As far as its exterior is concerned, the new camera is almost completely identical to the EOS 5D Mark III. Since according to the specifications the key difference is in the sensor and light metering system, this is not surprising at all:
The shape of the camera is very similar to the shape of the predecessor, with only a minimum redesign in the grip area. Its weight is 930 grams (including the battery), while its dimensions are 152 x 116 x 76 mm. This fact indicates that this camera is definitely not pocketable, but it is intended for long hours work, in combination with any lens category.
The rubber lining covers the greater part of the housing, and most of it is found on the grip, both from the front and the rear, where the thumb of the right hand rests. In this way, the camera fits comfortably and firmly in one’s hands, despite its weight. The structure of the housing is made of light magnesium alloy, while plastic was used only where it was necessary:
Magnesium body of the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R *
The EOS 7D Mark II, which was launched not so long ago, boasts significantly improved sealing in relation to its predecessor (as it said in the promotional material – 4x better than the previous generation). Unfortunately, the 5DS and 5DS R do not sport such a level of sealing, but it is said that it is definitely better than in the case of the 5D Mark III. Yet, as all manufacturers often avoid stating the sealing level on the IP scale (Ingress Protection Marking; according to the standard IEC60529) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code), claims about real sealing are always somehow speculative, even when there is a countless amount of evidence in their favor. On this account, one should be cautious, to say the least. Aside from the critical sealing points between plastic and magnesium, special attention was also dedicated to the buttons, which are covered with special silicone gaskets, thus dirt cannot pass, unless the camera is damaged severely or the pressure is higher than the atmospheric one. Let’s see how this looks like in a schematic diagram of the old EOS 5D Mark III, since their sealing points are on the same spots:
Schematic diagram of the sealed points on the Canonu EOS 5DS and 5DS R
(arrangement of the points is identical to the EOS 5D Mark III) *
The curtain mechanism did not mirror the robustness of the EOS 7D Mark II either, so it is still rated at somewhat fewer, yet still very high – 150,000 actuations. Of course, one should bear in mind that the rated life-time does not mean guarantee, so surprises, like in the case of other DSLRs, too, are possible in two directions – both negative and positive.
The mount is standard for a Canon 35mm body, which means that it is compatible with all EF lenses, but not with EF-S and EF-M ones.
SENSOR, PROCESSOR, AND A FEW MORE THINGS
In contrast to the 7D Mark II, where the sensor was one of the rare things that were not new, in the case of the 5DS and 5DS R, it is the other way around – precisely the sensor is one of the elements that are brand new.
It is a full-frame (35mm) CMOS sensor, whose dimensions are 36 x 24 mm, and the overall effective resolution is 50.3MP (more precisely, 8688 x 5792 pixels). The full-frame (FF) format means that the FOV (Field-Of-View) is 1.0x, which means that there is no crop factor. In other words, the lenses mounted on this camera have exactly the same focal length and projection width as it was intended to be for the given lens. On the eve of the introduction of the new DSLR, the internet was flooded with rumors that Canon could join the winning team and for the first time ever install somebody else’s, i.e. Sony’s sensor in its DSLR. This did not happen in the end, so Canon decided to carry on on its own, nonetheless.
Resolution race continues – 50MP 35mm Canon CMOS sensor *
Many were astounded by such a huge resolution leap, without an intermediate step between (for Canon) the highest 22MP and the current 50MP. By calculating, haters arrived at a conclusion that in relation to a crop factor the new FF sensor, in fact, represents an upgraded 20MP sensor from the 7D Mark II. And really, when you calculate the proportions, this turns out to be true. However, the resolution of the 7D Mark II was used only as a reference point of the pressure on optical performances of current lenses. The sensor definitely does not have anything to do with APS-C sensors, since the 7D Mark II also features the Dual Pixel technology, which marks a totally different architecture.
In any case, the resolution definitely has influence on some quality norms, so the information that the new camera features the base ISO range of only 100-6400 is quite striking; what is more, the lower software value (L) is still ISO 50, while the higher (H) is only ISO 12800, which is very modest for today’s standards. Therefore, this information points to some difficulties concerning the maintenance of low-light performances, and we will deal with this aspect in the practical part of the review.
The dual central processor has become a trademark of Canon’s high-end models, so it is no wonder that the same recipe was used in the case of the EOS 5DS (R) as well. The reasons are quite simple and, in principle, they are much more banal than all the previous ones – the very fact that in order to achieve 5 fps continuous shooting it is necessary to allow incredible 250MP of information in real time, i.e. almost 300MB per second, implies that otherwise is not possible. It is, of course, clear that the purpose of the Digic 6 processor is not only that, but also coordinating work of all the subsystems inside the camera; however, this is an interesting piece of information – very impressive.
Central processor – Canon Dual Digic 6 *
Cleaning the dust off the sensor has been entrusted to the technology labeled by Canon as EOS Cleaning System. This system consists of a piezoelectric element that vibrates, thus shaking off dust from the low-pass filter, and it is located in the chamber together with the sensor. The chamber is secured with a special anti-static coating and is grounded in the camera housing, which results in suppressing both stockpiling of static electricity, which appears owing to the charge generated by the sensor, and the friction of the shutter and mirror mechanisms. Unless adjusted otherwise, dusting is activated each time the camera is switched on or off. Additionally, it can be activated while using the camera, too, if one wishes so. The efficiency of this system of self-dusting has been proven over many years of use in cameras of all classes, and if there is any case that certain particles cannot be removed, it can be compensated for by using software ‘dusting’ (Dust Delete Data), which, in conjunction with the attached software, can help removing the remaining dust, by mapping it on a RAW image.
EOS Cleaning System – for efficient fight against dust on the sensor *
One of the things that the 5DS (R) took completely over from the EOS 7D Mark II, not changing even one little bit of it, is the light metering system. The new RGB+IR sensor is a regular TTL type (which means that it performs metering by ‘looking’ through the lens), and it consists of around 150,000 pixels that analyze the scene through separate RGB channels, but take also into account the infrared part of the spectrum, in order for metering to be as accurate as possible. In relation to the two-layer 63-zone system of metering, which used to be very advanced at the time, the new metering system is nothing but exceptional. 150,000 pixels (more precisely, 153,600) can perceive the scene with far greater accuracy, and in order for the entire process to speed up, the area where metering takes place has been divided into 252 zones, which are analyzed in parallel, one segment at a time. The metering system now intends to ‘see’ the scene and adjust its work to its content. This organization resulted in the birth of the technology hidden behind the acronym iSA (Intelligent Subject Analysis). The iSA is a name for the algorithm that relies on the new RGB+IR metering sensor, and it is basically used to scan the color and shape within the frame, and thus recognize the presence of specific tones characteristic of the human skin. In this way, Canon has finally responded to the challenge that its chief rival, Nikon, posed with the D800, by implementing into it the option of recognizing faces when working with an optical viewfinder, instead of working only with the Live View mode. The iSA function performs its main role in correlation with the demanding autofocus system of tracking the subject, which will be discussed fully some time later. The metering system operates within the range of 0 to 20 EV, which fits the average value offered by most today’s camera, while the same sensor is used for determining the needed intensity of the flash in the E-TTL II mode.
