The Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 are now shipping. As we all know, these new cameras had severe overheating issues when they were first launched. The current situation of both cameras got (much) better with the recently introduced firmware 1.1.1. However, we reached out to Canon for an interview in the hope that our questions about the situation can be answered. This morning we received a notification that Katsuyuki Nagai-san, Product Management Director, Image Communications Business at Canon Europe, took the time to respond. We hope the following answers provide some insight into how product launches and decisions are made.
Johnnie – CineD: The Canon EOS R5 is already shipping and there is no doubt that the camera is a technical marvel. What made Canon introduce this product and don't you think that the introduction of such an 8K mirrorless camera is a little early?
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: Someone has to be first, right?
Canon has always been a pioneer in the development of video and still cameras. The EOS 5D Mark II was the first full HD camera at a time when people were asking, “Why should you record video with a still camera?” Then in 2012 we introduced the EOS-1D C, one of the first internal 4K Cameras record, and again the need for 4K was questioned when most were still switching to Full HD.
Somebody has to push the boundaries of what is possible. It's worth noting that new game consoles support 8K, and we're seeing more and more brands offering 8K TVs that will be home to many users in the near future, more than 4K in 2012.
8K has been a destination for Canon for a while, not just for video but still / hybrid shooters as well. When we introduced the EOS 5D Mark II, what became what we now know as hybrid shooters were using separate video and still cameras. They asked for a product that would allow them to capture still images and video at the same time. With a camera that records Full HD, the still image result was below the 20 megapixel still images the camera was capable of. Switching to 4K improved this to 8 MP, still 1⁄2 or 1/3 the quality of the still side of the camera. With 8K, users no longer have to worry as much about whether to capture that moment in video or in a still image. Then they can then retrieve high quality still images from the video footage.
Canon EOS R5 camera. Image credit: CineD
Johnnie – CineD: Looking at Canon's official online marketing materials, both the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 were promised to be the "Ultimate Hybrid Camera" and "Ultimate Content Creation Tool". (https://www.canon-europe.com/ camera / eos-r6 /). A “groundbreaking” tool was also mentioned. (https: // www.canon-europe.com/cameras/eos-r5/). In your opinion, has this promise to customers been fulfilled in retrospect?
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: We stand by these claims – the EOS R5 and R6 are not dedicated video cameras, but still camera hybrids.
These cameras offer unprecedented performance of still images. The high-resolution EOS R5 matches its closest competitors, coupled with the speed of the fastest, lower-resolution sports cameras on the market today.
Class-leading autofocus, image stabilization, 10-bit recording and Canon Log are breakthrough features that are helping people reevaluate what a mirrorless camera is. Even if we exclude the 8K and 4K 60p capabilities of these cameras, they are still two of the highest spec video-capable still cameras Canon has released to date and the ultimate hybrid cameras for today.
Johnnie – CineD: Both cameras suffered from video recording overheating issues and long recovery times. With the introduction of the latest firmware update, Canon appears to be trying to address some of these issues by allowing longer recording times and shorter waiting times for recovery (until the camera can film again). What exactly is causing these cameras to overheat and what is the new FW doing to help here?
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: I think we should look at the basics of the whole topic for a better perspective. The cameras have innovative functions that are pressed into compact housings to ensure weather resistance.
Here we come to the first of the two major factors that affect cameras when they overheat. Holding a very warm object for a long time can cause so-called burns at low temperatures. Second, the internal components of the camera must be protected from overheating. We limit how hot the camera's external housing can get to protect users. This is one of the causes of overheating shutdown. Some thermal management must also be applied to ensure that the camera continues to function.
The recording time is controlled by monitoring the temperature inside the camera body and the latest usage status information (operating time). With the new firmware we have improved the temperature detection system and updated the algorithm for controlling the video recording time. The combination of these two points allows the system to extend the recording time by taking into account things like external cooling while filming.
In addition, the movie recording time that is displayed when the camera is quickly turned off and on between successive short videos (at room temperature) has been improved.
Johnnie – CineD: There is a lot of information on the Internet on how to bypass some of the restrictions Canon originally placed on the EOS R5 for recording long 8K RAW video. Of course, I can understand that you cannot refer to "hacks". So let me ask if there is any danger to the camera or sensor if you allow much longer 8K RAW recording times – longer than what Canon currently allows.
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: To ensure user safety, we control the recording time by monitoring the temperature inside the camera body and the information about the last usage status (operating time). We recommend that you do not reset the camera by removing the battery while recording or by disassembling the camera. Resetting the internal memory in this way can render the camera unusable, temperature controls may no longer function properly, and the camera may overheat more than expected, causing the power supply components to malfunction.
Johnnie – CineD: To some people, it seemed like Canon was trying to protect its range of professional EOS cameras by limiting recording times. This could have created trust issues between potential customers and the company. Is there something you'd like to highlight, to reassure people that everything that was done was not intentional, but rather to technically protect the camera?
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: This is an accusation that we saw before that should be put on the pile of conspiracy theory. It's just not a sound business idea as users are more likely to switch to competing systems than to buy a much more expensive camera to get a particular feature.
There are factors that determine what a camera can and cannot do. The main factor is the components used based on the cost of the camera. To make a camera that can do it all would require higher resolution viewfinders, larger buffers, faster processors for computing, faster card buses for writing to cards, and so on, all of which are components that typically cost more.
It is important that we evaluate the key customer for each product and decide what features are needed by that typical user. We don't cripple our cameras, our goal is always to better focus the product on the typical user.
One problem that manufacturers face is feedback that cameras are difficult to use and some people prefer to use their smartphones. If we follow the model of only making the same camera, but cheaper, the problem of making one camera easier to use will not be solved. We strive to make each camera model more intuitive to use, without excessive menus or features that hamper or hinder its use, rather than expanding it.
Canon EOS R6. Image credit: CineD
Johnnie – CineD: With regard to the EOS R6, will we see future improvements in encoding quality, such as enabling all-intra in addition to IBP or even 4K RAW recording?
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: We constantly listen to customer feedback. EOS R6 sales have only just begun so we will need to spend a little time listening to understand what is needed now. The cameras are in the hands of the end users before we make further plans for updates to the EOS R6 beyond the ones already announced.
Johnnie – CineD: Ultimately, what can we expect from the EOS R5 and EOS R6 cameras? Are you going to improve the recording time (and keep the same video quality) in the near future, or are we nearing the end of the improvements and these two cameras will continue to be limited as they are today?
Katsuyuki Nagai-san – – Canon: We plan to keep improving these products, but as explained in my previous answer, there are limitations that simply a firmware update cannot overcome.
I would like to thank Canon Europe's Katsuyuki Nagai for taking the time to answer our questions. I also hope you will take the time to comment below. Let's keep the conversation respectful!