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Why the Canon R5C Proves Enthusiasts Need to Chill

Canon recently unveiled the EOS R5c, effectively combining the high-resolution R5 mirrorless and C70 cinema cameras into one hybrid body. It’s too early to tell how it’ll perform in real-world testing (beyond preproduction first impressions). But if Canon delivers as promised, the R5c will be a digital wonder for working professionals at this price point and sizing.

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But no camera launch is complete without hot takes. Terrible, terrible hot takes…

Outrage over, well, everything is expected in the 21st century. But this type of reaction says more about enthusiast camera culture in general than the R5c as a camera body. And it basically proves many of you don’t know what the hell you’re angry about.

Yeah, I’m talking to you. You’re probably talented with a camera. Maybe you’re a working pro, but more likely an eager enthusiast. Learning. Growing. Falling in love with different lenses and gear. But you’ve started to think specs sheets make or break a camera. Which leads you to conflate mass-market cameras with professional niche products.

But how did we get here? Let’s go back a bit.

Clickbait Reviewers and Over-Informed Enthusiasts

While publications like The Phoblographer strive for ethical journalism, you’ll be shocked to learn many sites and influencers grab attention by (you may want to sit down for this) clickbaiting and hyping non-controversies. So, each camera becomes either The Best or The Worst in The History of All Cameras Ever.

Clickbait camera reviews create an enthusiast base that is over-informed (always consuming), yet under-educated (missing context). In other words, people learn a few terms and “ideal” camera specifications and ultimately believe spec sheets define every camera as well as a complex industry with a variety of customers and needs.

But why is everyone so extremely focused on spec sheets when max specs and features don’t represent the experience of a camera or system?

Mark Zuckerberg’s God Damned Algorithms and Brand Tribalism

Most people generally lack the funds to buy and own more than one camera brand. (This ain’t a cheap hobby or business, y’all.) Forced to pick one system, folks are afraid of buying inferior products. So after they dive in, they sprint back to the clickbaiters for some ole fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs confirmation bias:

You made the right call, this camera is awesome!
Therefore, you are awesome and now a better artist,
photographer, or filmmaker (please buy our merch).

This fear and confirmation bias sandwich creates a My Camera Is the Best Camera! feedback loop. Clearly, a smart, talented person would only buy The Best Camera from The Superior Brand. Therefore, psychologically, That Other Camera and That Other Brand are inferior. All of this, of course, is couched in spec sheet camera comparisons.

Once heavily invested in a single brand (essentially because they can’t be on the losing team or afford to switch), many enthusiasts no longer solely crave Best Camera confirmation. They also desire clickbait confirmation about how other brands are inferior.

Aren’t algorithms great? Mark Zuckerberg knows y’all love two things: hating your enemies, and cheering for your own team.

Case in point, Canon earned a (misplaced) branding issue among Sony’s (well-earned) customer base because they showed up late to the full-frame mirrorless party and didn’t immediately outclass Sony in terms of hybrid camera features. Like all camera systems, EOS R is a mixture of great, good, and mediocre features and specs. But if you primarily consume clickbait camera reviews, you’d think Canon purposely sabotages its garbage cameras.

Enter the EOS R5c

Into this maelstrom of Brand Tribalism, Clickbait Reviewers, and Spec Sheet Enthusiasts steps the the Canon EOS R5c. And while the reactions were predictable, I was surprised by how many folks missed the point of a cinema camera and where the R5c sits in the market. So let’s fix that.

Most mirrorless bodies are photography-first cameras (with a bit of video side-hustle). Cinema cameras flip that script, focusing on video first. And not only do they typically cost more than their equivalent, photography-first cousins, but they often drop features like IBIS from the equation. Why?

Because working filmmakers and videographers use professional stabilization systems like gimbals, cranes, camera cars, and dollies.

IBIS, I’d argue, is more for photography than video. To oversimplify, image sensors can’t move enough over hundreds of frames to compensate for all of your hand-held movements, which introduces inconsistencies and errors. That’s not to say IBIS is worthless for video. It’s better than nothing. And YouTubers certainly love it for B-Roll. But that’s because they’re making “cinematic,” not cinema (which I mean literally, not snootily). Step onto the set of your favorite film or television set and the main camera system won’t have IBIS.

The Canon EOS R5c is a $4,500 camera made for professional filmmakers and videographers. Therefore, no IBIS. It’s not a first-time vlogging setup designed for the masses. It’s not an R5 Mark II. And it doesn’t have all the features you’ll find on a Sony.

But Sony doesn’t have a camera like the R5c. No one does.

Lots of brands from Sony to Panasonic offer cinema hybrid cameras. And they’re great too. But the R5c is the first cinema hybrid camera to also maintain a high megapixel count (most dramatically reduce sensor resolution for low-light and processing benefits). And at $4,500, the R5c is a smoking deal in that market. Cheaper and smaller than the c70 while retaining the ability to capture massive still images, it’s like two cameras in one.

To be fair, the R5c may still prove to be inferior and imperfect. I haven’t tested it and can’t yet tell you one way or another. But that’s exactly why we all need to avoid the spec sheet hot takes and either test out the camera ourselves or find ethical, high-quality review coverage.

How to Be a Better Enthusiast

The reason why (keyword→) ethical journalists have a great perspective on the camera industry as a whole is because they aren’t brand loyal. Teams like the ones staffed here at The Phoblographer test (almost) every single camera. They also test all the firmware and lenses and revisions and model updates and accessories. This variety gives them perspective. And the truth is, it’s really, really hard to buy a bad camera today.

The trick is finding the one that best fits your needs and feelings. What can you afford? What feature do you use most? Which body feels best in your hand? Does this menu system feel natural? Do you like how these RAW files respond to your editing? Are you mostly a stills, video, or a 50/50 hybrid shooter? Dozens of potential questions can only be answered by you gaining more experience. How?

  • Take a class with a working pro or brand ambassador
  • Rent different cameras and lenses
  • Borrow gear from school if you’re a student
  • Go on photo walks with friends and see if you can try out other brands
  • Play with display models at camera stores
  • And, of course, reading high quality ethical journalism (ahem, us!)

Liking Canon or Sony or Nikon or whatever doesn’t make you a better digital artist. Your gear’s brand outselling another doesn’t make you a better visual storyteller. This is not a war that one brand will win. Everyone makes great cameras. No one makes perfect cameras.

The only goal is to find the gear which makes you feel excited to create.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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