R5 - What Canon can improve for pros.

Jul 23, 2013
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carlsmiller.com
My R5 shipped late July and I've been lucky to shoot (both photo & video) many more weddings than I thought I would this year (socially distant masking wearing affairs, as well as an unfortunate super-spreader or two). It's such a phenomenal camera and I can't recommend it enough. It really is the pro-level mirrorless we've all been hoping for. But my guess is you already know that, so I thought it might be useful to touch on some of the shortcomings/annoyances I've encountered, especially compared to the 5DIV. Some of these might seem nitpicky, but that's 1. only because the camera is that good and 2. I work in a very high paced environment and how quickly I can see/change/toggle settings really matters. Thankfully, almost everything I'm about to mention can be addressed through firmware.

Top LCD Display
Canon chose form over function with its current configuration. It displays minimal information and is often harder to read. It looks new and sexy (and has cool animations while you toggle modes), but in use its utility pales in comparison to a DSLR top display. From manuals to illustrate:

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On a 5DIV I can see everything with one glance. On the R5 only my exposure settings are shown, for some reason ISO is smaller/more difficult to see (I care about that setting as much as aperture/shutter), and a button press is required to toggle to a second page with more info. It's just too slow compared to pressing the shutter half-way to wake the back LCD and seeing all the info there. Further, if you're used to a 5D, here are the settings you still won't be able to see at all from the top display:
  • Remaining shots left before card is full (big omission IMO)
  • If multiple exposure is on
  • If dual-pixel raw is on
  • If GPS is on
If you're comparing the R5 with the R6, and the top LCD is pulling you to the R5, don't let it. That said, if Canon improved this, or better yet made it user-customizable with what info can be shown and how condensed, I'd change my tune.

No top mode dial / separate photo/video Mode screens
To swap back and forth between photo & video modes, you have to press mode and then press info, which is slower than just quickly spinning a top dial like on the R6. Canon lets you go into the menu and hide certain modes (Av, Tv, C1, etc.), but photo and video modes are still separate pages. As someone who does hybrid photo/video weddings, I wish we could customize the mode menu so both photo and video options appeared together. I'm often toggling between M for stills and all three custom video modes (One high frame rate, one 24fps, one in crop mode for extra reach).

Update: Definedphotography pointed out that the M.Fn button can be customized to immediately switch between photo & video modes! The camera remembers the last mode you were in for each respective option and will return to that when the button is pressed. After testing it out I can confirm switching is much faster. Strangely, this is only a customization option for the M.Fn button and not others, but the very handy "Dial Function Setting" (the M.fn default) can at least be customized to other buttons. Still, I hope Canon can update the Mode menu to allow photo & video options to be customized and shown together.

Auto ISO
Auto ISO works great if you like to use it, but I don't and I'm constantly getting bumped into the mode by accident. The top rear dial defaults to ISO and if metering is active scrolling it all the way down will stop it at 100. However, if metering is not active, scrolling it all the way down will bring it past 100 and then to auto-ISO. I'm sure many of us habitually reset ISO to 100 when going from indoors to outside, but now I can't rely on muscle memory (blindly giving it a bunch of spins to the left) and instead have to look down and pay attention more. I've spent hours in the menu looking for a disable auto-ISO option, and there isn't one. I've since disabled the dial completely and instead remapped AE lock to ISO (while held down the front dial switches from shutter to ISO). Another option is to change the metering timer (default 8 sec.) to 10 min or 30 min. (closest to always on), but I'm unsure of how this might affect battery performance.

"Unlock" option for custom button
I carry two bodies on wedding day, which dangle at my hip, and having the dials locked helps keep exposure settings from being bumped/changed. The 5DIV allows you to customize a button to "unlock" the dials while it's held down (I have it set to the DOF button) but strangely the R5 has no such custom button option. Toggling the lock button on & off is the only option on the R5, which is just slower compared to the 5DIV.

Listening to voice memos
By default the "Rate" button rates with single press and records a voice memo if you hold it down. You can customize it differently, although I like it setup this way. However, when reviewing your images, there's no way to play your voice memo in the playback quick menu. The only way to playback voice memos is to enter the menu and customize the rate button and trade the rate ability for memo playback. If you only do rates or memos just set it up that way, no big deal. But if you do both, the only way to playback memos is to continuously change what the button does. The playback quick menu needs a "play memo" option.

30 min. record limit
I know this is mentioned ad nauseum, but it really is a hinderance to my work, especially for longer wedding ceremonies. I'd love to leave an R5 unmanned up in the balcony of a church for an hour catholic ceremony. I already own multiple Canon cinema bodies without record limits (C200, C100), but because I film weddings with 4 bodies it would be nice if my C/D cam could be nice and small and save me lugging around such huge cases all day. Having a record limit in the R5 actually has me looking at trading in my XC10 towards a Sony/Panasonic camera instead of simply picking up a second R5 body.

