Canon EOS R5 Underwater: Initial Thoughts & Review

Canon EOS R5 Underwater: Initial Thoughts & Review


Canon EOS R5 Underwater: Initial Thoughts and Review


The summer 2020 release of the Canon EOS R5 made one thing clear - Canon has decided to set the photographic standard for this decade. Without a doubt the EOS R5 is the top image maker of 2020 and will likely go unmatched in the camera world for another few years. It is the first full frame mirrorless camera to offer 8K video capability and features a specs sheet that puts it at the top of it's class. The EOS R5 directly answers many of the concers that photographers had with the flagship EOS R camera and promises significant updates to important functions including autofocus, stabilization, continuous burst shooting, and video. Despite the Sony A7R IV's dominance in the underwater camera market over the last year, it is likely that the Canon EOS R5 will be even more popular as the camera of choice for both underwater photographers and videographers. 


We will be getting our hands on this camera as soon as it becomes available and taking it underwater so you can see just what it can do.  


Canon EOS R5 Review

Canon EOS R5


Staus: Camera Shipping July 30, 2020

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U.S. MSRP Canon EOS R5: $3,899


Jump to Section


EOS R vs EOS R5   |   Specifications   |   Key Features   

EOS R5 for Underwater Photo and Video   |   Who Should Buy?   |   Underwater Lenses 

Underwater Housings   |   Conclusions



Purchase a Canon EOS R5 underwater housing at Bluewater Photo:


Nauticam Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing


Ikelite Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Sea & Sea Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Aquatica Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Isotta Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing


Canon EOS R5 Compared with Canon EOS R

The Canon EOS R was Canon's first attempt at a full-frame mirrorless camera. With many good options form Sony and Nikon, it fell short. Fortunately, the Canon EOS R5 addresses many of the concerns that Canon EOS R users brought up. Though I would like to interject and say that the Canon EOS R was one of our favorite cameras that we tested underwater. 


For underwater photography, Canon was lagging behind Sony and Nikon because of a lack of in-body image-stabilization. The Canon EOS R5 is Canon's first camera with IBIS, capable of 7-8 stops of correction when combined with a stabilized lens. The EOS R5 also features a new 45 MP CMOS sensor - addressing concerns that the EOS R was not a high enough resolution for professionals. Furthermore, the EOS R5 has the capability of shooting 12 frames per second with the mechanical shutter (20 fps electronic), vs the 8fps on the EOS R! Did we mention dual card slots?


For underwater videography, Canon fell short of it's competitors by offering cropped 4K video in the EOS R. The EOS R5 not only goes above-and-beyond at addressing these concerns - it is industry changing. The EOS R5 is capable of capturing 8K 10 bit 4:2:2 @ 30p RAW video recorded internally - and the option of recording in 4K ProRes RAW externally simultaneously! The camera is also capable of 4K video using the full width of the sensor at an amazing 120p! The R5 will be able to capture video with dual pixel autofocus, full AF in all modes. The EOS R5 will be one of the first consumer level cameras to offer 8K video, so it's going to be a very popular camera for underwater video.


Canon EOS R5 Specifications

Key Canon EOS R5 Specs

  • New 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Canon's first 5 axis In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS) which works in conjunction with optical IS RF and EF lenses. Up to 8 stops of correction
  • Improved Dual Pixel II Autofocus
  • 100% of the sensor has AF coverage!
  • Animal eye AF detection (for birds, cats, and dogs) - we'll see if it works for fish!
  • 12fps burst shooting with mechanical shutter
  • 20 fps burst shooting with silent (electronic shutter)
  • Dual card slots - 1x CFexpress and 1x SD UHS-II
  • 8K video @ 30p, 10- bit 4:2:2 - using the full width of the sensor!
  • Internal RAW and C-Log recording
  • 4K oversampled video up to 120p, 10-bit 4:2:2




Canon EOS R5 Key Features

Body and Build


The first photo of the EOS R5 was recently released from Canon. It appears that the camera will be very similar in build to the EOS R. This is interesting, considering the massive processing power needed for 8K video. We are curious if the EOS R5 will need some kind of cooling system that could enlarge the size of the body due to the heat generated from 8K.



Improved Image Quality and Processing


We expect the Canon EOS R5 to be equipped with a new processor - possibly the same DIGIC X processor used in the 1DX Mark III. Certainly, processing power is the key to 8K video and the frame rates boasted about in the EOS R5. Due to the resolution of the sensor needed for 8K video, we estimate that the new full-frame CMOS sensor will be about 40-47 megapixels. This would put it on par with the Sony A7R III and the Nikon Z7 - both popular high resolution full-frame cameras with professional photographers. 


In-body image-stabilization is going to be a huge benefit for underwater photographers that shoot in low light, usually cold water situations. It will be possible to shoot at lower shutter speeds and eliminate camera shake.


Improved Video Capability


8K video is a big deal. A really big deal. It's going to be a gamechanger for underwater videographers as this will be the first time 8K video is being offered in a consumer level camera. That being said, perhaps what is even more important is that the 8K video will be able to be downsampled to 4K. EOS R users will finally have a camera that doesn't crop in 4K!


