AND an image processor designed for the 8K. And note here that Canon masters 100% of its technology and produces both components. A rare fact as Sony dominates both the development, but also the production of image sensors – Canon still has its own CMOS sensor “fab”! However, we are waiting to see the quality of the rise in high sensitivities of this new sensor: with a range of sensitivities from 100 to 51,200 ISO (50 to 102,400 IS in wide range), the EOS R5 promises a lot. But Sony has always had the advantage in low light.
The best of all worlds: super definition AND burst!
In the current generations of full-format sensor boxes, you have to choose a super burst up to 20 fps, but limited to definitions around 24 Mpix (Alpha A9 from Sony), or super definition at more than 40 Mpix. The Lumix S1R and other A7R Mark III with comparable definitions (47 Mpix and 42 Mpix) respectively display 9 fps with 40 consecutive images for the first, 10 fps and 70 consecutive images for the second.
Canon intends to explode these limits and the 45 Mpix sensor of the EOS R captures nothing less than 20 frames per second (yes, like Sony’s Alpha A9!) With up to 180 consecutive RAW images. This represents 900 MB of data to be processed per second for the equivalent of a professional 100 m, all with tracking not only of the subject, but above all a tracking of the target’s real-time eye. Canon goes even further since the EOS R5 follows both the eyes, heads and bodies of humans, but also those of our friends cats, dogs and birds.
By combining super definition image AND burst (and buffer) of the “sport” type, Canon intends to make an impression by offering a “no compromise” package. Enough to make the horde of Canonists salivate who were rightly not convinced by the current Canon offer. And above all something to put a big blow in the competition. Firstly to Sony, world number 1 in full-format hybrids, but also to Nikon, its eternal challenger who does not yet have a hybrid box at the level of the R5’s technical data sheet.
Professional body and viewfinder body
Electronics never made a good case: without equipment and a level grip, photographers will not find their account. Unfortunately for the competition, in these two areas, Canon is a benchmark of its kind. On the shutter side already, the EOS 5R displays a mechanism certified to be able to endure half a million trips, an industry record.
Packed with gaskets and “Canon” ergonomics, the EOS 5R will benefit from a new generation half-inch viewfinder displaying 5.69 million points, a definition of 1600 x 1200 pixels. Without being a record this time, Canon is at the top of what is done by matching the Panasonic S1R and other Leica SL2. Not a record, but the best of the moment.
Another material advantage: the battery. Third iteration of the LP-E6 introduced by the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, this LP-E6NH has the particularity of offering physical compatibility with its ancestors. Clearly: even if they are not as enduring as this new reference, the LP-E6 and LP-E6N are supported by the EOS R5 and its little brother the R6. No direct charging compatibility point, but this interoperability allows the already widely equipped Canonist to continue to use his batteries. A weight advantage.
Like some high-end full-format hybrids (SL2, S1R, X-H1, etc.) the EOS R5 benefits from an LCD screen on the top of the camera, like a SLR. In this area, only Sony is resisting. Detail for some, argument for others, the case is 100% made in Japan, a fact more and more rare in the world of the photo where the bulk of the production is now done in countries of South East Asia, in particular Thailand (Sony, Nikon, Pentax) or Vietnam (Olympus).
Finally mechanical stabilization!
Besides the need to be first on the 8K, Canon took its time to launch this EOS R5 because of a technological lack: the stabilization of the image sensor. Developed by Olympus – which sold a license to Sony… and others – this technology has given Fujifilm a hard time, but even more so for Canon, which used to stabilize only the optics. Like Fujifilm, Canon engineers wanted to develop their own components, their own algorithms without paying a license to a third party. What caused a certain delay.
A delay that Canon has turned into an advantage: to compensate for the absence of this mechanism in the (infamous) EOS R, Canon has developed very advanced electronic image stabilization. By coupling optical stabilization (which remains in zooms in particular), this electronic stabilization and the new mechanical stabilization, Canon claims that its “total” stabilization makes it possible to gain up to 8 speeds. An industry record since the champion of the genre, theOM-D E-M1X Olympus aided by its small sensor, displays “only” 6.5 stabilization speeds. To give you a specific example, an image that should be stable at 1 / 250s should be exposed for a second. Again Canon hits very hard.
On paper, the EOS R5 is the killer we expected from Canon, a concentrate of unique technologies – 8K video, 45 Mpix burst at 20 fps – that offers a taste of the future. A real feat that makes us even more hate the EOS R, completely immature and picks it up technologically.
Who says advanced box clad with exceptional technologies, says high price: the EOS R5 will be marketed from July 30 at 4499 euros. A price barely higher than the launch price ofEOS 5D Mark IV launched in 2016 (€ 4,100 at the time) and much lower than the Leica SL2 launched last year at € 5,999. If the results are at the level of its promises, the Canon EOS R5 could be the worthy heir of its spiritual father, the 5D Mark II. This is all the evil we wish him.