Canon EOS R5 Lab Test – To Film in RAW or not?

August 26th, 2020
Canon EOS R5 Lab Test - To Film in RAW or not?

Looking at the specs of the Canon EOS R5, my first reaction was “who needs 8K RAW?” – as this cam offers high quality 4K modes as well. Until I saw the Lab results… Curious to hear more about our Canon EOS lab test? Read on.

Edit: based on questions by some of our readers in the comments section below, I did another series of tests to check the dynamic range at ISO800. Also, I developed the 8K Canon RAW files in DaVinci Resolve using CLOG, CLOG2 and CLOG3. Please head over to the dynamic range section below to see the results. Spoiler alert: not much changes. However, CLOG3 shows a strange behaviour of cutting off the noise floor.

During early August the Canon EOS R5 arrived for a short visit at the CineD office – exhibiting the firmware version 1.0. I was really curious to see how this mirrorless camera would fare in the lab as its specs are quite amazing, despite the early reported overheating issue.

Rolling shutter, dynamic range, and our underexposure test was performed – which quite surprisingly proved to be a challenge, as the overheating warning popped up early in the setup of the tests already – and some test runs had to be repeated after a 15min waiting period as the camera continued to shut down between takes. 

This very fact cooled down my enthusiasm about the camera quite significantly – but that’s another story.

If you want to know how we test dynamic range, have a look here.

Canon EOS R5 – Rolling Shutter

Interestingly, despite the high resolution of the Canon EOS R5 sensor, a very good rolling shutter read out performance was recorded.

The Canon EOS R5 in full frame DCI mode (17:9) in high quality readout mode (that is 8K RAW, 8K H265 all-I and 4K DCI) has a rolling shutter of 15.5ms. That is the best result that we measured so far for a full frame sensor, even slightly better than the Canon C500 Mark II (15.8ms).

Fig. 1: Rolling shutter measurement for the Canon EOS R5 in 8K 25fps: very good 15.5ms are measured.

Rolling shutter for full frame 25fps low quality and 50 frames per second (in 4K DCI) were the same at 9.6ms, hence some subsampling is obviously happening in the background.

Canon EOS R5 – Dynamic Range at ISO 400

As usual, I started testing the internal H265 modes on the camera, but I noticed that 8K RAW looked different, less contrasty (despite using Canon LOG for H265).

Therefore, I tested both 8K RAW and the various H265 modes (8K DCI and 4K DCI). And yes, code value distribution and results differ – in 12bit 8K RAW the clipping luma value is 80%, whereas 10bit H265 goes to 100%.

Also, it was not possible for me to use the 8K files directly in IMATEST, as I had to develop the files in DaVinci Resolve (16.2.5) first, export TIFF’s and then do the analysis. Unfortunately, my GTX980 graphics card with 8GB memory showed a “GPU error” in native resolution. So I had to downscale to 6K to make it work.

Not surprisingly, if you intend to work with the 8K RAW files in native resolution, you will need a very capable hardware.

Let’s start with 8K RAW, here’s the waveform plot (figure 3). As can be seen below, about 12 stops can be identified above the noise floor. In general, the 8K RAW files are VERY noisy. Nevertheless, a 13th and even a 14th stop is visible inside the noise floor.

Fig. 3: Waveform plot of the Xyla21 stepchart for the Canon EOS R5 at 8K RAW, ISO 400 25fps. About 12 stops can be identified above the noise floor.

Because 8K RAW is so noisy, IMATEST (figure 4) calculates the signal to noise (SNR) threshold of 2 already at 10.3 stops.

Fig. 4: IMATEST dynamic range result for the Canon R5 at 8K RAW ISO400 (scaled to 6K): 10.3 stops are calculated for SNR = 2, but more stops are buried in the noise floor (red circle in the middle graph) which can be retrieved using some noise reduction in post.

However, a patch range of 16.8 stops is identified, and beyond the SNR = 1 (blue curve; “Low”) in the middle graph (figure 4) on the left-hand side at least 3 to 4 additional stops (buried in the noise floor) are present. Those can be “excavated” by using some noise reduction in post – hence, despite the low 10.3stops value at SNR = 2 much more is there if you know how to treat the files in post.

So, obviously the RAW files really represent something RAW off the sensor – not much signal processing (noise filtering, etc…) seems to happen. Which is a good thing!

Big surprise when testing the H265 8K mode at ISO400 – it looks like the noise floor is almost cut off and only 10stops are calculated by IMATEST.

Fig. 5: Waveform plot of the Xyla21 stepchart for the Canon EOS R5 at 8K H265 ISO400 CLOG: around 11 stops are visible above the noise floor, and a hint of a 12th stop. Code value distribution is completely different than in RAW mode, and more than 12 stops are not accessible.

