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Hack the Canon R5 for Nearly Unlimited 4K Recording

Jourdan Aldredge

Here’s how you can use an Atomos Ninja V to “hack” a Canon R5 for nearly unlimited 4K video recording. Watch the tutorial for these easy-to-follow steps.

So, as we’ve covered in our initial release review, the new Canon R5 camera is quite an enigma. It certainly makes headlines with its 8K RAW video recording capabilities, and its relatively low price, keeping it competitive with other DSLR and mirrorless options outside of its cinema camera alternatives. It also comes with quite a bit of controversy and questions as to if it’s truly going to be able to function as a reliable, everyday video camera for most filmmakers and video professionals.

However, thanks to one crafty YouTube channel — No Life — we do have one breakthrough in terms of how the Canon R5 can be combined with the Atomos Ninja V for “nearly unlimited” high-quality 4K video recording. For certain video professionals, this is a huge development, as some of the major issues so far reported with the R5 have had to do with both recording times and overheating — issues which this setup can actually resolve.

So, if you’re still on the fence about investing in the Canon R5, or looking for some crafty ways to shoot longform video content at high quality, here’s how you can achieve this with the powerful Canon R5 and an Atomos Ninja V.

Attaching the Atomos Ninja V

Attaching the Atomos Ninja V

Attaching the Atomos Ninja V to the Canon R5. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

So, the first step is pretty straightforward. You’re just going to need to get your Atomos Ninja V attached and set up to connect with your Canon R5 camera. This is exactly the type of setup that the Ninja V is designed for. It should be a simple step to slide and lock it into the mount built into the R5. The Ninja V has a ball head design that swivels around so you can face it any direction you’d like. Also, he doesn’t really address this in the video, but you’ll want to make sure that you have your AtomX SSDmini (with current options for 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB) which is designed to best fit in the Ninja V and for optimal longform recording.

Create Unlimited Power (and Avoid Overheating)

Choosing the Right Battery: Standard Camera Battery

Choosing the right battery will make a huge difference in creating unlimited power. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

Since we’re focusing on creating “nearly unlimited” recording capabilities, the first issue we need to address with the Canon R5 is creating unlimited power. As you can see in the video, you have two options. The first is to use a standard camera battery (in the video he uses a Sony NP-F750) which will have limits. The second option is to use a dummy battery adapter, which you can connect to an AC wall outlet. This second option unlocks continuous power for the Ninja V and is your best option for shooting longform without ever needing to change or charge batteries.

Choosing the Right Battery: Dummy Battery

Choosing the dummy battery will provide continuous power to the Ninja V. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

From there, we see how to get everything plugged in and synced up so that you can record directly to the Ninja V through the R5. Make sure you’re recording your audio directly into the Ninja V too so that you can keep all your levels and controls together. We also go into powering the R5, where I’d recommend a similar approach as the above method for truly unlimited shooting capabilities. However, if you aren’t near wall outlets, regular batteries will work for both the R5 and the Ninja V. In that case you may need to pack plenty of extras for switching out, depending on how much coverage you be need.

The end of this section covers the importance of removing your CFast Express cards and SD cards to ensure that your Canon R5 will record directly to the Ninja V and not internally. (This will also help remind you and keep you from accidentally changing the settings by mistake mid-shoot.)

Recording Settings for 4K HQ

Settings: Movie Rec Quality

You can enable the 4K HQ in the Movie rec quality settings. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

Now, moving on to the recording settings. The trick to making this whole thing work is to shoot in 4K HQ, which is the best setting for getting the highest quality video from the R5 in a longform setting. Yes, the R5 can shoot some beautiful 8K, but it’ll only work for projects where you’re able to shoot in short bits, as the issues of recording size and overheating will trip you up.

First go into your Menu and find the Movie rec quality settings to enable the 4K HQ, as you can see above.

You can then choose your recording size for whatever frame rate and quality that you’d like, as long as it’s the same 4K option. You can see the options he chose in the video in the screenshot below.

Settings: Choose Recording Size

Now you can choose your recording size for the frame rate and quality of your video. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

He also goes over his preferred recording options — his recommendations for sound controls, color space settings and profile selections, characteristics, etc. Feel free to also experiment and find the right settings for your style preferences and project needs.

Critical HDMI Display Options

Options: HDMI Display

You’ll need to choose the HDMI display option for this to work. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

Before we go any further, this is the most important step of this “hack” process. Even with some new firmware updates, the Canon R5 is still working through a few bugs and it looks like if you don’t follow this exact procedure, this whole process won’t work. It’s a bit of a shame as you’d probably want to not bother wasting energy and heat by having both the displays going at once, but the only way to make this work is to choose the HDMI Display option for both the R5 and the Ninja V, at the same time. You must choose this option!

You’ll need to turn off the overheat controls, which sounds counterproductive. But, it’s the only way to truly unlock this “nearly unlimited” recording capability.

Optimal Output and Camera Settings

Recommended Input Settings

Make sure you’re recording through the Ninja V, not the Canon R5. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

Finally, we get to go through all the great options and settings you’ll have once you’re working within the Ninja V. The most important part of this process is to make sure you’re recording through the Ninja V and not accidentally still through the R5 (taking out those cards earlier will help remind you to do this). Check out all of his recommended Input settings in the image above, as well as his Output settings in the image below.

Recommended Output Settings

Here are the recommended output settings. Image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

Again, these are options that you can tinker around with — especially the different LUT recording selections and compression options. From here on out, you should be able to fully customize your setup for whatever your project needs are, as you’ll have the ability to record some astounding high-quality 4K footage for a nearly unlimited amount of time.

For more camera hacks and advice, check out these articles below.

Cover image by No Life Digital via YouTube.

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