Canons latest entry into the busy mirrorless camera space has unknowingly just changed the hybrid shooters game... For better or worse.
July 9th, 2020 - Mirrorless cameras have finally had the change that many filmmakers have been waiting for.
09/07/20 was the date Canon announced to the world their new generation of mirrorless cameras.
The Canon R5 packs video specifications that I believe have just changed what is expected from a mirrorless camera, lets check out what it can do:
The table above shows the shooting modes of two different cameras, the R5 and the R6. It's worth mentioning that the R6 was also announced, but the flagship model is what we're looking at.
The world in 8K, but also better in 4K
The Canon R5 has been one of the most anticipated cameras for a long time. Its Canon's answer to the S1H, the A7S.ii and the XT4. Finally canon have produced a video powerhouse to compete with similar cameras on the market.
It can record internal 8k RAW or 10bit 4:2:2 video recording in up to 30fps (Canon log H.265).
Forget the logistical nightmares of that for a second and take a minute to bask in some truly revolutionary specs. 8K is something that has only ever been seen in cinema cameras, such as the RED Helium, or Monstro.
It also can record the same RAW and 10 bit 4:2:2 in 4K resolutions up-to 120fps.
120fps is working 5x slower than the traditional 24fps that cinema & NTSC regions shoot at. Up until now, if you wanted to shoot that slow, you were limited on resolution on cameras like the GH5/GH5s & A7iii. Even on more video-centric based cameras like the FS7 & EVA-1 you were limited in resolutions up-to 2k.
Better, but limited.
If you've taken a look at the handy chart above, you may notice recording limits, temperatures and suggested case uses for each of the modes in the camera, and that's because the Canon R5 is prone to overheating.
In fact, taking a look at the chart above shows you cooldown restrictions based on what particular mode you're shooting in.
At an 8K resolution, the camera is limited to a 20 minute shoot time at 23ºc, and should you hit that limit, you'll need to wait 10 minutes to shoot again; and only then you can squeeze another 3 minutes out of it because it needs to rest.
The camera is still a great option to have, despite recording restrictions
The camera runs hot, and this is because of the sheer amount of data and power that the camera is capable of. Although a dealbreaker for some ( wedding videographers filming in 4k60p, for example ) commercial video productions might tend to have a better time shooting in 120fps bursts of food, or fashion films, for example.
For shooters working with talking heads, filming event videos or shooting standard 24/25, the Canon R5 will cope absolutely fine, however. It seems that in only select scenarios where the R5 becomes limited, but on paper, it seems like a reasonable choice for commercial and special case use filmmaking.
Checking out the Panasonic, Canon & Sony user groups on Facebook its somewhat evident that a lot of shooters would choose to shoot 4K60p; so anything where you require more than 4K30p for extended periods of time will feel like this camera is a disadvantage to your current set-up.
A Good Time to Focus
The Canon R5 also allows video Auto-focus (AF) in all these video modes. The system uses technology based on the 1dx.iii.
RAW focusing, slow motions focusing and sometimes, just focusing in general during video recording has left a lot to be desired.
Auto focus is one of those subjects that shares a lot of disagreement on message boards. If you're a ''proper filmmaker'' (not my words!) then there an argument for a follow-focus, a focus puller and skill and technique behind pulling focus. For those who shoot weddings or prioritise gimbal work, AF has become a subject of much importance - this is one of the great features of Sony's A7 series cameras - for these shooters, the size, weight and 'portability' of a mirrorless camera and image (real world, not camera image) means that it's usually an option where bringing a bigger rig may seem impossible.
Whichever side of the argument you're on, it's becoming a feature more users are demanding. Video content is more than TV and cinema. Social Media is a large portion of the market - and businesses that run through social media absolutely turn to these cameras.
The Winds of Change
Speaking of set-ups, I'd like to explain why I believe this camera 'changes the game'.
In 2017 the Panasonic GH5 was released.
The GH5 introduced 10-bit 4:2:2 video content. In 4K, and upto 60fps would you believe.
This was in 2017, and since then camera manufacturers have made certainly more competitive systems, some would argue better systems, but there's no real substantial improvements. I've mentioned prior that Auto-focus is a continuously discussed topic, as is pixel-count and full frame.
But, up until now, there was a limit of 4k60p - A limit that has existed in this space since 2017, almost 4 years ago.
Even in cameras such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k (P4K) this has been a limit. The 6K variant (P6K) introduced 6K video, but the P6K felt like a special-use-case brother to the 4k, and was introduced not too long after the 4K. The Blackmagic cameras are special in their own right (Blackmagic RAW, great colour science, Da Vinci Resolve) but I suppose that this generation of Blackmagic cameras lack the marketing power that Panasonic, Canon and Sony have built up over the past couple of generations (In a hardware brand name and user base sense)
RED paved the way for 8k. It was a resolution that many couldn't comprehend. The same could have been said for the 8K Helium. It's a resolution that has otherwise been unobtainable for a large portion of video shooters. Now that 8K is becoming affordable in the R5, along with 4k 120fps I believe that this is the 'new' standard of what people could begin expecting in mirrorless cameras.
Still a photography camera
With the filmmaking communities buzzing over new camera announcements, it's easy to forget that the Canon R5 / R6 is geared towards more of a hybrid shooter, which (easily forgettable, considering the focus) includes photography.
The R5 is one of a 45mp variety, capable of shooting RAW stills at 12fps with a mechanical shutter, and 20fps with an electronic shutter.
Canon R5 photography images, from the official product page
The R5 also features in-body-image-stabilisation (IBIS). Allowing uesrs of both stills and video to capitalise on lenses without optical image stabilisation, and give a fighting advantage when using the camera in low-light.
The sensor will work in tandem with the RF lenses, meaning that those micro-jitters are somewhat eliminated when shooting handheld.
Why so revolutionary?
The Canon R5 has introduced the specifications to beat. Not everyone will be on-board with 8K shooting, but most will be on board with 4K at 120fps.
It's not a case of 'beating' the camera spec for spec. but with the 10bit colour, increased resolution, high speed shooting and IBIS, it's a great introduction to the new generation of mirrorless cameras that are in development.
4k60 has been a prominent shooting mode for years, and with mirrorless cameras such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6k and the Canon R5; the idea of upgrading from something like a GH5, A7S.ii, XT3(4) seems like a great option.
Andrew McGovern is a Video Content Producer and DIT based in South West London. From big-budget feature films to commercial videos, 'Elvis' as he's known to his colleagues has experience in many types of filmmaking.