We are left to speculate what is happening here and why the darker stops are not accessible anymore – again, looking at the middle graph of the IMATEST dynamic range results, this behavior is clearly visible (figure 6) -where I mentioned the red circle in figure 4 above, in figure 6 the noise signal is gone.

Fig. 6: IMATEST result of the Canon EOS R5 dynamic range in 8K DCI H265 ISO400 CLOG (scaled to 6K): 10 stops are calculated for SNR = 2, and the total patch range identified is 11.8 stops. The remaining stops visible for RAW (figure 4) are gone, cut off.

A similar albeit slightly better result is obtained for 4k DCI mode (high quality, full frame). 10.8 stops are calculated at SNR = 2, see figure 7 below (probably due to scaling of the 8K into 4K).

Fig. 7: IMATEST result of the Canon EOS R5 dynamic range in 4K DCI H265 ISO400 CLOG: 10.8 stops are calculated for SNR = 2, and the total patch range identified is 12.8 stops. The remaining stops visible for RAW (figure 4) are gone, cut off.

Thus, the dynamic range results obtained for the Canon EOS R5 show a mixed bag: in 8K RAW, albeit very noisy there is access to further stops beyond the 10.3stops at SNR = 2 if you are willing to take the time in postproduction. If you want to use H265 in 4K DCI mode, you get a slightly better result at 10.8 stops (SNR = 2) but you sacrifice everything beyond the 12th stop.

Dynamic Range Results of 8K RAW at ISO800

As mentioned in the “Edit” comment at the beginning of the article, I also tested now the behaviour at ISO800. Also, I developed the files in DaVinci Resolve with different gamma curves, i.e. CLOG, CLOG2 and CLOG3. Please find the results below – in short, moving from ISO400 to ISO800 I had to stop down 1 stop – this did not change the dynamic range much (0.2 stop less).

Dynamic Range for the Canon R5 8K RAW shot at ISO400 and developed in DaVinci Resolve as CLOG, CLOG2 and CLOG3. CLOG is identical to CLOG2, whereas CLOG3 pushes up the code values and cuts off the noise floor (see the red circle on the right hand graph). Thats why it appears less noisy – the lower, noisy stops are simply not there.

CLOG3 cuts off the noise floor (see red circle in the left hand graph above) – thats why it seems to appear less noisy – well, the lower, noisier stops are simply not there …

Hence, the “native” ISO of the sensor seems to be ISO400, but pushing up the ISO to 800 keeps dynamic range at almost the same level at SNR = 2 – see the result below:

Dynamic range of the Canon R5 8K RAW at ISO800 developed with CLOG2 – the dynamic range drops slightly to 10.1 stops at SNR =2, and the patch range is slightly less at 15.6 stops.

Also, for CLOG and CLOG2 the maximum code (luma) value is at 80% no matter if shot at ISO400 or ISO800. For CLOG3 the code value distribution is lifted up and a max. luma value of slightly above 90% is reached for ISO400.

Code value distribution of the Canon R5 in 8K RAW mode, developed as CLOG2 in DaVinci Resolve – the maximum luma value stays at 80%, no matter if shot at ISO400 or ISO800. It only drops if the scene was shot at ISO800 and the ISO is dragged down in post to ISO400.
Dynamic range results for the Canon R5 in 8K RAW shot at ISO400 developed in CLOG2, shot at ISO400 and pushed up in post to ISO800 or shot at ISO800 pushed down in post to ISO400 – all very much the same.

In summary, shooting at ISO400 and developing the RAW files in Resolve with CLOG2 is definitely the sweet spot.

Canon EOS R5 – Underexposure Test

Next up is our underexposure test. As mentioned previously, we arrange a studio scene where one of my colleagues is performing as a model – in this case, Nino – and his face is exposed at max. 60% luma value for a shutter angle of 360° (or 1/25th of a second) at F4 for 25fps 8K RAW ISO400.

As I noticed already during the dynamic range tests of the Canon EOS R5, the 8K RAW files are flatter and provide more stops so I was curious to do this test in 8K RAW.

Then we successively underexpose the scene by reducing the shutter angle to 180°, 90°, 45°, 22.5°, and 11.25° thus reaching 5 stops of underexposure.

In postproduction using DaVinci Resolve 16.2.5, the files are then brought back to the zero exposure base line. Using RAW this is quite comfortable as just the “exposure” slider in the RAW tab of Resolve needs to be adjusted. Quite strangely, this only worked until +3 stops. The slider allowed for +4 and +5, but nothing happened. Hence, for +4 and +5 I had to manually adjust the image by lifting, gamma, and gain controls (checking the waveform of the respective scene as a reference).

