Canon EOS R

Lensrentals.com investigates the heat emission from the Canon EOS R5

By Roger Cicala

Published September 10, 2020

Lots and lots of people are talking about Canon R5 heat cut-offs. The discussions range from technical discussions about heat generation, cooling methods, and firmware protocols to strident conspiracy theories.

I only know a little bit about heat:

  1. Electronics give off heat when they’re working.
  2. Heat fries chicken, which is good, and fries electronics, which is bad.
  3. You can get rid of heat by conduction (flowing through nearby materials), convection (circulating through gas or fluids), and radiation (which mostly occurs at high temperatures). We know from the teardown that the R5 is tightly sealed, so we have to figure that convection doesn’t play much of a role.

As a repair and QA oriented person, I hate bricking cameras. So I’m less interested in coaxing the camera into working hotter (see point 2) and more interested in how the heat gets out. When we did the teardown of the R5 we saw some metal heat sink / transfer plates that

would conduct heat away from certain chips, but once the heat sinks get hot, then what happens? That’s what I was interested in.

This is not rocket science, there are people far more qualified than me talking about chip operating temperatures, thermal flow of various substances, firmware cool down cycles, and stuff like that. (There are also people far less qualified than me talking about those things.) I have nothing to add to either of those discussions, and I don’t intend to get into a fracas about it.

This is just some very basic stuff about how heat leaves the camera. Because to my simple mind, getting the heat out of the camera is the end-all, be-all. Tweak heat flow as much as you like inside and maybe you’ll gain a few minutes of this or that. But eventually the heat has to get outside or the camera needs to shut down. I do need to point out that the heat flow with the back off has nothing in common with the heat flow with the back on, so I’m doing this with fully assembled cameras.

First Step

We got an R5 running V1.0 firmware, slapped a CFx card in, put it in 8K mode and ran it to temperature cut-off, using some industrial thermometers to see where heat left the camera.

With lens on, and camera sitting on a table, all covers closed and LCD folded against the camera back but not on we ran it for 18 minutes before getting a temp warning. The hottest part of the camera was the back behind the LCD door (43°C / 109°F), followed by the rear body around the command / set dials and the area of the grip where you rest your thumb (40°C / 104°F). The bottom plate around the tripod socket reached 38°C / 100°F.

The top, front, and sides didn’t warm up much at all, most of the camera was around 30°C.

We redid things with the LCD moved to the open position, away from the camera. This time that area on the back of the camera was a bit cooler, 39.5°C / 103°F but nothing else changed

much. So a few takeaways: First, leaving the LCD open let the camera radiate heat a bit better,

which is pretty logical, but not better enough to prolong recording time. (We did use the same CFx card for both runs.)

Next, we waited until the camera cooled enough to record again and restarted. The only interesting part of this was the second shut down occurred at a degree or two lower external temp than the first. Is this because of the delay getting residual heat out of the insides? The inside should be hotter than the outside, because thermodynamics, but I couldn’t measure how great that difference was.

At this point, we decided that the thermometers we were using were reading from a 1cm² area, which was kind of a blunt tool. So I got a little FLIR IR camera, spent some time checking it’s readings against both of the thermometers we used and decided it was just as accurate and gave us a lot more information. Plus cool pictures that are more fun to look at than rows of tables.

The Chassis and Shell

The chassis and shell of most cameras has been developed for years to to be strong and light (most manufacturers use similar material). I’ve never thought they conducted heat well, but I didn’t know for sure.

So we took a shell off to test this a bit. Just simple stuff; I used a narrow gauge heat gun to heat the shell and see what happened.

First we heated the inside of the shell with rubber intact, and tested the temperature on the other side. We found that the shell is indeed not a good heat conductor. Heating the inside up to 180° F

/ 82°C the outside got up to 160° F, but with several seconds delay. With the rubber grip applied the difference was, as you would expect, a bit longer and the outside reached about 150°.

Then we heated one corner of the shell looked to see how far the heat spread. We knew heat crossed the 2mm thickness of the shell slowly, so I figured it wouldn’t conduct heat to other parts of the shell very well. For once, I figured right.

We had to go back to our industrial thermometers for readings here, the spectrum was more than our little camera could handle. But I’ve got that bottom corner heated up to 180° F, the rest of the shell isn’t very hot at all.

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I kept the corner hot for a few minutes and we did get some local spread, but I’m not sure if some of that was leakage from my heat gun. It’s very clear, though that the shell material doesn’t spread heat especially well. If this was aluminum or copper the whole shell would have heated up. Obviously, it does pass heat out of the camera to some degree, but it sure doesn’t act as a heat sink or anything.

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privatebydesign

Garfield is back...
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,190
3,412
120
Maybe combine it with the thread we already have?

 

Baron_Karza

EOS RP
Feb 17, 2019
343
411
"You can buy a nice little phone mounted IR camera for just a few hundred dollars"

I'm curious to see how long it would take to cool down the camera completely to where it started after it heats us to the point of shutting down.
Also what temp it changes to when it's able to record again.
 