As always, there are four metering modes, and we will briefly explain the purpose of each one. The Evaluative is a metering mode that will be primary in everyday work for the majority of users; it meters the entire scene, it is connected to all the AF points, and makes the light moderate so that the final image is as balanced as possible, without highlighting any of its parts. The Partial mode meters 6.1% of the central zone of the frame, while the Center-weighted average calculates the average with the stress on the central part of the frame. The Spot metering concentrates on a very small part of the frame (only 1.5%), which is at the same time the only (but very serious) criticism of the new metering system. Namely, in contrast to the main rival (Nikon), which connects the Spot metering to the active AF point, and this is the case in all DSLR categories, Canon offers this possibility exclusively on its top model, the EOS-1D X. Just like in the case of the EOS 7D Mark II, this time, too, we have no understanding for such an oversight, since a pro camera simply has to feature a more usable Spot metering mode! Especially if we take into consideration the price of the 5DS. And the whole point of the Spot metering is that metering should lay stress on one point, the one that we focus on! With this way of functioning, we have got a somewhat schizophrenic situation in which we have myriad of AF points inside the frame that are mostly cross-type and cover the frame pretty well, but for the Spot metering it is necessary to conduct pre-framing and locking the metered exposure! Why Canon believes that for this option it is necessary to invest an almost five-digit sum of money in the American currency we sincerely do not understand, but we believe that this is unreasonable insistence, to say the least!
Top class - TTL 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with 252 zones *
A level camera is a characteristic that many find important, despite the fact that there is an option to straighten an ‘inclined’ image in post-processing, and the Dual-Axis Electronic Level will do the trick here – this is Canon’s version of this useful function, with which the camera will assist the photographer. The Canon EOS 5DS (as the 5DS R, of course) features this function in almost the same form like the 5D Mark III, but its response is now considerably more agile, even to the level of being irritating. The Dual-Axis in its name means that it features a dual accelerometer, so the electronic level system is active both for the horizontal axis and the azimuth, which is an angle that the horizontal axis of the lens forms in relation to the horizon. The function of the electronic level system is active for the vertical position of the camera as well, and the view is available on the main display (it must be activated separately), as well as in the viewfinder, whereas its usability is now a little greater, since both axes are located on the same place – in the upper part of the frame. The view ‘hovers’ above the main projection in the form of two crossed scales, and the accuracy of measuring the alignment of the camera is in the steps of 1̊ for each of the axes, whereby for the horizontal one the view deflection is 7.5̊, while for the vertical one it is limited to 4̊. How the electronic alignment looks like in practice you can see more picturesquely in the following illustration:
Electronic Level, the function of camera alignment in action
viewfinder (left); screen (right)
The 5DS inherited its AF system from the 5D Mark III, so it does not bring anything new. Although this would be an advantage in some other situation, we are not entirely satisfied with the fact that once again Canon almost completely ignored the existence of the EOS 7D Mark II, which, yet again, leads us to the conclusion that the new camera is in fact older.
61-point AF sensor (41 cross-type) *
This is a modern and quite solid AF system, composed of 61 AF points, 41 of which are cross-type, which means that they are equally sensitive along both axes, while the 5 central ones are even double cross-type, so apart from horizontally and vertically sensitive receptors, there are also a couple of diagonal ones on these points, which still makes this approach to solving reliability problems a unique one. The central point is capable of operating as a double cross-type one even at a small aperture, such as f/8, while the AF sensor is operative even in very low light – from -2 to +18 EV. The camera software allows for the number of active points to be limited to 15, or just 9, in case there is need for that. The arrangement of points and the way they spread along the frame in all the three cases can be seen in the following illustration:
AF points in the viewfinder with active 61, 15, and 9 AF points
With the last few generations of DSLRs, the AF systems have largely relied on the subsystem in charge of light metering. The reasons behind this approach stem from the need to make a clearer distinction between subjects within the frame, so that some of them can be given priority more easily. This aspect of the AF system in the case of the 5DS / 5DS R is within the domain of the iTR AF (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition Auto-focus) technology, previously seen in the case of the 7D Mark II, which is able to clearly single out the human skin (the face in particular), and give it priority if the user wants to, regardless of whether it is about simple single-shot focusing or continuously tracking the subject within the frame. If the scene in question is relatively static, when selecting points automatically, the camera will recognize on its own the potential subject within the frame, while in the continuous focus mode, it will switch active points with ease, so that it would keep the focus area on the desired subject. The EOS iTR is available in combination with focus methods where the camera reserves the right to select a particular AF point. In the case of the Canon 5DS, such method is the automatic one, as well as the Zone AF.
Canon, as usual, features three standard focus modes. The One-Shot mode is a mode by which focusing takes place on a single-shot basis, without additional adjustments; the AI-Servo is a continuous focus mode by which the subject selected in advance is permanently tracked, as long as it is covered with the set AF point; the AI-Focus is a combination of the previous two modes, and it operates by first confirming the focus, identically to the One-Shot mode, and then switches automatically to the continuous mode, if the sensor registers a change in the distance to the selected subject.
The AF point selection takes place through six different methods, adjusted to the most diverse working conditions – from static, to very dynamic, and there are even those intended for absolute beginners, despite the fact that one such body is obviously not aimed at them. Each of these methods (aside from the Single-point AF) can be deactivated if needed, so it will not appear while selecting, if there is no need for it.
