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Video: One man’s quest to watercool a Canon R5 into an 8K video powerhouse: Digital Photography Review

This July, Canon released a media advisory clarifying the overheating concerns of early Canon EOS R5 and R6 users. After Lensrentals took apart the R5, we better understood the thermal constraints of the design. The camera is very tightly sealed, which is great when you want to keep water out, but not so great when you want heat to escape.

In its media release, Canon stated the approximate recording time for 8K 30p video with the R5 before the camera overheated is about 20 minutes. After letting the camera cool for 10 minutes, users can expect to record another 3 minutes of 8K footage before the camera overheats again. It’s a better, albeit similar, situation when recording 4K 60p and 4K 30p (8.2K oversampling) video. The feature set of the R5 and its performance is impressive, but in many settings, overheating is problematic.

Matt from the YouTube channel DIY Perks wanted to prevent his own Canon R5 from overheating, so he dismantled it and modified the camera’s internals. Should you feel inspired, it is worth pointing out the obvious. Dismantling your camera and modifying it will void your warranty and comes with significant risks. However, for the adventurous among you, you can see how Matt modified his camera in the video below.

Matt used some standard liquid cooling components you might find in a performance-oriented PC. He also installed thermal paste, which he believes is much better than the thermal pads that the R5 has between the main processors and a metal plate. To try to remove heat from the main processing area, he also installed copper, as it’s a good conductor of heat.

Matt used PC liquid cooling components to water cool his Canon R5. As you can see, it’s not a compact solution. However, it is remarkably effective, allowing for unlimited 8K recording times.

After making these mods, would the R5 record 8K video for longer than 20 minutes? No. Even though the camera was staying much cooler than it did before it was modified, it still shut down after 20 minutes of recording due to a timer-based heat management solution baked into the camera’s firmware.

Matt updated to a recent firmware version, which changes how the camera manages overheating, and tried the test again. This time, with firmware version 1.1.1 installed on the R5, the water-cooled R5 breezed past the 20 minute mark and Matt speculates that the camera should theoretically be able to record indefinitely. It’s worth noting that in certain situations, such as Matt’s testing area, the firmware update alone can increase 8K recording time limit. In this case, it added about six minutes of 8K recording time before overheating.

With custom-fabricated copper, the R5 becomes a much better high-end video camera.

Of course, the liquid cooling solution is not very practical or elegant. It requires tubing, a water reservoir, a pump, radiator and you must have the back of the R5 remain detached. Matt wanted to devise an improved heatsink solution and reassemble the camera completely.

Using copper, improved thermal paste, and thermal padding, he was able to get nearly 40 minutes of uninterrupted 8K recording, a significant improvement over the production camera. A five minute break allowed an additional half an hour of recording. This is a very impressive passive cooling solution and a big step up over an unmodified R5.

Combining modified internal components with copper heatsinks and an external heatsink results in unlimited recording time. It adds bulk to the camera, but the rear heatsink is removable, allowing the camera to retain its original form factor.

If you require even longer record times, coupling the passive cooling modification with a copper heatsink mounted to the back of the camera does the trick. While a heatsink adds bulk, it is also easily removed when not needed, quickly returning the camera to its original form factor. Matt also designed a 3D-printable base for the camera that includes room for a fan and batteries. The base works in tandem with the internal copper plate modification. The files for the base have not been uploaded yet, but the link will be added to the video’s description when available. To view more videos from DIY Perks, click here.

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