All Fstoppers Tutorials on Sale!

I Finally Got My Canon EOS R5 and RF 24-105mm Lens. Wow. Here Are My First Impressions

I Finally Got My Canon EOS R5 and RF 24-105mm Lens. Wow. Here Are My First Impressions

It took the best part of four months to get my hands on the new Canon EOS R5, but the wait is over. After a few days of playing with it, I have to say I'm stunned by its brilliance. Here are my first impressions on a number of topics.

I was seriously beginning to think my Canon EOS R5 camera and RF 24-105mm f/4 lens would never arrive. As friends around the world received their cameras one by one, I was left twiddling my thumbs and checking and rechecking the status of my order day after day. Then when the vendor suddenly put a note on the website saying that the camera didn't ship to Japan (something which didn't exist when I placed my order), and I was bracing for the worst. Thankfully, the wait is over, and I now have my entire order in my hands. I've only had a few days free to go out and play, but I do have some initial thoughts I'd like to share with you.

Size and Weight

When the mirrorless (r)evolution was really taking off a couple of years back as Sony led the way, I was never convinced by the size and weight argument that a lot of people were putting forth. At 64 kgs, I'm certainly not a big fellow, by any means, but I've never struggled to hold any DSLR up for hours on end in any kind of shoot. Whether it was my Canon 5D Mark IV paired with a Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 lens or my Canon 7D Mark II paired with a Tamron 16-300mm f/5.6 lens, I never felt weighed down or burdened. Thus, I could never really see the issue at hand, especially when people were often talking about just a couple of hundred grams. Now that I have the EOS R5 and RF24-105 f/4 lens combination, I have to be honest and say I'm still not convinced. That's just me, remember.

When you look at the image above, you can see the two combinations next to each other. The DSLR 5D Mark IV with EF 24-105mm lens is on the left, and the new EOS R5 with RF 24-105mm lens is on the right. They are both hefty setups. I haven't put them together on an actual scale and delved into the differences in grams, but I can say from holding them both in my hands and from taking my new EOS R5 out shooting with me, there wasn't really a discernable difference to me. I definitely didn't have some kind of shock wonderment surge through me because of the astounding lightness of the new setup. There is certainly a difference when you pair other RF lenses with the EOS R5, but for this direct comparison with the 24-105mm sets, I haven't really noticed much difference at all in weight.

One of the most pleasing new features for me is one I've been screaming for over many years. It's a simple lock function on the lens to prevent lens creep when you're not using it. Tamrons have had this feature for years, and now, the RF lenses have followed suit. When you look at the image below, you can see the two cameras/lens sets together. You might think it's disingenuous of me to extend the EF 24-105mm out fully as I have in the picture. But I did it deliberately because that's what I've had to deal with for years with this lens, as have many others according to various forums. After I had my two young daughters, it got to a point where I simply stopped using that lens because it became a weapon that was dangerous to my girls as its heft and bulk swung around my hips — head level to them. Thankfully, the new locking feature means the EOS R5 and RF 24-105mm lens set is far less bulky and cumbersome.

Autofocus and Performance

In a word, wow. Seriously, it is absolutely stunning to me how good the autofocus on the EOS R5 is. A lot has been made of it, and it certainly has been everything I've read about, seen, heard about, and more. Whether you're using eye detection on people or on animals or following sports action as I do with surfing, it just doesn't miss. The only times I've had a few issues with focusing have been due to user error, where a quick drive into the manual or a play with settings has quickly rectified things.


This image above is a perfect example of how good this camera's autofocus and in-body image stabilization (IBIS) is. Zoomed in to 100%, my daughter's eyes are ever so slightly soft. To the naked eye, you probably can't see. But what's so extraordinary about that is that when I was taking these images, my two-year-old daughter had just jumped onto my back. She was swinging over my shoulders like a little monkey, and I was holding the camera in one hand with eye autofocus on. As best I could, I kept trying to position my eldest daughter in the hammock to get a nice composition, all the while trying to deal with my other daughter jumping all over me. Later, when I finally got a chance to scroll through the images I'd taken, I was astonished to see that almost all of them were in focus. It was pretty much a hit rate above 95%. The only time I missed was when my daughter hid her eyes from view under the hammock. As soon as her eyes became visible again, the camera's autofocus locked on and did the rest for me. 

