Designed for Detail: The Canon EOS 5DS & 5DS R DSLRs

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The ultimate in resolution for full-frame DSLRs: this is what Canon’s latest 50-megapixel 5DS and 5DS R offer users. These cameras take a huge leap forward in resolution for the legendary 5D series and, when one looks at the files, they are impressively sharp and detailed. I was also able to observe the main differences between the two models and zoom almost endlessly into those images. It was a fun experience, and anyone looking for maximum resolution and detail will not have to search for much longer.

To Low-Pass or Not to Low-Pass



5DS


5DS R

Most DSLRs, including the 5DS, use a low-pass filter to eliminate false colors and moiré that is created when shooting fine repeating effects or patterns, such as bricks or clothing in small check or hound’s-tooth print, for example. This filter works by splitting the point of light both horizontally and vertically before it reaches the sensor. The 5DS R implements a different filter array, which recombines the light back into a single point, meaning that light reaches the sensor as if it had never been altered, resulting in the highest possible resolution and sharpness.



5DS: Moiré


5DS R: Moiré

This can result in increased moiré, as you can see here. On the left is the 5DS, which still creates a bit of moiré in incredibly difficult situations but when compared to the 5DS R on the right, it handles it a bit better. Another thing to look out for is the increase in sharpness of the 5DS R’s image.



5DS: Sharpness


5DS R: Sharpness

While many users may see the higher sharpness and resolution as a benefit, the increased risk of spatial aliasing, moiré, and color shift is much higher. This makes the 5DS R much better for users who have complete control over their scene, require the highest resolution possible, and/or have time to spend working on images during post processing, while the 5DS will work for most environments without issue.



Taken with the 5DS R

Frankly—and this is from using the camera—I found that it is difficult to get either camera to create moiré. I photographed most of the usual culprits and found that by the time I zoomed in all the way, you can see every thread and every brick, although I did see some moiré in several cityscapes containing distant brick buildings, shot with the 5DS R. Every one of the 5DS images were clean, proving that the 5DS R is more prone to experiencing moiré. Whether the extra resolution is worth it to you is the real choice.

Upgraded Design and Detail-Oriented Features

Moving into the ultra-high-megapixel arena brings with it some new challenges. One such challenge is mirror and shutter shake, which has been counteracted with an advanced mirror-control mechanism and a user-selectable shutter release time delay for mirror lockup. This mechanism uses a Mirror Vibration Control system, which drives the mirror with a precise motor and cams, as opposed to the springs found in conventional DSLRs. This suppresses the impact of the mirror and limits its effects on the image. And it does make a difference. When shooting, I felt an exceptionally smooth shutter release, and as a side benefit, it also seemed to be much quieter than other cameras. In addition to this, the base plate and tripod socket have been fortified to reduce vibrations and make sure that your equipment is secure.



Taken with the 5DS

Canon has implemented a new Fine Detail picture style, which offers much greater control over the sharpening of each photo, in addition to creating slightly more vivid colors and more well-defined edges. It adds options for Strength, Fineness, and Threshold for dialing-in the sharpening for each subject. It is important to note that while RAW files are not directly affected, it will make a difference in the final output of JPEGs and in the preview on the rear LCD.

Image Quality





A garden-fresh​ salad captured with the 5DS R

Let’s just say right off the bat that the resolution is higher than anything you have ever seen from a full-frame DSLR. The 50-megapixel CMOS sensor creates files with dimensions of 8688 x 5792 pixels, allowing users to print truly large photographs without needing any interpolation. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of shooting is discovering how far you can zoom into your shots, and then counting the iterations on your bagel's poppy seeds—which is totally possible.




 
100% Crop

When your subject or scene is lit well, these cameras really shine. Take note of the “when lit well” phrase here. These are not cameras for going out at night and bumping up the ISO to compensate. The first indicator is the more limited ISO range, compared to its sibling, the 5D Mark III. Also, as we have come to expect, smaller pixels generally result in more noise. When shooting at the base ISO of 100 and up to 400 and even 800, the images are superb.



