A Real Estate Photographer's Thoughts on Canon's R5 & R6 Announcement
Canon just announced the highly hyped R5 & R6 cameras that have impressive specs and have a lot of people excited. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts and opinion on these new cameras from the perspective of a real estate photographer.
So before we get into this post let me just say that this video is purely my opinion based and the specs and available information on these cameras so take it for what it is. The cameras are not actually out yet so no one truly knows how they perform. If you’re a camera nerd like me and have fun talking about cameras then let’s continue on!
So as you may know from watching my videos I am a Sony shooter. I switched to Sony a little over 4 years ago but before that I was a long time Canon shooter. I loved Canon but they were just falling behind in the innovation department (specifically for video) while Sony was innovating and pushing the envelope so I decided to make the switch. I definitely don’t regret that decision as Canon continued to release disappointing cameras ever since and I’ve been really happy with my Sony cameras.
Shooting both video and stills are pretty much equally important to me as I do a lot of both so Canon pretty much became a non contender for me. When they announced the 5d Mark IV and I saw the video specs is the time I decided to sell all my canon stuff and make the switch as they were completely disappointing and I came to the realization that they were deliberately ignoring their video shooting customers and I was unfortunately not going to get what I needed from them any longer.
I later had hope when they announced they were entering the full-frame mirrorless arena with the EOS R but again I was disappointed when I learned 4K shooting had a 1.7x crop and HD shooting was only up to 60 fps. They later fixed it in a firmware update but Canon even launched the EOS RP and the 90D without the capability to shoot 24fps for video which is what almost everyone wants for video shooting. What the hell Canon?
If you are a real estate photographer that only does stills you would probably have been content with what Canon has been putting out because in the stills department they do just fine. I am definitely of the opinion though that we real estate photographers definitely need a camera that excels at shooting both stills and video. If you’re not shooting video yet as a RE photographer you probably will be soon and I think you should get familiar with it as I think it’s going to be a very big part of what we all do in the coming years. It already is big for me in my area and has a rapidly growing demand.
So here we are in 2020 and most of us video shooters have pretty much completely given up on Canon at this point. So then, out of the blue, they go and drop a bombshell and blow us all away with the announcement of the R5 and R6 with absolute dream specs for photography and video shooters. Are we in an alternate universe? What happened to Canon and why are they all of the sudden giving video shooters everything they ever wanted? For the first time in 5 years am I actually thinking about switching back to Canon? The specs seem too good to be true… and maybe they are in some respects but we will get to that in a minute. Let’s do a quick run down of the specs and I will tell you my opinion about the cameras afterwards.
Canon R5 Specs:
45 Megapixel Full Frame Sensor
12 fps mechanical, 20 fps electronic
8K Raw video recording internally uncropped up to 30fps
4K recording up to 120 fps uncropped
1080 up to 60 fps (not 120 for some reason?)
10 bit 4:2:2 recording h.265
IBIS - up to 8 stops (Sony has 5 stops)
Dual pixel autofocus in all video recording resolutions
Flip out touch screen (essential for real estate IMO, R5s is a bit better than R6)
Dual card slots - CF express and SD UHS II
Canon R6 Specs:
20 Megapixel Full Frame Sensor
12 fps mechanical, 20 fps electronic (Same as R5)
4K up to 60 fps (1.07x crop or about 94% width of the frame)
1080 up to 120fps
Also records 10 bit 4:2:2 recording h.265
Only record in IPB and not in ALL-I which is Canon's high quality mode
IBIS - 8 stops (Sony has 5 stops)
Dual pixel autofocus in all video recording resolutions
Also flip out touch screen (not as good as R5)
Dual card slots - 2 SD UHS II
So there you go, wow, impressive specs especially for the video side of things isn’t it? The R5 is offering 8K RAW recording and 4K 120fps with no crop? That’s crazy isn’t it? When rumors surfaced of those specs, most people assumed it would be cropped or hindered in some way because pretty much all canons have had a crop in 4K shooting modes up until this point. Most of us right now would be happy just to get 4K 60fps in our cameras.
Let’s be real though, do we RE photographers need 8K RAW? The short answer is no, it’s totally overkill for what we are doing. Maybe it would allow for better dynamic range in our videos which would definitely help for interior shots but we will have to see once people start testing it. 4K 120fps however is enticing for us for sure for walkthrough videos. I shoot my walkthrough videos in 1080 at 120fps and love the way it looks so if I could do that in 4K and get higher image quality and flexibility that would be fantastic. And here is where we start getting into some problems with the R5 and why some of these specs may be too good to be true.
Both the 8K recording and the 4K 120fps require a ton of data processing as you might expect. Because of that, a couple of significant problems arise. First, you can only record those files to the CF Express card because of the high data rate and not to both card slots simultaneously so you will not have a backup of your footage should the CF express card fail. The CF express cards are extremely expensive as well. For instance, a 1 TB CF Express card will hold only about 50 mins of 8K raw video and it costs around a whopping $700. Also because of these high data rates it has come out that in these modes there is a limited amount of recording times before the camera overheats. For me, this was a very disappointing thing to hear and why this camera might be too good to be true as I had mentioned earlier. If you have to be constantly worried about the camera overheating and shutting down, it's hard for you to rely on it as a professional tool.
This chart has come out and apparently shooting in 8K you’ll get about 20 mins recording time at room temperature and 35 mins for 4K 60fps before the camera shuts down. I can only imagine the 4K 120 fps would be worse than 4K 60. You would then have to let the camera recover for 10 mins and then you will only get a few more minutes recording time before it shuts down again. So imagine you’re halfway through shooting a walkthrough video with 4K 120fps and then the camera shuts down from overheating and then what? You have to wait around for it to cool off and hopefully get a few more minutes recording time before it shuts down and you have to wait again and so on. How do you explain that to your client when you’re sitting around doing nothing waiting for your camera to cool down? How would you even be able to finish shooting? We will have to wait and see people test this and see how the camera actually performs but if this is reality then I don’t see how we as RE photographers could take advantage of any of these key features if they have these limitations. It seems as though it cannot be trusted in a professional setting. At least not in ours because we need more than 30 mins recording times to do our jobs.
That brings us to the R6 and for real estate photographers I actually think this camera is the better choice. Firstly, the R5 is probably too much camera anyway for what we need it for. 45 megapixels is definitely more than we need on the stills side and on the video side, as I said those features are very exciting and enticing but it seems they are too unreliable to actually utilize as a professional for our purposes. The R6 has a 20 megapixel sensor which is a great resolution for use and more suitable for our line of work. The R6 otherwise has almost all same features as the R5 except when it comes to video there is no 8K or 4K 120 fps but it does do 4K 60 fps and that can be great for RE video shooting. The R6 however does have a slight crop in 4K which is also something that disappointed me when I heard. It is only 1.07x crop though so you’re losing only about 6% from the width of the frame. It is a little bit of a bummer because that will make the rooms we are shooting look 6% smaller essentially but I think it’s small enough of a crop that you can get away with it. So does the R6 overheat then shooting 4K 60? The answer is probably yes but I don’t think it will happen as quickly as the R5 because of the sensor being 20 MP vs 45 MP. It has less data to throw out and less processing to do so the camera shouldn’t have to work as hard. Will it be reliable enough to depend on for 4k 60 shooting? We will have to see people test it to find out. I think it could potentially be reliable enough. Also the R6 has 120 fps recording in 1080 so you do have that option as well. The r5 for some weird reason seems to not have 120 fps in 1080, only in 4K. That is a bummer for the r5 because you can’t even fall back on that as a potentially more reliable 120fps shooting option.