Summary
These are the main issues I've found, and for many of you they might not even come into play. They also seem to be interface oversights rather than purposeful functionality (record limit withstanding), so hopefully Canon can fix them via firmware (fingers crossed). All that said, as a complete package, I still MUCH prefer the R5 over the 5DIV. I'll take more shots in focus with the R5, over slightly faster usability with the 5DIV, any day.
 
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tron

EOS R5
CR Pro
Nov 8, 2011
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R5 is good but not that good. Allow my to elaborate. It's my dream camera for low light photography both with or without a tripod (the latter capability of combining IBIS and IS is superb. I can shoot at 1/3 sec when using R5 with RF24-70 2.8L IS at 70mm. Also its sensor is obviously a big step forward.

So what I dislike? You will be surprised and call me heretic but birding photography using R5. I used it with 400DO+2XIII and while it was OK for distant photos (I needed these 800mm with 45mpixel and still this was not enough but not R5's fault of course) , it could not focus easily on a bird on a stick in front of a fence. I tried many modes and the only mode that barely could do it was .... wait ... the one I thought as the least possible the smallest area selection!!! Yes not the wider modes but the smallest one. Of course the bird didn't wait for me! This is a case that is very easy for my Nikons. Even my 7DII and 5DsR could do it in the past with much less pain than my R5!

So to cut it short and be heretic (but not a troll!): focusing!
 
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AlanF

Stay at home
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Aug 16, 2012
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R5 is good but not that good. Allow my to elaborate. It's my dream camera for low light photography both with or without a tripod (the latter capability of combining IBIS and IS is superb. I can shoot at 1/3 sec when using R5 with RF24-70 2.8L IS at 70mm. Also its sensor is obviously a big step forward.

So what I dislike? You will be surprised and call me heretic but birding photography using R5. I used it with 400DO+2XIII and while it was OK for distant photos (I needed these 800mm with 45mpixel and still this was not enough but not R5's fault of course) , it could not focus easily on a bird on a stick in front of a fence. I tried many modes and the only mode that barely could do it was .... wait ... the one I thought as the least possible the smallest area selection!!! Yes not the wider modes but the smallest one. Of course the bird didn't wait for me! This is a case that is very easy for my Nikons. Even my 7DII and 5DsR could do it in the past with much less pain than my R5!

So to cut it short and be heretic (but not a troll!): focusing!
DSLRs are programmed to focus on the nearest object but all the MILCs, including the Sony A9, are not so its a common problem for mirrorless but that doesn't make it less annoying.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
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Mar 25, 2011
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Every camera has its advantages and disadvantages. I did not like having to AFMA my lenses with a DSLR, and then, they were only critically accurate at the tested distance. That could be a issue for a mfd shot with a 100-400 that had been AFMA'd at 100 feet. A mirrorless focuses equally well close and far.

The weakness of mirrorless camera dual pixel AF is that it detects horizontal objects when focusing. A bird sitting on a branch is usually vertical while the branch is usually more horizontal. Its going to prefer the branch in most cases. It may not focus on any object that has no detail horizontally, that's hard to spot while trying to quickly capture a moving bird.

From the rumors, we may see a quad pixel sensor that can focus more like a conventional DSLR in horizontal or vertical directions. Its potentially a huge improvement. Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

Meantime, its important to understand how AF works. Canon should put out a white paper explaining more about the limitations and strengths for a R5 / R6.
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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Every camera has its advantages and disadvantages. I did not like having to AFMA my lenses with a DSLR, and then, they were only critically accurate at the tested distance. That could be a issue for a mfd shot with a 100-400 that had been AFMA'd at 100 feet. A mirrorless focuses equally well close and far.

The weakness of mirrorless camera dual pixel AF is that it detects horizontal objects when focusing. A bird sitting on a branch is usually vertical while the branch is usually more horizontal. Its going to prefer the branch in most cases. It may not focus on any object that has no detail horizontally, that's hard to spot while trying to quickly capture a moving bird.

From the rumors, we may see a quad pixel sensor that can focus more like a conventional DSLR in horizontal or vertical directions. Its potentially a huge improvement. Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

Meantime, its important to understand how AF works. Canon should put out a white paper explaining more about the limitations and strengths for a R5 / R6.
It's more than the directionality of the DPAF - you can turn the camera through 90deg and it won't solve the problem - see my post just before yours which was probably posted as you were in the process of "post reply".
 

Kit.

