Five Reasons the Canon EOS R5 Is Still King in 2022

Five Reasons the Canon EOS R5 Is Still King in 2022

When I upgraded to a Canon EOS R5 last year, I knew it was going to be an excellent camera and quite a step up from my DSLR, but I was completely unprepared for just how monumental a leap forward it would be. As companies continue to push the technological boundaries and announce new mirrorless options, here are five reasons why the R5 is still king in 2022.

1. Autofocus Animal

It’s no secret that the autofocus system in Canon’s new mirrorless cameras is one of the best on the market. But it’s hard to describe how good the system is until one experiences it firsthand. Out of the box, the autofocus is almost flawless, and after spending time some time tweaking the settings, it becomes near perfect. This holds whether using the camera in still or video mode, and it has revolutionized the way I think about autofocus and the way I shoot. As a headshot and portrait photographer, knowing that the camera will nail the focus every time, especially with the added benefit of eye-tracking, has been extremely liberating. In hindsight, I didn’t realize how much time and energy I spent worrying about focus with my older camera, and I have found my compositions are easier to accomplish and more creative because this barrier has been removed. The same principle holds whether in or out of my studio and also using video. As I use the camera more, my confidence in the autofocus grows too. 

A straight-out-of-camera image of Brandon taken with the Canon EOS R5 and 50mm f/1.4 lens. 

2. An EVF and LCD to Love

Without getting into the debate over the viability of DSLRs, let me just say that I was skeptical when the EOS R was launched a few years back, and as a life-long Canon DSLR and SLR shooter, the whole idea did not interest me. The smaller size of the camera coupled with the idea of abandoning my optical viewfinder made me wait to see what else Canon had up their sleeves. And I am glad that I waited.

The R5, within the first hour of using it, made me a believer not only in mirrorless cameras but in EVFs and LCDs. Regarding the LCD, I intuitively started to use the touchscreen for everything from menu selections, to autofocus point selection, to composition, and review. The LCD on my DSLR, on the other hand, was only a review screen, but on the R5, it’s become an important part of my process. The touch response works well, and navigating the menus and other options has become much easier.

Although the LCD is great, it's the EVF that has impressed me the most. I initially dreaded the idea of an EVF since most of my work is done in the studio. I thought the EVF would not be as good as an optical viewfinder in a situation where I didn’t want an exposure preview, and boy, was I wrong! The EVF is so good that I forget I'm looking at a screen. Just as with the LCD screen, the EVF has not hindered me in any way and has also improved my workflow.

A silly portrait of my son taken with the Canon R5 and EF 50mm f/1.4 lens. 

3. Flawless Ergonomics and Operation

Having tried an EOS R about a year ago, I didn’t like the camera for several reasons, but mostly for the ergonomics and changes in the dials from Canon's previous cameras. The omission of the multi-controller and the smaller size of the camera were the biggest turnoffs for me. I initially thought the R5 would be ergonomically similar to the EOS R, which was another reason I waited to upgrade. Once again, I was glad to be wrong. The ergonomics of the R5 are near perfect, especially if you are coming from a Canon DSLR. It’s a bit smaller than my 5D Mark III, but most of the removed bulk is where the prism would be, which means the body is about the same size. The grip and build quality are top-notch and an improvement over the 5D series cameras.

The R5's excellent ergonomics combine with an intuitive button and menu layout to create a camera that is almost flawless in operation. Every button and dial has been thoughtfully placed in such a way that it makes using the camera easy and truly enjoyable. The high customizability of the dials and menus also add to what can only be described as a near-perfect user experience. The menus are straightforward, something Canon has been known for, and although there are a few small quirks to the menu and dial operation, as a tool for a professional, the operation of the R5 can’t be beaten.

The beach in winter, captured with a Canon EOS R5 and 24mm f/1.4 lens.

4. Tons of Great Lens Options

It's so easy for us as photographers to get lost in the weeds of tech details when discussing our favorite gear, but at the end of the day, it's all about image quality. And, this is where the R5 truly shines.

Although I have owned the R5 for about six months, I have not purchased an R series lens as of the writing of this article. Initially, my decision was based on cost, but I quickly realized that my EF lenses work quite flawlessly on the new body. All of my impressions mentioned above regarding the autofocus have been made using older EF lenses, primarily a 50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8 (non IS version), and 24mm f/1.4. When Canon announced a new lens mount, I was upset like many others at the thought of having to purchase an entirely new series of lenses. Initially, I felt like the EF lens adaptor would be a band-aid until people migrated to the new lenses, but again, I was wrong. My EF lenses perform much better than they did on my 5D Mark III, and although I will eventually upgrade them, I see no drawbacks to using older lenses for the foreseeable future. Plus, the fact that Canon took care to make sure legacy lenses not only work but work well on the new system impresses me on many levels.

