5D4 to R5 - my experience and reluctance to switch to mirrorless

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rmexpress22 Senior Member • Posts: 1,628
5D4 to R5 - my experience and reluctance to switch to mirrorless
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I am a portrait photographer and my experience is within that scope. This is not going to be helpful for a lot of you but if you're on the fence about R5 or mirrorless, maybe it will.

For a long time, I used mostly the xxD (10D-80D) line of bodies until the 5D2. Then I used a FF and and always had a crop body. I also owned a 6D and used a 5D4 for several years.

I've always shot with Canon and there hasn't been a reason for me to switch. I knew mirrorless was coming and I never paid much attention to it, for the most part. I never had an interest in the Sony offerings or the EOS R. I read about how Sony EVF's were better and out of curiosity I've looked through them in Best Buy here and there and never felt like it was a great experience.

At some point, I needed a small video camera for simple behind the scenes videos and purchased an M6 with 15-45mm for $400, used. I had an 80D at the time but the small size of the M6 was attractive since my girlfriend would be handling the camera. The XC10 seemed to be too much for what I needed and I still wanted to have a crop option for stills. I bought the 22mm because I thought it was such a cool lens and the camera was pocketable, which was nice. But still, it was mainly a video camera for me. I never considered actually using for a shoot because I use flash, I don't like using the rear screen to shoot, and I feel like I'm more shaky since it'll get very front heavy with a Sigma 85mm Art.

What really changed my perception of mirrorless was the M6 II. Between the 90D and M6II, I went with the M6 II for portability. When I got the M6 II, it just felt like a really solid camera. Great performance, snappy, fast AF, etc... So then I went out and got the EVF-DC2. The EVF wasn't much different than using the rear screen. It wasn't bad. It wasn't great either. If you haven't figured it yet, I'm not a EVF fan. So this is not a knock on the EVF-DC2, it's just personal preference. The M6 II clinched it and the 80D will be my last DSLR crop body.

Honestly, I knew I was going to end up with a mirrorless system sometime. The M6II+EVF was really my gateway with getting used to the idea.

I ordered the R5 kind of late. By late, I mean that I didn't pre-order early enough. After a while, I canceled my initial order. I think I'd still be waiting had I not. When stock started coming up, I bought it early December at Best Buy and received it less than 2 weeks after. The Viltrox RF to EF adapter is all I could find so I bought the one with the control ring.

I'll say that my only gripe with DSLR's is having to MFA. It was honestly a pain and I had to send in my Sigma 35mm and 5D4 to Sigma to calibrate because I couldn't get the inner AF points and the outer AF points to both work reliably at the same time. My main lens was a Sigma 85mm Art and my hit rate was typically 90%+ with in-focus shots. Some were operator error and some weren't. Either way, I never felt like it let me down with AF after I MFA'd. I shoot at f/2 and wider so with such shallow DoF I didn't expect better accuracy than what I had.

So when I got the R5, my first shot was with the 35mm Art. In the back of my head I felt like the combo was still going to give me issues. It didn't. And since then, I've had a few different experiences switching to DSLR to ML as a main body.