The 61-point Automatic selection – a completely automatic selection of one or more points out of the group of 61 belongs to the just mentioned ‘beginner’ working modes, which do not require interaction from the user, but the selection is performed on their own, based on the priority determined by the combination of the AF sensor, light metering sensor, and the central processor. Then the point is selected without the influence on the user’s part, based on several parameters, the most important of which is the distance of the closest subject within the frame, or the presence of the human skin / face, if the appropriate option has previously been activated. The situation changes completely if the AI-Servo mode is currently active, i.e. the AI-Focus (at the moment when it switches to the continuous mode), since at that point the automatic selection turns into some kind of counterpart of Nikon’s 3D-Tracking, where the systems attempts to automatically track the subject inside the frame, on the basis of color properties that it receives from the light metering system, as long as the subject is covered with the focus field:
For this mode, the distance means everything, so in 99% of the cases priority will be really given to the closest subject within the frame, even if it may seem to the photographer that some other choice is more logical for that specific shot. If the iTR is active, then priority will first be given to people, and only then to the distance, with active tracking of the original subject at all times.
If the photographer prefers complete control over the situation nonetheless, the classic Single-point AF will be more than enough. It enables free selection of the active point, any of the 61 at one’s disposal:
The control is complete, but it also requires certain skillfulness when it comes to controlling the active AF point, particularly one’s will for reframing, since sometimes a change is simply not an option. The point selection is conducted manually, and the selected AF point remains active until the user decides to change it. This mode is the most used ones on almost all DSLR cameras, it is very simple to use in practice, and reliable as well. A similar version of this way of focusing is the Single-Point Spot AF, a mode which is intended for ‘hunting’ very tiny subjects within the scene – all those subjects that are so tiny that it is impossible to accurately ‘aim at’ them with the classic, large AF point. The Single-Point Spot AF is marked inside the viewfinder with a smaller point inside a bigger one, and it represents an exceptional visual illustration of accuracy that is needed while aiming in order to place focus exactly on what you want:
In some situations, one will need to focus on mundane areas of weak contrast, and for those situations a more advanced mode should be used, such as the AF Point Expansion. Its way of work still prefers one primary point, but in the company of four surrounding ones, which assist the selected one by collecting information about the distance when the primary is not able to do so, whether because of reduced contrast, or any other disturbance:
For even tougher situations, the AF Point Expansion with surrounding points will do the trick – a mode that has also got one primary point, but this time with 8 additional ones that assist in tougher conditions:
Even if such version, an expanded one, does not meet one’s needs as well, there is a zone selection at one’s disposal – Zone AF. The Zone AF encompasses 9 zones in total spread over the entire frame, which have between 9 and 12 active AF points. In practice, the zones behave as a limited version of the automatic selection, whereby this time the automatic selection is allowed a very limited level of autonomy when selecting the subject. If the iTR AF option is switched on, its effect will be visible precisely by using this method. What this 9 zones look like in practice we can see in the following illustration:
With such a diverse arrangement of the ways of the AF point selection, the AF complexity can be also sensed through a wide spectrum of additional options, which accompany the control and cover more or less every possible scenario. One of them is the AF Configuration Tool, an option intended for defining more accurately the way of functioning of the AI Servo focus mode. This option covers 6 different predefined situations, which will adjust the reaction parameters of the AF system with a single action. Canon vividly described each of the scenarios so that beginners, but more advanced users as well, could choose more easily the one that suits them best in a particular moment. Each scenario is defined with three parameters (slide buttons), which are used to adjust the Tracking Sensitivity, Acceleration/Deceleration Tracking (a reaction to sudden changes in the subject speed), and the AF Point Auto Switching (speed of the automatic change of an active AF point). They are listed according to their complexity, from the simplest to the most complicated working conditions: the Scenario 1 is universal – it is intended for the widest spectrum of action scenes that include moving subjects. The Scenario 2 tracks relatively slow subjects and ignores potential sudden obstacles within the frame so that the focus would remain on the desired spot. According to Canon, such cases are tennis players, swimmers, etc. The Scenario 3 is the complete opposite of the previous one, and it is set in such a way as to react with the maximum speed to any subject that ‘flies in’ the defined focus area. Canon aimed that scenario at bicycle races, skiers, etc. The Scenario 4 is aimed at dynamic sports, such as basketball, football, or auto racing, where subjects are relatively ease to frame, but constantly change their movement speed. The Scenario 5 is intended for all situations that include tracking subjects whose direction and movement speed change frequently. The last, sixth scenario is aimed at the toughest situations, when even the most experienced photographers cannot anticipate the movement of the subject, which abruptly accelerates, decelerates, changes its direction, or does all that at the same moment. The six predefined scenarios are conceived in such a way as to be able to meet the needs of most photographers, but, if needed, each of the scenarios can be adjusted to its own needs, by moving the slide button in relation to the three above-mentioned parameters.
Predefined cases for more accurate control of the continuous focus
As other modern Canon DSLR of the high class, the 5DS / 5DS R also features the ability to select different, independent AF points, in relation to the camera orientation. This means that the camera can memorize one selected point in the horizontal orientation, and an entirely different one in the vertical orientation, whereby it is also possible to switch on the option that will enable one to move from the far left point to the far right one in just one step (or from the top one to the bottom one), as if the selection was ‘going in a circle’. There is no AF-assist lamp, so in the toughest working conditions you can rely only on the dedicated IR lamp of the flashgun.
The AF-Microadjustment, an option that is used for fine focus calibration, has already become an everyday option on cameras like this, so the 5DS and 5DS R feature it in its best form, so the number of lenses for which it is possible to perform adjustment is 40, and setting can be performed in ±20 steps. The calibration can be conducted independently for the minimum and the maximum focal length, in case we have a zoom lens. Adjustments in the middle part of the range are achieved by means of approximation in relation to the predefined values at the ends of the range, so this brings the accuracy of this action to a completely new level and enables an even greater percentage of successfully calibrated lenses outside the service! Simply magnificent!
As always when it comes to such complicated focus systems, a detailed approach to options, possibilities, and ways of work of one such sophisticated AF system is of key importance for correct use and its functioning in accordance with one’s needs. In practice so far, it has turned out that the most frequent cause of an autofocus problem is not equipment, but a photographer who was too lazy to read the manual.
The viewfinder of the new Canon camera is more advanced than most old models, except for maybe the 7D Mark II, which outweighs it when it comes to some preview elements, but not the size. We could say that, in terms of its visual and technical appearance, the new viewfinder is about halfway between the 5D Mark III and 7D Mark II. We’d rather all the positive improvements were taken over from the said APS-C camera of the top class, yet this was not the case, unfortunately.
As in the case of all other Canon DSLRs of the high class, it is an optical viewfinder, based on pentaprism, which guarantees very bright projection, even in low light. The projection enables 100% coverage of the entire frame, while the magnification is 0.71x, which is close to the largest viewfinders in the market. The eyepoint, i.e. the maximum distance of the eye from the viewfinder at which it is possible to encompass the entire frame, is 21mm, which is suitable for people who wear glasses. The viewfinder cover was borrowed from the EOS-1 class, which means its dimensions are large and it is very pleasant to the touch. The diopter can be set within the range from -3 to +1m-1, by means of a small dial on the right side of the viewfinder.