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Surab

Olympus OM-D E-M5II
Aug 22, 2020
26
35
For what his findings are worth, I do think they support the anti-conspiracy POV on the topic. I hope this is true and I will gladly eat my words and worries. :)

But to be honest, given these findings I would not want an R5, if I were to use it for any of the extreme heat producing features (4k HQ, 8k, super fast burst). A camera that builds up and stores heat like that does not inspire confidence in its longevity, especially with moving parts like IBIS and shutter. Obviously I believe that this camera will do well and tested appropriately, but this is just an irrational feeling of mine. Anyway, it is beyond my financial reach and from all I have it's one of the best photographic tools on the marker as of now. So anyone who has it will enjoy it to the fullest I am sure.

Now give me some sweet deals on the R + 24-105 L. :D

hmmm...I thought there would be more comments left for this article.
I would have thought so, too.
 

jam05

EOS RP
Mar 12, 2019
285
139
"You can buy a nice little phone mounted IR camera for just a few hundred dollars"

I'm curious to see how long it would take to cool down the camera completely to where it started after it heats us to the point of shutting down.
Also what temp it changes to when it's able to record again.
Its called Full Recovery and depends on the camera internal temlerature + ambient. You can get full recovery if you get the entire camera back to 73 F. I put the device directly in front of an AC unit. A fan with no cooling wont get ambient tempwrature lowered. A peltier on the rear hotspot gives a little better results. A small portable peltier fridge/ac gives the best result, returning the device to full recovery in 30 minutes.
 

Joules

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,217
1,372
Hamburg, Germany
A camera that builds up and stores heat like that does not inspire confidence in its longevity, especially with moving parts like IBIS and shutter. Obviously I believe that this camera will do well and tested appropriately, but this is just an irrational feeling of mine.
But that is exactly why there is no 'just let it melt' setting (like what Sony seems to allow) in the R5. It isn't allowed to reach temperatures where it degrades.

I would be surprised if the moving parts were more likely to suffer negative side effects from heating up than the electronics. But Canon knows the specs that their components can handle. Which is why they restrict operation of the camera to stay within these limits. Keep in mind that even a company like Apple, who have quite a reputation for reliability, are running their Intel chips at the very edge of what's acceptable under load (peaks of 99° C and sustained at 90° for iMac and MacBook Pro, for example). Those products are the same as the R5, equipped with more computational power than can be removed from the device (because of weather sealing in the R5 and not wanting to use proper fans that introduce noise and bulk in the Macs).
 
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dilbert

EOS M50
Aug 12, 2010
26
11
Opening the LCD helps cool the camera for obvious reasons: it increases the surface area available for both convection and radiation. When closed, radiated heat from the body is absorbed by the LCD which is already heated by conduction from the body.

To test the tripod mounting plate possibilities, find a scrap metal yard that has some extruded aluminium (or copper) that someone didn't need and screw the camera onto that.
 

criscokkat

EOS RP
Sep 26, 2017
327
299
Madison, WI
Opening the LCD helps cool the camera for obvious reasons: it increases the surface area available for both convection and radiation. When closed, radiated heat from the body is absorbed by the LCD which is already heated by conduction from the body.

To test the tripod mounting plate possibilities, find a scrap metal yard that has some extruded aluminium (or copper) that someone didn't need and screw the camera onto that.
That actually might be an interesting weatherproof design. Have the tripod mount and the base around it be Metal, and copper heat conducting pipes be connected to it. Attach the battery grip, and it could have a vented area to allow air to flow through that area, while also conducting heat down to it's tripod attachment. You could even sell a slightly more expensive version and slighty bigger version of the battery grip that had active cooling on fins that come into contact with the bottom of the camera. This section would not be waterproof, but the camera itself still would be if the rest of the grip was sealed and there are probably fans on the market that would still work if damp. It might need repair on occasion if it got really wet, but that might be something any camera shop could do.

That sort of design would open them up to more complex third party solutions as well. Of course, to achieve this they would actually have to use temperature sensors inside the camera instead of just a timer to determine when it should shut down.
 
Sep 9, 2020
4
3
I wonder how photo noise compares before a 20 min 8k recording and right after... I have to imagine it is significantly higher, especially long exposures.
 

mb66energy

EOS R
Dec 18, 2011
1,453
331
Germany
www.MichaelBockhorst.de
I think the way of coling the R5 externaly can only be done by a peltier element and a fan to cool the warm side of that peltier. After trying to cool a 600D during time lapses with a simple fan I see only small help (20% more time until 53°C are reached from the internal reading provided by Magic Lantern.
But it would be a good idea to really control the peltier to cool things down the right amount - not too much to avoid condensation inside the camera and to steep thermal gradients.
 

