Canon was late to the full-frame mirrorless game. Its first effort, the EOS R, appeared in late 2018, a full five years after the original Sony a7. The lag time gave Sony some time to establish a foothold in the space, and some aspects of the EOS R’s performance felt dated out of the gate.
Canon is hoping to rectify the issue and leapfrog rivals in the space, including Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony, in imaging and autofocus quality. It released some early information on the first true pro-grade R camera, the forthcoming EOS R5, in February, and is filling in more gaps today.
Stabilized Image Sensor
The R5 will be the first from Canon with an in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system. The IBIS system works in conjunction with the optical stabilization, and the full-frame image sensor leverages Canon’s split-pixel phase detection technology, Dual Pixel AF, to acquire subjects.
The focus system promises to incorporate one new feature, Animal Detection, though we don’t know how it will work. Canon hasn’t opened up about other focus features, but at the very least we’d expect it to match the eye- and face-detection capabilities currently in the EOS R and entry-level EOS RP.
Focus will have to be pretty quick to keep up with promised burst capture rates. With a fully electronic shutter, the R5 promises to shoot and track action at 20fps, matching the rate of Sony a9 II, and can do 12fps with its mechanical shutter.
8K Raw Video
Canon hasn’t published specifications for the sensor. It promises to record video at up to 8K quality, a 7,680-pixel frame width, which puts it in the 40MP neighborhood at a minimum. There’s a possibility that it will have more and downsample information to net 8K footage, but it’s just that—a possibility.
As for video quality, Canon tells us the R5 supports up to 29.97fps capture at 8K, either with 4:2:2 10-bit H.265 compression or in a Raw format. The full sensor width is used, so you can pair an ultra-wide lens and still net an ultra-wide view, and speedy Dual Pixel focus is available when recording. There’s a flat profile, Canon Log, as well as a HDRPQ for content delivery to Dolby Vision and HDR10 displays.
If you don’t need all the resolution, the R5 will do 4K too. It supports capture at frame rates up to 119.8fps, so there’s a potential for a five-times slow-motion effect, and you get the same 10-bit H.265 quality and profiles as you do from compressed 8K footage. When recording in 4K, you also have the option of using an external recorder.
Body and Handling
I’ve not yet seen the EOS R5 in person, and Canon has only released a couple of photos of the camera itself. The front doesn’t look that much different from the EOS R, with a comfortable-looking handgrip and the shutter button at an angle at the top of the grip, just like Canon owners are used to.
The rear is more like the EOS 5D Mark IV than the EOS R, a good thing if you ask me. The practically useless touch-sensitive bar from the R is gone; in its place there’s an autofocus control stick. There’s also an AF-ON button, a flat command dial, and the other expected controls.
The LCD appears to be a vari-angle type, with a hinge at its left side. It’s also safe to assume that it will support touch, even though Canon hasn’t stated it explicitly. We don’t know anything about the specifications of the eye-level electronic viewfinder either, but anything less than class-leading will be a disappointment.
The body has two memory card slots—one supports the fastest available media, CFexpress, while the second offers support for the more common SD format, and includes support for UHS-II transfer rates.
While we won’t know for sure how the camera handles until it’s actually in hand, we expect it to feel more like a 5D, a welcome note for pros who have been using Canon SLRs for years.
A camera is only as good as the lens you attach. Canon has aggressively released pro-grade lenses for the RF mount, and going forward all of its development efforts are focused on mirrorless. It previously announced that it’s no longer developing new EF SLR lens designs, though you can still use EF lenses with an R camera using an adapter.
The company has already released a trio of f/2.8 zooms, all with image stabilization, covering 15-30mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm focal lengths, in the RF mount. It also has some high-end primes, including the RF 50mm F1.2 and a pair of 85mm F1.2 options for portraiture.
There are more coming, of course. Canon is working on an RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 telezoom, as well as 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters.
Great, But When?
We don’t know when the EOS R5 will come to market, or how much it will cost. Under normal circumstances, it would be safe to expect it sometime this year, but we are not living in a time of normal circumstances. We’ll update with more information as soon as Canon releases it.