(It goes without saying that) This article is not sponsored or commissioned by Canon, this article represents what I really felt when using the Canon EOS R5 at concerts, and I don’t even intend to convince anyone to agree with me or buy the camera, it’s just my opinion.
For the sake of this review, I took the EOS R5 with me to shoot a concert. It was a perfectly safe concert, with no live audience. The lighting, stage, and singer were very real though. So aside from the minimalistic audience, this was a real, live show. That allowed me to test the camera in a real-life concert-shooting scenario.
Before jumping into the review, I want to talk a little bit about my lens choice. I know that the best lenses for the EOS R5 are the RF lenses. I opted to use my older EF lenses, and I did this for a few reasons. Firstly, I own quite a bit of EF lenses. Secondly, one of the things that are very interesting for me (and according to the feedback for many others) is the compatibility of EF lenses with the system. I believe that many of those who will switch to the EOS R5 or R6 still have many EF lenses that they collected over the years. They will eventually transition into RF lenses, but at least for a while, they will asl use older EF lenses.
Sadly, the EOS R5 is not integrated into most editing software suits yet. (do you hear that Adobe? Canon?). This means that I could not process the files with my regular workflow. Usually, I shoot raw, then choose the images, make a few levels adjustments, and export to Jpeg. This is a fast workflow that allows me to send the photos on the day of the concert.
I knew I was going to deviate from this scheme, so I also brought the Canon 5DMkIV and Canon 5DMkII. So, there there were two streams of photos from that night: 5D series photos that were edited quickly and send to the client, and EOS R5 photos that I calmly went over and pixel peeped.
For the sake of this test, I didn’t care much about the tables, the numbers, and internet theories. I just wanted to see how I felt with the EOS R5 in my hands and see if the final result makes sense for me. I had very little time with the camera, and I know I would get better results if I had it for a more extended period.
Editing EOS R5 RAW images
First, I tested a beta version of the Adobe DNG converter. Honestly, I was not impressed. It looks like the DNGs lost a lot of quality, so I downloaded Canon’s Digital Photo Professional 4. It was much better.
I made minor level adjustments and exported as a jpeg.
I photographed in RAW+jpeg, and I can’t remember seeing any jpegs, direct from the camera as good as these.
In my opinion, Canon has the best ergonomics on the market. The body fits well in my hand and in a very comfortable way. The main buttons are accessible, and it is easy to change settings quickly and comfortably. The R5 also has great flexibility with configuring the buttons. This makes controlling the camera very easy and intuitive.
The body is small and light. If you have big hands or used to DSLR sized camera, the grip will help to balance the set. I shoot a lot in portraits mode, and the grip is also helping with that.
Coming from an SLR system, the size and weight of the EOS R5 was the first thing that impressed me. It is a light body, which allows me to shoot for hours without feeling the weight of the camera, excellent for long festivals.
The articulated screen was another thing that fascinated me, some SLRs have it, but I never had a body with this particularity. In concerts, this screen allows me to choose perspectives that were not possible before. This flexibility, combined with a fantastic focus system, means I can shoot from any angle with the certainty that we will have a focused photo.
The focus system was, perhaps, what impressed me the most, when set to track, the EOS R5 has a list of priorities. It first looks for the eyes; if it does not find “eyes”, it goes for “face”, then the head shape, and lastly, the body. In concerts, there are changing lights, smoke, microphones in the shot. The focus system is being challenged here. In my experience, there were very few times when the camera was unable to find the face, even in low light conditions. Even with strong backlight.
On the few times when the camera failed to find the face, it focused on the body. It is a new camera, and I am still not regular to changing the focus point manually. (I am not saying that this is a complex process, only that it’s not a thoughtless process for me). If I had this process nailed down, I think that even those shots would have focused better. I was also unable to choose the point of focus on the screen, which is touchscreen because I aim with my left eye, and I get the screen completely blocked by my face.
Having such a great focus system means that I can pay more attention to the composition of the photo. I know that the camera will search and find the eye and provide an accurate focus call. When I had several musicians in the shot, I could choose a set of eyes with a touch of the joystick. This is practically the same as the 5DMkIV.
The image quality is fantastic, and don’t forget that I used the Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L II with the adapter. With the RF lenses, I estimate I would have better results. But, even with the adapter and the older lens, I think I never got images so sharp with the EF 70- 200. I am not sure why. Maybe its the way the light reaches the sensor.
The communication between body and EF lens works flawlessly; there was no noticeable focus delay.
IBIS did its thing, and I didn’t even notice it. It is also capable of working together with the lens stabilizer (including some EFs), but that’s a topic for another post.
In this concert, I did not go beyond ISO 2000. Some of the images were taken at 1/200, with the EF 70-200 f2.8 L II @200mm. At this concert, I shot at f4, but the night before, I did some ISO tests with my son (blurred face), at ISO 12800and I was pleasantly surprised.
Here is an example:
I am not used to working with Digital photo Professional, so its harder for me to tune it right. When our editing software *cough cough* gets an update for the EOS R5 RAWs, I know that we will be able to get the maximum quality out of these files.
The best I can do to explain what shooting the EOS R5 feels like is by showing the images.
I can wholeheartedly say that I am completely in love with the EOS R5. It is a camera that opens up many new possibilities for shooting concerts and with superb quality.
It is a competent body, handles high ISOs well, and has enough resolution for studio work. (I also do product photography, so the resolution is critical for me)
While I did not test yet, the R5 handle dust and rain without any problem, which is essential for concerts.
Lastly, it has a fabulous focus system, which, together with IBIS, created perfectly focused, sharp images, even in low light or slower shutter speeds.
It feels like the R5 keeps Canon’s DNA, and you can see this even in small things like the menu system.
* I want to thank Canon Portugal for lending me an EOSR5 for this test in concert photography, and also to Mariza and her team for allowing me to test the EOS R5 during their concert.
** The model I used was Pre-Production, pretty close to final, but some issues were still being ironed out.
About the Author
Rui Bandeira is a concert photographer based in Porto, Portugal, you can see more of his photos on his site, and say hi on facebook and Instagram.