Thursday, August 6, 2020

Playing with the new Canon R5 and R6: First Reactions

When FedEx showed up with the much anticipated box from Canon the other day, I could not wait to open it and play with the Canon R5 and Canon R6. I had held both cameras in the past, but never had a chance to really spend time with them to truly get a feel for what they offer. I have been pretty vocal in the past 5 years that Canon needed to make a quantum leap in their cameras, and I have been anticipating that these new cameras may be the big leap I was waiting for.
Here is what I received so far:

* Extra batteries and chargers

I am expecting the EF converter to arrive any day now. And once I get that, I plan on putting the cameras to the test with my long lenses.

I am not ready to give you my full-blown reaction to both cameras yet, since I have a lot more shooting to do before I can give you my full assessment. But I did want to write this blog post to give you my first reactions to the new cameras; the feel, the interface, and how they differ from the Canon DSLRs I am used to.

Oh, and one more thing...I am a still photographer who does not do a ton of video. My review of these cameras will be focused (pun intended) on still photography much more than video. Do I plan on shooting video with these cameras? Yes, but more for my YouTube channel and not for my clients.

Picking the cameras up for the first time

The first thing I noticed when holding both of the new mirrorless cameras, was that they are noticeably smaller and lighter than the Canon 5D series. I worried that the smaller cameras would not feel comfortable in my large hands, but this is not the case at all. 
They both use the LP-E6 batteries that we are familiar with (coming with a newer version but compatible with the older batteries as well). Both the battery and the memory cards go into slots where we would expect them. The R5 has slots for a CFexpress card and an SD card, while the R6 has two SD card slots.

The placement of buttons and dials

Although some of the buttons and dials have been moved on these new cameras, I can tell you that the interface still feels familiar. The biggest change for me was not having the buttons at the top of the camera for changing ISO, burst rate, and focus mode.  I do think that the new interface may be even easier than in the past, but it will be a slight learning curve for us who make adjustments to our DSLR cameras using motor memory. The other big button change is that the "Menu" button is no longer at the top left side of the back of the camera. Now it is the second button from the left. I have hit the wrong button many times in the last couple of days. 

Canon R6 - Top View
Canon R5 - Top View
Canon R5 - Top View

The big difference with between the Canon R5 and the Canon R6, is that the R6 does not have an LCD on the top. At first I thought that this could be a deal breaker for me since, on my current Canon DSLR cameras, I rely on that display quite a bit. As it turns out, there is so much information shown through the viewfinder of the camera, that I don't think that this will be much of an issue in the future. I will report back on this once I have used both cameras in more real-world situations.

The LCD screen and image in the viewfinder

Both mirrorless cameras have a fully articulating LCD (which will be really handy for me when I shoot my own YouTube videos). Both the LCD screen and the viewfinder image are incredibly clear, and make shooting a breeze. Unlike our TTL cameras, the viewfinder gives us a realtime representation of our final image. With the clarity and accuracy of the viewfinder, I was able to make needed adjustments to the exposure before hitting the shutter button.
The menus and interface

At first glance, the menu system of the cameras will seem unchanged from the Canon DSLR cameras we are used to. But upon further investigation, I found many new options (some due to the mirrorless abilities of the cameras) and some improvements as well. I love that they now have "Customize buttons" and "Customize dials" menus, which is very intuitive and makes setting up back-button focusing easier than in the past. 

My first image taken with the Canon R6 and the 50mm f/1.2 lens (using animal eye detection)

What's next?

As I said earlier, I need to spend more time with these cameras to fully form an opinion. You and I have seen enough reviews of cameras and lenses where the reviewer gets an hour or two with the product before writing their full assessment. I don't want to do that. Heck, I am not a product reviewer, I am a photographer!

In my short time with both cameras I can tell you this:

* I have just started playing with the face and eye detection (both people and animals) and it appears to be nothing short of amazing. 

* The in-camera image stabilization (combined with the IS of the lenses) is outstanding. I was able to shoot images handheld at VERY slow shutter speeds with great results.  

* I am getting used to the control ring on the lenses and really love that extra dial for controlling ISO.

* Image quality looks excellent, but I am waiting for Adobe to update their Camera RAW software so I can really analyze the photos.

* I am very interested in testing and comparing the cleanliness of the high ISO images in both cameras. 

My reaction so far

I think I may be in love with both of these new cameras. Now the big question is: Will they keep meeting my high expectations or not? Stay tuned!

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Gene Bowker said...

I'll be interested in how the EF adapter works but sounds good so far

Gene Bowker said...

I'll be interested in how the EF adapter works but sounds good so far

Jeff said...

Thanks Jeff:

Your comment that you are a photographer (not a reviewer) is exactly why I can't wait to hear what else you have to say. I have been following your blog for quite some time and I know that you give it to your readers straight!

Stay well and let us know what you learn!

OnTutaj said...

Jeff, please check the "banding issue" with electronic shutter.

Michel Biedermann said...

Hello Jeff - Thanks for sharing your goodness for years. I'm particularly interested in the R6 if you can confirm great features for a lower price. In particular: [a] how well does the IQ of the R6 sensor compares to that of the 1Dx3. [b] How about the auto focus? [c] Weather sealing for a plastic camera? [d] What about cropping a pix shot at 32K+ ISO? Too noisy? Noise effectively fixable? [e] Is the IQ of the R6 w/ RF 24-105mm f4 L better than that of the 5D4 with the EF 24-105mm? Can't wait for your impressions!

OnlyInCA said...

Great initial review. I just LOVE my R5. The customization of the buttons and dials combined with the layout makes it feel like Canon made a camera just for me for the way I shoot with things where I want them—amazing! It really shines with the electronic shutter and CF Express cards for birds in actions—no reason to miss a shot now!

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Broodlee said...