Borrowing a Canon R5

I’ve gone back and forth about brands and cameras in my previous mirrorless articles, even stating that I will rent one to test it out. Thanks to a Black Friday promotion at LensRentals and a holiday break, the time has finally come.

I originally rented Canon’s new R6 Mark II because I wanted to try out its 40 fps continuous burst mode, but it’s such a new camera that they didn’t actually have any to ship me in time. I decided to switch to Canon’s R5 since it fits right into the range of the Nikon Z7 II and Z9. Why didn’t I just rent a Z9, you ask? While I’m highly likely to buy Nikon’s next camera, I’d like to have experiences with other brands to compare against. I have a Sony, but I’d also like experience with Canon’s latest so I can reflect when I make that final decision. It’s all in the name of research!

The R5 is a high-end camera, priced between the Z7 II and the Z9. Spec-wise it skews much closer to the Z9, matching its resolution, frame rate, autofocus capabilities, and exceeding its buffer in some cases. The differences are in the details: the Z9 can shoot 20 fps at 14-bit RAW while the R5 has to drop to 12-bit RAW at that rate. The Z9’s sensor reads out extremely fast, nearly eliminating rolling shutter, while the R5 suffers from moderate rolling shutter, causing fast action to warp. The Z9 also edges out the R5 a bit in dynamic range and noise, but Canon has improved significantly here since I owned my 7D. The R5 is very capable for $1,600 less. In comparison to the Z7 II there really is none – the R5 blows it out of the water in nearly every regard.

The R5 also includes high-end video capabilities that come at the cost of its infamous overheating. Luckily I don’t care about video in this case. The things that matter to me are summarize below for the three cameras.

Nikon Z7 IICanon EOS R5Nikon Z9
IntroducedOct 2020Jul 2020Dec 2021
Sensor46 MP BSI45 MP46 MP Stacked
12-bit Burst Rate9 fps20 fps (electronic shutter)20 fps
14-bit Burst Rate8 fps12 fps (mechanical shutter)20 fps
RAW Buffer Depth49140 – 15079 / 685*
Readout Speed62.5 ms15.5 ms4 ms
AutofocusGood Face, Eye, Human, Animal; poor trackingGreat all aroundGreat all around
Noise / Dynamic RangeVery GoodGoodVery Good
* Only using High Efficiency RAW format, which is lossy. The R5 buffer increases as well if Canon’s lossy RAW format is used

I’m excited to try out Canon’s autofocus system to compare it to my Sony. According to reviews, it’s more integrated and even a bit better at tracking. I’m interested in how severe the rolling shutter effect is. I expect it to be better than my Sony; even dropping down to 12 fps mechanical to eliminate it is still better than what the Z7 and my Sony can do. I’m also interested in the dynamic range and noise. While the R5 does not have a BSI or stacked sensor, reviews note obvious improvements in dynamic range and noise compared with previous Canon designs. As a bonus, the R5 is also the same resolution as what I intend my next camera to be, so I’ll have a chance to test that too.

The R5 and accompanying 24 – 105 f/4L lens have been shipped and are due to arrive Friday. I’ll keep the set for 7 days and send it back before the new year. While cold weather isn’t my favorite shooting environment, I’ll have to drag the boys and the dog outside to get some action shots and combine it with a bunch of indoor stuff to get a thorough test.

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