Notable items for me going from the 5D4 to R5

  • Batteries - I had a shoot with around 220 shots and the battery was down to 56%. This is okay for me since on average I'm at ~250-300 shots per shoot. I keep the EVF at the high FPS setting and the camera was on continuously for about 40 minutes. Even so, I bought two OEM batteries and 2 generic LP-E6NH batteries. My old LP-E6N OEM and generic LP-E6N batteries don't last much at all.
  • EVF - It's better than the EVF-DC2. Bigger. Looks fine. I use exposure simulation and ended up overexposing a couple of scenes by about a stop. Both have been sunny, very contrasty scenes in two separate shoots. I had previously taken down the EVF brightness to 2 but went back up to 3 today. So I'll chalk that up to user error. Am I in love with the EVF? No. But I can work with it and for the most part the exposure looks great.
  • AF - With the same shoot where I fired off 220 shots I had 100% hit rate. Not one shot was out of focus. Not even by a little bit. I have a habit of going through a shoot shot by shot and dumping any shots where the focus isn't good but I might have to get used to not doing that anymore. I switched off between a 35mm Art, a 85mm Art, and a 70-200mm 2.8 II. All perfect. I don't always get 100% hit rate with the R5 but it's been really close on my other shoots.
  • Batteries, again - On my first test shoot with the R5 and using and an older LP-E6N generic battery and it wouldn't let me take a shot. It was odd because just 10 minutes earlier, it was working fine. I had to reset the camera because pulling the battery didn't do the trick. I bought more OEM batteries after this. The R5 seems to be less forgiving regarding batteries and I can live with that. Any lock-ups I had were when I was using old batteries. The Viltrox adapter might have played a part into that.
  • Shooting experience - On that same first test shoot, honestly, it was a disaster. At least it felt like it to me.  Yeah, it's a Canon body and there's a ton of things that feel familiar going body to body. But even though I had mirrorless cameras I never used them for a stills shoot. So many things in the 5D4 were second-nature and there's a bit of a learning curve with the R5. It didn't help that I customized a lot of the buttons so I kind of set myself up for failure. I still got good shots but it wasn't as fluid as an experience as usual. It's been fine since then, kind of. Except for the next item.
  • Control ring - The Viltrox EF-R2 ring feels weird. It's kind of clicky but odd. It's almost like it used to be clicky and its lost some of that. It felt like that brand new. I have battery drain with mine even with latest firmware for camera and adapter so as soon as I saw a Canon adapter available, I bought it. I received the Canon adapter with control ring this week. I set it to change AF method. When I was shooting with it, I kept wondering with my eye AF wasn't kicking in and I realized I changed the mode accidentally. That happened a few more times so I disabled the control ring. I might try setting it so that I have to hold down the shutter button halfway but I honestly don't really need any of the settings it offers. I already use the top three back buttons to do what I want with AF so it's just a novelty for me. Good idea, just not for me. I wish there was something I could use it for, but I'm already so used to the buttons that it's just faster to use those. I am going to buy the ND adapter since I use a lot of HSS and sometimes, I don't have enough power so it'll be nice to come down to x-sync speed.
  • Mount - I am still buying EF glass. I bought the 70-200mm II after I bought the R5 and I will be adding a 16-35mm f/4 soon. I bought the RF 50mm, which I don't like and I'm still on the fence on whether I'll keep it or return it. So far, all my EF glass works great. It's the same reason I like the EF-m mount, because there's such a huge collection of existing glass.
  • Crop mode - I am also still buying EF-s glass and love that I can use my 35mm Macro, 10-22, 17-55, and 55-250mm. 17mp is still pretty good.
  • Resolution - 30mp on the 5D4 was great. But I am using the 45mp to crop a little loose and I like that I can crop and still have a lot of detail left. It also sucks having to retouch more pixels, but it's okay, it's a worthy trade-off.
  • IQ - The 6D probably had my favorite colors. The 5D4 seems to be a little more saturated than the 6D but still good. The R5 has good colors. I use LR and frankly, DPP doesn't look better to me, just a little different as far as colors are concerned. I did notice that my 85mm Art didn't seem as sharp on the 5D4 compared to the 6D and that trend continued with the R5. It's odd because at f/2, it's almost too sharp and not quite at the same time. I can't really explain it. I might sent it to Sigma but I am also considering the Canon 85mm 1.4, even though it has more CA. I can't justify the RF 85mm 1.2 and I do want something that I can potentially use on EF, EF-s, EF-m, and RF, since I own cameras with all of those mounts.
  • Handling / feel - It feels pretty good. But I have no problem using anything from a Rebel to a 1D so that wasn't a concern for me. I left out the M6 because it does feel a little tiny, even with the EVF.
  • Performance - It feels snappy/fast. No complaints. I use the mechanical shutter. That has nothing to do with performance, I just don't know where to put a comment about the shutter mode. I know there's a lot of discussions about using electronic, EFCS, and why or why not to use it but I've largely ignored them. I've also seem people mention motion blur issues with mechanical and lower shutter speeds but I've shot at down to 1/6th with great results.
  • Video - I bought a Sandisk CF 512gb card because I thought I'd want to play with raw video but it's still a huge pain to work with so I won't bother.  I could have done without it since SD card does all the video modes I could want or need. Premiere has a problem with 4k ALL-I for me and 8K ipb is also choppy (NVME, 3900x).  The only thing you can't do to SD is 8k raw, 4k 120fps, and 8k ALL-I. So you're not missing a ton if you just want to dabble with video.
  • Durability - I left my backpack side door open by accident and my R5 swung about and dropped 3 feet from the air into my kitchen tiles and it traveled a couple of more on the ground. This was right before a shoot. I turned it on, listened for the IS to make sure it worked, shot a picture, and no issues. I've done two shoots with it since then. I shot it at the beach and the play button got a little stuck but popped right up when I pressed it again. It was windy so I'm sure a little sand got into the buttons. Not much you can do about that and that could have happened to any body. The sealing is supposed to be good on it and I've taken the 6D into rain without issue and I don't expect any less from the R5. I got the Canon accidental warranty for 4 years and I plan to shoot the hell out of it so I expect I'll be using that at some point.

Overall, mirrorless as a main body is a learning experience. The R5 is an excellent camera. Even if you're not into EVF, there's a lot to like. If you're an event photographer you can get by if you dial down the power settings and you can get a few hours of solid shooting. I might get back into shooting small events post-Covid, so that's a small consideration for me and I wouldn't have concerns using it as a main body. Compared to a DSLR, focusing and tracking feels like I punched in the konami code. The R5 does everything I could ever want and it does a great job at it. I thought about waiting until prices come down but it's going to be a while and almost 3 months in, I am enjoying the camera.

It has been expensive to get into the system but it has made photography a little more fun. If you can afford it and you can make the jump, I can't recommend it enough.

 rmexpress22's gear list:rmexpress22's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS M6 Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Canon PowerShot G16 +18 more
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 6D Canon EOS 80D Canon EOS M6 Canon EOS R5 Canon EOS-1D Canon XC10
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