Taken with the 5DS R

Even when pushing the limits of sensitivity, it is impressive how well the 5DS and 5DS R control the noise levels, though this does come with the loss of effective resolution. Users may be able to get a bit more out of the sensitivity if the files are not meant to be blown up or shown at full resolution on a computer. By down-sampling the images, you will get back some of the sharpness lost and simultaneously eliminate some noise. In the end, I wouldn’t advise pushing the noise because, at the very least, you are losing some detail, that detail being the real purpose of these cameras.



100% Crop

Another common concern of the high-res sensor is the dynamic range. In my test of the bodies, I never found this to be an issue. If anything, when I put these photos through Photoshop, I noticed more dynamic range than older Canon cameras I have used. This is, no doubt, in part due to the Dual DIGIC 6 processors. Especially at ISO 100, you can push shadows dramatically without introducing noise to the scene. Here is an example of a shot with a bright highlight and dark shadow, both before and after. Digital does still suffer from the blown-out highlights long before your shadows have been lost.


Before

After

Now, comparing the two cameras side by side, I did find the 5DS R to provide a very slight, but noticeable, improvement when it came to sharpness. So users looking for maximum detail will definitely be better served with the “R” model.

Use and Handling

No surprises here. The body is practically the same as the 5D Mark III and handles in pretty much the same manner. The real updates come from the software side of things, and there are many.



A slice of creamy cheesecake taken with the 5DS

One of the best-implemented features is the crop modes. Since you are starting with 50 megapixels, cropping a bit (or a lot) will still give you excellent resolution. This is seen with the 1.3x (30MP) and 1.6x (19MP) settings available. Framing is also handled well, with the viewfinder automatically darkening the edges of the scene that are no longer included in the shot. There is a 1:1 setting that will allow users to set up shots very easily for square formats, or Instagram, without needing Live View or tethered capture.



Taken with the 5DS R

Another benefit of these crop modes is better leverage of the autofocus system. When cropping, the 61-point system begins to fill the frame more and more, reaching almost complete coverage at 1.6x. This makes shooting action and other fast-moving subjects much more responsive and accurate.

The 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor also works wonderfully with accurate metering across the scene. I never had any issues with the camera becoming confused by very contrasty scenes. Also, when I put up an LED light I knew had flicker issues, I instantly got the readout in the viewfinder to tell me so. This Anti-Flicker Compensation setting will also delay the shutter in order to produce an image unaffected by the flicker of the light source.



The 5DS R shows that life is just a bowl of cherries.

Much appreciated is the Quick Control Function Screen, which can be set up on your rear LCD. This screen shows you all of your settings and can now be programmed with nearly anything you want, wherever you want it. Combined with the My Menu screen, which can be set up with multiple tabs now, finding your most used settings should be a piece of cake.



White Priority AWB


Ambience Priority AWB

White balance received an update, as well, with a new “White Priority” Auto WB setting. This setting is different from the standard “Ambience Priority” mode in that it will further reduce the intensity of light from tungsten sources. This works nicely for users looking for a truly color-neutral image but, I found that for portraits, it can remove some of the red from the skin, resulting in a less pleasing image.

Shooting Style and Lenses

Shooting with the high-resolution sensor is going to be a new experience for most, and there are a few things I found that need to be kept in mind. This is a very demanding piece of gear. My usual run-and-gun shooting appeared to be detrimental to my final image quality, as it looked softer than I anticipated.  My usual 1/125- to 1/60-second shutter speed, with a 50mm lens, didn’t always seem to cut it. I rectified this by using a faster shutter speed or steadying myself. This is something to be expected since, when you have 50 megapixels, even the most minor movements can be detected.

Lenses and aperture choice did lead to another realization during my time with the cameras. Shooting wide open for a softer look was a little disappointing when I checked the photos later on. It’s not even that it was a necessarily different look than had I shot it in a lower resolution, but the fact that it is 50 megapixels made me hesitate when I was selecting apertures on my ultra-fast lenses later on.

The 5DS and 5DS R also work in the opposite way; they make some lenses really shine. For this review I was provided with the just-released EF 11-24mm f/4L USM from Canon. This lens is being marketed as a perfect pairing for the two cameras, and I can definitely agree there. Shooting wide open, this lens was impressively sharp, and for landscapes and cityscapes, the range is unbeatable by any other full-frame zoom lenses on the market. Also, I used my own EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens for a variety of food shots and was very happy with the results.

