You Don't Need the R5 or R6, Do You?

You Don't Need the R5 or R6, Do You?

The buzz around Canon's announcements has been electric and, frankly, invigorating. But before you dive into that riptide of gear acquisition syndrome, you need to ask some hard questions.

Canon has ignited the photography world with their recent announcements, and I'm grateful for that for two reasons. The first is that the world is in a dark and unusual place, and some exciting news coming out of the industry we all love is more than welcome. The second is something I've discussed a few times: Canon had stagnated and had gone from leading the way to following and being behind the curve. As somebody who originally only shot using Canon equipment, this was disappointing, so it's reassuring to me that they are back and looking to lead the charge. Furthermore, it's comforting for anyone working in the industry, as it has been in somewhat of a worrying decline for a while (although I'd classify it as largely the normal ebbs and flows of any tech industry), which summons the naysayers.

The issue is that in such difficult times, it's even easier than usual to get wrapped up in Canon's announcement, to gawk and gurgle at imagined photo trips with the R5 and some of that delicious long glass they're proudly flaunting — and at that price too! Most of us have had a forgettable year (insofar as we want to forget it) and some new, cutting edge gear could be exactly what we need to rally our mood and drive. Well, I'm the metaphorical cold shower ,and I want to kill that desire, but hear me out; I'm not another of those naysayers.

You Don't Need It

I can confidently say almost every single photographer and videographer looking at the R5 and R6 as their next acquisition doesn't need it. In fact, I'm not sure that sentence even warrants the extra emphasis: you don't need it. The specs of these new mirrorless bodies are excellent, there's no denying that. If you are looking at the R5, for instance, you wouldn't be hard pushed to find selling points. It has great resolution, a new processor for handling noise, excellent in-body image stabilization, unprecedented video capabilities of 8K, 12-bit raw shooting, and so much more. It's a veritable feast of sumptuous specs and delicious details. So, if you want to fire yourself up for a new camera, you can scarcely move for all the motivation. You still don't need it.

There are, of course, going to be outliers who are in such unusual circumstances with their equipment and uses of it that not buying an R5 or R6 will hold them back. But before you try to gerrymander your way into that group, know that for all intents and purposes, nobody can get in it. If you shoot stills, there's essentially no need for the R5 or R6. If your current system is so old and decrepit that it's holding you back, it does sound like you need to upgrade, but to an R5 or R6? I doubt it. If you're set on mirrorless, I imagine there is going to be a slew of second hand Canon EOS Rs on the market soon, if not already. Perhaps ease yourself into Canon's new mirrorless ecosystem slowly.

If you're a videographer, you might be foaming at the mouth for 8K, 12-bit raw capabilities. However, at this moment in time, that sort of high-end shooting is less for taking your work to the next level, and more to do with either flexing or future-proofing. Most viewers cannot handle 8K footage for a multitude of reasons, from monitors and screens to internet speeds. That's not to mention the inherent issues that are being suggested about overheating when filming using Canon's new bodies, which could be terminal for all videographers who were interested, unless it's untrue or fixed.

It is unfathomably easy to see new equipment that has more juicy features and power than your current setup and decide that it's a must-have for any serious photographer. I've lost count of the times over the years that a new camera, lens, piece of software, and so on has been announced, and like Toy Story, you can hear my equipment scuttle to the back of the storage area for fear of me inspecting them thoughtfully, pricing them up, and selling them to the highest bidder. There's an old term in the car enthusiast circles, which, while wildly outdated, has a point that can be extracted: it was called "man maths." This is where someone who wants to buy a new car would offset the purchase with a number of complicated sales and cutbacks in their life to make it cost "neutral." This mentality is rife in photography with "photographer maths" warranting all sorts of purchases. You figure if you sell this lens, that tripod, don't eat out for the next 18 months, pawn your wedding ring, and buy your cat off-brand treats, you can get that incredible new gear. Well, caveat emptor, photographer.

When I'm shooting at waist height, imagine the time and neck craning I could save by having a screen on the top. That's worth its weight in gold.

But You Might Want It

This isn't an article to urinate on the proverbial bonfire of excited 'togs waiting to get their hands on these incredibly powerful new cameras. What it is is a warning to photographers that it's all to easy for us to get pulled in by marketing and hype and convince ourselves that to stay relevant, to grow as an artist and a business, we must have the latest and greatest tech. This is patently untrue. I have been drawn into this swamp of yearning many times before, and it's something I had to consciously climb out of with the R5.

However, if you can afford the upgrade or you can genuinely justify it, then by all means, disregard this article and enjoy the ever-living hell out of the buzz that is new equipment. These cameras and lenses Canon are launching are very interesting, not massively overpriced as Canon is wont to do, and will likely last you some time. Just check your own workings on the justification of the purchase first!

Will you be buying the new Canon mirrorless cameras or lenses? Is it an upgrade you can comfortably explain to your accountant/spouse/dog? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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33 Comments

Alex Cooke's picture

You're just mad that it's first come, first served and I got my preorder in before you.

David Love's picture

And we'll waiting for that honest review of it from you. You might be the only one to do one with all the ambassadors out there testing it's weather sealing with drool. First thing, tell us how much video you got before it caught fire.

Robert Nurse's picture

That last sentence made me laugh! :)

Dustin Wood's picture

All I hear from this is, "all you little punks are going to be asking your parents for this and they're going to get it for you. You'll be taking great photos and video and didn't even earn it. You don't deserve this camera."

After buying the RP last year right away, I've had buyers remorse. Wished I'd held out for this and saved money along the way.

Luca Santirocco's picture

I need but I don't have money so I try to find temperature problems.