The view inside the viewfinder is organized in a similar way as in the case of most Canon DSLRs of the high class, while the 5DS / 5DS R offers a much wider range of information, with the so-called ‘dynamic’ preview of parameters and functions. Namely, within the frame, aside from the focus points, spot metering zone, framing grid, and warnings, virtually all primary and secondary parameters, which have their controls on the body, are now being projected onto the viewfinder. In this way, we can see the White Balance, shutter release mode, focus mode, light metering mode, selected shooting quality, and the said warnings, among which is the warning about a potential problem with blinking light. We must not forget the electronic level indicator, which has now been placed on a more appropriate position, just above the focus area. The active mode on the selector was not put on the list of indicators, in contrast to the 7D Mark II, whose viewfinder was the first to bring such a set of tools.
The other difference has to do with the preview of aspect ratios, so the APS-C, APS-H, 4:3, 16:9, or 1:1 can be easily recognized in relation to the rest of the frame, and for this purpose there is also an option by means of which the user can choose whether he/she wishes to see the aspect ratio in the preview only as a simple framework or as a partially shaded area of what is taken from the full frame. Very convenient and practical for use!
What the preview looks like we can see in the following illustration:
Intelligent viewfinder of the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R
Unfortunately, when it comes to the focal planes, there was not much understanding for the 5DS / 5DS R, so the new cameras did not receive an interchangeable focal plane, like the 7D Mark II for that matter, yet the fixed plane is still current. We consider this decision very odd, bearing in mind the breadth of the projection team when they designed the new camera and its universal use value, regardless of the pretty massive resolution.
CONTROLS AND OTHER DETAILS
If we omit the noticeable logo of the model, the look from the front reveals virtually no differences in relation to the EOS 5D Mark III, despite the fact that this is not the successor of the popular Canon DSLR announced in 2012. The central position is occupied by the Canon EF mount, above which is the pentaprism viewfinder. On the left is the grip, on top of which is an infrared receiver, intended for remote shooting via compatible remote shutters. In the area between the grip and the mount are two more elements. All the way up is an LE diode, which signals postponed shooting and it cancels the red-eye effect when working with the flash; below it, next to the mount, is a programmable control that is originally used for the DOF-preview button, and it can be set in such a way as to perform one of the functions listed on page 414 of the original manual. To the right from the mount is a button for unlocking the mount in order to unmount the lens, whereas above it is a built-in mono microphone, aimed at recording the audio component of the video material.
A view from the top is more or less standard for Canon cameras of this class. The central part on the upper side is occupied by an ISO-518 compatible flashgun shoe, and to the right from it is a mode selector, in the middle of which is an integrated button for locking, whose aim is to prevent accidental mode changes. In total, there are 9 positions on the selector. The Scene Intelligent Auto is a substitute for the former Full Auto mode, and it differs from the old one only because of the fact that it takes into consideration color, overall scene illumination, and some other parameters, so that the final result would be as close to users’ wishes as possible. At least of those users that use modes like these. We think that one such mode should not be placed on a camera of this category, since it leads potential users to a wrong conclusion that the camera can be used as a typical point & shoot camera, which is very far from the truth, particularly if we take into account complexity of the AF system, which is practically unavoidable when working with the optical viewfinder. The rest of the modes are solely creative, so we have the Program AE (P), Shutter Priority AE (Tv), Aperture Priority AE (Av), Manual (M), and Bulb (B), being a dedicated mode for exposures longer than 30 seconds. In addition to these creative modes, there are 3 more programmable, Custom Shooting mode options on the selector that can be set in such a way as to enable an instant change of the most important functions, parameters, and options. The base of the mode selector also features a switch for turning the camera on, which is an arrangement that has been present on Canon cameras for quite a while.
As we are mentioning the shooting mode, we must point out that Canon has introduced a very significant innovation in this domain that has to do with the shooting mechanism. Namely, the conventional shutter mechanism, i.e. mirrors and curtains, includes motorized movement in only one direction, while returning to the initial position takes place by means of a spring. The 5DS and 5DS R have gone a step further in this aspect, so instead of the conventional organization, which is heavily dependent on the spring, Canon applied a more modern system of motorized vibration absorption (similar to the one in the 7D Mark II), so the mirror will return to its initial position with the aid of a motor, by progressively grinding to a halt. In this way, both uncontrolled vibrations during continuous shooting as well as jerks when using a tripod or shooting on a single basis have been prevented. Practical experience suggests that this solution is highly influential, since the effect of the unwanted shaking is approximately equal to the one that we had a chance to experience with the Nikon D800 or D810, but with significantly higher resolution.
Let’s move on… All the way to the right, a little smaller than the others, is a control for turning on the orange background light of the status display. The status display is made of a segmented LCD screen, and the aim of this is to simultaneously track as many parameters as possible, with minimum energy loss. The parameters encompassed by it include almost all that are important for shooting. The illustration of all this can be seen below:
All the way to the front, on the top of the grip, is a two-level shutter button. The default option is that the first level is used for light metering and focusing, while with a further press, the shooting mechanism is activated. The operation of the first level is partly programmable, so its function can be set in a special section of the menu system. A little towards the rear is the front control dial, whose function is multiple and depends on the current status of the camera. In the shooting mode, it is used for selecting primary parameters, such as the aperture and exposure duration, and in combination with other controls, it controls most of the remaining ones. Between the shutter button and the front control dial is another programmable control, labeled M.Fn. It can be remapped so that it carries out the exposure duration locking (permanently, or in such a way that it is necessary to keep the button pressed), or switching the shooting quality to the value assigned in advance. The most interesting of all functions is the ability to cyclically switch active parameters. Namely, when the M.Fn is set to the Cycle function, by every press of this button, the camera will offer a couple of functions, in the same way as if we selected them individually via the dedicated buttons in front of the status display! In combination with the permanent presence of all the basic and expanded parameters in the optical viewfinder, this enables the camera to be controlled extremely fast, without taking your eyes off it, since every press produces a corresponding effect inside the viewfinder, by showing only a couple of active functions, and it enables you to change them instantaneously by means of the control dials! This way of work, inherited from the 7D Mark II, makes the camera extremely effective, so ergonomics has really got a new dimension.
