Canon EOS R5 Underwater Photos and Review

By Jean Rydberg
Images by Nirupam Nigam, Bluewater Photo

The Canon EOS R5 has made a big splash in underwater photography with specs that would make any photographer drool in a streamlined mirrorless form factor with classic Canon ergonomics.

The brand new 45MP CMOS sensor delivers stunning resolution. When combined with a Deep Learning autofocus system and in-body image stabilization that can reduce shake up to 8 stops, the camera can capture incredibly sharp detail.

Nirupam Nigam of Bluewater Photo and Underwater Photography Guide spent a couple of weeks in the US Pacific Northwest shooting the EOS R5 in the 200DL Underwater Housing and found it to be a joy to use even in drysuit conditions and tough currents.

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

ISO 100 • f/9 • 1/160 • Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

ISO 100 • f/9 • 1/160 • Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro  • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Shooting video and overheating

Videographers are also starting to move over from the popular Sony Alpha A7-series cameras as the EOS R5 is the first full frame mirrorless camera with 8K Raw video recording capabilities at both 30p and 24p, in addition to oversampled 4K at up to 120p. Much has been made of overheating concerns when shooting 8K video and the folks at Bluewater Photo has produced and Canon EOS R5 Underwater Overheating Test to address these concerns.

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

 ISO 100 • f/18 • 1/160 • Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro  • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

 Jellyfish • ISO 100 • f/18 • 1/160 • Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro  • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Strobe exposure

For all of these photos, Nirupam shot his dual DS161 strobes connected with the DL5 DS Link Canon TTL Converter and a dual sync cord. The DS Link communicates exposure information from the R5 camera to the strobes for incredibly fast, accurate exposure in both wide angle and macro.

"The TTL electronics are second to none. The exposures that you get when using the TTL Converter are really accurate. With the sync cord system you can shoot really fast, especially with Ikelite strobes. I find it like shooting a machine gun almost with quick exposures, quick shots, and quick recycle time." - Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

The DL5 DS Link is independently sealed and compatible with almost every Canon DSLR and full frame mirrorless on the market, so it can carry with you from system to system just like your strobes.

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

ISO 160 • f/8 • 1/160 • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Taking the camera underwater

The 200DL Underwater Housing for the Canon EOS R5 provides access to all important camera controls fully functional up to a depth of 200 feet (60 meters). Nirupam shot the 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye lens behind the unique Compact 8" Dome Port option. This is an excellent choice when shooting wide angle and zoom lenses with the R5 for its excellent image sharpness in a compact and easily maneuverable form factor.

"There are three dials! This makes it really easy to control all legs of the exposure triangle - ISO, shutter speed, and aperture - underwater. We loved how easy it was to manipulate the camera underwater, and Ikelite's dial system is particularly smooth to rotate." - Nirpuam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

An air cushion around the camera in the housing reduces overheating and fogging, improves system buoyancy and handling, and provides added protection in the event of unexpected water intrusion. 

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Nirupam says: "The Canon EOS R5 can shoot at the extremely high frame rate of 12 fps with the mechanical shutter. Although this is too high for almost any strobe on the market, I did manage to capture quick wolf eel movement with a more reasonable 3 frames per second." • ISO 500 • f/13 • 1/60 • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Vacuum safety testing

The 200DL housing includes a vacuum testing valve that can be used in conjunction with the optional vacuum pump with gauge. The vacuum pump itself is lightweight and easy to use one handed. Pull a vacuum on the housing when you're setting up and then check it again 10 minutes - or even 10 hours later - to ensure that you won't face a major leak when you jump in the water.

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Kelp forest with sunny background • ISO 160 • f/13 • 1/100 • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Jellyfish in the kelp • ISO 160 • f/13 • 1/60 • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Using the electronic viewfinder

One of our favorite things about shooting full frame mirrorless cameras is the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The R5 features a super-bright OLED viewfinder with 5.76 million dots and a magnification of 0.76x. When combined with the optional 45º Magnifying Viewfinder it is incredibly easy to adjust exposure and compose your image in the frame. We love EVFs because you no longer have to move your housing to arm's length to review your image on the rear LCD screen. The image review pops up straight away in the viewfinder so that you can adjust and keep shooting. 

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Nirupam says: "Overall, this photo shows that the Canon EOS R5 is can capture a scene with high dynamic range quite well. Canon may have had issues with dynamic range in the past, but with the R5 the dynamic range is indistinguishable from competitors." • ISO 100 • f/22 • 1/160 • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide 

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Nirupam says: "This photo of a fish eating anemone exemplifies the capability of Canon's new in-body image-stabilization system. At a slow shutter speed of 1/13th of a second, there is almost no motion blur caused by camera shake. This helped me capture a deep depth of field at f/22 and still get background color." • ISO 200 • f/22 • 1/13 • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

Thoughts on the system

The Canon EOS R5 is quickly becoming a new favorite underwater for lots of good reasons. It packs a ton of brand new technology into a relatively compact and well-built, weather-sealed body. As we expect from Canon, the camera feels good in your hands and navigation of the menus is straightforward. 

Photo and video quality are spectacular. A huge component of image quality is the quality of lenses that you can use. Hands down we would choose a great lens over a great camera any day of the week. Canon has perhaps the most solid line of full frame lenses of any manufacturer and the camera focuses quickly and accurately with both native RF mount lenses and legacy EF lenses when used with the adapter.

The EOS R5 is one of the best choices on the market as we go into the end of 2020, whether you're upgrading an older DSLR camera or stepping up from a compact system.

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Nirupam says: "Despite being a high resolution camera, the EOS R5 performs very well at higher ISOs. I found the noise to be fairly fine grained which made it easy to remove in post processing." • ISO 500 • f/13 • 1/60 • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide 

Putting it all together

We live for underwater photography and our staff is here to help you put together the system you need to get the shots you want. Reach out to us today by phone or email for advice on equipment, photo techniques, and anything related to underwater photography.

Canon EOS R5 Ikelite Underwater Housing Copyright Nirupam Nigam

Scorpionfish in the rocks • ISO 320 • f/9 • 1/160 • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye • Photo © 2020 Nirupam Nigam, Underwater Photography Guide

 

You can read Nirupam's review of the system for more of his impressions on ergonomics, buoyancy, trim, and strobe use. 

 

Nirupam NigamNirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the Marketing Director at Bluewater Photo. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, at the University of Washington. Check out more of his photography at photosfromthesea.com and his reviews at uwphotographyguide.com and bluewaterphotostore.com!

 

 

Additional Reading

Why You Need a Fisheye Lens Underwater

When to Use a Compact 8" Dome Port Underwater

Straight vs 45 Degree Magnified Viewfinder for Underwater Shooting

Why You Need Strobes Underwater

The Myth of TTL Strobe Exposure Underwater