Canon R5 Compared with R6

I’ve been on a selling and buying frenzy over most of 2020 and now find myself with a Canon R5 and R6. Considering the wait time to get each camera I feel pretty lucky. So what’s the difference?

Shooting wise I don’t see any difference. Let’s get that out of the way first. Both cameras feel, focus, and shoot the same in the field.

The Canon R5 is on the top and the R6 is on the bottom. The obvious difference is the R5 has a LCD panel on the top. This is a nice feature that we’ve had since the early days of the 10D and through to the 7D, 5D, and IDX. The R6 has the mode dial typically seen on Canon Rebels. Buttons and dials are in familiar places for Canon users.
Canon R5 on the right and R6 on the left. Both have rotating swivel LCD panels on the back. Buttons and controls in the same locations. All icons familiar to Canon users. The R5 has more video features so you’ll notice the microphone icon next to the Rate button.
R5 on the left and R6 on the right. Note the same size. The R5 weighs 1.63 lbs and the R6 weighs 1.5 lbs.
R5 on the left and R6 on the right. Familiar back and top view for Canon users.

The big difference between these two cameras is the file size.  (Video features are not mentioned in this post.). The R5 on the left has a 45 mega-pixel sensor. The R6 has a sensor half the size at 20.1 mega-pixels. For comparison, the 5D Mark IV has 30.4, the 7D Mark II 20.2, and the 6D Mark II has 26.2. So the R6 and 7D Mark II have the same file size.

It’s so easy to crop into the R5 files when the bird is small. 

Sure, we can crop the R6 files as well just like we’ve done with the 7D Mark II. Happy with your results with the 7D? Maybe the R6 is for you.

The R5 files are huge so they eat a lot of computer space.  People with an older computer might find processing drags.  (Oh, no! New camera = new computer)

How about frames per second? The R5 and the R6 both shoot 12 frames per second. The 7D Mark II shoots 10 fps. My 5D Mark IV shot 7 fps. My D1X Mark III shot 16fps.

Then there’s the money.  $3,899 for the R5 and $2499 for the R6.  That’s $1400 that some people might want to put into  RF lenses. (Future blog post because you need the RF lenses.)

Conclusions: The R6 is not a “baby” camera. It’s equally robust when compared with the R5. The R5 excels in file size and video capabilities.

Canon R6 — Very Impressive

My Canon R6 arrive last week and today was the first time I had a chance to take it out for a test shoot.

I am impressed!!

My outing today was mainly to test the auto focus on the R6 compared with the more expensive R5. Conclusion: I can’t see any difference.

The Canon R6 reminds me of my Canon 5D Mark IV and I was not disappointed with the R6.

My first bird this morning was a ring-billed gull. It was just standing on the beach so not much of a challenge. Canon R6, 100-500mm lens with a 1.4x extender. Auto focus 1, Servo, one focus point.
Sanderling running on the beach. Same setting as above but using wide area auto focus. The camera stayed in focus. My job was to keep the camera on the bird.
Sanderling with the same settings as above. Remember, these birds seem to never stand still.
Royal tern in flight. Wide area auto focus. There were 10 or 12 shots in this series as the bird flew by. All were in focus.
Brown pelican going into a plunge dive. With the R6 on rapid release, I captured 10 or more shots as the pelicans did their dive. Each was in focus..

Notice that I compared the Canon R6 to the Canon 5D Mark IV when comparing auto focus capabilities. My Canon 5D Mark IV always beat my 7D Mark II in the auto focus arena. The 7D Mark II would miss a shot here and there in a series. The 5D Mark IV got all the shots in a series in focus. That’s the same thing I saw in my test today with the Canon R6. It held auto focus throughout the series without missing a single shot!

Not once today did I notice the Canon R6 hunting for the subject. I pointed the camera at the bird, the camera locked on the focus, and I clicked the shutter button. We were working as a team — the camera and me.

I’ll post a more thorough comparison of the Canon R5 and Canon R6 in the next few days. This is just the beginning.

Sequence of brown pelican diving.

Moving Toward Mirrorless Camera

It’s inevitable that a mirrorless camera is in my future. I shot with Nikon film cameras for 15 years. Then I moved to Canon for digital SLRs and have been happy for 16 years. Will I make a brand shift when I go to mirrorless?

The nice folks at Olympus were kind enough to send me an OM-D E-M1 Mark II to test. (Thanks to Gary Farber at Hunt’s Camera & Video for your help!) This camera retails at $1,699 with a 20.4 megapixel sensor and 15 frames per second shooting. Check, check, and check on price, file size, and shooting speed.

There were some other features that were intriguing. The camera can shoot 60 frames per second is silent mode which would be amazing for birds. It has in-camera focus stacking and in-camera time lapse. Both of these are important to me.

I’ve used the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for a week and here are my initial impressions. (Check back tomorrow for more.)

  • Weight — Let’s get that out of the way first. I thought there would be more difference.
    • 4.9 lbs OM-D E-M1 Mark II with 300mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter
    • 4.9 lbs Canon 5D Mark IV with 300mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter
    • 4.7 lbs Canon Rebel T6i with 300mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter
  • Size — Smaller than my DSLR camera by an inch.
    • 5-inches wide by 2.25-inches deep on the Olympus
    • 6-inches wide by 3-inches deep on the Canon 5D Mark IV
    • 5-inches wide by 3.25-inches deep on the Canon Rebel T6i

Set-up — I wasn’t looking forward to this step. I’ve taught photography for 25-years and know Canon and Nikon cameras well. The Canon R was intuitive right out of the box. Sony, Olympus, and Fuji tend to put things in different places and call them by different names.

The OM-D E-M1 forced me to go to the user’s manual. I was able to get the camera set to my liking with the help of the manual. Dials and Fn buttons have to do double duty since the camera body is smaller.

Once I got the camera set-up to my liking, the features I needed were easy to reach and adjust. ISO, exposure adjustment, focus points were at my finger tips and I could shoot.

But — What about the picture quality? So far, I’m impressed.

Check back tomorrow for more about this camera and the OM-D M1X. Once again, thanks to Gary Farber at Hunt’s Photo & Video for your help with this loaner.