The Canon EOS R5 Is Mind-Blowing but There Are Still Major Questions to Be Answered

Yesterday, Canon swapped the Cripple Hammer for the Tickle Spanner: the EOS R5 is going to be a game-changer. With price and sensor size unknown, there are still some major questions waiting to be answered, and while it’s a dream for many videographers, some photographers might yet be a little frustrated.

The specs of the EOS R5 are staggering. After years of protecting different cameras across their hybrid and cinema lines by crippling specific features, Canon has decided to take the gloves off — and then some. With the video-centric NAB trade show canceled, Canon’s announcements were expected to be video-oriented, and the figures are exceptional. 8K raw internal up to 29.97 fps, 8K internal up to 29.97 fps in 4:2:2 10-bit, and 4K internal at 120 fps — all with Dual Pixel Autofocus and, most significantly, no crop. Alongside all of that, there’s the small matter of in-body stabilization. 

These figures seem a little insane. Such specifications make it a direct competitor to Canon’s own cinema cameras, not to mention various others. 

With the dust settling, various huge questions remain unanswered, with Canon beautifully teasing us with nuggets of information over the course of several months. The hype for this camera is immense — justifiably. If I were Canon, I too would want to spend my time rubbing the noses of the naysayers into those 8K numbers. As a result, Canon is taking its time with other announcements, and it feels that Canon has swapped out its legendary Cripple Hammer for a brand new Tickle Spanner: instead of handicapping its models, it’s keeping us titillated with teases, and taking its time to tell us something truly titanic.

Canon Cripple Hammer

This recent patent now seems beautifully redundant.

Canon is either trying to keep us entranced for as long as possible or — and this seems unlikely given the excitement that Canon is enjoying — because there are some significant caveats yet to emerge.

Let’s run through a few of the details that are keeping us clamoring for more.

Sensor Size

Canon EOS R5

Not so long ago, the headline of any camera would be the number of megapixels it’s packing, with figures leaked and rumors flying. By stark contrast, Canon is bizarrely quiet about the size of the sensor in the R5, and speculation has not been as frantic either.

45 megapixels was mooted back in January, and the ever-eagle-eyed Canon News has an interesting theory to support this: in among the chaos of various broken links on the Canon website, Canon USA posted some details, including this line:

No crop 8K and 4K video capture using the full-width of the sensor*

That asterisk grabbed everyone’s attention. Furious scrolling ensued. At the bottom, this:

*When in 8K RAW, 8K/4K DCI modes.

Canon News took this to mean that the R5 will shoot 8K DCI. It explains: “This means to fit the DCI full width on the sensor, the sensor width must be 8192 pixels wide, and because full-frame sensors are a 3:2 screen size, that means the height is 5461 pixels.” And critically: “This translates to a sensor resolution of 44.7MP.”

There are a few further details explaining why there is still some uncertainty, but this ties in with the early rumors. It does then raise the question: why is Canon keeping quiet about it? My guess is to stagger the news and keep the industry buzzing with the prospect of Canon’s most significant camera since the 5D Mark III.

How Hot?

With a new DIGIC processor throwing around vast amounts of data coming off a new CMOS sensor, it’s intriguing that the R5 does not have a cooling system similar to that in the Panasonic S1H. Recording limits are yet to be mentioned. A few months ago, critics would have been sure that the limitations would be fairly severe, but with Canon exploding every negative assumption about the R5 in its press conference, it’s now tough to say what those limits might be.

Yes But How Much?

The elephant in the room is the price. Some say $3,500. Others suggest $4-5,000. A few suspect closer to $6,000. There’s good logic for each.

Starting with $3,500: Sony’s tactics make a solid argument for camera bodies to be loss leaders, dragging users into an ecosystem and then making money on glass. Given the price of RF lenses, this would certainly make sense. Sony’s aggressive pricing was part of the reason that people like me sold their older 5D and 6D models and jumped to the a7 III, and if Canon wants to regain those customers, pricing should be part of the incentive. All it would then need is Sigma to make a lens adapter so that those swapping from Sony to Canon could keep using their Sony glass. (I’m not serious. Or am I?)

The amount of tech arriving in the R5 makes such a low price point seem impossible, but given that so much else about the R5 feels impossible, maybe it’s not so crazy. $4,500 seems much more realistic, and looking at the $6,499 you need to spend to grab yourself a 1D X Mark III, you’d be forgiving for thinking that $4,500 would be a bargain. The video specifications of the new 1D X is massively impressive, and yet the R5 somehow puts it to shame. Can the R5 really come in that much cheaper?

Pricing remains a mystery. Major retailers say “Coming Soon.” Interestingly, however, Lens Rentals has it listed at $271 per week (hat tip to docsmith). Given that the 1D X Mark III is $347 per week, a little bit of math puts the R5’s retail price a shade over $5,000. So, $4,999?

What About Photographers?

This is all incredible news for hybrid shooters, but what about those who don’t shoot video? For some, anything above $4,000 is going to be a stretch for a 45-megapixel camera, and given that the EOS R, the Lorem Ipsum of mirrorless full-frame cameras, now feels somewhat redundant and the R6 is expected to be a mere 20 megapixels, this may leave something of a hole in Canon’s line up. For photographers who don’t need a burst speed of 20 frames per second and have run out of children to mortgage, there might be better full-frame mirrorless options out there.

No doubt this will hole in Canon’s cameras will be filled, so let’s be patient. Until then, we have to wait and see if the dynamic range of Canon’s news sensor matches the ground that’s been broken in terms of video.

Over To You

How much will this new camera cost? Will you be placing a pre-order? Why don’t we know its resolution? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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