Since we have realized that the housing is identical, it is no wonder that the rear side of the camera is also identical to the one of the 5D Mark III. The dominant position, as usual, is occupied by a 3.2” LCD screen and a viewfinder with a conspicuously large rubber coating. To the left from the viewfinder are two buttons – Menu, used for entering the menu system, and Info, used for previewing the parameters, electronic level on the screen, or the Quick Control Screen (controlling parameters by means of the main display). If needed, it can be used to switch the screen off. To the left from the screen is a series of 5 more controls, and the first from the top is dual. In the shooting mode, it is used to enter the menu for changing the color style, turning on the HDR or multiple exposure, while in the preview mode it can be used for mutually comparing two images or for printing images by means of compatible printers. The Rate control is a little unusual, and it is used for assigning rating to individual images. Even though we MAY find the purpose of this function if we preview the images on a large screen in real time, we believe that its usability is highly questionable, bearing in mind that even the best screens (such this one) cannot show all the advantages and disadvantages of one image over another one. Fortunately, the control can be mapped for something more useful, such as the Lock (used for preventing images from being accidentally deleted), while on the other hand, they could have made a little more effort and broadened the choice of replacement functions, since we are sure that many would find that more helpful than the Lock control.
On the right, the controls are a little scattered. Right next to the viewfinder is a wheel for setting the viewfinder diopter, and not far from it is a rotary switch for switching from the shooting mode to the video mode, in the center of which is a Start/Stop control. In the shooting mode, it is used for activating/deactivating the Live View mode, whereas in the video mode, it is used to start and stop video recording. All the way to the right is a series of three buttons: the AF-ON is originally used for focusing, while it can be mapped to carry out some other functions, and next to it is the AE-Lock/FE-Lock control for locking the exposure duration or the flash power. All the way to the right, right into the corner is a control for selecting the AF-point-selection method.
Close to the screen is the well-known 8-way joystick, used for overall navigation through the menu, captured images, etc., while in the shooting mode, it is also used for directly selecting an active AF point, if it is set like this. A little lower is the Q control, used for activating the Quick Control Screen, by means of which the main display is assigned the role of a surrogate of the status display, while in the menu system the same control can be used to list quickly larger sections of pages with options. The rear control dial also has multiple functions, and it is primarily used to control the basic parameters. The Set, located in the center of the rear control dial, is a control that is mostly used to confirm the selected options, regardless of the current mode of work, and lower is the Lock switch, by means of which the functions of the front and rear control dial, as well as the joystick are locked, which prevents accidental change of key parameters. It is also possible to define which of the three controls will be locked. To the right from the Lock switch is an LE diode, which signals busyness of the memory card. The rear control dial inherited its sensitivity to touch from the 5D Mark III, so in the video mode, while video recording (if the Touch-pad function is on), it is possible to use it for changing the basic parameters (ISO, aperture, and exposure), by simply touching the edges of the dial! By pressing it up or down, parameters are selected, while by pressing left or right, they are changed. This results in absolutely noiseless control of the basic parameters, so that there would not be any unwanted sounds in the video. It is not equal to a touch screen, but it is functional, nonetheless. Of course, provided that you know why you want to change the said parameters during video recording.
There are two memory slots. On is for Compact Flash (CF) memory cards, while the other is the Secure Digital (SD) standard. The slots are under a lid covered with rubber and strengthened with a spring, on the right side of the camera.
The CF slot provides support for all speed indices as long as the memory card is a Type I. Type II cards (which are physically fatter) are not supported. The SD slot is a little more flexible, so apart from the oldest SD, and slightly newer SDHC and SDXC cards, the 5DS / 5DS R also supports the latest UHS-I cards, which provide maximum transfer speeds. Except for them, the support is provided for increasingly popular Eye-Fi cards, by means of which captured data can be wirelessly transferred to compatible Wi-Fi devices. The memory slots are identical and completely equal. They can be used sequentially (when the first card (CF) is full, the process of writing automatically switches to the second one (SD)), as back-up (in this situation the written material is automatically copied onto the other card as well, which leads to redundancy), or they can be separated according to the type of writing (for instance, the first one records only the RAW, while the second one only the JPEG format, or on the second card only videos are recorded). The possibilities are endless, while the modality of use is limited only to users’ needs.
CF i SD memory card slots
The memory requirements of the latest Canon cameras are extremely demanding, which is not unusual at all, bearing in mind their resolution. The card with the capacity of 8GB can store on average: 130 RAW, 550 JPEG, or only 100 RAW+JPEG images, in the maximum quality (14-bit RAW + JPEG Large/Fine), which in principle fits the rated values. The low-resolution RAW is a little more economical, so on the same card the camera will pack a little over 180 mRAW or 260 sRAW images. There are simply too many combinations, but if needed (luckily), one can save considerably by making compromises.
When we talk about the video segment, a lot of things depend on working conditions and the content in general. The whole situation is further complicated by a series of parameters that affect not only the quality, but also the memory requirements. Roughly speaking, an 8GB card will be enough to store around 12 minutes of video recording in the maximum quality (MOV; 1080p at 25/30 fps, All-I compression). If the quality is reduced and the IPB compression is used, the same card can store more than 30 minutes of video. With a larger number of frames per second and HD resolution (1280 x 720), there is an option of recording videos whose length will be very similar to those recorded at 1080p/25fps – around 13 minutes.
The battery that we saw for the first time in the EOS 7D Mark II accompanies the new 5DS (R). It is a revision of the old LP-E6 battery and it is labeled LP-E6N. The battery, as always, is located inside the grip, and the opening of the battery slot is from the bottom. From the technical point of view, these are two very similar batteries. They are charged with the same charger, they are vertically compatible, their voltage is 7.2V, while there weight is 80g. The only thing that is different is – the capacity. The capacity of the old LP-E6 was 1800mAh, whereas the new brings a slightly larger one – 1865 mAh.
LC-E6E charger with the LP-E6N Li-Ion smart battery
The battery autonomy according to the CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards provides not exactly exceptional 700 shots, which is weaker for around 130 shots in relation to the 5D Mark III, which managed to pull off almost 950 shots. We are not sure what the problem is about, but we noticed the same situation with the 7D Mark II, whose battery autonomy is much weaker than in the case of its predecessor.
