Review: Darren Lewis, Creative Scrum and ACPME Communications Officer
Camera: Canon R5

While focussing on a bug back in June I took an almighty tumble down some steps. Mid-air panic ‘Not my beloved 5D Mk IV and not my brand new 100-400 L series lens!’

On hitting the deck, I stared into the lens hood. Phew! The glass seemed intact. I rested the camera on the floor and inspected the cut on my right hand. This sent me all wonky – far too much ketchup. Still, better me than my workhorse – especially as my bags were packed for a two-day shoot. Patched-up, I looked at the camera body. Eek! The LCD screen and back were completely stoved-in. No power. Simply trashed.

Phone call to a friend and I borrowed his camera body for the shoot. This let me test my lens. It was fine.

But what now? It was stupidly under-insured and I needed a replacement. Cue masses of reading and remembering Martin Parkers’s review of the mirrorless Canon R5. How did it really measure up against the R6? Surely it would be much better with twice the megapixels? But then I knew a brilliant photographer that had traded in his 5D and raved about buying two R6s. Was 8k video a waste of time given most computers couldn’t handle it? Did the 8k really cause the camera to overheat?…

I had a bag of lenses and every reason to stick with Canon.  Many 5 star reviews pointed to the new R5. But at well over 4K for the body… Yikes!

Sometimes Lady Luck shines on you. A friend offered to purchase one for me at an enormous discount. I knew I’d use it for work and, before I could talk myself out of it, I ordered a camera, a battery grip and an EF to RF lens adapter. Plus another battery and different memory cards (as my existing ones wouldn’t fit).

The camera and grip arrived quickly, but the adapter seemed to take forever. Canon were out of stock of all the models and the lead times were enormous – due to unforeseen demand more than the effects of Covid. I didn’t want a third-party version, so I waited a few weeks and bought one as soon as it came into stock at an online camera store.

What were my first impressions? Different arrangement of buttons, masses of customisation, bit smaller than the 5D but well-planted and solid (particularly when combined with the battery grip), handy flippable touch screen…

I know… Cut to the chase. How does it perform? In a word: astonishingly.

I’ve popped a few sample jpgs into a gallery here.

Firstly it’s fast. Even paired with an f4.5 100-400 lens and a 1.4x converter the R5 focussed like a rocket.

Secondly, it’s easy to use. I’m happy to admit that I chimp – after all I’m a designer first, then a photographer. The change from an optical viewfinder to a pin-sharp digital one didn’t seem to cause a delay and the WYSIWYG display meant exposure and depth-of-field were there to see.

Thirdly, the results were incredibly sharp. One of the first pictures I snapped (hand held) was my friend’s dog (above). I could zoom into every hair. The ‘industry-leading 8-stops’ of image stabilisation and new 45MP sensor were game changing.

I’d read about eye-tracking of birds, but how about dragonflies in flight? There’s no way I could have captured those with any of my previous cameras. They skit about in all directions and over water/reeds rather than against blue skies. So I hiked to Pinkery Pond on top on Exmoor. Boom! If I could get them in frame and predict their flight for a second or two (that’s the biggest challenge, especially up close) the camera would snap onto them.  

When a bat was hunting in daylight one afternoon (they sometimes do after wet nights without food) I ran to grab my R5. I could barely track it with my eye. It was a long way away, but I managed to get something recognisable.

It’s still early days, but my R5 has been to schools for portraits and creative shots, out in the garden and I’ve shot video with it in low light (mounted on tripod at a funeral and hand held at long-range on Exmoor in the wind).

It’s a fantastic bit of kit. It seems well-built with weather sealing and a rugged construction. I just need to avoid falling down any more walls – I don’t bounce like I used to!

A good website for more techie details:


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