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Canon EOS R5 – 5 things we know, and 5 things we don't…

Canon EOS R5 – 5 things we know, and 5 things we don't…
(Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)

We recently visited Canon UK for a first-hand look at the Canon EOS R5 – the manufacturer's groundbreaking new full-frame mirrorless camera that has sent the industry into a bit of a tizzy.  

The Canon EOS R5 was announced a month ago, and with it were announced the key specs: 8K video, 20fps burst shooting with electronic shutter, 16fps burst shooting mechanically, dual card slots, in-body image stabilization (IBIS). These are the things we already knew – and they're already enough for this to potentially be one of the best mirrorless cameras, as well as one of the best cameras for filmmaking.

Having been and inspected the new camera in person, we've come away knowing quite a few new things about the Canon EOS R5. However, there are just as many things that we couldn't determine, and that the company is remaining tight-lipped about for the moment. 

So, without further ado, here are five things that we do and don't know about the Canon EOS R5…

The Canon EOS R5 has some serious changes both skin deep and under the surface

The Canon EOS R5 has some serious changes both skin deep and under the surface (Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)

5 things we know about the Canon EOS R5

1) It's officially a 5 series camera

This might seem obvious. After all, it's called an R5. However, this is not an arbitrarily selected number; this is the first R system camera that carries a number, and this indicates its place in the lineup. Just as in the SLR days there was a Canon EOS 5 series (with an EOS-1 above it), and in the DSLR days there was a Canon EOS 5D series (with an EOS-1D above it), the logic is the same here. Canon stopped short of saying that this is a mirrorless 5D, but the correlation is clearly there.

2) Uncompromised 8K

Contrary to online naysayers, who were adamant that it would be "crippled", the Canon EOS R5 features full-readout 8K video at up to 30fps. That means no crop factor, internal recording, and crucially it means that the company's celebrated Dual Pixel CMOS AF is supported in all 8K modes. Make no mistake, this camera is coming out swinging at current video behemoths like the 6K Panasonic S1H – and it's not pulling any punches.

3) Advanced animal autofocus

As was the case with 4K, other manufacturers took the lead when it came to rolling out animal autofocus. However, Canon is returning fire with all guns blazing – the R5 will possess Advanced Animal AF, capable of not only tracking dogs, cats and birds, but also capable of recognizing them by their eyes, face or body shape. That is a huge development, and one that could be a true game-changer for wildlife shooters.

4) Thicker body

We weren't allowed to photograph the EOS R5 and the EOS R side by side, and it's hard to tell without any context, but the new camera is notably thicker than the existing one. It's by no means a big or boxy body, but it is definitely a slightly deeper one. While Canon wouldn't say, it is safe to assume that this accounts for the new IBIS system. Likewise, the grip is chunkier and more angled, which may well be to accommodate a new battery or memory card (see below).

5) A joystick replaces the touchbar

The Canon EOS R featured a love-it-or-hate-it touchbar, and it seems that most people fell into the latter camp. Either way, the R5 ditches the M-Fn (multi-function) bar and replaces it with a multi-function controller (joystick). This may not signify the unpopularity of the bar, so much as it signifies the importance of eight-way control over AF points on an action-oriented camera (the joystick also features on DSLRs like the Canon EOS 90D, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS-1D X Mark III). 

The Canon EOS R5 is thicker, probably to accommodate the IBIS, but what about a new battery or CFexpress? (Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)

5 things we DON'T know about the Canon EOS R5

1) How many megapixels?

Curiously, the manufacturer is being incredibly coy about the resolution of the sensor in the Canon EOS R5. While a hi-res version of the camera is long-rumored to be in the works (with recent reports suggesting a Canon EOS with a 150MP sensor), that is expected to be a different model. The R5 will have a more modest resolution – and the full-readout 8K video gives us a big clue as to what this will be. As alluded by CameraLabs, 16:9 8K video on a standard 3:2 sensor would require 7,680 x 5,120 pixels – which works out as about 39MP. However, if the video is DCi (as the 1D X III offers) then it would require 8,192 pixels – and that means a 45MP sensor.

2) Dual memory cards, but what format?

Remember above, when we mentioned the thicker grip? Well, there are two big theories why this might be. One is that the R5 will feature a beefy new battery (and 8K video will certainly suck the life out of batteries in no time), and the other is that the extra space will accommodate a new memory card format – namely, CFexpress. The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III already features dual CFexpress card slots, so could the R5 follow suit? It's possible that it might possess a single CFexpress and a single SD card slot… or, equally, it could stick with dual SDs. 

3) Weather sealing?

Something else that Canon has been evasive about is weather sealing, and to what degree (if any) the R5 has it. Since the company is positioning it as "a professional full frame mirrorless flagship camera", it would stand to reason that it is at least as weather sealed as the EOS R. However, no mention has yet been made to that effect.

4) Does it feature Deep Learning AF?

Canon told us that the Dual Pixel AF in the R5 has similar capabilities as the system in the 1-series, but it also possesses the ability to perform animal AF as well. What it couldn't confirm, however, was whether any of that autofocus tech is built on the same Deep Learning AF that features in the 1D X Mark III – which does not currently feature animal AF. Since it was hinted that the 1D X could potentially be upgraded to support animal AF via firmware, it's possible that they both feature similar deep learning systems. (If you're asking what is Deep Learning AF, the short answer is "It's brilliant" and the long answer is "Read the article"!)

5) Does animal AF work in 8K video?

While Canon made the announcement that the R5 would feature full-readout 8K video and Advanced animal AF, it didn't actually say that the 8K video would support animal AF. It's entirely possible that those two features are entirely separate (with animal AF only being available for stills, or perhaps for 1080p or 4K video) – and when we asked Canon point blank, it couldn't yet spill the beans.

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