Major mirrorless camera releases from Canon

By Geoff Harris

Canon may have joined the mirrorless party late, as a somewhat reluctant participant, but it’s now very much the boisterous attention seeker.

After a lot of speculation, the company released full detals of the high-end, video-centric EOS R5 mirrorless camera last week, along with an entirely new model, the R6. Both sound formidable pieces of kit and the cheaper R6 model is likely to have a very strong mainstream appeal.

To recap, the R5 is now Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera, aimed at professional and semi-professional stills shooters and filmmakers. So it sits above the EOS R, RP and Ra in a somewhat confusing line-up (not to mention all the company’s DSLRs), and clearly outguns them in several key areas. The great leap forward is the R5’s ability to record up to 20 minutes of very high-resolution 8k video to a CF Express card, with autofocus tracking activated.

After 20 minutes the camera overheats as it’s crunching so much data and you have to let it cool down. If this seems like overkill for video, check this out: you can also pull 35Mp stills of the video, which will strongly appeal to sports and documentary filmmakers and photographers. There has been lots of speculation that stills photographers will end up just pulling static images off high-resolution video, and although this has not happened en masse quite yet, the R5 could be another step in that direction.

Another big first is the inclusion in-body stabilisation (IBIS), a pioneering move for Canon. The company claims it works in tandem with stabilized lenses to offer a whopping 8EV of shutter speed compensation, enabling you to shoot as slow at 1.3 seconds handheld and still get comparatively sharp shots. This is a very flexible camera, in other words. Canon claims 100% of the vertical and horizontal area of the sensor is covered by the autofocus system, with 5,940 selectable focus points. As well as being able to detect faces of humans and animals, including dogs and cats, there is a bird detection function which offers fast shooting rate of 12 frames per second using the mechanical shutter and 20 frames per second with the electronic version. Serious bird photographers are bound to take note of this.

The company is also claiming the R5 can focus in a record-breaking 0.05 seconds. As for the sensor, although 45Mp may seem relatively modest compared to the 50.6Mp chip in the EOS 5DS and 5DS R (and indeed the 61Mp sensor in the Sony A7R IV), a newly designed optical low pass filter means it is able to capture more detail, Canon claims. All this power doesn’t come cheap, however, and the R5 will set you back £4,200 body only.

If that price tag seems too high, but you are still in the market for a state-of-the-art mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R6 was also announced last week. You can pick one up body only for £2500, and for that you get a 20MP full-frame sensor. This is based on the chip inside the EOS-1D X Mark III, which is Canon’s flagship DSLR, but the R6 has a more basic optical low-pass filter. While 20Mp may seem a bit underwhelming, megapixel numbers are obviously only one part of the equation these days, and you should still get detailed, high resolution images.

Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus technology, meanwhile, offers 6,072 selectable AF points spread across the whole frame. As with the R5, bird detection technology is there along with face and eye detection for humans and animals, and you can shoot continuously at 12 frames per second using the mechanical shutter or 20fps with the electronic version. Video wise it can capture 4k video, as opposed to 8k on the R5, with a slight horizontal crop.

So which to buy? If you are a landscape or advertising photographer after very high-resolution images, or a video maker seeking cutting-edge 8k performance from a relatively compact mirrorless camera, then you’ll probably want to start saving up for the EOS R5. For more all-rounder, enthusiast photographers, who are into travel, street and portrait photography rather producing billboard-sized landscapes and commercial images, then the EOS R6 is a probably a more realistic buy. You could put some of the money saved towards a new lens as Canon also announced the RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM, the RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM, the RF 600mm F11 IS STM

and the RF 800mm F11 IS STM. Full details of the EOS R5, R6 and the new lenses can be found at www.canon.co.uk

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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