First impressions Canon R5

Feb 2, 2005
Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
I have been asked by several members of the cafe to give my impressions of the Canon R5, and here it is. My favorite subjects are nature, birding and some landscapes, I'm not into portraits, people or video so pardon my ignoring these subjects for this first impression.

As some of you know I have been shooting dual command Nikon and Canon for the past 5 years. The reason in 2015 was that my feet where not holding up carrying the heavy Nikon 600 mm VR and Canons 600mm IS II was several pounds lighter, I also felt that the 7DMKII had a better AF tracking then the older Nikon's. I took some effort getting used to Canons UI, I still like Nikon's better but, you get used to it and Canon is know for the ability to reconfigure things to your liking. Then came the D5, D500 and subsequently the D850, and then finally the 500mm PF and I was sliding back home to Nikon, while keeping my Canon lenses mothballed. I also tried out the Sony A9 II and I'm very impressed, but could not see myself buying yet another system of lenses and trying to motivate the very patient president of the home corporation that this was a necessary move did not seem a very good idea. So I was contemplating selling my Canon gear, but then came the rumors of the R5. So I decided to wait and when I saw the specs I pre ordered one and waited for some reviews, to see if I was going to follow through together with a mount adapter and a RF 24-105mm F4 IS USM lens.

There are plenty of real reviews (here is a good one), my initial comments are based on what I like to do with my photography

Some key points for me:
  • Body and handling: The R5 feels very good and solid in your hand, and if you have used a Canon camera before you will feel very comfortable very quickly with this camera. I came from my small Canon M5 and the UI felt instantly comfortable. If you don't - Canons is well known for you being able to reconfigure their cameras until you like it. The R5 does not disappoint in this regard, it has a lot of options and settings to configure it built in and I have now got it pretty much the way I like it. There is a lot to configure, and the settings are pro level no doubt about it.
  • Its fast and responsive, the touch interface is fast and very fluid. One big bonus is the flip out screen that you can twist all the way around, very usable for water shots and low level birding shots. You can program three C1-C3 settings banks and that is a very useful feature for me. The settings go very deep, If you want different custom button configurations per C setting you can do that!
  • As a side comment: The ergonomics of the grip aren't great. Because the R5 uses the large size batteries from the 5D & 7DMKII and other cameras the grip sticks out on the left side and is not flush with the R5, I can understand why but it looks odd, What is worse is the the buttons on the grip are not aligned like the main body and that is just plain weird & will take a lot to get used to, a real miss IMHO.
  • You can shoot up to 12 fps with the mechanical shutter and either one shot or 20 fps with the electronic shutter. There is a smaller lag & and blackout at 12fps, but I really cant see much of one at 20 fps and electronic shutter. Buffer seems to be a non issue, I never filled up even with 20 fps (its not infinite of course)
  • Battery life with grip, I took about 700 images and had about 2/3rd of both batteries left, that sure is acceptable to me (I have 4 sets of knockoff brand batteries at $25 per pair at Amazon).
  • Works perfectly with the mount adapter with my older 600 IS II, 400 DO II and 100-400 IS II
  • Tele Extenders: Does extremely well with the TE1.4, decent with 2.0. Eye AF is not as good with the TE2.0, AF even works with the 100-400 at F5.6 with the 2x Tele extender and AF is quite decent at F11 (!)
  • What is cool is crop mode, the EVF makes it look like a normal viewfinder not showing the un-cropped area, a more natural way to present it. I have to look in my settings to see if crop mode is on or not.
  • EVF quality is very very good, best I have seen so far. Not always perfect in exposure simulation but, very very good. A little bit of black out at 12 fps mechanical and virtually none at 20 fps Electronic shutter, A9 might be a little better but not so much that it matters. But I still think an OVF is better in general
  • I have not tried focus stacking yet, I have no macro lens for Canon yet.
  • Firmware wishlist: More C settings, why not a C4 and C5?, Why not be able to shoot say 10fps with the electronic shutter now its one image at a time or 20 fps. Now why can't you save settings to a card?
  • AutoFocus. AF is incredibly fast and accurate (and it is so every time). You get a ton of AF options, Eye AF for both people and animals, and a ton of different zone or single point options. The Eye AF is incredible. Just for testing I shot some moving birds and (Seagull and Canada Goose) and they where at 60-80 yards and the camera still kept the eye in focus and tracked the subject, almost eerie! I had tiny erratic killdeers at 40-50 yards and they sure are small, and it tracked and shot at 12 (mechanical) or 20 fps (electronic shutter), and pretty much ALL of the images are in perfect focus! A friend that has a Sony A9 II thinks that the R5 Eye AF is even better then Sony’s from the little he has tried it, at any rate it is incredibly good. 95% plus hit rate, sometimes the bird moved very quickly to throw it off or my shutter speed wasn’t fast enough, I'm on a steep learning curve still.....
  • The amazing thing is that it does not seem to matter much if the bird is walking of flying, the camera still tracks seemingly - effortlessly.
  • BTW If you like the idea the the Nikon D6 have configurable zones that you can move for example to shoot sports, the R5 can do that too.
  • As a landscape camera it is very good but somehow I think the D850 has little more acuity, contrast and color punch. maybe its just that I need to learn how to process these files but so far I still think so, most people wont see it. Adobe ACR/ Lightroom does not quite completely support the files yet. (color profiles stuff mainly) I see very little reason to move from a D850 if you primarily shoot landscapes.
  • The DR of the R5 files is much better (than with older Canon models) but somehow in the shadows I still think there is less noise in the Nikon D850 files
  • The 24-105 RF USM F4 gets mixed review from me. Well built, a bit heavy, bigger then I would have liked, Silent AF, Superfast. But a lot of vignetting at F4 and corners aren’t great sharpness wise even at F8. With the in body IBIS working with the in lens IS I took shots at 1-½ second handheld that where sharp, very impressive
  • Overheating? No sign of it. Video? Have not tried, probably won’t, I have repurposed the button for better use 😉
Key takeaways for me. For a birder this is a crazy good camera, AF is just incredible. For landscapes it is just very good, I still think the D850 has a small edge in aquity, but most wont notice. The other comment is that the R6 is basically a mini 1DX MKIII, and 20 MP FF images with better low light should be a god combo and backup with the R5. Some people would comment that its "only" 20mp, but I think that could work very well, especially with a great AF system like the one the R5 and R6 has.

You want to see images? Pius is a good friend of mine and has not only had his R5 longer but is a better photographer than me, here are a few links
Last edited:
Oct 9, 2005
Moscow, Idaho
Andréas, this is probably the most well expressed, most objective review of a non-Nikon system here. No bashing, no hyperbole, and very well presented. Knowing your work and your interests I know that this took a lot of time, emotion and energy. I also know that R5 will do you proud.
Thanks for taking the high ground!
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