When I upgraded to the Canon EOS R5 last year, I knew it was going to be an excellent camera and a huge step up from my DSLR, but I wasn’t quite ready for how massive the leap forward would be. As companies continue to push technology boundaries and announce new mirrorless options, here are five reasons why the R5 should still be king in 2022.
1. Animal autofocus
It’s no secret that the AF system on Canon’s new mirrorless cameras is one of the best on the market. But it is hard to describe how good the system is until one has experienced it first-hand. Out of the box, the autofocus is nearly flawless, and after spending some time tweaking the settings, it’s near perfect. This goes for whether you’re using your camera in still photo mode or video mode, and it’s revolutionized the way I think about autofocus and the way I shoot. As a head and selfie photographer, knowing that the camera will focus every time, especially with the added feature of eye tracking, was very liberating. In hindsight, I didn’t realize the amount of time and energy I spent worrying about focusing with my old camera, and I found my compositions easier to accomplish and more creative because that barrier was removed. The same principle applies both in and out of my studio as well as video use. The more I use the camera, the more confident I am in autofocus as well.
2. Electronic viewfinder and LCD to love
Without getting into the debate about the viability of DSLRs, let me just say I was skeptical when the EOS R was launched a few years ago, and as a Canon DSLR and SLR shooter of life, the whole idea didn’t interest me. The smaller size of the camera combined with the idea of giving up my optical viewfinder made me wait to see what else Canon had. And I’m glad I waited.
The R5, within the first hour of using it, made me a believer in not only mirrorless cameras but also EVFs and LCD screens. In terms of the LCD, I intuitively began to use the touchscreen for everything from menu selections to AF point selection, configuration, and review. The LCD on the DSLR, on the other hand, was just a review screen, but on the R5, it became an important part of my job. Touch response works well, and navigating the menus and other options is much easier.
Although the LCD is great, the electronic viewfinder is what impressed me the most. At first I was intimidated by the idea of EVF since most of my work is done in the studio. I thought an electronic viewfinder wouldn’t be as good as an optical viewfinder in a situation where I don’t want to preview exposure, and boy, was I wrong! The electronic viewfinder is so good that I forgot to look at the screen. Just as with the LCD, the electronic viewfinder didn’t hinder me in any way and it smoothed my workflow.
3. Impeccable and practical working environment
After trying the EOS R about a year ago, I didn’t like the camera for several reasons, but mostly for the ergonomics and changes in dials from previous Canon cameras. The omission of the multi-controller and the small size of the camera were some of the biggest shutdowns for me. I initially thought the R5 would be ergonomically similar to the EOS R camera, and that was another reason to wait for the upgrade. Once again, I was glad I was wrong. The R5’s ergonomics are close to perfect, especially if you’re coming from a Canon DSLR. It’s a little smaller than the 5D Mark III, but most of the bigger part that’s removed is where the prism will be, meaning the body is about the same size. The grip and build quality are top notch and an improvement over the 5D series cameras.
The R5’s excellent ergonomics combine with an intuitive button and menu layout to create a camera that is virtually flawless in operation. Every button and dial has been thoughtfully placed in a way that makes using the camera really easy and fun. The highly customizable dials and menus also add to what can only be described as a near-perfect user experience. The menus are straightforward, something Canon has been known for, and while there are some small quirks in the menu and playback of the dial, as a pro tool, the R5’s operation can’t be beat.
4. Tons of great lens options
It’s all too easy for us as photographers to get lost in the weeds of technical details when discussing our favorite gear, but at the end of the day, it’s all about image quality. And that’s where the R5 really shines.
Although I’ve owned an R5 for about six months, I hadn’t purchased an R series lens until writing this article. At first, my decision was based on cost, but I soon realized that my EF lenses performed flawlessly on the new body. All of my above impressions regarding AF were made with older EF lenses, primarily 50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8 (non-IS version), and 24mm f/1.4. When Canon announced a new lens mount, I was pissed off like many others at the idea of having to buy an entirely new series of lenses. At first, I felt like an EF lens adapter would be a utility until people switch to the new lenses, but then again, I was wrong. My EF lenses perform better than they did on my 5D Mark III, and although I will eventually upgrade them, I don’t see any drawbacks to using older lenses for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the fact that Canon took an interest in making sure that the old lenses not only worked but worked well on the new system impresses me on so many levels.
5. Quality, quality and quality
Ultimately, it’s all about image quality. And that’s where the R5 really shines. The 45-megapixel sensor provides a large number of details, excellent performance at high ISO levels, and accurate color conversion. Check out the live cam image of Brandon above taken with the R5 and 50mm f/1.4 lens, using the LED daylight panel as a fill, and LED light sticks in a split pattern. Color transitions and skin tones look great even without modification.
There are many other reasons to love the R5, but if you list them all this would be a very long article! I would like to add a final thought about the R5: although I think it would be silly to say that a camera can make one a better photographer, I will say that the R5 has reduced some of the barriers that stood between me and taking pictures, allowing me to focus on my subject and artistic vision. In a larger way while making the process very enjoyable. And until it is eliminated by another Canon camera or model from another brand, in my book, the EOS R5 is still the best.