Canon EOS R5: The Test Results Are In

December 24, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

Rangefinder is a member of the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) which has contracted with Image Engineering to perform detailed lab tests of digital cameras, including the Canon EOS R5 test outlined here. See here for a full methodological rundown of how Image Engineering puts cameras through their paces.

Anyone wondering if Canon was fully committed to developing mirrorless technology for professional users could put those fears to bed when Canon finally pulled back the curtain on the EOS R5 in July 2020. With 8K recording, 8-stops of shake reduction, enhanced autofocusing and a new full-frame CMOS sensor, it’s safe to say Canon threw the kitchen sink at the R5.

Canon EOS R5

The tiltable and swivelable monitor on the R5 has excellent responsiveness to the touch controls, and one card slot each for SD and CF Express cards.

Canon EOS R5 Features

The R5 features a 45-megapixel CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 100 to 51,200 (expandable to 102,400). It’s capable of burst speeds as high as 20 frames per second (fps) using an electronic shutter.

The aforementioned 8K RAW video recording is uncropped and stored internally to the R5’s dual card slots (CFexpress and SD) at up to 30fps. The R5 can also capture 4K video up to 120fps in 10-bit 4:2:2 10-bit when using the H.265 codec. An updated version of Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus is available in all 8K and 4K modes.

The R5 is Canon’s first camera to use an in-body stabilization system. When used in tandem with image-stabilized EF and EF lenses, the R5 can achieve a whopping 8-stops of image stabilization.

There are 1,053 automatically selected AF Zones that can detect human eyes, faces or heads as well as the eye, face or body of animals.

A body-only R5 retails for $3,899.

Learn more about the Canon EOS R5.

Resolution and Texture Reproduction in the Canon EOS R5

The Canon EOS R5 performed well in Image Engineering’s resolution test, resolving 104 percent of its 45-megapixel sensor’s theoretical maximum resolution  at ISO 100. This compares favorably to the Panasonic Lumix S1R, which achieved 96 percent of its theoretical maximum at ISO 100 and the Sony a7R Mark IV, which resolved 93 percent of its theoretical maximum (although the a7R IV has a considerably higher-resolution sensor).

The R5 shows impressively consistent resolving power through ISO 6400, resolving 100 percent, or more, of its sensor’s theoretical maximum. Even at the highest ISO tested, 12,800, the R5 was still achieving 98 percent of the theoretical maximum. Meanwhile, the Lumix S1R drops steadily as you raise ISOs–from 94 percent at ISO 800 to 89 percent at ISO 6400. At ISO 12,800, Sony’s a7R IV drops to just 85 percent of its theoretical maximum.

According to Image Engineering, the EOS R5 “does very well” at reproducing both high-contrast and low-contrast textures at ISOs up to 1600.

Visual Noise

Image Engineering found that the R5 produces no visual noise in any viewing condition tested at ISO 100. When producing postcard-sized prints or 11 x 15-inch prints, the R5 produces no noticeable visual noise at any ISO tested. This is comparable to the performance reported for the Sony a7R IV and a shade better than the Lumix S1R, which was found to produce noise in larger prints at ISO 6400 and above.

When viewing RF image files at 100 percent enlargement, noise is barely visible at ISO 400 or 800, and slightly more noticeable at ISOs up to and including ISO 3200. Noise would be obvious in images shot at higher ISOs when viewed at 100 percent enlargement. By contrast, Sony’s a7R IV begins to show noise at ISO 400 when viewed at 100 percent, and registers a “disturbing” level of noise by ISO 3200. The Lumix S1R similarly struggled in the noise department when looking at 100 percent enlargements: noise is “somewhat disruptive” even at ISO 100.

Still Frames: Dynamic Range & Color

The R5 delivered excellent dynamic range, registering 11.7 f-stops at ISO 100. You’ll enjoy over 10 stops of dynamic range up to ISO 3200, 9.6 stops at ISO 6400 and around 9 stops for most of the other higher ISO settings. By comparison, Sony’s a7R IV achieves 10.2 stops, while the S1R’s highest dynamic range was 9.4 stops, recorded at ISO 1600.

Image Engineering found the R5 also achieves solid color reproduction, with only three colors deviating strongly from their reference targets. Those colors were all bright reds. This is on par with Sony’s a7R IV, which similarly showed strong deviations for only three colors. By comparison, the S1R deviated strongly on six reference colors.

Canon EOS R5 color chart test results.
The Canon R5 color reproduction. The top half of the chart compares a reference color (right half of each color patch) with the color reproduced by the camera (left). Below is a table that lists the DeltaE, or degree of variation, of each color patch from its reference target. Red cells indicated strong color deviations, light green cells represent colors with noticeable deviations, and a dark green field represents a moderate deviation.

Video: Underwhelming Results in Dynamic Range

When examining the resolution achieved in a still frame taken from an 8K video, the R5 did an “excellent” job, resolving 103 percent of its theoretical maximum at low ISOs and 99 percent at high ISOs. That’s comparable to the performance recorded for the a7R IV and better than the S1R.

 Image Engineering notes that R5 applies very mild sharpening in video, especially compared to the sharpening the R5 applies to still photographs.

Video frames shot at both high and low ISOs and viewed at 100 percent would show noticeable visual noise. However, video frames shot at either low or high ISO and viewed on a small screen or as a large print, would not show visible amounts of noise.

While the R5 breaks ground by supporting 8K resolution recording, Image Engineering was underwhelmed with the camera’s dynamic range in video. At low ISOs, it recorded 6 stops and at higher ISOs, just 7.3. The S1R, on the other hand, achieves 10.3 stops, while the a7R IV hits 10 stops.

Image Engineering didn’t specifically test the R5 for overheating, they do note that even with the overheat control activated the camera grip and the front of the R5 were “noticeably warm” after several minutes of 8K shooting.

How the Canon EOS R5 Rates in Performance

The R5 clocks in with a start-up time of 0.7 seconds. Continuous shooting was recorded at 11.4 frames per second (fps) for JPEGs and 10.2 fps for RAW images using the mechanical shutter and 19.6 fps and 17.6 fps for JPEGs and RAW images, respectively, using the electronic shutter. This outpaces the Lumix S1R and, while it’s about the same speed as the Sony a7R Mark IV, the R5 has a larger buffer that’s capable of handling continuous shooting until the memory card is full.

In both well-lit (300lx) and low-light environments (30lx), the R5 can focus and capture an image in 0.2 seconds and 0.3 seconds, respectively, roughly comparable to the a7R IV and S1R.

Canon EOS R5 Test Results are in.
The Canon EOS R5’s final test scores.

Price: $3,899 (body)

Related links:

Nikon Z 6II Review: In-Depth Lab Tests

Panasonic Lumix S5 Review: In-Depth Lab Tests

Nikon Z7 Camera Review