Extreme DIY: Watercooling the Canon EOS R5 This is how the R5 should have been build in the first place (no, not the watercooling part)

Matthew Perks runs one of our favorite DIY channels on Youtube called DIY Perks. In this video, he takes a very extreme approach to cooling down his Canon EOS R5 camera and on the way shows just how bad Canon handled this whole issue with the camera.

Perks decided to put his brand new EOS R5 on the line and try and solve the overheating issue in his own unique DIY way.

Before we go into what he did and why we think that it shows again how bad Canon did with this camera when it comes to overheating (especially when it performs so well in almost any other way), we have to mention that we looked at the overheating issue of the EOS R5 (and to some degree the EOS R6) several times before when it unfolded after the release of the camera (see EOS R5 announcment for general info, and this article, this article, and this article). We also covered the new firmware update and how it improved the overheating issue somewhat.

As for Perks. he decided to prove that the R5 can shoot continuously at 8K and boy did he do it. First, he disassembled the camera and tested the overheating area (around the processor). He found that Canon used inferior metal instead of copper and poor thermal pads with low heat-conducting abilities placed in the wrong way and didn’t consider heat dissipation out of the body in general, basically just did everything wrong when it comes to heat dissipation on the R5.

Perks solution – first show that that camera could be cooled down using a compact water-cooling solution which significantly decreased the processor temperature (from around 83C to well below 30C). The original firmware though still showed overheating (more on this below) and so Perks updated to the new firmware which allowed him to shoot 8K continuously with his water-cooling solution.

This is all nice and well but using a water-cooling solution like that is not really realistic so Perks made a DIY thermal solution from copper with good thermal paste and the second piece of copper that touches the part behind the monitor and can be cooled down by a small fan behind the screen (if you think about the Tilta active cage you get some points here). Just remember that a fan on its own will do very little without the DIY solution Perks made inside the body to prevent the heat from trapping inside.

Finally, Perks printed a small grip with an active old laptop fan that blows air behind the screen of the camera cooling it down and allowing it to run for many hours without overheating (just like Canon should have made it in the first place).

We have said it once and we will say it again, the EOS R5 overheating issue was (and still is) in our opinion one of the biggest flops in the camera industry in many years (it is a much bigger fail than Nikon’s dirt on the D600 debacle from 2012 in our view), and although Canon can claim that legally she had done nothing wrong (we are not lawyers but that is probably true), in the court of public opinion this doesn’t matter.

Here is why we think Canon really missed this one on all fronts (some of it directly due to what you can see in Perk’s video above):

  • Camera design – Perks showed it clearly that the design of the camera when it comes to heat dissipation is atrocious. Using a powerful processor capable of recording FF 8K video and locking all the heat inside is just wrong and you don’t need to be a hardware engineer to understand this. This camera needed some sort of way of removing the heat from the processor and moving it into a large external surface and he showed how this could be done very easily with basic tools. More importantly, his suggestion that this improvement could have been accommodated by an add-on unit that will actively remove the heat from the camera proves that Canon really didn’t think this whole matter through or worse – deliberately choose not to allow the camera to handle the heat and prevented it from recording 8K (and high quality 4K) for a significant amount of time.
  • Materials and build – Compared to what we have seen from Canon’s use of materials in the past the use of thermal pads and the way there were placed on top of the overheating processor are inexcusable. Although copper would have made the camera a bit more expensive given what Canon certainly knew about the processor, using it seems like the logical choice, and as Perks showed, Canon again choose to through logic out the window and go for the cheaper and less heat-conducting option.
  • Firmware – This we already know. Canon decided deliberately to shut down the camera after a specific time (it is a bit more complex but the “algorithm” they used is not based on the direct temperature measurement of the heat coming from the processor – another design failure. The new firmware at least allows the camera to continue working if it doesn’t overheat (which is what gave Perks the option to use his cooling add on and run the camera and record 8K for 4 hours straight), but in many respects, it is too little (and for some who got a different camera also too late) and just emphasizes what Canon should have done in the first place.
  • PR and customer care – More than anything this whole thing is just a PR nightmare which Canon’s representatives are certainly trying to put behind them as quickly as they can and move on. Canon really handled things very purely here. It didn’t recognize that this is an actual issue to begin with (sticking to “we told you it can only run for 20 or so min, so what do you want…”), and eventually quietly releasing the firmware which changed the whole way the camera test for overheating without really saying anything about this publicly.  Should the company come clean and admit it was wrong? Should it needed to recall the initial cameras, make some necessary hardware changes, and re-release the camera? It’s hard to say but as customers, this is not what we could like to see from a leading camera manufacturer when it comes to the release of a flagship model.

If you are into DIY you can also check out many more interesting DIY photography projects here on LensVid. If you want to check out all of Perks other videos here on LensVid – check out this page.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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