After Using the Canon EOS R5 for Three Years. What Could Be Improved in the Next Model?

After Using the Canon EOS R5 for Three Years. What Could Be Improved in the Next Model?

Right after the Canon EOS R5 was released, I received one from Canon for a review. I liked the camera enough to make a gradual switch from the EOS 5D Mark IV. Now, after three years, I would like to share my long-term experience and the things that could or should be improved in the next iteration.

For me, the most important benefit from the Canon EOS R5 was the autofocus system. This was a giant leap forward from the system found in the EOS 5D Mark IV. It made photographing weddings and people a lot easier.

Since that time, I’ve used the two EOS R5 cameras intensively for a wide range of photography and for filming. I’ve used the camera to review new lenses, and I got a chance to compare it to the newer EOS models that were released over the years that followed.

Due to the direct comparison with the newer EOS models, the EOS R5 felt less special over time. Innovation goes fast nowadays, and lesser EOS models proved to be better in some ways. That doesn’t mean the EOS R5 isn't up to the task anymore, but it has become the old model mirrorless camera sooner than expected.

During the transition from the EOS 5D Mark IV to the EOS R5, I used both cameras next to each other.

The differences are mainly on the inside, but there are also a couple of exterior differences. Of course, this is a logical evolution of camera models. Like the EOS R5 and EOS R6 were improved models compared to the EOS R and EOS RP, the newer mirrorless models were designed with knowledge of the upsides and downsides of the previous models, being the EOS R5 and EOS R6.

Don't get me wrong, I’m still happy with the Canon EOS R5, and the images it produces are great. The resolution is perhaps a bit too much for most situations, but I won’t complain there. The camera is convenient to hold, and I love the viewfinder and LCD screen. The menu is easy to use, and the touchscreen functionality works like a charm. 

What Could or Should be Improved?

When it comes down to the design, there are a few things I don’t like that much. It’s not something that’s frustrating, but rather subject to improvement. At first, I loved the small LCD screen on the top, but I don’t use it as often as I expected. Sometimes, I glance at it, looking at the ISO or aperture, but that’s it. It turns out I do prefer a dial instead of the Mode button to choose the different exposure modes.

The PSAM dial of the Canon EOS R6 mark II. I think the dial is a better option compared to the Mode button.

The LCD screen was responsible for the absence of the PSAM dial, although there is enough space on the left shoulder for that dial. It’s a pity Canon chose to use the left shoulder for the main power switch instead. Why not place the PSAM dial on that location?

I also miss a custom button on the front of the camera. It has a DOF button, but I rather have one extra or two, like on the EOS R3. Speaking of a DOF button, I would like to have an AF/MF switch with one of those buttons as well. It would be a great addition.

In general, I do like the button layout of the Canon EOS R5. It could be improved, though.

At the back of the camera is not a lot that needs to be improved for me. A sensor in the AF-ON button would be nice, just like the on the EOS R3 and EOS 1D X Mark III. If I could make a wish, an articulating screen like the one found on the Sony a7R V would be great, especially since I use an L-bracket.

The double tilting screen of the Sony A7R V is amazing. I wish this system would find its way to the Canon EOS R5 mark II

If Canon would make these physical improvements for the mark II model, it would be another giant leap towards a real professional camera. But there is more. Better battery life is another wish, just like a full-size HDMI connector.

Improvements for Functionality and Menu Options

One thing that bothers me a lot, are the limitations of some menu options. A lot could be improved on the EOS R5 with a firmware update, and I hope Canon will decide to do so. But I think that’s wishful thinking. The latest upgrade gave a useless high-resolution mode, instead of an upgrade for the autofocus system and customization options.

User-defined autofocus areas, improved eye autofocus and tracking, more options for customization of buttons, and the extended dial functions. That would be a huge improvement and bring the EOS R5 up to date again.

The AF system of the Canon EOS R3 offers much more possibilities. Some of which could be implemented with a simple firmware upgrade. 

Other options that will improve user experience are zebras for photography and false color overlay for movies, perhaps a completely dedicated menu for movies all together, like in the Canon EOS R5C. The recording limit removed would be a nice thing also.

This list of changes and improvements may sound like a lot, but it isn’t. These changes, on the outside as well as on the inside, would make a new mark II version of the EOS R5 stand out from all the other EOS cameras that are available. It would make the difference between the EOS R3 and EOS R5C smaller, but not too much.

I love the film menu of the Canon EOS R5C, and I wish some of the option would find its way to the Canon EOS R5.

I Wish for an Update for the Canon EOS R5

I love using my Canon EOS R5 a lot, even after three years of intensive use, even after using and reviewing a wide range of other cameras from Canon, as well as Nikon and Sony. I never felt any need for a complete switch to another brand, and there still isn’t any reason to do so. Modern cameras are becoming more similar after each new model. The differences are in the details.

The Canon EOS R5 isn't the most modern and sophisticated camera on the market, but it offers a lot. Even after three years I'm happy with it.