The achieved result in practice often differs from the rated one, yet this is not so prominent in the case of the 5DS / 5DS R. To tell the truth, we managed to pull off around 800 shots from one battery, but this is still much behind the latest Nikon models, which manage without major problems to reach over 1000 shots from only one charge! Our assumption is that high resolution (in combination with an old and energetically more demanding process of sensor production) adversely affects the battery autonomy because, aside from using considerable resources when it comes to internal processing, it results in much energy being wasted on writing information on memory cards. On the whole, Canon will definitely have to deal with this issue in the near future, since even MILC cameras, which are considered as not thrifty at all, manage to make progress from generation to generation.
On the left side of the camera, under two vertically positioned rubber lids, are the connectors. There are five of them in total. Under the left lid is a 3.5mm stereo connector for the microphone, intended for recording audio components of a video, while the two lower ones are aimed at releasing external lighting (PC-Sync connector, according to the ISO-519 standard) and for remote shutter buttons.
To the right are two more connectors. The upper one is the mini-HDMI Type C connector, by means of which the camera can connect to a TV or any other compatible external display. If the TV is HDMI-CEC compatible, it is possible to view the images by means of a remote control. Below is the fast SuperSpeed USB, which is in fact a standard USB 3.0 connector by means of which the camera is connected to a computer in order for images to be transferred, or to control the camera via the attached software labeled EOS Utility. Below and above these two connectors are also sockets for the protective carrier of the cable, which comes inside the box with the 5DS (R) and it is used for protecting the connector against potential tearing or breaking when some external device is connected to the camera. However, Canon made sure that everything is not ideal by leaving out the 3.5mm stereo output, which would be used for monitoring the input signal of the audio component during video recording, which is practically necessary equipment in the world of professionals. Once again this points to the aspiration on the manufacturer’s part to clearly single out products capable of video recording. Besides, the HDMI output is not ‘clean’ any more, so together with the projection, all the parameters inside the so-called overlay preview will be sent to the external display, which is far from absolutely any serious use.
Connectors: left – microphone stereo input, PC-Sync (ISO-519), and N3 remote;
right – mini HDMI and micro USB 3.0
The main display is very similar to the ones found on the majority of modern Canon cameras of the middle and high class. It is a fixed 3” 1,040,800-dot LCD screen, whose resolution in classic dimensions is 720 x 480 pixels; the aspect ratio is 3:2. The angle of view is still very high – 170° - while setting the light is available both manually, as well as automatically, by means of a joined ambient light sensor. Controlling the screen by means of touch is not available, although we expected it, so we assume that that is Canon’s way to maintain some kind of balance among the classes, so that even those weaker feature something that those more expensive do not.
When Nikon recently introduced into its cameras TFT screens with the RGBW matrix instead of the classic RGB, we expected that Canon would take the same route – not precisely because of the quality of the preview, as it is exceptional in every respect, but because of energy saving, since precisely in the case of the Nikon D810 and D750 using such a screen turned out very wise, so both mentioned cameras, of course along with some other optimizations, are currently the leaders when it comes to battery autonomy with one standard battery. This improvement once again did not take place, and repercussions of this sequence of events can be seen precisely in battery autonomy.
Despite the fact that the 5DS / 5DS R features a tremendous status display, with a wide range of offered information, the standard tool labeled Quick Control Screen is still available. It is an option of controlling and managing parameters by means of the main display, with the aim of greater comfort of work, or when the camera is placed on a tripod at eye level, so the status display is physically out of reach. Let’s take a look at the following illustration and see how the Quick Control Screen looks like and what it offers:
Basic parameters in the Quick Control Screen
The Live View mode (hereafter, LV) is used as an alternative on DSLRs, but as years go by, it is becoming more and more usable when working with the camera, primarily thanks to the improvements that took place because of increased use of the video mode with this type of cameras. In terms of photography, the way of work did not change much, however. Despite all the recent improvements, taking photos with the camera in front of yourself is still problematic, both because of the shallow Depth-Of-Field (DOF), which hinders control, as well as because of shakes that occur frequently, due to a larger mass of DSLR cameras in relation to compacts. That is why the LV will remain a tool to be used with a tripod in this category of cameras, most often in controlled conditions or in the video mode.
After a couple of more or less usable iterations of hybrid focus on its cameras, we expected that Canon would implement some of the versions of this technology in the whole gamut of its models; however, this did not happen. Due to their conception of being mostly intended for slow and methodical shooting, the 5DS and 5DS R did not receive any version of hybrid focus. The Dual Pixel was ruled out right from the start since the condition for this technology to be implemented was to further compress the already high resolution of these cameras; as for the Hybrid CMOS AF III, Canon considered it surplus for this model. When it comes to the Dual Pixel technology, we are not surprised. When it comes to the complete absence of hybrid focus? We definitely are.
Let’s explain once again the essence of the focus in the LV mode… In order for the view from the sensor to be possible (which is necessary in the LV mode), the mirror mechanism must be raised from its usual position, in order to free the path to the sensor; as a result, framing through the viewfinder is out of the question, and more importantly, the phase AF sensor with 61 cross-type AF points cannot be used any more. On account of those reasons, the LV mode features its own, independent focus system, known as contrast autofocus, i.e. CDAF (Contrast Detection AutoFocus). Its way of work technically differs from phase AF and so far it has featured some positive and some negative characteristics. Undoubtedly, the positive one has always been its accuracy, and the negative one is the slowness of focusing. Hybrid focus, which in a specific way combined the best of both worlds (phase and contrast), is not available in the 5DS, so the performances are as we remember them from the previous generation – accurate, but at some moments almost irritatingly slow.
The division of the AF modes and methods is different from the classic working mode, and even though autofocus can still be divided into the single-point and continuous mode, the latter must be activated via a special option in the menu system. Otherwise, only the single-point focus mode will be available in the LV mode. There are only two contrast methods in total. The default method is Face+Tracking, which works in two ways. In case there is a face within the frame, the AF will give priority to it and sharpen it automatically, no matter where it is inside the frame. If there are more than one, the method will offer the option of ‘hopping’ from one to another, by means of the joystick. If the continuous focus is active, the face will be tracked by focus as well. When there are no faces inside the frame, this method will function identically as the classical automatic focus method – it will focus on the object inside the frame that is closest to the lens. FlexiZone – Single is the second focus method. It is characterized by an enclosed focus area in the shape of a rectangle, which can move along the frame when needed. Focusing on a subject inside the frame can be single-point or continuous, provided that the continuous focus has been activated. When it comes to working conditions, the CDAF is rated at 0-18 EV, and despite the fact that the 5DS / 5DS R does not feature hybrid focus in the LV mode, Canon decided to leave out the option of temporary focus by means of the phase system (Quick AF), which we have got used to over the past year.