Also, it is important to note that I performed these underexposure tests on a 2K DCI timeline in Resolve (otherwise my 980 GTX GPU was giving errors when using noise reduction). Consequently, the 8K RAW files are already scaled to 2K, thereby massively improving the noise just by the advanced scaling algorithm of DaVinci Resolve… 

So, here is the zero base line scene (lightly graded):

Fig. 8: the zero baseline scene for the Canon EOS R5 at 360° shutter, F4, 8K RAW ISO400.

Let’s jump ahead at the 3 stops underexposed scene, pushed back to zero, figure 9. The image is still usable, however strong noise is already present. Noise reduction helps to improve the image, see figure 10 (3 frames temporal, threshold 30, and spatial threshold 8).

Fig. 9: the Canon EOS R5 at 8K RAW ISO400, 3 stops underexposed and pushed back to zero. Ugly noise is strongly present despite the downscale to 2K – as mentioned before, 8K RAW is very noisy.
Fig. 10: the Canon EOS R5 at 8K RAW ISO400, 3 stops underexposed and pushed back to zero plus applying noise reduction in Resolve. You can get very usable results.

At 4 stops underexposure, the image falls apart due to the strong noise, figure 11. Also, noise reduction doesn’t help any further, as it needs to be so strong that image detail suffers massively.

Fig. 11: the Canon EOS R5 at 8K RAW ISO400, 4 stops underexposed and pushed back to zero. Noise is so strong that I found it almost impossible to remove by noise reduction without sacrifying image detail.

Just for reference, here is the 5 stops underexposed image, pushed back to zero, figure 12. Color and detail are maintained quite well, but the noise…

Fig. 12: the Canon EOS R5 at 8K RAW ISO400, 5 stops underexposed and pushed back to zero.

Also, just for fun, I tried heavy temporal (4 frames, threshold = 35) and spatial (threshold = 10) noise reduction on the 5 stops underexposed image, see figure 13. Image detail is completely gone.

Fig. 13: the Canon EOS R5 at 8K RAW ISO400, 5 stops underexposed and pushed back to zero. Noise is so strong that I found it impossible to remove by noise reduction without heavily sacrifying image detail.

As a summary, I would rate the -3 stops underexposure image as the usable limit.

Canon EOS R5 – Lab Test Summary

The lab results show a mixed bag: rolling shutter performance is superb on the EOS R5 (15.5ms), despite the high resolution read out – the best we have measured so far for a full frame camera!

The dynamic range of the Canon EOS R5 in H265 CLOG modes is on the low end for a full frame sensor – only in 8K RAW the Canon EOS R5 starts to shine by offering additional stops, albeit buried in the noise floor.

In the underexposure tests of the Canon EOS R5, even though we used 8K RAW the performance is average. 3 stops underexposure is possible, but not more. Even smaller sensor cameras offer more in that department (e.g. the BMPCC6K) – have a look at our lab test section for more information.

8K RAW is very very taxing on the computer hardware – if you don’t run the latest hardware you will have massive issues during playback, not even speaking of additional nodes for color grading.

Also, overheating was a big issue during the lab test: just setting up the measurements and studio scene, keeping the camera running and recording video was very problematic.

So choose wisely if this camera is for you – especially looking at the various other offerings on the market.

The Canon EOS R5 is already shipping. Do you have some experience filming with it? Please share with us some stories from the filed!

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Scot Warner
Scot Warner
Member
September 11th, 2020

Very interesting test, have just completed some similar tests myself for studio light conditions and came to a similar conclusion on iso, I found without any NR 800 was about the max I would be willing to go before noise starts creeping in on the RAW files. It also showed true with regard to machine specs as I’ve been using a 2080 TI and still had gpu issues so ended up downscaling until final renders (although this does give a false sense of security for the noise). I spoke to blackmagic the other day and although they don’t have an official 8k workflow yet they actually recommended VRAM of 32gb which starts taking the card price into the 8-9k range however they did say with less nodes it maybe possible to get by with 24gb ie the likes of the 3090. But still its not for the faint of heart, certainly does look good coming out the other end though when its all said and done!

Skroutz
Skroutz
Guest
September 3rd, 2020

Don’t show your real intentions Gunther Machu! You are the most amateur and you have shown it many times… I don’t need to remind you when you took the interview from the Z Cam CEO back then. DR has been measured and ppl don’t need to look at your faulty test. You are trying to give faulty impressions here… you should feel shame really!

 Paul Corneille
Paul Corneille
Member
September 3rd, 2020

You know you can use HQ proxy/optimized media for editing and use 8K raw only when the colorist do the final grading? And if you buy a 8K camera you are not that stupid that you don’t know you need processing power.
I wonder why sometimes your conclusions seems to target the amateurs and not professionals.