If I could wish for a couple of extra functionalities for my Canon EOS R5, there are just two things that come to mind. First is the ability to use the Bulb timer together with the interval setting. The other one is a function that is called Live Bulb. It is a function that is currently limited to Olympus cameras. Wouldn’t it be great if this was added to the menu? I think it is much more valuable compared to crippled high-resolution option Canon offered us. Wouldn’t you agree? 

What improvements would you like to have on the next Canon EOS R5, which is probably the Mark II model? Please share your wishes in the comments below, and let’s hope Canon pays attention.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Nando Harmsen is a Dutch photographer that is specialized in wedding and landscape photography. With his roots in the analog photo age he gained an extensive knowledge about photography techniques and equipment, and shares this through his personal blog and many workshops.

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For my shooting, I don't really see any need for improvements. I suppose the autofocus could be improved, but it would be tweaks rather than major leaps forward. I've mentioned it several times that the animal eye detect grabbed the eye of a chicadee with a Sigma lens; black head, black eye. That convinced me that Canon had done a terrific job with this camera.

Most of my stuff is wildlife and people and for my money, this camera is it for me. I loved my 5DIV, but this thing is on another planet.

I’ve been shooting professionally on this body for almost 3 years as well, and there’s just one thing I would change (other than lens/body caps that you have to visually align). Since there isn’t a physical PSAM dial I would like the ability to create more user defined presets. I shoot real estate for a living and with the 3 slots provided (based on the physical limitation of the old dial) I’m constantly having to modify settings while shooting rather than just switching to a different preset. It would be great to have 6 or even 9 to utilize, and I feel like this is a pretty simple firmware update.

You can save on the card the whole camera presets. Just don't format the card with them, or make a copy somewhere. This way you can have a full camera with all it's modes set for one use case. Loading a new setup is just a few button presses and a 3s loading. Also, files can be used on another the same body, so if you have two, you need to set up just one. This gives you endless custom modes.

Cameras are like pickup trucks.

They're all the same, but it's the very small things that make a difference to people who use them every day for work.

I don't know. I never owned a pickup truck

Illuminated buttons. My TV remote has it, my $3500 camera should as well. The other luxury item is a Canon designed L bracket which allows the screen to be utilized in all directions. I’m using a 3 legged thing on my R5 but there are some limitations. I don’t want to have to experiment with different companies. Just give me a purposely made R52 L bracket.

I use a Really Right Stuff L-bracket. That does the trick quite nicely. I've also used an universal 3LT for a while but that's indeed a disaster.

Pro Media Gear makes a L-Bracket for R5/R6 which works perfectly with the screen. The portrait bracket is shifted forward slightly and can be adjusted in and out. Also makes for another nice place to grip the camera. I love this bracket.

"First is the ability to use the Bulb timer together with the interval setting." Buy an external intervalometer.

I have an intervalometer. Built into the camera is much more convenient.
What's next? If someone mentions illuminated buttons you respond " buy a flash light" ?

Hopefully when a professional user like yourself writes this sort of article Canon and the others REALLY LISTEN.

They don't. They just scout the market and add just enough stuff to make it sell well, not to please customers.

Illuminated buttons.

Come on, black buttons on a black camera in the dark... ::sigh::

Ah yes, I forgot. That would be handy

After 3 years of regular use of just one body, buttons position is hardcoded in my muscle memory.

I would prefer an improved high rez setting. I find it useful but a bit of a hassle to use, as is the Sonys’.

This mainly seems to demonstrate how well the R5 has held up, these are very minor improvements. Good news for me, I suppose, someone who buys cameras used years after the fact.

Focus bracketing with an interval timer and a better joy stick button

Better AF, faster sensor read out, better EVF, double tilting screen. And a lot more customizability.

Readout speed to forget the mechanical shutter and dual cfexB slots. Doing cfex+sd was a joke for such a demanding camera.

Holy Grail mode for astrophotography time lapse would be helpful for me. I do love the idea of buttons that glow softly in the dark like my PC keyboard and tv remotes. Also the rear lens caps on the RF lenses sometimes less to time wasting fumbling, especially under pitch black skies with no moonlight.

These are all "nice to haves," in the spirit of continuous improvement. The R5 is fabulous but having a second body is so expensive. Right now messing with a 5D mk IV and an R5 is a little inconvenient, especially because I'm only buying RF lenses now. I have 3 RF L lenses, 4 EF L lenses, and 2 EF USM lenses. Toss in 2 EF Rokinon 14mm lenses for astrophotography. Of course, with no possible adapter from EF body to RF lens means that the more RF lenses I buy present more and more difficulties in using my 5D mk IV. I wonder if a future optical EF body-RF lens adapter is possible to thrust the focused image further back into the camera to the sensor plane.

The rear lens cap is a pain, indeed.

I want the first zoom level of the magnification button to be 1.6 so I never need to use the crop mode. Just let me hit the button to frame the crop but let me do it later. Maybe add a metadata tag to the image that says it was framed under what magnification? That way software could suggest the crop later.

The crop mode is not effecting the raw file itself. I use one button for the aspect ratio, making it easy to change from one to another, including the 1.6 crop.
You should try it.

Access to bulb mode, why do you have to select via the shooting mode, then in the menu activate and then select the time. Why not just do this once you select via shooting mode.