EOS 5D Mark IV
Apr 25, 2011
2,125
1,461
So what I dislike? You will be surprised and call me heretic but birding photography using R5. I used it with 400DO+2XIII and while it was OK for distant photos (I needed these 800mm with 45mpixel and still this was not enough but not R5's fault of course) , it could not focus easily on a bird on a stick in front of a fence. I tried many modes and the only mode that barely could do it was .... wait ... the one I thought as the least possible the smallest area selection!!! Yes not the wider modes but the smallest one.
How about "face + tracking" AF with manual initial AF point selection? Does it not work for you?
 

tron

EOS R5
CR Pro
Nov 8, 2011
4,927
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If all is a blur how do you cope? The only setting that it reacted to was the smallest point but I had to find the target exactly!
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
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It's more than the directionality of the DPAF - you can turn the camera through 90deg and it won't solve the problem - see my post just before yours which was probably posted as you were in the process of "post reply".
Yes, cameras focus on the closest object that can trigger the AF system. But it will focus on a horizontal item before a vertical one unless there is enough width in the vertical one to let it focus on that. Size of the item on the sensor is another factor. I wonder how many pixels wide a image needs to be before it can be focused on. If its moving, that could be very difficult. I've never seen anyone do a study of the AF capabilities, likely because no one knows exactly how it works, just generalizations. There are a lot of variables for sure.
 

xps

EOS R
Oct 19, 2011
1,001
112
Middle Europe
My personal wishes for an upcoming big firmware update:
I took a lot of shots on birds in the last weeks. Here in Germany an "hard lockdown" does not allow to see friends, relatives & CO, so birding is the thing I do each day. (on the rest oft the day sorting and deleting my shots :)
  • Longer battery life. My R5 drains the batteries 2-3 times as my Sony 7RIV (also when adapted to the 600mml L IS II and 400mm III L 2.8). In the last days about 1500 shots each with Eos R5 and 7RIV show the potential.
  • When switches off, my R5 still drains battery. This is not much, but one bar is lost over night.
  • The IS continues running after an shot for about 15s, also after switching the cam off.
  • My R5 freezes (1(-2) times each day with need of replacing the batteries
  • H+ speed is just working, when using the new kind of batteries (funny, but an signle and almost empty E6NH battery allows to shoot superfast, but two brandnew E6N batteries do allow just an reduced fps-shooting
  • Missing the old Spot-AF. The "Spot" on the R5 is often to large to get some details nailed. So an smaller point (like on the old 5DIV) would be welcome
  • AF inconsitent on not moving target in Eye-detection mode. My R5 is often not able to "see" the subject. One large bird in the field (no matter if grass or snow covered field) is not recognised. Each other blade of grass is recognized as an subject or each other snowflake... but not the big raptor. It gets better if I switch the AF mode on another Case and then get back on the original case and then add "Auto". So, this problem has to be solved anyway
  • AF sometimes does not start huntintg for an subject. So, manually turning the AF-Ring on my big whites is needed to start the AF to work.
  • More freedom in getting 2-3 customized settings (AF, tracking, exposure time, Iso all in one case) - placed on one button for each customized "case". For superfast switching by just pressing one button

I´m still happy to have bought this body. I know it is Canon´s first superior R body. Maybe some of my wishes will come true in the next month.
 

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
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My personal wishes for an upcoming big firmware update:
I took a lot of shots on birds in the last weeks. Here in Germany an "hard lockdown" does not allow to see friends, relatives & CO, so birding is the thing I do each day. (on the rest oft the day sorting and deleting my shots :)
  • Longer battery life. My R5 drains the batteries 2-3 times as my Sony 7RIV (also when adapted to the 600mml L IS II and 400mm III L 2.8). In the last days about 1500 shots each with Eos R5 and 7RIV show the potential.
  • When switches off, my R5 still drains battery. This is not much, but one bar is lost over night.
  • The IS continues running after an shot for about 15s, also after switching the cam off.
  • My R5 freezes (1(-2) times each day with need of replacing the batteries
  • H+ speed is just working, when using the new kind of batteries (funny, but an signle and almost empty E6NH battery allows to shoot superfast, but two brandnew E6N batteries do allow just an reduced fps-shooting
  • Missing the old Spot-AF. The "Spot" on the R5 is often to large to get some details nailed. So an smaller point (like on the old 5DIV) would be welcome
  • AF inconsitent on not moving target in Eye-detection mode. My R5 is often not able to "see" the subject. One large bird in the field (no matter if grass or snow covered field) is not recognised. Each other blade of grass is recognized as an subject or each other snowflake... but not the big raptor. It gets better if I switch the AF mode on another Case and then get back on the original case and then add "Auto". So, this problem has to be solved anyway
  • AF sometimes does not start huntintg for an subject. So, manually turning the AF-Ring on my big whites is needed to start the AF to work.
  • More freedom in getting 2-3 customized settings (AF, tracking, exposure time, Iso all in one case) - placed on one button for each customized "case". For superfast switching by just pressing one button