A portrait of Brandon in flight taken with the Canon EOS R5 and EF 24mm f/1.4 lens.

5. Quality, Quality, Quality

At the end of the day, it's all about image quality. And this is where the R5 truly shines. The 45-megapixel sensor provides a ton of detail, excellent performance at high ISOs, and accurate color rendition. Check out the straight-out-of-camera image of Brandon above taken with the R5 and a 50mm f/1.4 lens, using an LED daylight panel as fill, and two LED light sticks in a split pattern. The color transitions and skin tones look great even without editing. 

No Regrets

There are many other reasons to love the R5, but if I listed them all this would be a very long article! I would like to add one final thought about the R5: Although I think it would be silly to say that a camera can make one a better photographer, I will say that the R5 has reduced some of the barriers that stood between me and capturing images, allowing me to concentrate on my subject and artistic vision in a greater way while making the process a lot of fun. And until it is dethroned by another Canon camera or a model from another brand, in my book, the EOS R5 is still king. 

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Pete Coco's picture

Pete Coco is a portrait photographer and musician based in New York. When not performing as a jazz bassist, Pete can be found in his studio working with a wide range of clients, although is passion is creating unique portraits of other musicians and artists.

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Your opinions are not facts, just opinions. Having owned an R5 I can say that honestly, any camera built today in the right hands will get you the images you need.

I would disagree. I've used quite a few different brands, and this is hands-down the best all-around camera I've found. Not all cameras are equal with focusing, color science, dynamic range, etc. Sure, I can use a Sony or Nikon and get great results because I know what I'm doing, but with your argument, the gear makes no difference. That's just not true in my experience.

Pete, you are sounding more like a fanboy than a realist.

Maybe a little of both! Lol

I love Canon. I have an R6. The gear absolutely makes no difference at this price point in 2022.

Hey Matt, that's a great camera too. I would respectfully disagree with you. The gear certainly makes a difference, and the cameras in each price point have pros and cons.

For most of the shots you posted in this article a Canon R5 is not necessary. Most of these images could truly be taken on any decent camera made within the last 5 or 6 years.The Canon R5 is an amazing camera. For the price you could make an argument it is the king. But use case is really important for an argument like this. For example, I wouldn't recommend this camera to anyone who wants to shoot video professionally. It does take professional quality video, it's just not reliable due to overheating. Also, Canon gets a lot of credit for innovating lenses for the RF mount. While their EF adaptor works well, this is not unique to Canon. Many like to mention the 28-70 F2, however they fail to mention it weighs 3.15 pounds, costs $3500 and has a 95mm front element. Very few people will actually shoot a lens like this over the trusty 24-70 F2.8. While more expensive, a camera like the Nikon z9 is more versatile.

IMO nowadays it's all about lenses and habits. I'd get the R5 only because there is no other lens like the 85/1.2 DS. When Nikon releases their 800/6.3 PF and a 600/4 Z-mount (hopefully with a TC) - I'll be seriously considering getting a Z9.

Hey Tammie, this is an interesting perspective and good point. Thanks!

"At the end of the day, it's all about image quality."

Some might feel the substance is more important, but since this is one of those "I just love my new camera"-articles, why go there and ruin it. :P

And the R5 has AMAZING image quality! :) But all of the other things I mentioned are very important to help get the image. I do love the camera, but I'm generally NOT a gear head. For me, it's just an amazing tool that's helped my workflow and anything that helps me produce better work for my clients is something to be excited about. Thanks for reading!

I’ll be making the switch this year I think but here’s a question. I’ve heard so much about the crazy perfect subject orientated auto focus but From photographers who are studio based? Who needs thousand point full frame af coverage in the studio where your light is perfect and your subject is perfect? You only need 1 focus point? What I’d like to know is how these manage in dark dingy events with no control over light or subject. You know, the bread and butter work for a lot of people. Not glamourous, not perfect just usable.

Hey Lee, that's the biggest upgrade for sure. I used to focus/recompose like many of us, and the ability of the camera to do this with tracking - as well as a number of other focus methods that just rock - really changed the way I used the camera.

I moved from the 5DMK3 to the R5. The first thing I loved: eye/face tracking! Any combination of movement between you and the subject can be tracked and won't slow you down.

Hey Simon, great question. I use the camera for a variety of situations, but mainly at my studio. The big advantage of tracking focus is that I can concentrate on composition and not on making sure the subject is in focus. In the past, I would point the center focus point at the subject, and then recompose to make sure the eye was in focus. Now, I can move around freely and know that the camera will continue to track my subject's eye while I shoot. I also don't need to look in the viewfinder, so I am able to connect better with my subject and remove some of the barrier the camera causes (I can speak with them and have eye contact while shooting). Combined with the IBIS, I'm able to get images that are tack sharp, handheld, at a variety of angles and positions. It's awesome.

