Till date, we were bashing Canon for not listening to photographers and not providing a good quality professional mirrorless camera and also for not providing good video features even on their high-end DSLR. We kept saying Sony FF mirrorless cameras are soo good, Sony is excellent as they listen to their customer, Sony cameras are much better than Canon DSLR (and mirrorless too) in respect of dynamic range, autofocus (mainly A9) capability, physical structure, etc etc. Sony also provides excellent video features compare to Canon and even we use to say - Nikon DSLR is far better than Canon. We use to have a question - Why Canon don't want to listen to their customer and provide a quality mirrorless camera? Many photographers already have switched from Canon to Sony and Nikon (including me). Now when Canon is listening and has provided a fantastic product named EOS R5, a mirrorless which is unique (on current market) considering its features, all people started looking into the flaws, pros, and cons. After placing the pre-order Canon EOS R5, I was thinking whether I am doing the right thing. I hold selling my Nikon gears and decided, I need to test this bastard myself fast.
Btw, I am not a Canon fanboy and I am not a biased user. Also, I am neither a professional photographer nor an advanced armature photographer. I am just a photographer with little knowledge who is having a serious passion in photography and have little experiences of shooting using different cameras and shooting different type of photography like landscape, cityscape, architecture, wildlife - especially birding, street, portrait, and black & white photography. Nowadays I am more into bird photography. Btw, Here is the list of cameras, till date I have used.
My 1st DSLR was Canon 500D (2009). I moved to Canon 7D mkI after a few years later and my first Full Frame camera was Canon 5D mkIII. Alongside I used Olympus OMD EM-5 (Micro 4/3). Then I jumped ship to Nikon D750 to satisfy my need on DR, Flip-out screen (Vari Angle screen) and other features. I dropped my D750 into a lotus pond during a fireworks photo-shoot and then bought Sony A7II. I also bought a Sony A6000 when released. Then I sold my Sony gears in the year of 2016 due to some personal reasons. In end 2017, I bought Nikon D500 when I thought of trying bird photography and after using a year of D500, I bought Nikon D850, when they released. In-between I also used Samsung NX1, Nikon 1 v3, and Sony RX10 III. So I have a little bit of knowledge on different brand and their products pros & cons whether it's mirrorless or DSLR.
Hence, I am giving my review (better to say - sharing my experience) just as a basic user point of view. Today (2-Aug-2020), I molest the bastard to prove that it has worth in the market for the photographers.
- Type of photography I have tested: Bird Photography.
- Location: Lorong Halus Pond.
- Subject: Golden-backed Weaver
Why I have chosen this location and subject?
I was thinking of either Stork-billed Kingfisher or Golden-backed Weaver. Ultimately selected Weaver because
- They are small in size. For me, shooting a small size of birds is more difficult than bigger one.
- Their movement is erratic and very fast.
- They have built their nest in the middle of the pond, which is around 40 to 50 meters away from the shooting place (the closest available point where I could place my tripod).
- The messy background can confuse AF.
- Considering the above 4 points, it's very challenging for Auto Focus to track those small birds from that far away and provide good (usable) quality pictures.
- Near my place where I live and easily accessible. ;-)
Gears I have used.
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6l IS II USM
- Battery grip: Canon BG-R10
- TC: 1.4x and 2x - Used separately
- Adapter: Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R
- Tripod and Gimbal Head: LS-365C+PG-1（Camouflage）
- Memory Card: Wise Advanced 512GB CFX-B Series CFexpress
Settings I have used
- Image Quality: RAW
- Cropping/Aspect ratio: Full and Crop (1.6). For some pictures, I have used crop options to get more reach. I know it will provide around 18Mpix picture but some times I like to use this crop mode instead of cropping in post-production. It's just my own preference.
- Mode: Manual to control shutter speed and aperture.
- ISO: Auto.
- ISO Auto Range: 100-25600. Given control to the camera to select the best ISO. I was checking, how picture quality suffers on high ISO to shoot bird action on high shutter speed like 1/4000.
