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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Previous comments
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.

chris bryant's picture

No, I don’t need the R5 or R6. Maybe I want, but that is another matter.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

If you're thinking of buying for the video, something to be aware/prepared for. Even on beefy machines, the 4K and 8K files might be challenging to work with. More so with the 4K. Of course, you can always proxy or transcode.

Timothy Gasper's picture

No....I do NOT need the R5 or the R6.