Canon’s EOS R-series cameras, such as the R5, R6, and R6 Mark II, are excellent mirrorless cameras and rival the best available in their respective price ranges. However, since Canon launched its first full-frame mirrorless camera, the original EOS R, in 2018, users have complained about chronically loose hot shoes.
PetaPixel was made aware of a discussion among photographers about “wobbly hotshoe mounts” on Canon EOS R5 and R6 cameras which piqued our curiosity.
In short order, what first appeared to be an odd, seemingly isolated incident, rapidly spiraled into an expansive web of reports, complaints, and concerns spread across all corners of the internet. There are so many reports of EOS R-series cameras having wobbly hot shoes that it is genuinely surprising that it has not come up on PetaPixel before.
There are multiple videos with thousands of views about fixing the issue without sending a camera in for repair, which can be costly without warranty coverage or being enrolled in Canon’s impressive CPS program.
Something immediately concerning when watching any of the four DIY repair videos above is that photographers must open their cameras to fix the issue. Before explaining “why” that is, it is critical to note that users should not open their cameras if they are under warranty, as this type of repair will violate warranty coverage.
With that disclaimer out of the way, why must people open their R5 and R6 cameras to tighten loose hot shoes? While Canon has been improving its hot shoe in terms of functionality and performance, the company also made a fundamental design change when moving to the EOS R system. Canon moved the screw seating from the top of the camera to inside the underside.
While people with wobbling, loose hot shoes could previously tighten the screws themselves with a simple tool and minimal risk of breaking the camera or violating a warranty, that is no longer possible with Canon’s recent mirrorless camera bodies.
“My R6 is away on extended warranty with Mack for a loose hot shoe,” writes a Reddit user on r/canon. “There are four tiny screws from the inside of the camera that come off. It has to be completely disassembled.”
In that same Reddit post, someone says they experienced the issue on their R5. It was fixed for free under warranty, but they said that the repair would have cost them $600 CAD.
A separate Reddit user had their loose hot shoe fixed outside of warranty and paid $189.
Again, while tempting to try to avoid repair charges, this is probably not an issue that users should attempt to fix on their own, at least not without understanding the risks. One Redditor tried to fix their hot shoe issue and ended up breaking a ribbon cable inside their R5, rendering it unusable.
Instead of paying @CanonUSA $500 to fix the hot shoe on my R5 that fell off in July, I fixed it myself. The R5 hot shoe problem is so common there are numerous DIY @YouTube tutorials showing how to fix it.
It was a $4000 risk to save $500, but it paid off.
— Susan Lloyd Photography (@parkers_tiger) March 18, 2023
It should be noted that loose hot shoes are not a new phenomenon. It is something that journalists and event photographers, or anyone who regularly uses the hot shoe, have dealt with to varying degrees for a long time. The problem, and the reason why there are so many people talking about the R5 and R6 online, is that Canon has taken the solution to this uncommon, but not wholly unique, camera maintenance issue out of the hands of its users.
There is even a Change.org petition started in 2021 by John Winters that has more than 1,500 signatures.
“Canon has changed the design of the hot shoe on at least their R5 and R6 camera models. Over a very short period of time (18 months or less from the purchase date) the hot shoe becomes incredibly loose, causing attached flashes to wobble, loose contact with the hot shoe, and eventually completely fall off the body of the camera,” writes Winters.
He continues, “We in the photo community have been sharing our experience with this problem for the last few months, and believe that this is a product defect that should be addressed.”
PetaPixel reached out to Canon ahead of publication, but the company’s current stance is “No comment.” PetaPixel will update this article if that changes.
If Canon employees keep an eye on Canon’s official community forums, there is little doubt that the company has heard about the issue. There are multiple posts (1, 2, 3, 4) there lamenting the problem.
One user writes, “Has anyone else had trouble with the hot shoe coming loose on your R5? I have had my R5 less than a year and had to send it in to Canon, and they want $450 to fix it!!! I’m so upset, and this makes me want to switch to Nikon, for not standing behind their very expensive Camera. Just wondering if anyone else has had this issue?”
Multiple respondents say that they have also had that issue, with one saying that a local Canon reseller fixed the issue for free.
Another Canon forum user writes, “I own a Canon R6. I love it. Durning my photoshoot today, my flashes were misfiring. I noticed my hot shoe was loose. I started to look up solutions and found that this is a ongoing problem with some canon DSLR cameras. I also found that in the R line they have changed the design which renders the users unable to easily fix the issue. Without a hot shoe, I won’t be able to fully use the camera. I reach out to tech support. They refuse to acknowledge that this is a problem with the R6 and R5. This cost $400 dollars to fix. What guarantee do I have that this won’t happen again in another 18 months? These are supposed to be top-of-the-line cameras for Canon. Canon please acknowledge that this is a problem. Please come up with an alternative solution to your clients having to spend $400 every year to use a basic function of the camera.”
In another post, a photographer asked if they should apply Loctite externally to their EOS R5, having experienced a failed hot shoe with their EOS R camera.
“Through Canon support we would not recommend adding Loctite on the hot shoe. Modifications to the camera typically are not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and it it gets further into the camera it could cause internal damage. If a hot shoe becomes loose we would recommend sending the camera in to the factory service center for repair as you did in this case,” replies a Canon Product Expert.
The expert then adds, “To help reduce damage to the hot shoe we would recommend making sure the flash in is firmly attached to reduce movement as you use the camera. When you are transporting the camera or storing it we would recommend taking the flash out of the hot shoe. That will help reduce stress on the hot shoe.” The Product Expert also recommends that people provide feedback to Canon if they experience issues with Canon’s products.
It is not clear if “Product Experts” on Canon’s forums are employees of Canon or are just moderators that are unpaid volunteers.
There are also posts about the topic on DPReview’s forums, including this post and this more recent one from last month. In the newer post, a Canon R5 owner asks, “Was I not supposed to use a flash on it?” The photographer then adds that Canon is charging him $500 for the repair.
Another popular online photography forum, Fred Miranda, has posts about the topic. One user even had the bad luck to experience the same issue on both of their Canon R6 cameras.
@CanonUSA I’m a pro wedding photographer (30 years). I want to buy 4 new bodies (R5 or R6), but I won’t until your flawed hot shoe design is fixed (screws on the inside). I won’t even consider it. FIX IT, or lose the business of every Canon pro out there. #hotshoegate
— Kevin Barre (@KevinBarre) February 11, 2022
It is vital to put the issue into context. While there are many reports of Canon R-series cameras owners having problems with loose hot shoes, many signatures on the Change.org petition, and numerous YouTube tutorials to help people fix loose hot shoes at home, there is undoubtedly a vast number of EOS R users who have not had any issues with their R5, R6, or other Canon mirrorless cameras.
After all, PetaPixel had not heard about this issue until today, and everyone on the team pays close attention to the happenings in the photo industry. Some writers even own and use Canon R5 and R6 cameras themselves for years without problems.
While it is impossible to know the full scope of the issue, it is very easy to understand that preventing users from tightening hot shoe mount screws from the top of the camera is a bizarre choice that has ultimately inconvenienced some owners and even put some Canon shooters out hundreds of dollars. Despite Canon’s cameras, including the R5 and R6, being very good, the hot shoe design is unfriendly to photographers.
Image credits: John Winters via Change.org