- Auto lighting optimizer: OFF
- White Balance: AWB
- Picture style: Standard
- Clarity: 2
- Long exp. noise reduction: OFF
- High ISO speed NR: Standard
- Shutter Mode: Electronic
- AF operation: SERVO AF
- AF Tracking: Face detection Tracking
- Subject to detect: Animals
- Eye detection: Enable
- Contentious AF: Enable
- Touch and drag AF: Enable
- Active touch area: Whole Panel
- Servo AF: 4 - For Subject that accelerates or decelerates quickly. Tracking sensitivity = -1. Accel,/Decel. tracking = +1
- Switching tracked subject (slow): 1
Note: I didn't use any other AF method i.e. Spot/Zone/Group/1-Point. I have given full freedom to the camera to choose and focus the subject and to track the subject, to check how the camera able to focus the subject in difficult conditions and how fast it could able to lock the subject. If require to focus on the different subjects on the fly, then I use Touch and drag AF on the touch screen.
Size and Weight - comfort to handling
For bird/wildlife photography, I always wish to carry lighter gears. If the gears drop your carrying weight even a few 100 grams, then it does impact your mobility and comfort. That's the reason I have changed my tripod and Gimbal head to save a few grams of weight. Canon EOS R5 is the lightest body compare to the camera I used for birding i.e. Nikon D500 and Nikon D850. I like to use a small-medium size backpack like "LowePro Tahoe BP 150" which is compact and lightweight (Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 40.3 x 27.5 cm) for local birding. I am unable to fit my Nikon D850 + Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens into this backpack with other accessories. Hence I use to carry the camera on my shoulder. But I am easily able to fit Canon EOS R5 (with battery grip and Adapter), Canon 100-400mm lens, 1.4x TC, 2x TC, other accessories like extra batteries, remote, Selens SYT-50 Dot Sight, etc and still have room to accommodate an extra camera body i.e. Canon EOS M6 mkII.
Frankly speaking, I didn't have high expectations for AF performance before the test. Because I was using a 100-400mm lens with 1.4x or 2x TC and that too for the subject which is small and quite far away. But AF performance blown away my expectation and hands-down R5 is having the best AF performance which I have experienced till date. Not only it was able to lock the focus on the subject quickly but also tracked the subject pretty well (unless it disappeared from my frame). It is able to lock the focus on the bird's eye from that far and able to find the birds faster than my eyes. Just amazing and unrealistic. Before using R5, I could manage to get around 60% usable BIF pictures which are in focus. But with R5, my keeper rate has been improved to 90%, and that because of R5's amazing AF capability. The R5 is able to Focus subject quickly and accurately even through obstacles and track the subject without issue on difficult conditions. Really the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II which is features 1053 selectable focusing points (cover approximately 100% of the image frame), is great and it's the ability to recognize subjects and maintain focus when working within changing or cluttered scenery. The ability to use the screen as a touch and drag device in order to change the Focus point to target different subjects is an awesome option. It's much quicker than changing the focus point using a button. I personally love it.
- Gallery - 1: Sample pic. Just to show how AF tracking bird in difficult condition.
- Gallery - 2: Another example of amazing AF. The camera able to maintain it's the focus to the center bird and didn't switch to any other subject although there were many other birds are flying around (as you can see the gif). I have taken 229 frames in electronic shutter mode with contentious AF.
- Gallery - 3: Same as above. Here I have taken 116 frames in electronic shutter mode with contentious AF.
Quick buffer clearance is an important feature for me. If the camera takes high-speed frames i.e. 20FPS (max using electronic shutter) and didn't able to clear the buffer as quickly as possible, then you need to wait for few seconds to complete it's copying process (buffer to memory card). Sometimes this situation makes me freak as I miss many action shots. I face this issue when I use Canon M6 mkII but The R5 clears the buffer very fast and never freezes. I didn't wait to shoot the next frame even shooting 116 Frames or 229 frames (CROP mode) contentiously. Refer the Gallery - 2 and 3.
Note: the gif images are of low quality. I am trying to show here just the AF and buffer clearance capability by R5.
Picture Quality & Dynamic Range (DR)
The dynamic range is one of the main reasons for me to jump-ship. After spending some time with R5, I don't have any complaints this time. The 45 megapixel CMOS sensor delivers excellent image quality which I haven't seen in any other Canon cameras. The pictures are sharp and better noise control at high ISO. I didn't bother to set the AUTO ISO range between 100 to 25600. The ISO was 10000 and 12600 for a few pictures and they are still usable and very decent quality. Again, considering the small size subject and shooting from such a distance by using 1.4x /2x TC, I am proudly saying the R5 did an excellent job in order to picture quality and dynamic range.
