Is the Canon EOS R5 the Perfect Camera for Bird Photography?

With a huge 45-megapixel sensor that can churn out raw files at 20 frames per second, the Canon EOS R5 sounds like it could be the perfect camera for capturing wildlife. This in-depth review looks at how it performs out in the field shooting birds.

Photographer Jan Wegener was immediately grabbed by the specifications of the R5 when it was announced and has now shot thousands of images, testing various features and setting up his camera’s autofocus and customizable buttons to get it to perform exactly how he wants. It’s probably not a spoiler to say that Wegener is impressed. This camera is “simply mind-blowing,” he writes, adding that it will “make anyone a better bird photographer.” A bold claim, but the combination of burst rate, megapixels, autofocus speed, bird eye autofocus, and usability truly make this a contender for the best bird photography camera ever created.

Of course, gear won’t automatically make you a better photographer, but when the hit rate of in-focus images of a bird in flight jumps from 30% (DLSR) to 90% (R5), your odds of getting a killer photo are dramatically improved.

Are you a bird photographer waiting to get your hands on the R5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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7 Comments

Tony Northrup's picture

The more we shoot wildlife in the real-world the more we love it. It takes some time to get used to the EVF lag when tracking moving subjects, but the bird eye AF + silent shutter is an amazing combination that has really helped us get both those quick grab shots and those stalking shots where you're hidden and close to a subject you don't want to disturb. Initially I shied away from using the electronic shutter because our lab tests found reduced image quality, but in the real world I think the higher frame rate makes up for that. And, honestly, the $900 800mm f/5.6 has changed how we shoot by giving us something easy to carry and hand-hold with sharper images than we ever got out of any other light telephoto (including all those 150-600s and the Olympus 300 f4).

Tammie Lam's picture

Do you mean the 800/11? Could you please share a few samples? Thanks!

Adam Rubinstein's picture

Care to share the lab tests? Sure, if one is shooting against vertical elements and pans horizontally quickly enough (or the inverse) some rolling shutter effect can be demonstrated, but shooting against a featureless sky or bokeh background and it is not evident. If one is worried about RS, switch from ES to MS. The EVF lag is essentially non-existent in disp. performance mode.

No matter how you spin it, the 800 f/11 is sub-optimal both in terms of optical quality and aperture. It’s unusable for wildlife photographers for dawn/dusk and there is no substitute for big/fast glass. Nonetheless, Canon needs to copy Sony’s 200-600.

Daniel Lee's picture

The lenses are two different price points, it’s like comparing the 50mm f/1.8 to the RF 50mm f/1.2. The 800mm isn’t a be all and end all to wildlife photography, it’s just there for someone who would like to use something that long but can’t afford the insanely expensive big white lenses.

Lyle Mariam's picture

Another great post on the R5 and animal auto-focus. I love my R5 and can't wait for the 100-500mm which is supposed to be delivered this weekend.

Also, Lightroom is now updated to accept the CR3 Raw files from the camera.

Sridhar Chilimuri's picture

Very impressive indeed! Now can you tell what lenses you used? I see you labeled a few of them but not all.

Tommy Lyles's picture

I'd love to know how many units of the R5 have shipped. My order placed July 9 still says backordered - with no update on when it will be fulfilled.