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about this right now. On the one hand, the final results are phenomenal, which is all you want as a photographer. On the other hand, I feel like a lot of the skill and knowledge of the user has been taken away. I used to pride myself on how quickly I could manipulate settings and move my finger around all the knobs and buttons and menus of my DSLRs. I genuinely felt that was a skill that set me (and others) apart, and got us more of a hit rate on fast-moving subjects, especially in the action sports arena. But now, with the autofocus capabilities I've seen thus far with the EOS R5, all of those skills have almost become redundant. The EOS R5, in my preliminary experiences, just doesn't miss. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I guess you can make many legitimate arguments on both sides.

Here are some more sample images below. For the sake of transparency and consistency, I haven't edited them except for converting them from raw images into JPEGs, nor done any sharpening. Also, to be very clear, I'm not claiming the RF 24-105mm lens is the sharpest lens in history. It isn't. A zoom lens at f/4 wide open would never take that crown. Nonetheless, what was most impressive and exciting was the hit rate on the eyes. In my experience with countless clients over many years, and pretty much zero are pixel-peepers. They know and you know when an image is acceptable for a paying customer. And with the EOS R5 and RF 24-105mm lens combination, the percentage of high-quality, perfectly acceptable images was wonderfully high.

As quick as lightning, the EOS R5 was able to pick up my daughter's eyes as she peeped above the hammock

This was the shortest of glances where she made her eyes visible. The EOS R5 picked them up instantly

I got a split second to get this - and the foot in the background!

These are real-world examples, and if you have kids under five, you'll know how hard it is to make them cooperate for photos, especially when they start feeding off each other's cheekiness. The most impressive thing about the EOS R5 is just how quickly it can find and lock onto an eye. My girls were constantly swirling their heads, jumping up and down, turning their faces away from the camera, and generally doing anything they could do to make this task difficult. Despite their best efforts to frustrate me, the hit rate when they did give me the briefest of glances was incredibly high.

Autofocus Ease

The final thing I'll comment on as a new user to the EOS R5 (and mirrorless systems), is the touch and drag AF settings. As you look through the electronic viewfinder with your eye, you have the option to drag your finger across the back of the screen to set the focus position. This is incredibly useful and convenient.

As you can see in the image above, I've set the touch and drag start point to top right. You can position it to start wherever you like. For me, top right is most convenient, because I can use my thumb to move the focus point around as I use my index finger to push the shutter button. If you're left-handed or prefer something else, the options are there. This is so convenient when you want to switch focus points really quickly if you're shooting something that's moving quickly or something in a different part of the frame catches your eye. I love this feature.

Summing Up

My initial experiences with Canon EOS R5 have been outstanding. I don't shoot video and I have not even opened up the video menu or worked out where the video settings are. That's not some kind of silly boas;, it's just a fact. As a stills camera, the EOS R5 has been everything I'd hoped for. In the coming articles, I'll give my thoughts on how it pairs up with the RF 100-500mm f/5.6 lens and the RF 800mm f/11 lens. What are your thoughts or questions? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Log in or register to post comments

51 Comments

Richard Richard's picture

What about the stories that the FPS and also the AF performance reduces as the battery drops in power. Some have complained that a low battery can lead to the AF freezing. What's your experience?

Iain Stanley's picture

I haven’t experienced that so far. I’ve taken it out twice where I’ve run the battery down completely and didn’t notice. What I did notice from my early use was that the electronic shutter is absolute overkill for most needs. I shot surfing one afternoon and set it to electronic and the response was incredible. But do I need 20 fps for a guy doing a turn on a wave? Not really. Maybe others might, like bird photographers, but for me, I’m sticking to mechanical for now.

The manual itself also says there may be reduction in fps as the battery winds down but my preliminary tests haven’t shown anything significantly worrying

Rob Gatson's picture

There is a reduction in FPS when the battery goes below 60ish% from H+ to just H. So you go from 12fps to 8fps mech.
As for AF freezing, never experienced this, and there have been numerous occasions I’ve literally ran the battery dead.

The one thing you didn’t mention in the article is how ridiculously quiet the mech shutter is in this camera. Compared to even an R, the shutter is so quiet I thought at first my camera was damaged. With how quiet it is, electronic is almost worthless...

Also to the question above of the R5 and 800? Even at F11 it produces amazing results. This was an event shoot I did just yesterday for a “socially distant” concert, and I brought my 70-200/2.8 and the 800 just in case, and was shocked at how well it did..

Iain Stanley's picture

Good points. With most of the work I do, I’m usually outside in windy conditions or with waves crashing around me so a silent mechanical shutter isn’t really something I consider too much. Nevertheless, for people shooting weddings or working in other sensitive environments the quiet mechanical shutter is an excellent feature.