Canon EOS R5 for Underwater Photography


The Canon EOS R 5 will clearly be one of the best tools on the market for underwater photography underwater photography. A higher resolution sensor will place the camera in the same niche as the Nikon Z7 and Sony A7R III/A7R IV. We anticipate that it will be a great tool for professional macro photographers that need the higher resolution to crop on minute details. But with amazing burst speeds of up to 12 fps mechanical and 20 fps electronic, the EOS R5 will be an excellent camera for wide angle shooters who need to photograph quick, moving subjects. Canon's first rendition of IBIS in a camera promises 7-8 stops recovered with an image stabilized lens. That's going to be exciting for cold water underwater photographers that shoot in low lighting situations.



Canon EOS R5 for Underwater Video


Underwater video is really where the Canon EOS R5 is going to shine.  8K really don't have to say much more than that. Although we don't know all of the details yet, like whether or not the video will be cropped, it's safe to say that underwater videographers will be excited to try it out. There's no doubt that the 4K video is going to look great when downsampled from 8K. Any underwater videographer that wants the option for good stills is going to want the EOS R5


Who Should Consider Purchasing the Canon EOS R5?


The Canon EOS R5 is one of those rare cameras that would work perfectly for any professional underwater photographer or videographer. It features in-body image-stabilization and resolutions high enough for macro photography. It has burst shooting abilities good enough for wide angle shooters. The video is excellent and has the potential to revolutionize underwater video.



Lens Options for Underwater Photography

Because the RF lens mount is so new, there are a couple RF lensesthat could be viable for both wide angle and macro photography in the future (e.g., Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L for wide and RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro for semi-macro and portraits) – but nothing quite as good as the available EF and EF-S lenses with the EF-EOS R adapter. 


Recommended Underwater Lenses with the EF-EOS R adapter


Macro lenses enable to you get close up shots of little critters.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro: This is a great all-around macro lens. It is easier to use than the 100mm macro lens and focuses quicker. However, it has less working distance than the 100mm so it is more difficult to get shots of skittish subjects. This is the recommended lens for blackwater diving.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS: This is the best macro lens for small and shy subjects due to a larger working distance. It’s also an essential tool for supermacro photography when combined with a macro diopter. We tested this lens with the Canon EOS R and loved how sharp the photos were and the working distance for skittish subjects. If you are new to macro photography, it would be better to start with the 60mm macro for faster autofocus speeds.

Nauticam Super Macro ConverterThe Nauticam super macro converter (SMC-1) is a wet diopter that can help capture sharp macro and super macro images. It’s the strongest, sharpest diopter on the market. If you are a super macro photographer, this diopter is best used with the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 macro.



Wide Angle Fisheye

Wide angle fisheye lenses allow for an ultra-wide field of view but result in a distorted image. The distortion is reduced underwater to the angle of refraction of light through the water.

Canon 8-15mm f/4L circular fisheye: This is going to be the best choice for a full-frame fisheye lens. At 8mm, the lens vignettes over itself creating a cool, artistic, circular fisheye affect. For traditional fisheye images, just zoom into 15mm and you will capture beautiful ultra-wide angle shots without vignetting. We tested this lens with the Canon EOS R and loved its functionality and quick autofocus with autofocus tracking.



Rectilinear Wide Angle

Rectilinear wide angle lenses retain a wide field of view but do not exhibit the distortion found on fisheye lenses. They are great for large animals like sharks and reefscapes. 

Canon 16-35 f/2.8 III Ultra-Wide Zoom lens: This lens is the best choice for those who are buying their first wide-angle lens and don't have a strict budget. Most underwater shooters use rectilinear wide-angle lenses for shooting subjects that don't come close enough to fill the frame with a wide fisheye lens: sharks, whales, sea lions, dolphins, etc.

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II Wide-Angle Lens: This has been the most popular rectilinear wide-angle lens for Canon full frame. This lens sat at the top of the selection for the last few years in terms of corner sharpness, speed, and price... although that will change as more new shooters purchase the version III.

Canon 11-24mm f/4L Ultra Wide-Angle Lens: Want the widest lens you can buy? The Canon 11-24mm offers a much wider field of view than the 16mm. This perspective is great for reefscapes, massive wrecks and very wide shots where you do not want the distortion of a fisheye lens. The downside is that this lens is larger, heavier and more expensive than the other wide-angle lens choices.



Underwater Housings for the Canon EOS R5

Due to the anticipated popularity of the Canon EOS R5, we anticipate housing from all leading underwater housing manufactures (except those that specialize in smaller, compact cameras), Therefor, there will be great aluminum housing options from Isotta, Sea & Sea, Aquatica, and Nauticam. An excellent polycarbonate option can be expected from Ikelite.




With improvements including in-body image-stabilization, resolution, 4K video, 8k video, media slots, and burst shooting, the Canon EOS R5 is definitely garner the popularity that Canon has been hoping for in its mirrorless line up. We can only hope that it lives up to its press release. But if it does, it just might be the 2020 camera of the year.


Purchase a Canon EOS R5 underwater housing at Bluewater Photo:

Ikelite Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Sea & Sea Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Aquatica Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Isotta Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

Nauticam Canon EOS R5 Underwater Housing

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