Timothy Roper's picture

Nah, I'm now thinking a used Z7 for half the price.

Sandy Chase's picture

Have I ever really NEEDED any new video camera I've bought? Probably not. But once I got it, I used the hell out of it and it improved everything I did, from what I could deliver to the client, to the pleasure of making beautiful images, to ergonomics. I'm not saying the R5 and R6 have that – they actually sound like kind of a pain in the a$$ to wait for them to cool down in the middle of a shoot – but I disagree with the basic argument here.

LA M's picture

LOL Is anyone even working right now?

David T's picture

Wedding Season is in full gear in Germany...

Sandy Chase's picture

Yeah, I shoot for a YouTube channel and we still post every week.

Deleted Account's picture

No, I really don't.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Despite Canon's attempt at luring us to believe the R6 is the little R5's brother just like the D6 was to the D5, I don't view the two R models as comparable in any form. So zap the 6, absolutely no use for me. That leaves the D5 with a useless (to me) 8K that Canon is force selling at the same time as I would need to purchase adapters or new lenses and $600 cards. That's the part I don't get, makes no sense. So no interest and if I don't find interest within 16 month then I'll seat and wait for the R5M2. My current equipment can definitely out live 24-36months of use. I don't want to switch and have a bulky mix of D and R as I need at least two bodies. Otherwise I am certain the R5 will be a great camera. Canon, sell us a R5.5 with 45mp that fits our needs, not someone else's dreams.

Robert McCaslan's picture

"...believe the R6 is the little R5's brother just like the D6 was to the D5"

I'm not sure what cameras you were referring to with your reference to D6 and D5, but the D5 is Nikon's top-of-the-line sports/PJ camera released in 2016. The D6 is the replacement for the camera released earlier this year. I guess you could call the D6 the D5's "little brother", but it is actually an upgraded, faster more powerful camera than its predecessor, which is not what I think you intended.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Yes, you are right, my bad. Canon started with D before the digits with the D30 and I must admit, since they moved the letter around, I tend to not give the names too much credit. That's the digit and version that matters to me. Now they put back the letter in front with the R models. Not an excuse for my mistake, but consistency would be a plus if Canon could do that.

Thomas McTear's picture

Thinking it may be a good time for me to invest in a used 5d4...

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Right? I bet many do. I thought Canon would be more aggressive toward helping people transit to mirror less and still make good money.

Noah Stephens's picture

The EOS R is a pleasure to use. I am more than satisfied with it as a portrait photographer

Robert Nurse's picture

Agreed! I played with an EOS R for a little over a week and it didn't require much of a learning curve either.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

Nah, I don't need any new camera during a pandemic.

Kenneth Muhlestein's picture

You are correct. These are luxery items. No one needs them. They are a want. If you already own a good camera, treat yourself to a meaty lens instead, or a new light modifier.

John Stone's picture

It's called marketing. Marketed in a way that we 'have' to buy it - even if we don't really need it.
And the marketers are very good at what they do!
(And for Canon to survive they have to dangle the carrot in front of the potential purchaser's eyes - and any other manufacturer!) Planned obsolescence comes to mind.
Of course, there will be some who will find it a great improvement - until the next model comes out.

Greg Edwards's picture

I think one could argue the same about most devices these days -phones, tablets, computers, TV's etc. People want the latest and greatest. But do they need it? Probably not. A model a couple of generations old or on a lower tier is usually more than enough for most people.

It seems to me that since the digital camera revolution, this spec chasing behaviour has become more prevalent compared to film, where many photographers would be happy to use the same camera for many, many years.

Greg Silver's picture

If you already have something decent to shoot with, then invest in learning how to tell a great story. Your filmmaking will benefit much more and have a greater impact from a compelling story than any upgrade to a new camera.

Robert Nurse's picture

"need" is a nasty little four-letter word. I don't "need" a lot of my gear. But, having them makes things a lot more convenient. Not to mention, geeky fun. Landscapes and studio work are my primary interests (I'm not a pro) and I've always wanted high resolution option that would allow me to dabble in high speed whenever I took in a ball game. I've been bitching (internally) at Canon for years and now they've finally delivered. Do I "need" and R5? No. But, I want one!

James Watt's picture

I do need it. The autofocus technology is incredible. It's going to save me so much time and energy. Less time in post when more of my shots are in focus.

Don't get me wrong, I do a ton of manual focusing. But for live scenes with constantly shifting subjects, I prefer AF.

Miachelle Depiano's picture

I have two 5DMIIIs. I'd like to upgrade one to a mirrorless. However, the R5 is way more than I need as a photographer. On the other hand, I shoot concerts and copywork for artists, and the R6's 20.1 MP specs are seriously disappointing for me. Why did they downgrade from the R and Rp in that regard? I don't like to buy gear willynilly. One of my 5DMIIIS I've had 8years, and it has approximately 75k actuations on it. The other I bought used and it has approximately 20k. I've taken great care of my gear, and whatever I purchase for a mirrorless, I want the same mileage out of it. I feel like Canon is still floundering, figuring out who its target consumers are with each release. It's disappointing.

David Pavlich's picture

If the sensor in the R6 is as good as the 1DxIII, then other than less pixels, the image quality should be impressive. Low light performance (concerts) should be top shelf.

But, we should wait for the field tests of the real thing before we decide what's up.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I almost never "need" it, but I almost always "want" it...

Besides, isn't that half the fun of photography - and excuse to buy techie things because we want to...? :)

Dillan K's picture

Strictly speaking, I suppose I don't need a camera at all. I'd like either of these cameras, but I'll be happy enough to use what I have. I am grateful to have my modicum of camera gear.

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