AGREED! I love my R5. The flipscreen has been a game-changer for me and has saved my neck on sports shoots when I often spend a long time shooting laying on my stomach shooting up. LOVE IT

Yep! The camera ROCKS in any situation. I've used mine for portrait work, street photography, kids stuff, family events, landscapes, etc, and I'm continually impressed by it.

So many people think the fully articulating screens are only useful for vlogging and self portraits but they are so much more versatile than that and have so many uses!

Hey Daniel, I couldn't agree more! I find myself using the screen in my studio more and more.

Unfortunately, there aren't many native options really. Yes you can use EF lenses but that makes the system heavier. The older lenses while good will be heavier, also after adding the adapter. Sony 24/1.4 is 200gms lighter than the canon 24/1.4, not to mention the adapter. - of course his does not matter if you do not care about weight.

Good point, Mahesh. But it seems to me that the native lenses are a lot larger in general, making the size difference with the adaptor negligible. Since I'm using it primarily in my studio, as you said, the weight doesn't really matter to me.

z9 the king..

Interesting article. Pete, which of the various EF adapters do you use?

Thanks for reading, Gerry. I use the Canon control ring adaptor. I purchased this one because the ring can be used to adjust aperture, although I haven't figured out how to do it without pressing a function button first.

Yeah listen will all due respect I'm guessing you've never used any other brand long term in recent years. Panasonic S1R has far superior ergonomics and button layout. It's heavier sure however it also feels significantly more rugged and durable. The menu system isn't any better or worse than Panasonic or even Nikon. Sony has significantly improved to be just as good as the other brands mentioned as well. Just like people that have iPhones and haven't used any other brand in 10 years thinks other brands simply don't exist and they've found what's best for everyone. Nonsense.

Your opinion is worth no more or no less than the author's opinion. What's the sales figures for the S1R? If it was the be all, end all you claim, it would be making sales headlines. Nonsense, indeed.

Hey Terry, actually I have used a number of other brand recently, and own a second system by another manufacturer. But I haven't used Panasonic and have heard great things. Thanks for reading the article and sharing your thoughts.

In the land of the blind, one eyed man is king. But we don't live in the land of the blind. R5 is one of the best - the best? Now that I am not sure.

Personally, I have ruled out Canon in my camera search. I will be going with either the Nikon Z9 or Sony A1. I used Nikon dslrs for years but got out of photography for 8 years due to a spinal injury. Sold all of my Nikon gear then.

I shoot nature and wildlife with heavy emphasis on birds. I need a camera that can track birds in flight with and has great eye-focus capability. Even if I shot primarily portraits, I would want a more versatile camera. Am leaning towards Sony because their mirrorless lens selection is more expansive that Nikons.

Still, I am glad you are happy with your camera. It does what you need it to do!

Thanks for sharing, Stanley. Why did you rule Canon out?

I used Canon cameras back in the film days but switched to Nikon because of them not changing their lens mount and being able to have access to so many more lenses to choose from.

Nikon fans seldom go to Canon. They have been using rebranded Sonys already.
The advantage the Canons have over the Z9 is still noted by all reviewers is the superior auto-focus and that includes the a1.
And now with the R5 having superior dyamic range I notice that is no longer brought up any more.

z9 or a1 is a good bit more $$, but more importantly I'm not sure the have better animal AF, though the viewfinder tracking is better I hear. I use a red dot sight in the hotshoe to track birds now on my G9 ($20) which is going to be much easier to acquire and track BIF than any OVF or EVF - as long as the AF does its part. R5 will do insects too. R5 seems pretty versatile. But the killer app for me is that 800mm f11 lens. I just wish they would a weather sealed version.

Ok I'll go against the grain of the comments - I couldn't agree more with this article. At least for *me* and the way *I* like to work, the R5 just feels right in every way. I went Z6 to A7rIV to R5 and it's definitely the one I feel just gets out of my way. Your mileage may vary.

I have an R5 and love it , but I found the downside to using my EF in lenses with an adapter on my R5 is the conversion / reduction of the field of view such that some lenses are functionally unusable. I don't believe that's a factor of which brand of adapter you use. You're not encountering this?

Hey Brett, I have had no issues using my EF lenses with the Canon adaptor. I have used a 50mm, 70-200mm, 24mm, 100mm, 85mm and a few others.

