Eos R as a timelapse unit

As you’ll see from my gear page, I have used the Panasonic GH5 since its release, mainly as a hiking camera as my intention was to reduce weight. As a time lapse unit, this camera worked fine, however the smaller sensor meant that low light situations were not rendered particularly well.

The Eos R body was recently announced and I figured this would be a good system to try. Lighter than my 5d Mark IV, and able to use my existing range of Canon EF lenses, and also the numerous Canon batteries which I’ve collected over the years.

Using the R as a standard camera was not really that different to use my 5d Mark IV. The colour science was as expected, the new focus peaking was a great addition, the body just worked fine.

Using the R as a timelapse camera proved slightly different. On an evening in Asnelles in France, I had clear skies looking over the Channel so figured this would be a good opportunity to try out the R for some astro timelapse. Without really thinking about it, I set the camera up as I have done with my 5D numerous times over the years, attaching my intervalometer, setting a 15 second exposure with an 18 second interval, focusing the lens using the 10x magnification in live view, then hitting start on the intervalometer.

I waited for a couple of shots to check the system was running properly, then headed indoors to warm up. If I do not sit next to the camera in these situations, I make sure I can regularly check that the red light is on to ensure that (a) the camera is still running and (b) someone has not run off with it in the dark…

On the first check of sight of the red lamp, I could see that something was not quite right. The camera was not firing properly on each interval, and shots were being missed which would result in a jerky time lapse. I ran some tests and couldn’t get the intervalometer to consistently fire the camera at an interval that I liked. So then I attempted to use the time lapse movie mode. I set the same 15 second exposure with an 18 second interval and hit start. The downside to this is that I could not check that the camera was running properly and there is no red lamp…. Turns out the time lapse movie mode worked fine, although I ended up with a video file and no RAW images.

So the next day I started testing the unit. Here’s what I discovered:

1. a 1 second shot with a 2 second interval using a remote results in a miss every 2 or 3 shots. ISO value does not affect this.

2. a 15 second shot needs at least an 18 second interval to be reliable. ISO value not a factor.

I am using an Aputure intervalometer so that could conceivably affect it, but if I merely hold my finger on the shutter button for 1 minute (no interval), I get the following results:

1. 2 second shots at ISO 100 is fine. Sometimes. Sometimes I get a delay every 2 shots.

2. 2 second shots at ISO1600 gets 18 shots in 1 minute (my 5d4 and 6DII get 27 shots and I’d expect to get somewhere near the 30 shot mark)

3. 2 second shots at ISO3200 gets 15 shots in 1 minute (my 5d4 and 6DII get 27 shots)

4. 1 second shots at ISO100 gets 28 shots in 1 minute (haven’t tested other ISOs) and 5d4 gets 49 shots

5. anything below 1 second fires normally when I hold down the shutter button and there is no lag at all.

All noise reduction, lens aberration corrections, etc have been turned off.

Using an EF lens on the Canon mount adapter. I have also tried the Cascable app and get the same results.

I contacted Canon and after some back and forth, got this response:

“We have heard back from the team now and they've been doing some looking into this and testing. They've spoken to the product specialists and have been advised that even when the options are turned off in the menu, there is processing that happens on the RAW file when the exposure time is above a certain threshold, and this may cause the “BUSY” icon to appear. The camera processing on the EOS R works differently to the EOS 5D Mark IV, so you will find that the time it takes to process images in certain scenarios may be different. In these situations, they have advised that you would need to allow a longer interval between shots for the images to be captured at a consistent rate for a time-lapse or use the Time Lapse movie mode.”

I went back and asked if they had some information on what minimum intervals would work in different situations, however Canon did not have anything further to add.

So it seems that the Eos R has no real consistency on time lapse intervals unless you opt for a 3 or 4 second interval or use the time lapse movie mode (which works fine but I don’t get individual RAW files at the end). Hopefully any future “Pro” model will be an improvement on this...