Daner

AE-1 Program
Aug 15, 2017
103
99
Stockholm
danethomasphotography.com
Picture this: A functional video cage with full-contact copper connection points along the entire bottom plate and surrounding and connecting with both strap lugs. All of these points are liquid-cooled, along with the hot spot under the screen. Attached to the cage are remote attachment receptacles for one (or two) standard batteries, along with each of the storage media cards. A wiring post leading power from the battery is inserted much like with a battery grip, but with the addition of a cooling circuit to route liquid coolant through that area. Similar devices that route signals while simultaneously being active liquid-cooled heat removers are inserted into each of the card slots. Similar arrangements could also be made to remove heat from each of the other ports, whether or not there is a need to run signals through them. If EF lenses are to be used, plumb the liquid-cooling into an RF-EF converter that is specifically designed for maximum conductive contact surrounding the lens mount.
 
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Surab

Olympus OM-D E-M5II
Aug 22, 2020
26
35
But that is exactly why there is no 'just let it melt' setting (like what Sony seems to allow) in the R5. It isn't allowed to reach temperatures where it degrades.

I would be surprised if the moving parts were more likely to suffer negative side effects from heating up than the electronics. But Canon knows the specs that their components can handle. Which is why they restrict operation of the camera to stay within these limits. Keep in mind that even a company like Apple, who have quite a reputation for reliability, are running their Intel chips at the very edge of what's acceptable under load (peaks of 99° C and sustained at 90° for iMac and MacBook Pro, for example). Those products are the same as the R5, equipped with more computational power than can be removed from the device (because of weather sealing in the R5 and not wanting to use proper fans that introduce noise and bulk in the Macs).
I do believe that too, it's just an irrational feeling on my end. It also helps making happy that I can only, if at all, afford an EOS R. haha
 
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Chig

Birds in Flight Nutter
Jul 26, 2020
76
46
Orewa , New Zealand
So Canon has produced a cutting edge camera which is probably the best stills camera ever (especially for wildlife/action) and it has amazing video features which are great for short clips but obviously produce a lot of heat as we expect with powerful processors which are being driven hard and it’s packed into a very compact weather sealed body.

This video shows clearly that the camera shuts down when it reaches fairly high but safe temperatures (and before these temperatures get too high) to protect itself and the person operating it which makes sense.
This is obviously not suitable to film for hours but they make cinema cameras for that.

But people who make you tube videos expect this to work like a cinema camera so they can make 8K and 4K120 videos for hours on end so their fans can watch them on smartphones at 720p and they’re whining about Canon not fulfilling their delusional fantasies

p.s. I don’t understand why Canon hasn’t removed the 30 minute recording limit though as the European sales tax on video cameras has been revoked
 
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Chig

Birds in Flight Nutter
Jul 26, 2020
76
46
Orewa , New Zealand
That actually might be an interesting weatherproof design. Have the tripod mount and the base around it be Metal, and copper heat conducting pipes be connected to it. Attach the battery grip, and it could have a vented area to allow air to flow through that area, while also conducting heat down to it's tripod attachment. You could even sell a slightly more expensive version and slighty bigger version of the battery grip that had active cooling on fins that come into contact with the bottom of the camera. This section would not be waterproof, but the camera itself still would be if the rest of the grip was sealed and there are probably fans on the market that would still work if damp. It might need repair on occasion if it got really wet, but that might be something any camera shop could do.

That sort of design would open them up to more complex third party solutions as well. Of course, to achieve this they would actually have to use temperature sensors inside the camera instead of just a timer to determine when it should shut down.
Why not just have water trickling down the back of the camera?
Water transfers heat very quickly
Or you could just accept the camera for what it is : worlds best stills camera which can also shoot short clips of high resolution video
 
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Toglife_Anthony

Hit the G.A.S. & pump the brakes at the same time!
Apr 2, 2020
15
23
It's pretty funny to me that every post seems to be commandeered by overheating debates but when there's an article proving that the camera does indeed get hot, no one is saying anything. Here I am at a mere comment #18. I'll be glad when folks either just enjoy the camera for what it is or go by a different camera and shut up. More shooting, less bickering! :)
 
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SteveC

R5
CR Pro
Sep 3, 2019
1,861
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It's pretty funny to me that every post seems to be commandeered by overheating debates but when there's an article proving that the camera does indeed get hot, no one is saying anything. Here I am at a mere comment #18. I'll be glad when folks either just enjoy the camera for what it is or go by a different camera and shut up. More shooting, less bickering! :)
Well in future perhaps we can point the clowns over here and maybe it will shut them up.

Nah, probably not.
 

criscokkat

EOS RP
Sep 26, 2017
327
299
Madison, WI
Why not just have water trickling down the back of the camera?
Water transfers heat very quickly
Or you could just accept the camera for what it is : worlds best stills camera which can also shoot short clips of high resolution video
I'm not disputing this. Stop being so personally offended by pointing out shortcomings and potential solutions.

I'm just saying this could be corrected in future versions of this camera, say a mark II version. I'm simply discussing ways that could bleed off heat without compromising sealing. Just making more of the camera metal wouldn't necessarily work as more metal in the body shell would have to account for more contraction/expansion which makes sealing more difficult. However a smaller spot dedicated for heat might offer a easier place to channel that heat to, and could allow for third party cooling passive or active solutions, or other external solutions as I proposed a they would not entail having a fan within the camera itself.
 
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