You can take a look the pictures from Gallery - 4. The pictures are came very well considering the subject distance, Using 1.4x/2x TC and high ISO.
Other welcome features (and most wanted) i.e. IBIS, Flip out screen, High Burst Speed, EVF, Dust, and Water resistance body which I care about :-)
Flip out screen/Vari-angle LCD with full touch screen: Another reason to jump-ship to Nikon from Canon was the Flip-out screen. I love the flip-out screen on the Nikon D750. Canon was never interested to introduce this feature to their high-end DSLR line-up. This is a small butt that gives you much more flexibility and advantages when you compose a frame from a low or high angle. I remember, what kind of trouble and pain I use to take to compose a low angle frame during seascape photography, standing into the water and in an unfriendly environment. A flip-out/ tilt screen helps lots in this kind of situation and you can use touch screen to focus without having much trouble. These are the small features that really change the way of composition.
IBIS: Canon introduces In-body Image Stabilizer 1st time in EOS R5 and R6 and this 5 axis IBIS, which provides blur reduction is as effective as up to 8-stops decrease in shutter speed, is damn good. Some times we need to shoot handheld using big and heavy lenses and that too in lower shutter speed. I have tested and I could shoot crisp picture @900mm (400 X 1.4 X 1.6) or @800mm using 1/80, 1/120, 1/200 shutter speed.
High Burst Speed: High burst rate does matter a lots for bird photography. It helps a lots to freeze each every action of fast moving birds (subject). Currently I need use a battery grip in Nikon D850 to get 9fps shutter speed. This makes the camera body weight much heavier and sometimes you will feel pain on your wrist when you shoot handheld for 3/4 hours with long tele lens. Sometimes I wish if I could get a silent shutter. Some birds are very sensitive and shy. The shutter noise scare them and run away. Game over. When Sony introduced A9, I was thinking of buying it but because of their limited telephoto lens line-up and 24mpix sensor size, I didn't go for it. When rumor told that Canon is introducing R5 with 12fps for mechanical shutter and 20fps for electronic shutter with 45mpix sensor, then I didn't believe. But now using such feature is like dreams comes true. Canon has delivered a long awaited demand this time. The 12fps mechanical shutter sound is minimal and very sweet. Also 20fps electronic shutter freeze each and every moment. It's completely noise-less and flickerless (blackout) which help to follow and freeze flying bird's movements using EVF with ease. Not to mention, I can shoot the shy birds without disturbing them now. :-)
EVF: Love the 0.5-inch hi-res Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with 5.76m dots which is having a 120fps refresh rate. It really produces a crystal clear view.
Dust and Water resistance body: Canon EOS R5 has a magnesium alloy body which is dust and water-resistant. This feature definitely useful considering shooting outside the whole day.
I am a photographer and like to take still pictures more than video. Hence for me, those unrealistic video features in this small body, are added advantages and most welcome features. I have taken a few clips in different video settings starting from 8k, 4K 120fps, 4k 60fps, and my R5 didn't overheat.
The R5 is a gem of a camera and I am loving it more and more after using it. I am still unable to believe that CANON has provided all the features which photographers can dream about and that too in such a small body. I didn't do any mistake by placing a pre-order for R5. I am definitely keeping the R5. Now I need to sell all my Nikon gears.
Again this is my own review based on my on-field experience. Canon doesn't sponsor me and they don't bother my review I believe. LOL.
There are few more pictures I have posted @ Gallery - 5, which I have taken hand-held on a different day.
Note: I have post-processed all the pictures in Photoshop which I have uploaded here. Below adjustment have been applied
1) Exposure, highlights and shadow
3) Denoise and Sharpen
Gallery - 1 | EXIF: ISO-2500, f/8, 1/4000 sec, -1ev @ 560mm | TC: 1.4x
Gallery - 2 | EXIF: ISO - 2500, F/8, 1/4000 sec, -1ev @ 560mm | TC: 1.4x
gif - 116 pictures taken USING electronic shutter @ 20fps
GALLERY - 3 | EXIF: ISO - 5000, F/8, 1/4000 SEC, -1EV @ 560MM | TC: 1.4X | CROP Mode
GIF - 229 PICTURES TAKEN USING ELECTRONIC SHUTTER @ 20FPS
Gallery - 4 | Shot taken using different ISO and using TC
GALLERY - 5 | MoRE PICS taken on different days
EXIF - ISO-2500, f/8, 1/800 sec.