Body, controls and handling

Ergonomically, Canon's EOS R5 combines the best parts of its mirrorless and DSLR cameras into one cohesive control scheme. We think it will work well for most users overall, though some may be left wanting for even more robust customization options.

Key takeaways:

  • Excellent overall ergonomics, with three dials and direct AF controls
  • Claimed weather-sealing to Canon EOS 5D IV standards
  • High-resolution viewfinder and LCD can run at high refresh rates for impressive display quality, but those high refresh rates reduce battery life noticeably
  • Updated battery is higher capacity, same form factor as older Canon batteries
  • CFexpress and UHS-II SD card slots offer a mix of speed and compatibility, though some users will dislike their mis-matched nature

Overall ergonomics

In terms of ergonomics, the EOS R5 will be familiar to established Canon shooters, and should be reasonably comfortable and customizable for those used to other systems. It's a mash-up of the EOS R and the company's high-end DSLR cameras, and the result works quite well.

Perhaps most significantly for some users, the EOS R5 has an AF joystick, a well-placed AF-On button, and you can use the touchscreen as a touchpad to move your AF point with your eye to the finder. This makes the R5 (and R6) the easiest RF-mount cameras to take control over regarding autofocus. In our experience, though, we found the joystick to work well-enough and fast-enough that we didn't feel the need to enable touchpad AF at all.

The EOS R5 remembers each set of video and stills settings if you're switching back and forth

Canon claims the EOS R5 is sealed to the same degree as an EOS 5D Mark IV; no official figures are given, but there are visible gaskets around possible points of moisture or dust ingress. We found the grip comfortable, and the camera is appreciably smaller and lighter than your average high-end DSLR while maintaining plenty of control points.

Carried over from the EOS R is the mode button on the top of the camera. Hit this and you have access to all of the camera's stills-shooting modes, and you can 'INFO' to access to all of the camera's movie shooting modes (and the camera remembers each set of settings if you find yourself switching back and forth).

With a control-dial equipped RF lens attached, the EOS R5 becomes a four-dial camera, allowing for direct control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. This makes it very quick to change settings and adapt to a changing situation in front of you.

Fv 'Flexible Priority' mode

The R5 includes Canon's 'Flexible Priority' (Fv) exposure mode, first seen on the original EOS R. It's effectively a Program mode, but you can specify an aperture, shutter speed or ISO value by turning the requisite dial, and that value will take priority. You can also specify two parameters, such as aperture and shutter speed, and let the camera handle ISO for you.

By default, a single press of the delete button sets the current parameter back to auto, and holding it down resets everything to auto. We'll admit it takes some getting used to, but it could keep you from having to switch exposure modes much of the time.

Unfortunately, if you like to bias your Auto ISO shutter speeds faster or slower, the camera will only honor that if you're in one of the other PASM modes; in Fv, mode, the camera is locked into 1/focal length shutter speeds unless you manually change your shutter speed or ISO.

Viewfinder and LCD

The EOS R5 comes with large, high-resolution displays in keeping with the competition. The viewfinder is an OLED panel with 5.76M dots and 0.76x magnification. Though the magnification is fractionally below other options, it's still large enough that Canon offers an option to slightly reduce the size of the image if you find that its 23mm eyepoint doesn't quite let you see to the corners.

The rear LCD is a 3.2" fully articulating display with 2.1M dots. It's a nice way to frame your images, but you may find you need to boost brightness if you're trying to use it in broad daylight.

Setting the electronic viewfinder to 120 fps will look nicer to those used to optical viewfinders

The R5 comes with an option in the menus to run both displays at lower FPS to save battery, or higher FPS for a more fluid view of the world. For the EVF, this translates to 60 or 120 fps; we found that 60 fps looks good to our eyes, but 120fps will undoubtedly look nicer to those still used to optical viewfinders of DSLRs.