Interval Timer, Time Lapse, and Video

A welcome addition to Canon DSLRs is a built-in interval timer, allowing you to set an interval from 1 second to 99 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds, and set the number of shots from 1 to 99 or infinite. Time-lapse shooters will greatly appreciate having this system built in, as it no longer requires extra devices to keep powered and plugged into your camera. A time-lapse movie mode takes yet another step out of the equation with the automatic compiling of photos into a full HD video file.

Moving on to video features—this is not a video camera. Fifty-megapixel sensors are generally not well suited to creating 2-megapixel HD videos. On top of that, the camera is built and optimized for stills and lacks some more video-oriented features, such as a headphone jack. On that point, the images it creates are good. I didn’t have time to really put them to the test and see if the down-sampling will introduce some unpleasant moiré and aliasing but, for users just looking to shoot a quick video alongside their stills, they will not be disappointed.

Conclusion

Hybrid video and stills shooters will still be better served by the 5D Mark III, which is sticking around as part of the larger 5D family; the 5DS is not a replacement. Some photographers may even find a purpose for both in their gear bag, one for in the field and video, the other for studio or controlled environments. For users seeking maximum detail and who have a desire to print truly large images, the 5DS and 5DS R are at the top of the full-frame DSLR market.

Please note: The images in this article were taken with pre-production models.

Discussion 33

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Thanks for your Information! 

The difference in sharpness in the 100% size images comparing 5DS and 5DS R is greater than I would expect. The smearing in the 5DS images looks almost like camera shake or a lens issue. Were the comparative images taken with the same lens? The same example of the same lens, or simply the same model lens? Perhaps I'm misjudging because we're seeing very small details from extremely high-resolution images. Still, the difference between the two camera-and-lens combinations appears more than slight. 

Absolutely! My first though was camera shake or simply a defocussed shot. The difference between them is much greater than the comparison shot in the Amateur Photographer review. Something isn't right here.

In fact it's obvious from the headlights of the cars in the first detail shot that the 5Ds shot has vertical camera shake. B&H, please repeat this test using proper quality control!

Much thanks for the information and clarification between the two models.

I've only had my 5Ds for a few days, and I love it. I use it for bird photography, and the feather detail is amazing. Often even with the long lens(600mm + 1.4 extender), I have to crop out a small area to get a large portrait of the bird. This camera just keeps on allowing me to crop and enlarge with very sharp results. Shooting at ISO 400 yields very little noise, and this can be easily removed in post processing.The shutter is quieter and smoother than anything that I have previously used. Canon has a real winner.

In shooting birds like bald eagle, ospry, or herons have you had any problems with moire in repetitive feathers?

Thank you for a most informative article. I understand that Canon have "un-published" information regarding the resolving power of their lenses. One should consider pairing these bodies with Mk-II lenses to truly take advantage of the higher detail. (New 11-24, 24-70 Mk II and 70-200 Mk II). I was also pleased to see you tested the dynamic range as Canon do not publish these figures. (ie) Phase One has 14 stops of dynamic range, but costs around $45,000. Good work Canon. One would question carrying around a bulky medium format camera.

this is for photography not video. you're mixing your resolution knowledge there.

1) Try to print your digial photos with two different sizes of (one large and one small) pixel-count to a mural, you will arrive at the answer.

2) on computer screen (assuming 1080 monitor), keep enlarging a portion of the picture, (say to 500%) you will find pixelation of the image.  That is, there is not enough valid pixels in that small area to fill in that monitor screen.    For a higher pixel picture, you will be able to keep enlarging before you encounter pixelation.

3) Just think why the medium format cameras exist. Pentax 645Z has 51.4 MPixels and currently costs $8095 at B&H.  Hassblad has models at 40Mpixels over $10,000.   They are not naked emperors. 

4) iMac has a model with 5K Retina display, if you can afford it.     LG had the first 8K display last year in CES show.   As Kristoffe said, this has nothing to do with the video display.

Please remove your multiple postings.

JTY

Forgot to say that the above post was a respond to Terry J. Thomas's original post.  Somehow the editor put it in the wrong place.

JTY

Maybe you should spend some time learning how to post your comments just once instead of trying to discredit the effective photographic resolution of this camera by using video resolution comparison. Don't confuse the two.

