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Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R

Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R
Review / 03/24/2016
Author: Photoleet avatarPhotoleet
recommendations 1, rating 4





After many years of longing on the part of loyal owners of Nikon cameras, the company quite unexpectedly introduced the D800, a model that, at the time, not just outstripped the then resolution leaders among 35mm DSLRs, but it set the standard so high that the majority considered such an act completely useless. In months to come, owners of Canon cameras have been impatiently waiting for their favorite company to reply in an adequate fashion and once again take over the leading position – the position that it kept for so long and that was jeopardized when Nikon introduced the D3X. Some have done this as pure fans, while others because of practical needs.

However, despite the fact that the expectations of Canon cameras owners were justified up to a point, they were taken aback when the company released the 5D Mark III, a new camera whose conception differed significantly from everything that Canon’s 5D series had offered until that point. In fact, it was a relatively modest collection of electronic subsystems, whose trump card was and still is the sensor, i.e. its resolution and the quality of its output. The situation changed overnight as Canon managed to reply to some original demands of its users, yet, somewhat paradoxically, at the wrong time, so it launched the camera that provided everything that had ailed all the then followers of the well-known 5. The new camera was of stronger built, it had been sealed more properly, its speed of work had increased, a completely new AF system was introduced with it, a number of other subsystems had been improved, and the camera as a whole was rounded off in such a way as to deserve respect. However, at the wrong time – when the users had long forgotten about their demands.

Such a sequence of events would be worthy even of Latin American soap operas, if this were not reality. And so, over the previous years, Nikon has managed to defeat its biggest rival on almost all fronts. However, Canon held out and managed to keep its army of users faithful, even easier than anyone could imagine. Better late than ever, a saying that was not coined without reason, perhaps illustrates best the denouement of the resolution race between (now) three rivals, which, however, stagnates a bit at the moment. This year, Canon has finally managed to catch up with the others and introduce a couple of really new sensors. It would not be completely honest if we said that their accomplishment is moderate, but in many aspects it does not actually match rival products. Still, we could say that there is a feeling in the air that the whole range of these promotions was forced more because of the need to appease the support base than to achieve some serious technological progress.

That is how the Canon EOS 5DS was produced, a camera that is a true representation of what, according to many, the 5D Mark III should have been. The camera of higher rank, of great reliability, not so much great speed, but with the resolution that takes everyone’s breath away. The camera that is rarely swapped for a new one, as it was made to be exploited as long as it works properly. And perhaps most importantly – the camera that is NOT conceived of as the successor of the EOS 5D Mark III, yet as a parallel model in this gamut! Many members of the public justifiably wonder where this suggestive label came from, but there is no clear-cut answer – the Canon management obviously do not want to use yet another one-digit number for fear that the number might confuse buyers as to how the new model has been positioned in Canon’s hierarchy. As if adding letters to the already existing labels is not confusing enough.

Like in many spheres of technology, in photography technology, too, some actions are forced without a pressing need, just to show the rival and the public that one can do even better than the best. Such a trend often provokes mutual plagiarism of used solutions, so it is no wonder that we can often spot too similar technology with different manufacturers. When releasing the D800, Nikon introduced the subversion D800E along with it. It was specific because, instead a completely removed AA filter, it offered a special version of a self-resetting one, by means of which a similar effect to the removed AA filter was achieved. Thus, along with the EOS 5DS, Canon also introduced the somewhat more expensive 5DS R, which is practically an identical model, with the said modification of the sensor filter. The decision to do this points to two things: irresolution as to whether to completely remove the AA filter or not (in order to get even greater clarity), but also a certain level of misgiving about the AA filter annulling the power that the mammoth 50MP can offer in theory. That is why we have two versions, obviously out of the same reasons that Nikon offered the D800 and D800E at the time – to enable potential users to play it safe (5DS) or to risk with moire, if this does not affect their shooting technique too much. In a way – something for everyone.





Even if we know right from the start that mutual differences between the 5DS and 5DS R, if we leave out the sensor, are virtually none, we will nonetheless present their properties in a table with the aim of soothing those who fear that opting for the slightly more affordable 5DS would deprive them of some hidden capabilities:


Technical characteristics: Canon EOS 5DS in comparison to 5DS R


The resolution offered by the new sensor by far surpasses the one brought by the D800, and confirmed by the D810. The only question is at the expense of what, as the D800, too, presented us with some problems that are almost unknown with average cameras. As we can see from the above, the only thing that makes the two cameras different is the sensor filter. The situation is practically identical like in the case of the D800 and the D800E, except that the manufacturer is different. From the perspective of other cameras, the Canon EOS 5DS has got plenty to offer – a recently introduced modern light metering system, an already known, but top-notch autofocus system, better sealing, an exceptional viewfinder, etc., but the top place on the list of the most striking innovations is definitely held by the sensor. 50MP of pure resolution is really a lot. Even too much for the majority. Precisely because of that it will be interesting to determine to what extent all those pixels are usable, since the idea that too much of something can only bring benefit does not apply equally to resolution. While, at one moment, it can be a blessing, it can turn out to be an insurmountable obstacle on some other occasion. The expression the golden mean was not coined without reason. As it can be assumed on the basis of the ISO range, it seems that the golden mean is not something that this Canon FF DSLR is characteristic of. The story is going to unravel later on…




The typical Canon package has been modified for the needs of the new camera. The cold grey base gave way to a champagne-gold one, and we are not sure if this means a complete redesign of the package or this is just something that should make the 5DS different in relation to other cameras being offered. Anyway, the package is identical no matter which version of the camera you may choose, and the camera comes only body-only:


Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R, the content of the body-only package


Aside from the camera and a body cap, the package also contains: an LP-E6N Li-Ion battery with a protective cover, an LC-E6 battery charger (i.e. an LC-E6E version with a cable, as in the picture), a wide shoulder strap, a USB 3.0 cable and a carrier for it, a printed basic manual, and two DVDs, one of which contains the accompanying software, while the other consists of instructions for the camera and applications in the electronic form. The accompanying software comes in two versions – Windows and MacOS – while in addition to the well-known Digital Photo Professional RAW convertor, it also contains the EOS Utility tool for controlling the camera via a cable or wirelessly, as well as transferring files to a computer. There are also Picture Style Editor, which is used to adjust color styles, and Image Browser EX, for viewing and cataloging images.