Bit of a sweeping statement. Everyone will have their own ideal camera and considering we are spoilt with many great cameras, there will be a perfect camera for everyone out there. My A7III now won’t win any awards for its specs but it, along with my Voigtlander manual lens is the perfect street photography camera for my needs. The R5 is the perfect camera for you but not for everyone else.

Great point, Sam! And that's a sweet setup for street photography. I also have a Fuji XT-4 which I love (don't tell anyone LOL).

I love the canon R5. Its a huge upgrade for me. I was using the canon 7d mark 1 for about 10 or 11 years now. The R5 is a huge upgrade.

Obviously the author is a huge Canon fan-boy, and the article doesn't even mention other brands in any detail. The article utterly fails to make the case for the extaordinary claim that the Canon R5 is still the King in 2022.

IN FACT, it wasn't even the King of 2021. What it was, was Canon's first credible mirrorless offering, after the original flawed Canon R.

Let's tell the truth here. Canon was very late to the party on mirrorless cameras. As the market-share leaders they were content to let smaller, competitors do the hard work of innovation, which Panasonic and Olmpus did way back in 2008 with the micro 4/3.

What they didn't anticipate was how great a job Sony would do, and how much mind share and market share they would grab with their full frame mirrorless Alpha series.

So, clearly going into 2021 Sony was the leader in mirrorless full-frame cameras. And, in 2021Canon finally got in the game with a credible offering. To Canon fan-boys, like the author, that automatically makes it the leader. But logically to earn the crown it would need to be better than the competitors, especially Sony, the leader going into 2021

In 2022 Sony's flagship camera is the Alpha 1. For the R5 to be the King, it would need to be superior to the A1 in at least some respects.

It is not.

The Sony has a 50 MP sensor, tand its stacked CMOS type. The Canon just a little less, at 45. It's an excellent sensor, but not as advanced as the Sony.

The Sony lens ecosystem is bigger, too. Again, Canon is catching up quick, but Sony is the leader.

The Sony has a 9:4 MP viewfinder, the Canon 5.6 MP.

Look, even the guys at Canon know that the A5 isn't the King of mirrorless cameras in 2022. That's why they have announced the R3 already, (maybe even delivered a few) and are widely rumored to be readying the R1, which if it can may take the crown. Of course by then Sony may have something new too, and the Nikon Z9 will be available.

Canon might end 2022 with the Crown, but it won't be with the R3. How much less can the R3 claim to enter the year with that trophy.

But, it's still a nice camera and for the many Canon brand loyalists, it's the best readily available body available currrently.

See my comments on Sony.
I've owned almost all of their mirrorless bodies.
Sony buffering used to lock up the UI.
Sony couldn't switch to video while shooting photos.
Sony lenses are cheap crap that bend if you drop them.
Sony ergonomics are awful.
I could go on and on about how much I hate them.
I had the choice to move to 2x A1s or trade everything and go with 2x R5s.
I went with 2x R5s and it was the best decision I ever made.
Like replacing a Honda Civic with a BMW M ;)

Having used the R5 and R6 combo for a year I returned to Sony. The R5 is faster operationally in some situations like accessing the menu while images are in buffer. The a9 II provides a better experience and results for high speed bursts due to the blackout free EVF and faster e-shutter readout. A broader lens selection is also available to me in E-mount. RF lenses are great if you need the exact ones Canon has provided so far. I prefer the options Sigma and Sony offer in E-mount. These are the main factors that brought me back to Sony. The R5 is arguably more of a jack-of-all-trades. Use what makes your life easier.

Sony has a several year headstart on the E mount lens, I expect Cannon will continue close that gap in the RF quickly. Lenses like that 800mm f11 for birding will help differentiate it.

And the A1 is 67% more expensive than the R5.

I would put the Sony A1 and or the Nikon Z9 as the 2 king cameras at the moment.

I wouldn’t rely on the R5 for video at its higher quality modes nor would I choose it for sport/wildlife work due to the rolling shutter. With all that being said its still a great camera but not king in my opinion.

How could the king of cameras make me switch to Sony? I’ve been shooting Canon since the original 5D. Recently I’m doing a lot more hybrid shooting. The recent announcement of the R5C is just proof that camera companies can just Frankenstein a new camera instead of car companies that issue recalls. If you own an R5 you should be able to send it in for an R5C because that camera is everything that’s wrong with the current one. So if it’s a king then why the fuck are there so many issues with it.

"If you own an R5 you should be able to send it in for an R5C" Amen!

It's a good thing I don't use the King of cameras. That would be weird.

I believe that the Nikon Z9 or the Canon R3 would realistically be considered "the King".

Just not seeing how the R5 is the king over the R3 when the R3 is clearly the more capable camera with higher specifications ..... unless megapixels/resolution count more than all of the other specs, combined.

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