How is anyone to be influenced with a 1080p monitor to look at 8.7 x5.7k electronic files?  I don't know ANYONE or ANYPLACE I can "see" this type of resolution.  It sounds a bit like magic 4k video...I see on Youtube... "See they all say, aint 4k jus' wonnerful...on your 1080p monitor..."  Just get a "feel" for how much "better" it will all be when you actually get a monitor that can reproduce 4k VIDEO

sounds alot like the Emperior's New Clothes... 

They make better monitors than a 1080

You must not know how to post or just a jerk posting over and over again (because some one said not to?)

I know your type

I thought the Dynamic Range review was really vague. I would like to know how it matches up to the older Nikon D810. Does it Surpass? Equal? Fall short?

As of this point Canon has not published any details on the dynamic range of the models, nor have any websites out there done any testing to deduce the range.  We'll unfortunately have to wait a bit for the cameras to be released in greater numbers so that we may start seeing feedback and tests.  I am sorry about that. 

I become a wedding photographer in India Kolkata 

Need more detailed review about the Camera Canon 5DS and R Both in terms of ISO performance and video Time Lapse Shooting 

I think that also to be discussed in testamonils by the experts of Canon as well B&H photo Video 

Regards

Ravi Tulsan 

+91 98300 93541 / 98318 93541

I have been using and testing the 5Ds for the past week.  As an ex-commercial/advertising photographer I consider this a studio camera.  You have to have a controlled environment to get the results expected from such a high resolution.  No question, it is a great piece of equipment, however my main complain is the noise when using the full 50 megapixels at 640 ISO or higher!  If I do take the camera outside, I find that shooting at medium Raw or 30 megapixels, reduces the noise 50 percent. At lower ISOs, like 100 or 200 is fine. Also the sharpening of the images in post has to be done carefully, it is easy to over sharpen. I don't understand why Canon puts video capabilities in such a high resolution camera, it only adds to the price and the possibility of more complications with the components. Overall I give it an A.

Terry J. Thomas

They make better monitors than a 1080

You must not know how to post or just a jerk posting over and over again (because some one said not to?)

I know your type

Since I am just trying to understand camera's and lens' were you stating that for shooting video (my interest) the better camera is 5D Mark III rather than these two?  I am just starting to learn to figure out a good camera and maybe 2 lens' to shoot some experimental film 

I've been shooting video with the 5D  MK III for a couple of years now (paired with a canon c100) the kit zoom lens 24-105 is great to shoot with. Another lens? I use a 200mm  for closer work. Both great lenses. Covers most bases. 

I agree with Tristan, the 5D Mk III would be a better choice for video, particularly due to its higher ISO with less noise at the higher ISO settings.  I'd LOVE to have a Canon C300 for "digital film", but can't justify the cost, and the 5D Mk III does a great job at HD.  (but I use Sony prosumer AX-100 for 4k video at present)

Below are some of my thoughts about shooting video with th 5D Mk III.

Lenses?  Most of my video is shot with the f4 24mm-105mm and the f2.8 70mm-200mm Mk II.  I use the f2.8 100mm IS for any macro work.

Focus when shooting video is MANUAL, so seriously consider getting a rail system upon which you can mount a shotgun mike, monitor (with peaking and false color exposure), focus pull or follow focus system, and external HDMI recorder.  Yeah, it weighs a ton, but you get much better results.  Oh, and use a monopod (or tripod) whenever possible so your arms don't give out.

I use an IKAM VK7i 7" monitor which has peaking and false color displays which I just plain can't shoot video without.  The peaking display shows in-focus edges in bright red while the rest of the image is monochrome.  Peaking allows those of us with "older eyes" to see what is and is not in focus, and rack focus successfully and spot on.  The false color display allows you to check exposure and make adjustments while shooting.  It takes a while to get use to the false color scheme, but once you get the knack of it you don't have exposure "guesses" as the light changes while shooting video at sunset or sunrise.  I love my IKAM VK7i when shooting video with my 5D Mk III.