Manual focusing, a treat by which the LV mode offers perfect control of the depth of field, focus position, and the like, is accompanied by the option of magnifying the view on two levels – 6 and 16 times:
Magnification in the LV mode
The LV is equipped with a view of standard parameters in the shooting and video mode, and they can be toggled off if needed. When controlling takes place via the round button in the center of the rear control dial, which is sensitive to touch, by calling the Quick Control Screen (Q control), the parameters can be changed interactively during video recording, by pressing this control in four directions. In this way, completely silent parameter control has been achieved, which is very important for videos:
View of the parameters and electronic level in the LV mode
There is also the framing grid, as well as the Electronic Level for accurate leveling of the camera in relation to the horizon:
Framing grid in three versions
Since in the LV mode the camera cannot rely even on a separate subsystem intended for light metering, metering must be conducted by means of the main sensor. In addition to the usual, Evaluative, which carries out sampling of the average of the entire scene, with the initial analysis of 315 zones that the frame is divided into, we also have the Partial metering. It functions in a similar way as the metering with the same name carried out by a traditional light meter, which means that metering is limited only to one part of the frame, and it encompasses the zone of 6.4%. The Center-weighted Average is also present. As we all know, it also meters the average of the entire scene, but with 75% stress on the central part of the frame. We also have the Spot metering, which meters a very small area of only 2.8%, neglecting the rest of the frame. Metering is operative in the range of 0-20 EV, which means that greater surprises can only occur in extreme situations.
The other features of the LV mode on Canon cameras are present on the EOS 5DS / 5DS R, too. The view is accurate, credible, and exceptionally fluid, which is why the feeling of skipping frames does not occur in any case, regardless of the magnification or selected parameters. The Exposure Simulation functions immaculately and it is operative in all the modes, and if needed it can be turned off or set to (de)activate temporarily if one needs so by pressing the DOF-preview control. Quite handy! In case of using E-TTL compatible flashes, the camera will toggle off this function on its own in order to provide visibility even when the parameters are not adequate, since metering does not take the flash into account. The change or parameters is unlimited, so nothing has been changed in that aspect as well, so it offers everything that a user may need – from the change of basic parameters, such as the ISO value, aperture, or exposure duration, all the way to those specific, such as the change of color styles, white balance, and the like.
Shooting in the LV mode can be classic or the so-called silent. There are two silent modes and they differ according to the sound they produce, but the way of work as well – the first is more or less standard, except that the movement of the curtain is slowed down so that ‘sound effects’ would be suppressed as much as possible; however, this time this greatly affects the reduced camera shake, which is a serious problem when it comes to high resolutions, such as the one offered by the 5DS. This mode is also operative in the continuous shooting mode (the so-called burst mode); however, in that case, the burst speed is almost twice as low (3 fps). The second mode of live shooting differs according to its way of work. After pressing the shutter button home, the camera will take only one shot, regardless of the selected shooting mode, and the curtain will return to its initial position only when the button is released. Since it is incompatible due to its speed, the silent shooting mode will be automatically turned off when using Canon flashes, whereas when using flashes that do not have the TTL communication with the camera, it will be necessary to turn off this function manually, since otherwise flash firing will not be synchronized with the curtain. Moreover, using this mode is not recommended either in combination with TS-E (Tilt-Shift) lenses or extension tubes, as it can lead to inadequate exposure of the shots.
After the initial boom that had launched Canon to the top of desirable systems in the video category, this manufacturer started behaving a little inappropriately, releasing cameras whose video mode had been either upgraded or downgraded, depending on a particular situation, without any obvious reason. At one moment we got to the point where we could not be confident about pretty much anything from any model, and this trend has continued until this very day.
Probably with the aim of protecting the market share held by the EOS 5D Mark III, Canon tried applying technical maneuvers in order to avoid the situation in which the sale of the older model would be decimated, since the 5DS / 5DS R could, in no time, take over practically the entire assembly of interested users that prefer the 5D Mark III mostly because of the video mode. There are no essential quality differences in the compression itself, but there are those technical limitations that occur in the production of higher category cameras and that make those differences literally insurmountable. In the following paragraphs, we will explain what this is all about.
Of course, we must point out right away that all those that hoped for the 4K video mode have been left empty-handed, yet again. 1080p is the ultimate range of this camera and with this Canon clearly showed that it does not want to jeopardize the high class of its video products. The aspect ratio is 16:9, and it is offered in two popular HD resolutions and the classic VGA. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (the so-called 1080p) can be recorded at regular 24/25 fps with the PAL standard, or 30 fps with the NTSC standard. The slow motion at 50/60 fps has been left out and it is an option available only for the lower HD resolution, 1280 x 720 (720p), while the 4:3 SD VGA (640 x 480) resolution can be recorded solely at 25 or 30 fps.
The video encoding takes place in real time in the AVCHD/MPEG-4 (H.264) format, with a variable bit rate and together with uncompressed mono or stereo sound at 16-bit/44kHz, and it is packed in the MOV container format. The compression can be selected between the IPB and ALL-I types of encoding.
The interframe (IPB) compression operates by carrying out the prediction for missing frames, both in relation to the previous and the following frame in sequence. In this way, an accurate comparison of differences in relation to other frames is obtained, which results in a movie that consists only of necessary changes, not an entire frame. That is why the IPB requires less space, and the compression takes place for several frames simultaneously. In this way, the maximum duration of a single movie is extended, but at the cost of the quality.
The intraframe (ALL-I) compression works in a slightly different way. Video recording takes place for each and every frame, as well as the compression, which results in higher quality, but at the same time it is much more demanding when it comes to space on the memory card. If recording videos takes place with the ALL-I compression method, the compression itself takes place one frame after another, which is why the resulting file is larger (roughly speaking, 3x larger in relation to the IPB compression), but the quality is higher as well, which makes it more appropriate for post-processing. Combinations that decide which format can go with which resolution and compression level definitely exceed the limitations of this review, and for further details, we must refer you to the official manual that comes packaged with the camera.
As with other cameras, the video mode is, regardless of the selected quality, limited to maximum 4GB at a time, owing to the limitations imposed by the FAT32, which is a file system used on memory controllers of today’s cameras. In case the file limit is reached during the recording, the camera will proceed with the recording, automatically creating a new file in sequence. The logically placed limit is still the same, and this means maximum 30 minutes of recording without stopping. More than enough for recording in one piece, we should say. One important piece of information – the reasons for this can be found in the regulations introduced by the European Union, whose regulatory body considers devices capable of recording more than 30 minutes to be video equipment, on which, in turn, substantially higher customs tariffs are imposed. That is where that limit that manufacturers stick to comes from.