Thoughtfully, Canon's also added menu options for the behavior of the eye sensor below the viewfinder. You can set it so the eye sensor is deactivated if the screen is flipped out, so you won't accidentally trigger it if you're shooting from the hip. Conversely, you can make sure it's always enabled, if for example you frequently check critical focus for video shooting. You can also set image review in stills shooting to only use the rear display, to keep it from interrupting your viewfinder shooting.

Menus and customization

The EOS R5's menus are organized to the same standard as Canon has iterated on for years. While they've necessarily gotten more crowded with more complex cameras, Canon has endeavored to keep them a bit simpler by allowing access to video settings only while shooting video, and stills settings only while shooting stills.

By far the fastest way to navigate the menus is with the dials (rear dial does tabs, front dial pages within tabs, rear jog dial up and down options in that page). But if you prefer, the whole menu is touch sensitive and very responsive. If there's an option you frequently use that's buried, you can always add it to the customizable 'My Menu' tab.

There's also an on-screen Q menu that gives you access to settings while shooting both stills and video, but what it displays are exposure mode sensitive. We wish it were fully customizable like some other manufacturers' offerings.

Canon has increased the number of options users can assign to customizable buttons, which is laudable, but it's still not as comprehensive as we'd like. And while you can customize a couple of different banks of autofocus settings at the press of a couple of buttons, other camera offerings from Sony and Nikon give you more flexibility. But perhaps Canon is hoping that the autofocus system is robust enough that you won't find you need to be switching AF modes all that often.

Auto ISO

Canon's Auto ISO behavior is exactly what we like to see on a modern camera. It offers upper and lower ISO value limits, and you can specify a specific minimum shutter speed before the ISO value is boosted, or you can choose 'Auto' to tie it to the focal length you're shooting at (especially handy for zooms). The default Auto value uses a shutter speed of 1/Focal Length but you can bias this to maintain shutter speeds faster or slower (ie: 1/100 sec or 1/25 sec at 50mm).

Auto ISO remains available in manual exposure mode, for if you want to specify your shutter speed and aperture and let the camera gain the ISO up or down for overall brightness (though this is a bit reminiscent of Flexible Priority shooting, isn't it?). You can't specify a shutter speed threshold while shooting videos, but you can still specify the upper and lower ISO limits.

Battery and storage

The R5 and R6 cameras both use a new battery called the LP-E6NH. Though it shares the same form factor as the older LP-E6N, it has a modest capacity boost to 16Wh from 14Wh. The camera has a bundled charger but will charge over USB with a high-current charger, such as Canon's PD-E1, or a USB-C laptop charger (we've found most generic phone chargers won't work). The camera can also be operated using USB power.

If you're already a Canon user, the EOS R5 will work with the older LP-E6N and the even older LP-E6, but you'll see reduced battery life if you use them, and lose USB charging with the older of those models.

If you keep the LCD and EVF at their lower refresh rates, the camera is rated at 490 / 320 shots per CIPA, respectively. The higher refresh rates are beautiful to behold, but battery life drops precipitously to 320 / 220 CIPA-rated images for the LCD and EVF, respectively. For context, we'd expect no issue getting through a day of committed shooting if you use the lower refresh rates, but we'd recommend a spare battery if you prefer the higher ones. And if you use the camera sparingly, it's not unusual to see double the CIPA figures here.

The EOS R5 is compatible with two vertical battery grips, one of which is the BG-R10. This will displace the in-camera battery, but holds two LP-E6NH's to give you double the overall battery life. There's also the WFT-R10a designed specifically for the R5 that adds ethernet connectivity for rapid transfer of images as they're being taken.

Lastly, the EOS R5 comes with one CFExpress slot and one UHS-II SD card slot. The CFExpress card is faster and is the only option if you want to record Raw or All-I encoded 8K video footage. But if you're using a suitably fast SD card, you won't notice much of a slowdown unless you're writing exclusively to it with long bursts of Raw and JPEG files.