Gunther Machu
Guest
September 3rd, 2020
Reply to  Paul Corneille

Maybe because the target audience of a canon mirrorless camera is consisting of amateurs as well?

Alec Kinnear
Alec Kinnear
Member
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul Corneille

These tests directly represent the final colour grading stage. I suppose the colour gradist could just work with lower proxy files with no feedback when experimenting on final image, but it’s not really a modern or efficient workflow.

 Hugues Dagallier
Hugues Dagallier
Member
August 29th, 2020

Superb test. The same with A7SIII, Komodo, UMP 12K would be awesome.

서킷보드
서킷보드
Guest
August 28th, 2020

You must change your graphics card to another one with more VRAM.
Currently many DITs recommend 16GB VRAM for 8K footage manipulating in Davinci Resolve Studio. I recommend AMD Radeon VII, the best performance per cost in the market. consider it.

Gunther Machu
Guest
September 2nd, 2020
Reply to  서킷보드

Thanks for the suggestion – yes, 8GB is not up to date any more.

Isaac
Isaac
Guest
August 27th, 2020

Thanks for the latest lab test. Is the Fuji X-T4 on your list for a lab test to determine both dynamic range and rolling shutter? I hope so.

Gunther Machu
Guest
September 2nd, 2020
Reply to  Isaac

Dear Isaac, no, it’s not on the list as the image quality seems to be very much the same as the X-T3 (for this we have a lab test).

Wayne S
Wayne S
Guest
August 27th, 2020

Thank you for the extended stop coverage.

Now, the ursa mini 12k.

John doe
John doe
Guest
August 27th, 2020

Can I know what is the(all your test done) best camera I mean dynamic range and good video quality after Arri Alexa?

Gunther Machu
Guest
September 2nd, 2020
Reply to  John doe

Difficult question, related to many factors. For APS-C probably the new C300 MKIII. Considering price vs. image quality, I have personally chosen the BMPCC6K for myself.

ma zichao
ma zichao
Member
August 27th, 2020

I got very simple question.why the 8k raw test is under the clog,instead of clog2,which has a better Dynamic Range,and sorry for my ignorance

Gunther Machu
Guest
August 27th, 2020
Reply to  ma zichao

It’s simply not offered by the camera. But you can develop the RAW files in Resolve using CLOG2.

 Zarick Berger
Zarick Berger
Member
August 27th, 2020

The DR is limited in h264, but in Raw it feels extremely powerful and I don’t get no noise in the blacks @ iso 200.

The raw noise behaviour is totally different from my c200 and feels head above. More in line with what I see from the c300m3.

I can do extreme crops without the noise having any effect !

Also, try a MacBook. The Raw runs pretty smoothly here when you put it in performance mode.

Gunther Machu
Guest
August 27th, 2020
Reply to  Zarick Berger

Interesting to hear Zarick!

Member
August 28th, 2020
Reply to  Zarick Berger

Agreed, Running on a MacBook Pro 16″ with an 8-core and 5500M GPU – DaVinci Resolve 16.3 Beta 2 can play an 8K RAW timeline in Proxy Mode Quarter resolution just fine.

Cinematic elements
Guest
August 27th, 2020

Raw is great and all, but 4k 422 10bit ALL-I without overheating is just fine.
(new firmware?)

Frederico Monteiro
Frederico Monteiro
Member
August 27th, 2020

the raw files are debayred in clog2 natively witch is a different curve all together dont know how this affects your findings

Frederico Monteiro
Frederico Monteiro
Member
August 27th, 2020

keeping in mind in the cinema line clog2 base iso is 800 iso cliping at 90 IRE
if you go to 400 iso it clips at arround 80 as the DR is maped towards the shadows

 Ryan Hamblin
Member
August 27th, 2020

Will there be a lab test on the Sony FX9?

Member
August 27th, 2020

It’s always exciting when another Lab Test result comes in! Thank you Dr. Machu.
Some questions:

I) was ISO 400 chosen because that’s the lowest available ISO while using Canon Log? (like the Nikon Z6 only going as low as ISO 800 for N-Log)

II) In theory taking a RAW still photo and recording in RAW video with the entire sensor would promise the same dynamic range, but does this actually happen in practice or does the still image provide higher DR?

Lucas Mason
Lucas Mason
Member
August 27th, 2020

1. ISO400 is the advertised native ISO of Canon Log.

2. RAW video is derived from 12bit AD conversion. RAW stills are 14-bit with Mechanical shutter and Electronic 1st Curtain, 13-bit A/D conversion with H+ mode, 12-bit A/D conversion with Electronic shutter.

Member
August 28th, 2020
Reply to  Lucas Mason

Thank you for the insight Lucas! If you have a link to a technical paper further describing the various bit depths please share as I’d like to know more about this topic : )

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