Introducing The Canon EOS 5DS & EOS 5DS R

Last week I had the good fortune to be invited by Canon UK to visit them at their head office in Surrey to get a sneak preview of their new Canon EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras.

Having had the opportunity to try the camera out and take a look at the new features, I can tell you definitively that it’s not a direct replacement for the EOS 5D Mark III, but it will sit comfortably between the 5D Mark III and the EOS 1D X price wise.

On first impressions you think you are holding a EOS 5D as it shares a lot of similarities with this camera including the body shell, 61-point AF and weather sealing. Plus existing users will also be pleased to hear they can use the same BG-E11 battery grip on the new EOS 5DS & EOS 5DS R, which is a consideration.


However, when you start to look further into the camera spec you start to see what Canon’s goals are for this camera.  The headline is the sensor size, at 50MP it is the largest 35mm full frame SLR on the market and is really starting to encroach on the medium format resolution from Mamiya Leaf, Phase One and Hasselblad, be it with a smaller overall sensor size.

To be able to handle the vast amount of data this camera is going to produce, it’s going to need a decent processor and Canon have installed the high performance dual DIGIC 6 processors and replaced the USB2.0 on the 5D Mark II with a much needed USB3.0 output, the only trade off for this is that you lose the headphone socket.  While this is a bit of a loss for anyone wanting to shoot video I think the EOS  5D Mark III, the recently launched EOS 7D Mark II or indeed the new Cinema EOS C100 Mark II will be much more suited to this task, which brings us to the point of who Canon are aiming this camera at.

While it can shoot at up to 5fps I think we will see it used more likely in the studio environment, giving photographers a wider scope for selling images into the advertising market and for landscape photographers, who with the EOS 5DS R in particular will appreciate the low-pass cancellation filter that maximises the sharpness of the camera’s sensor.  The ISO range again reflects this going from 100-6400 ISO with the option to extend to 12800.

A few of the new features that really grabbed my attention were the time-lapse movie mode, which allows shooting intervals between 1 sec. to 99 hr. 59min. 59 seconds and a sequence of images between 2 and 3600 shots, up to 2min. 24sec, and produces a full 1080p .mov file, so the finished sequence is ready to go. Also of note is the capability of being able to customise the quick menu screen by changing the size and position of the icons so you can have all your favourite setting to hand quickly. The dual CompactFlash and SD memory card slots enable you to automatically back up your files as you shoot.


There are a few things you may want to think about if you’re contemplating purchasing this camera.  You may want to consider if your lenses will be up to the job, over the last few years Canon have upgraded many of their lenses like the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L Mark II USM and the brand new EF 11-24mm f/4L USM, but anyone using older lenses should think about upgrading to newer glass as 50MP is going to pull every last bit of detail out of the lens. I‘ve seen this in medium format with the latest sensors at 60MP and 80MP, you can’t just put a thirty year old lens designed for film on this sort of camera and expect to get the best results.

Another subject to think about with the EOS 5DS and 5DS R range is Hard Drive storage. RAW files will be in the region of 70Mb and finished TIFs at about 150Mb, then start adding layers to PSD in Photoshop and you’ve soon got a large amount of data to file away. You’re really going to need to start looking at a professional RAID storage option as a 1TB/2TB Hard Drive is starting to look quite small for all this data and you will need the speed to move it around.

As a long term Canon user myself, I’m delighted to see Canon showing everyone they are very much back in the game and I think Canon are on to a real winner with this camera.


Andy Johnson
Calumet Photographic

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