And yes, my fears over the performance of the 800mm in low/dying light have been allayed somewhat with initial testing. Even with the 2x extender at 1600mm and f/22 it performed far better than I thought it would

Indy Thomas's picture

The shutter is one of the main things I have been complaining about with Canon ever since my 10D. The DSLRS of the 5D series sounded like hedge trimmers. When mirrorless cameras came out I was thrilled at the prospect of a digital "Leica" in that without a mirror, manufacturers could make a quiet camera. But no, the R still sounded like some steampunk assemblage. Meanwhile Fuji and Panasonic had beautifully silent shutters.
Now I am happy. Shooting in theaters or in meetings I am no longer the object of stinkeye.
The other enormous improvement is the advance in the already excellent controls.
The R was a bit of a step backward compared to the 5D series but the R5/6 bodies make a significant improvement by basically adding the best of the R to the best of the 5D. Controls are intuitive and switching the critical bits is quick.
Best camera I have had and most likely will finish out my work career.

Iain Stanley's picture

Yes, I agree. I certainly can’t see myself with any need to replace this camera for a very, very long time.

Richard Richard's picture

I used to use a Sony and now have a Nikon Z6ii. The difference in shutter release is a big deal. The Nikon is lovely, soft and quiet. The Sony was louder and laggyier. I used to have a 5D and a 5Dii and partly moved to Sony because of thr overly loud shutter but also the shudder from the mirror slap. I tried the Canon R and the shutter was horribly loud, but the R5/6 are like the new Nikons - so quiet and a pleasure to use.

Iain Stanley's picture

The new Nikons have a lot of positive reports. When you get something good, and it works as well as hoped for, it’s a nice feeling. I have no idea about the supposed issues with video on the EOS R5 as I don’t shoot video, so I’m not in a position to comment. Thus far, shooting stills, I don’t have any complaints whatsoever.

David Pavlich's picture

I've been using Canon cameras since I go serious about photography starting with a used 7D. I currently use a 5DIV and do a lot of wildlife photography. Funny thing, I have yet to frighten a bird or deer away using my 'sledgehammer'. Heck, I've photographed birds and squirrels that were no more than 7 or 8 feet away and didn't so much as blink. And if I put the camera on 'silent', it's very quiet.

Granted, it's quite audible when there is no sound in an enclosed space, but for wildlife shooting, the shutter scaring animals away is way overblown in my experience.

Iain Stanley's picture

It's my first time using a silent, electronic shutter, and it's somewhat disconcerting when you can't hear any audible click click click. You get used to that sound, and not hearing anything is a bit disorienting. For me it has been anyway. No drama, just an observation

Indy Thomas's picture

I bought the mkIII and then later the mkIV on the strength of the IQ and the admittedly quieter shutter. However, they still were louder than Nikon and I saw that as a fail.

I was also a Leica shooter in the 70's and that spoiled me for quiet cameras.

I shoot a lot of meetings at a local retreat that gets very high profile attendees. Silence was paramount. My Canons just did not cut it for more than a dozen shots before I got kicked out. I switched to a Panasonic FZ1000 for a while for the silent shutter and 15 fps. I could then capture upwards of 600 images for the session.

People are mad fussy about clicks. Animals just don't have the outsize egos that VIPs have.

Michael Clark's picture

Pretty much all Canon user manuals include this warning. It's not that much slower. If you're not looking for it you won't even notice. Other camera manufacturers models do the same thing.

Dan Jefferies's picture

In my area of photography you need to move very quickly, acquire focus and fire. The faster the better. In that triad no newbie will ever be as fast as me or my wife. Just can't be done. We deal with what I can only call 'panic". You HAVE to get that shot. And we do. Panic alone weeds out the riff-raff and will for a long time to come.

Iain Stanley's picture

A newbie might not be as fast as you or your wife, but what about a camera that shoots at 20fps and has almost instant AF capabilities for anyone who takes a few moments to familiarise themselves with menus and key buttons etc? This is my conundrum....

Dan Jefferies's picture

True but have you seen a newbie that can stare down the tube of a 400+mm lenses and lay it on top of a dot 30 feet away while actually waiting during that still observable split second required for focus confirmation? That'll keep 'em down in Amateur Town until the day they can say "bird" and point in the general direction of random tree with a million post focus croppable megapixels guaranteeing the shot. That day is coming but not today thankfully... )

Indy Thomas's picture

I have been shooting for 40+ years now and many of them were in extremely demanding conditions with no do-overs.
This camera would have taken a lot of stress out of those jobs.

None of us looks to suffer. We are always looking for tools and techniques that get the job done well, quickly and safely. This camera will, in fact, allow a newbie ( with some basic practice and the knowledge of some principles) to turn in a very credible product even in fast paced situations.

