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  • Cheryl Tan

Canon R5 Review for Photography: The High Resolution 1DXM3

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

The Canon EOS R5 is really an amazing nifty little camera, considering the specs that it packs. But of course, we aren’t going to delve too much into video. Here, we take a look at it for it is. A mirrorless, full-frame DSLR type camera that’s supposedly meant to take great photos, and kind of be on par with the flagship which most people agree, hands down, is amazing, the 1DX Mark 3.

When the R5 was announced, everybody’s jaw dropped. Having 8K capability, 12fps mechanical shutter and 20fps electronic shutter, it was basically a high-resolution 1DX camera in a small package. It’s a game-changer in a lot of ways, but Canon initially positioned this camera as video first, photography second and that’s not the R5.

The R5 is a photographer’s camera that does good video, but it’s a photographer’s camera first and foremost. Canon has really nailed the R system down and while it did take them some time to embrace the mirrorless medium, they have done it in spades.

You get a 5.76-million dot EVF and it’s beautiful, and even though it will drain your battery a bit more, it’s like looking into a brighter optical viewfinder. For a lot of wildlife and sports photographers out there, this is great.

The fully articulating rear display is great, we saw it before in the EOS R and the touchscreen is very responsive, precise and fast. Aside from that, it’s very much like the EOS R.

Initially, we thought at the price point the R5 is selling at, we thought the build quality would be like the 1DX, but it’s more like the EOS R. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it would have been nice for the R5 to feel a bit more robust in the hand.

Using this camera, the first thing you notice is the speed. It’s using a DIGIC X processor and it has a lot of the 1D X Mark III DNA. You get the Dual Pixel Auto Focus II system, which is even better than what the 1D X Mark III has, and there’s the 45MP full-frame sensor. You rarely see higher resolution full-frame sensors providing this type of speed and accuracy with photos, and that’s something that Canon has sort of redefined what you can do with this type of sensor.

The R5 performs beautifully, it’s lightning quick and autofocusing is some of the fastest we’ve ever seen. People compare this to the Sony and rightfully so, but not to the A7R IV, but to the A9 and A9 II because they’re neck and neck.

The star of the show is the eye-tracking and that’s where the R5 shines. The camera just locks on the eye even when shooting animals. Let’s talk about ISO for a moment. With a higher megapixel full-frame sensor, sometimes the trade-off is that low light photography suffers.

Canon’s done a tremendous job with the R5 in this regard. We’ve noticed that with Auto ISO, the R5’s ISO is actually set to a lower amount than other cameras, resulting in less noise and a cleaner image.

The R5 was plagued with complaints about overheating, but we haven’t had that issue yet. The reason why might be because we typically turn off the camera in-between shots. By doing so, you can even go longer in between charges of the battery.

The image quality out of the R5 is slightly different from previous Canon cameras; it looks more refined due to the 45MP sensor and the RF lenses which are very sharp and high-resolving. It feels a bit more clinical, but still has some character. Canon colours are still present and the photos are easy to edit.

When the EOS R came out, people were complaining about the price of the lenses and how big they were, but now you see the engineering coming to fruition. These are some of the sharpest photos we’ve seen out of a full-frame camera.

We tested three lenses for this review, the RF 70-200mm f/2.8, the EF 35mm f/1.4 and the RF 50mm f/1.2. The 70-200mm lens is very compact, but it’s a telescopic zoom and you do have to twist the ring quite a bit to get to 200mm.

The image quality out of this lens is really good, but we do recommend updating the firmware on the lens because it improves the handling and quality of the lens immensely.

The 50mm f/1.2 is one of our favourite 50mm lenses on the market, and Canon has done a great job with it. The autofocus is really fast at f/1.2 and it renders images beautifully.

Canon’s got a lot of great RF lenses, and if you want a prime lens, the 50mm f/1.2 is the one to get. Once you try it, you’ll have a hard time going back to another 50mm lens.

The last lens we have is the EF 35mm f/1.4 and we know a lot of people love this lens. It’s incredibly sharp and resolves beautifully on the R5. The autofocus is just as quick as the other RF lenses, and we’re just waiting for Canon to come out with an RF version of this.

Looking at photos, we’ve noted that photos out of the R5 have the colours a bit more muted, but it’s nothing that post-processing won’t fix.

Final thoughts on the R5? It’s a really refined camera from the EOS R and the R5 is just better in every single way. The autofocusing system is probably one update away from being phenomenal, and in some ways, we think this camera is gonna put a dent into the 1D X Mark III sales.

Price-wise though, we think it should be S$500 to S$1000 less expensive so that it would be really competitive. Down the road, there’ll definitely be rebates and packages which drive the price down slightly, but S$6,199 for the body alone is a bit pricey.

For more information about the Canon EOS R5 (S$6,199) or to support us, get it on Amazon here.

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