The video control, as expected, completely relies on the limitations and freedom of the LV mode. As such, it is flexible and can be used in practically all the creative modes. The shutter speed can be set in the entire range from 1/30 to 1/8000 seconds. For those less conversant, a faster shutter will make a movie visually smoother (‘faster’), and it is the most similar to the effect achieved by TV cameras. On the contrary, a slower shutter (closer to the selected frame rate) gives more blurred frames, which results in ‘softer’ projection, closer to the filming technique. The aperture can be set to any value determined by the lens mounted, while this time the ISO range is unlimited. The AutoISO option is also available, and its range of deciding for itself whether the sensor sensitivity needs to be changed can be set separately.
The sound is recorded at 16 bits, 44 kHz, mono, if the built-in microphone is used, or stereo, if an external mic is at one’s disposal. The sound is recorded uncompressed - in the PCM format. It seems almost incomprehensible that Canon decided not to built a stereo mic into the 5DS / 5DS R, regardless of the fact that for any serious audio recording dedicated external devices are usually used. Even the Canon EOS 760D, which is located in a completely different category in relation to the 5DS when it comes to the price, features a built-in stereo microphone! This is not a very farsighted move on the manufacturer’s part. Let’s get back to the sound… The input signal can be controlled either manually or automatically. There is also an option for filtering the roar produced by the wind, and it is intended solely for the built-in microphone. The same goes for the Attenuator option, by means of which the camera tries to avoid distortion in audio recording, because of a too strong input signal. The built-in microphone is too sensitive for most needs, which is understandable, bearing in mind its position inside the body. As it is not possible to eliminate undesired sounds from the body, for all serious recordings, it is recommended that one get an appropriate external microphone, which has support in the form of a 3.5mm stereo input. Condenser microphones, which require additional power supply from connectors, are not supported, so in order to use them you need to get appropriate external support. Another flaw is the absence of the 3.5mm stereo input, which is used for monitoring audio recording in real time. This has become an almost normal addition even in cameras of the middle class, and the official explanation from Canon is almost interesting – “the connector has been left out as there was not room next to the new USB 3.0 connector”. An interesting explanation, but we highly doubt that this was the reason!
The rest of the possible settings include all predefined and subsequently created color styles, white balance, removing vignettes for lenses in the internal base, as well as the Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Priority options. Removing noise is not available during video recording due to the processor’s requirements, so for that purpose it is possible to rely solely on post-processing. The autofocus, as we have already mentioned when we talked about the LV, is almost unusable, as it relies on the standard CDAF. As for the of the focus area transition fluidity, it is absolutely unnecessary to mention it. It is simply nowhere to be seen. If you want any decent focus, you have to produce it manually.
However, all this is not as irritating as the item that we left for the very end of the story about the video mode. Namely, Canon decided to completely abandon the option of externally transferring uncompressed material via the HDMI output, so this is accomplished solely with the overlay preview of current parameters, by which any possibility of practical use is irretrievably lost. We have been expecting a real photographic device from Canon for quite a long time, and we did not have in mind that the video mode would be maimed on purpose, only in order to stress out the photographic properties of the new model.
In accordance with the long established rule, the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R do not feature built-in flash. The ISO-518 flashgun shoe represents the only connection with the flash, and unfortunately, this time as well Canon did not dare to supply a high-end camera with integrated radio control, compatible with the latest series of flashes equipped with the radio module (all those labeled with RT).
All E-TTL / E-TTL II compatible flashguns are supported. The AF-assist on the flashgun is performed with a special IR lamp, whose help is very effective. If the compensation is set on the flash itself, it is given priority over the settings inside the camera.
The maximum synchronization speed, regardless of whether it is used for the built-in flash or the flashgun, is limited to 1/200s, while in the aperture priority mode it can be set to 1/60, 1/200, or automatic. We are still startled at the decision that the camera that will be used with flash mostly inside the studio does not offer the synchronization speed of at least 1/250s, bearing in mind that there is no electronic curtain, which would settle all the issues in an extremely simple way and offer far greater speeds. The Flash Exposure Bracketing (FEB), multiple shooting with a predefined series of flashes with a different intensity, can be set for three images in a row; even the Multi flash support was not left out, and it represents continuous shooting with a selected intensity, and determined frequency.
As with all Canon cameras, a corresponding set of special options (Custom Functions, C.Fn) is available in the section about the options intended for the flash. It still causes slight confusion at the first encounter, so it is recommended that you use the manual before getting down to detailed adjustment.
It is not all that bad – the EOS 5DS, as well as 5DS R, offers complete support for a new radio system of wireless flash control, so the whole range of settings are available inside the camera, if such equipment is mounted onto the hot shoe.
The 5DS / 5DS R, like all serious DSLR cameras, features the ISO-519 compatible connector for synchronizing external lighting (PC-Sync), so it can be shot in that way, too, although we are aware that such a way of control has long become obsolete and given way to dedicated radio and IR triggers. In case you want to use flash on a hot shoe, it is also possible to connect an additional trigger by means of the PC-Sync connector, on condition that it also features the PC-Sync connector.
A new body design includes a redesigned grip, yet since the 5DS does not represent a new design by any means, we were not surprised by the fact that the new camera is accompanied by the old grip; what is more, the new/old grip is the Canon BG-E11, which was part of the equipment of the EOS 5D Mark III.
Coming in a shape that fits the camera quite well, the BG-E11 grip belongs to the class of battery grips, which means that aside from performing the function of a vertical grip (for shooting in the portrait position), it is used for increasing the battery autonomy. The BG-E11 features two battery slots. One is intended for inserting two LP-E6 or LP-E6N batteries lengthways, while the other is aimed at a combination of 6 AA batteries, being a backup option in case of need.
Canon BG-E11 battery grip *
Like in the case of most other grips of this manufacturer, beside the basic controls, the shutter button and front control dial, there are the AF-ON, AE-Lock/FE-Lock buttons on the grip’s surface, as well as the control for selecting all the points. The switch for toggling off the controls on the grip in case of need is located right next to the rotary lock mechanism. Since it is necessary to take off the battery compartment lid in order to mount the grip, Canon gave this matter a thought and designed space where the lid will be stored on the grip itself, which comes in very handy. However, it is not all that ideal when it comes to the grip. We notice the absence of any sealed material at the spots where the grip joins the body, so in case you often use the camera in poor weather conditions, you should bear this in mind. We did not challenge the assumption about this issue and try to prove it right, but it seems questionable.