I´m still happy to have bought this body. I know it is Canon´s first superior R body. Maybe some of my wishes will come true in the next month.
I am not having all those problems so I wonder if it's due to settings.
My R5 loses power if it is left turned on with the 400mm DO II lens attached but not if it is turned off. My camera is set to airplane mode to turn off any possible power drain and is also in eco mode.
I don't have the bird spotting problem. The camera is set to the standard 1 tracking, animal eyeAF and all focus points active. It picks up tiny songbirds in the untidy grass in my lawn every time. What I don't like is what @tron has pointed out - focussing on the background and not the bird in front.
I do miss the spot AF.
The freeze problem does seem to affect some users but not others. I am one of the lucky ones without a freeze in over 10,000 shots.
 

xps

EOS R
Oct 19, 2011
1,001
112
Middle Europe
I am not having all those problems so I wonder if it's due to settings.
My R5 loses power if it is left turned on with the 400mm DO II lens attached but not if it is turned off. My camera is set to airplane mode to turn off any possible power drain and is also in eco mode.
I don't have the bird spotting problem. The camera is set to the standard 1 tracking, animal eyeAF and all focus points active. It picks up tiny songbirds in the untidy grass in my lawn every time. What I don't like is what @tron has pointed out - focussing on the background and not the bird in front.
I do miss the spot AF.
The freeze problem does seem to affect some users but not others. I am one of the lucky ones without a freeze in over 10,000 shots.
You lucky photographer!
Be happy, your R5 does work well. Our Canon pro support center will be able to check&repair the R5 in some weeks without sending it to Japan, so an ticket will be open for my body.
The Airplane mode is an good advice. Thank you.
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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You lucky photographer!
Be happy, your R5 does work well. Our Canon pro support center will be able to check&repair the R5 in some weeks without sending it to Japan, so an ticket will be open for my body.
The Airplane mode is an good advice. Thank you.
I have just checked for how long the IS remains on after switching of the camera. For both the 100-500mm and 400mm DO II it is 2-3 seconds, not the 15 you find. Again, check your settings. Mine are to minimise time on and also in eco mode but I can't see how that would affect events after turning off.
 

xps

EOS R
Oct 19, 2011
1,001
112
Middle Europe
I have just checked for how long the IS remains on after switching of the camera. For both the 100-500mm and 400mm DO II it is 2-3 seconds, not the 15 you find. Again, check your settings. Mine are to minimise time on and also in eco mode but I can't see how that would affect events after turning off.
I did several times. Canon repair center thinks, this could be an issue - but it can´t repair it in the next weeks. I had a call before X-Mas and they will call me back when they are back on duty.

My settings:
Eco-Mode is on, Also Energy-saving: EVF-off 1 min (Set Up2); Display brightness 4, EVF-brightness Auto (SetUp3),
IS-Mode ON, Stabilizing only at shooting, f=600, (shoot7)
EVF-Power FPS Energy saving (shoot8)
Cont. AF (deactivated) (AF1)
Flightmode on (Network1) (I thought it was off, but it s on)
 
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Mar 13, 2020
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No top mode dial / separate photo/video Mode screens
To swap back and forth between photo & video modes, you have to press mode and then press info

You can customize the buttons and assign one to switch between video/photo modes.
The option in the Mode dial would also be good though.

Auto ISO
Auto ISO works great if you like to use it, but I don't and I'm constantly getting bumped into the mode by accident.

Have you checked the options under "ISO Speed Settings" (Red menu - page 2) ?
Set the min ISO to 100 or whatever your preference, rather than Auto.
 

wockawocka

EOS R
Sep 13, 2011
855
158
I much prefer the R6 over the R5. I prefer the top dial and the high iso images look better when pushed.
 
Jul 23, 2013
330
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carlsmiller.com
You can customize the buttons and assign one to switch between video/photo modes.
The option in the Mode dial would also be good though.

You can assign a button to bring up the mode menu (or record in C3 video settings), but not to completely switch between video/photo modes.

Have you checked the options under "ISO Speed Settings" (Red menu - page 2) ?
Set the min ISO to 100 or whatever your preference, rather than Auto.

The min/max ISO setting sets the range for you or Auto ISO to work within. As I originally mentioned there's no current way to remove Auto ISO as an option from the default dial, unfortunately.
 
Mar 13, 2020
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You can assign a button to bring up the mode menu (or record in C3 video settings), but not to completely switch between video/photo modes.

I've set my M Fn button to "Stills <--> Movie Switching". It switches to the last movie mode you used, separate from C3. Set the same in the movie settings so I can switch back & forth by pressing the MFn button.

Link to a video
 
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