Dan Jefferies's picture

True, but then they would actually have to SEE their target first. That alone culls the herd. Not many people can track a Cassius Blue at 30 meters much less even see it. If they can't do that they'll never even see the minute flash of a Red-waisted Florella flying by even at their feet. And tracking the cigarette ash sized Tube Moth would be simply impossible. Skill still counts in my world... )

Noah Stephens's picture

You talk about photography like it is Navy SEAL sniper school.

Sam Sims's picture

Someone’s a bit full of themselves.

Mark Tucker's picture

I have the a7iii (please don't hate me!) and can absolute relate to the idea of the auto focus being too good. I even used vintage manual focus lenses for a while to try and reconnect with my camera. It almost makes me wonder if cameras will have semi-autofocus modes or users will see shooting "manual" as manual focus as well as shutter, iso and aperture in future.

Iain Stanley's picture

Ha, I’m not a brand defender or attacker. Whatever’s good for you and your needs. The irony of your comment is that the EOS R5 has manual focus peaking, as I’m sure your Sony does. I’m not sure how the Sony looks but with my Canon everything lights up bright red on the in-focus part of the frame like it’s Xmas. So even in manual mode, with the slightest tweak of the focus ring, it’s pretty much impossible to miss there too! Is there such a thing as being too good, or too user-friendly.....?

Mike Ditz's picture

IIIRC with Sony you can fine tune the focus peaking a bit so it doesn't block everything.

Sam Sims's picture

I use modern manual lenses with my A7III and moved from DSLR’s to get a better manual focus experience. Eye AF tracking just doesn’t appeal to me. I find with mirrorless and manual photography I like having full control. Brings back a lot of the enjoyment for me I used to have with manual film cameras.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Glad you are liking your EOS R5 Iain!! Sounds like it was worth the wait. After all the "heated" talk about it overheating in certain video modes died down and it was tested as a stills camera, Its primary purpose, It's now "the" camera to have. I find the whole thing amusing. By the way, rumor has it that all the Sony Trolls at DPReview are on suicide watch as is part of the staff! LOL!! But all joking aside. Isn't competition great!!

I'll be looking for you evaluation of the RF 800 f11. Technically I could put a X2 teleconverter to my 100-400L mkII and get the same specs but that is already a pretty heavy lens.Then add the adapter and teleconverter and .... you see where I'm going.

Have fun with your new toy!!!

Iain Stanley's picture

I took the EOS R5 and the 100-500mm out today. That is where you see a genuine difference in weight. I could never have used the Tamron 150-600mm handheld for hours. Amazing performance, even in very low light

Matt Williams's picture

"On the one hand, the final results are phenomenal, which is all you want as a photographer. On the other hand, I feel like a lot of the skill and knowledge of the user has been taken away. I used to pride myself on how quickly I could manipulate settings and move my finger around all the knobs and buttons and menus of my DSLRs."

Photographic quality and skills shouldn't be likened to a video game, where your ability hinges on navigating buttons and dials. Features like eye-AF allow the photographer to focus on actual picture taking - composition, exposure, etc. Anything that eases the burden of manipulating focus points or whatever technological issues is welcome by me. I'm sure people made a similar argument when autofocus became mainstream.

Also, you ARE allowed to NOT use those features should you want.

Iain Stanley's picture

All valid points, but I respectfully disagree with the buttons and dials point. When I’m standing at a surf break and there’s 20 other photographers next to me shooting the same/similar things, something needs to set us apart. With fast moving subjects and winds affecting wave shapes and elements in the frame, being able quickly change settings with dexterous fingers is/was a massive point of difference. I feel that is pretty much disappearing now with the quality of modern cameras. Each to their own and you make good points

Kristy Walker's picture

Have you noticed any lag time for fast action shots? I shoot mainly birds. Plus what have you noticed using your original canon lenses over the mirrorless lenses? Any comments on the viewfinder?

Still on the fence.

Kristy

Dan Jefferies's picture

I have the R6 so I can speak to that. Maybe you mean lag time because of the electronic view finder? Pretty much non existent. Same focus speed and accuracy. I was worried myself about that "focusing on the image sensor" without a dedicated focus sensor but Canon did very well. Adapted EF lenses would be your sticking point. Just like Olympus when they updated their EM1 line to use their older DSLR lenses. (Yes Olympus DID make DSLRs, I have 2) Not ideal but it works till you can migrate to RF mount lenses. I'd say pull the trigger on the R6 and don't look back. Anyone else want to argue about my thoughts (not you Kristy) feel free to track down one of the YouTube "pros" that say the exact same thing I've just related and an excoriate THEM. These are my experiences.

More comments