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Canon needs to do something about the R5 and R6 - Updated
Richard Cox
/ Categories: Editorials
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Canon needs to do something about the R5 and R6 - Updated

As the days go on there are more reports of overheating issues of both the R6 and the R5 and now we see the Sony A7S III - a video camera in an ILC body and it performs according to all reports, amazingly well.

Let us take a bit of a step back that neither the R5 or R6 is currently shipping. Canon could still resolve many of these issues before the cameras arrive in the user’s hands if they react quickly.  While I don’t believe these issues are as serious for the still shooting photography users, I’m going to take the side of the video folks here, especially because they seem the loudest right now.

Perception is always important, and with the release of the Sony A7S III – it's not that great for Canon.  Canon has built the brand around reliability and the knowledge that things “just work”.  Up to now anyways.  Some are calling this a complete disaster of Canon’s own making.  I think this would play out differently if there wasn’t a competing release from Sony.  Whether the A7S III matches up directly to the R5 or the R6 from the aspect of video - they are competing.  

I'm going to emphasize here a bit, these performance issues surround making a stills camera into a pure video camera. I still feel if you need a video camera primarily, you should be looking at the cinema line of cameras - that's what is truly meant for you.  Stills photographers aren't going to have as many problems with these cameras.

The question is what can Canon do to correct this quickly or even if they have to take another 3 to 6 months to engineer solutions. 

We will explore a few options here.

The first option is software.  Some options could include downgrading the video to some more sensible bitrates and options.  Performing further optimization to the firmware on both the R5 and the R6 may also help.  It could very well be that they have to remove 10 bit internal from the options, and only shoot 8 bit.   Doing 8 bit recording would reduce the ADC processing by a factor of 4, and also reduce the compression and processing overhead on DIGIC as well.  Or perhaps at least add in the options for 8 bit video if they currently do not exist.

Canon could create a new variant, the R5C which includes the active cooling, venting required to run the camera continuously without overheating during video.   If they do this, then they need to possibly downgrade the firmware on the R5 and R6, and also provide some clarity that this camera is indeed coming (development announcement) and make more sensible decisions.  In other words, quickly come out with their own "A7S III".

Another option could be to provide accessories to manage the heat better, such as an adapter, or as the novel case, a cooler that attaches to the back of the camera, or perhaps cools through the tripod mount via an addon grip.  These, of course, would help without causing manufacturing changes to the R5 and R6 which I'm sure would be easier for Canon to do quickly.

Another option would the "lazy" option, as many of you have suggested.  However, this is Sony's solution - so what's good for Sony should be good for Canon, right? That is simply to create temperature thresholds and allow the user to choose how hot they want to use the camera.  This, of course, can be done fairly quickly with a moderate firmware update.

The last and possibly best option is to dissipate the heat better. By adding additional sinking and thermal conductivity away from the hot areas and having the heat dissipate more through the camera body’s magnesium alloy shell overheating may be eliminated.  It would require a manufacturing change, but Canon has done similar things for various other cameras such as the 5D Mark IV which the Clog addon.  This may be the optimum solution, but certainly the most costly for Canon to implement. It's perhaps easier to delay the release of the R6 and R5 and change it now versus a mass recall in the future.

I am sure there are more technical solutions that Canon can do; let understand one thing here – for 3 (or more) generations of Sony Alpha full frame mirrorless cameras, they were all plagued with heat issues.  Sony mysteriously managed to fix most of the issues via firmware modifications.  It's entirely possible that this turns out to be not a problem if Canon releases updated and more efficient firmware (or firmware with a much higher temperature warning / shutoff value).

While Canon has done an acceptable job of letting people know before the cameras were purchased that this was a problem, it is still up to them to communicate that they are looking for solutions to these issues.  Ignoring these problems and assuming this is as good as it gets and the screaming about it will just go away, I think is the wrong approach and a potential marketing nightmare.  The perception of Canon is a brand that their products "just work" will take a significant hit if Canon doesn't manage this properly.

I think Canon is at the crossroads here, and what they do with these two cameras and possibly over the next 6 to 12 months will go a long way to determining their long term future as a camera company.

A new rumor from CanonRumors suggests that the second wave of R5's may not be until November.  This may be because canon recognizes they need to correct things, or it just maybe because of COVID-19 causing continual disruptions here in southeast Asia.  According to CanonRumors, there is was a source that suggested;

“Canon is working on multiple solutions and will have a full statement and plan in the coming weeks.”

We hope that Canon will address this issue in a timely manner.

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