If you are going to edit the video, seriously consider an HDMI recorder.  I had been shooting to 1000x CF card, but at the suggestion of a friend's son (a film school student who used to use 5D Mk II and now uses C300 Mk II) I borrowed his HDMI recorder and WOW!  What A Difference In Quality!  Basically, you cable HDMI from the left side of the 5D Mk III to the monitor and then on to the recorder.  Or you can cable from the camera to the recorder and then to the monitor.  With his recorder both approaches gave the same results.  For his film school projects he uses Davinci Resolve, and I'll probably convert to it very soon.

Focus puller is a BIG help when shooting video!  If shooting hand-held, you aren't twisting the lens as you focus, so the image tends to stay level while focusing compared to focusing with a lens twist.  Also, the **** is much easier on the wrist.

One nice thing about Canon L glass is that you can take your DSLR lenses with you when you move up to the Digital Cinema cameras, whether they are Canon Digital Cinema cameras (C100, C300, C500), or Black Magic, or even RED (way out of my price range).  So, buy good lenses!

Best of Luck!

Dear John 5Dmklll,

Thank you sooooooo much for this extremely helpful post - all the information is very helpful for someone trying to figure out the first purchase on something like this.  There is so much valuable information that I am copy/pasting it into my Evernote to have with me to refer to!  I can't thank you enough!  What are you shooting?  And yes - we shot our last film on a Red Scarlet and used Davinci to do color correction - I was NOT the DP nor the color correctionist - but we were thrilled with the result - and we had a 6 channel mixer - boom - and the camera had a mic for synching the edit. But that was a more substantial project.   However, for me just wanting to shoot some experimentals myself I would like something better than my teee heee - iphone 6......though I may do some on that for kicks too - I did buy lens' for it -  Thanks again!

Hello Tristan!  Thank you so much for this information - this is very helpful!  Many thanks! 

Thanks for the very informative article.  I currently own a 5D MK III but now I am totally convinced to get the 5DsR to add to my collection I instead of the 5Ds. I am an Architect and I plan to take a lot of structures of buildings (interior & exterior) in the future, both as a hobby and professionally.  The 5DsR seems perfect for the job and I am already familiar with the 5D.

Mahalo nui loa ("thank you very much" in Hawaiian).

Mike from Kailua, Oahu.

Hi Mike,  I am an architectural photographer using a 5DmkIII. I'm looking forward to your feedback upon using the 5DsR.  I've been considering the 5DsR for myself.  I'm somewhat concerned with moire. But after reading the above comments about the 5Dsr, it doesn't seem like one should be too concerned. It also seems as though the attributes outweigh the detriments! Looking forward to hearing more from you when start shooting with the 5DmkIII. Thanks for posting.

Thanks so much for the detailed information. 

I think it is time Canon did more research to increase the resolving power of lenses which could match the quality of the 50 megapixels. Of course, some of the present lenses are fantastic and I'm sure will make a good combination with 5DS, but I do look forward to seeing some great optics in days to come.

I was wondering why Canon released 5DS? Who would buy 5DS when 5DSR is available for the fraction of price increase? Who are their targeted customers for 5DS?

Ultimately the difference in the model selection comes down to the discipline of the photographer.  The 5DSr with the lack of the low pass filter will allow the camera to capture the maximum amount of sharpness and detail of its subjects, but at the expense of false colors and moiré.  Photographers selecting his camera want the ultimate possible sharpness for products, commercial work, landscape and architectural work where they have full control of the lighting and subject placement and camera angle etc and can afford to spend time correcting certain issues in post production.  Moiré  cannot be edited out using any software, so it takes more work during the shoot to ensure the shots are free from the phenomena. 

Other shooters (including some of the same types of work mentioned above) who may not have as critical a need for every bit of sharpness and contrast, but still want the ability to enlarge and or crop/zoom in on the image and maintain detail will opt for the 5DS.  The lack of any moiré issues gives them the ability to complete the job with less effort and concern about post production edit time. 

The images from the 5DS R have a very different color temperature to the images from the 5DS. Is this because you are shooting JPG's? Are you images as different as a RAW file?

Yes, the JPEGs do simply show a variation in measured white balance at the time the photo was taken. This is not unusual. The RAW files have the ability to be easily adjusted and should appear almost the same when adjusted to the same color temperature in a RAW converter.

Thank you for a very informative and well written review.  The sample pictures clarly show the differences between the two bodies.  Both are way beyond my skills or budget.  There's just a lot of good camera and technique info in the review.