Canon 5DS R Field Test Part I

Big sensor, big resolution, big responsibility

by William Brawley | 08/13/2015

Canon 5DS R shooter's report photoCanon's niche-market DSLRs. The Canon 5DS R and 5DS cameras are perhaps two of the most specialized, or niche-market DSLRs that Canon's ever produced (well, perhaps not counting a couple of astrophotography-specific variants of their 20D and 60D). Canon's wide-ranging traditional DSLR models varied along the price scale in terms of size, build and level of features and performance, but were ultimately well-suited for general use and with a variety of subject matter. These two full-frame 50.6-megapixel monsters, on the other hand, with their massive image resolutions as well as limited high ISO performance and video capabilities are focused squarely on a few avenues -- namely, professional-level landscapes, portraiture or other studio-based and/or commercial applications, which all typically demand large print sizes and lots and lots of detail.

As a long-time Canon user, needless to say, I was very excited to try out the new Canon 5DS R camera. If you're familiar with Canon's enthusiast-level and prosumer DSLRs, such as the 7D Mark II or better yet, the 5D Mark III, you'll feel right at home with the 5DS R (and standard "S" model as well) since it looks and feels identical to the Mark III.

Canon 5DS R Field Test Part II

Cranking up the ISO and checking out timelapse video

by William Brawley | 10/02/2015

Canon 5DS R field test photoBig sensor...but small pixels.
With the Canon 5DS R's massive allotment of megapixels, its ability to capture lots and lots of detail is no surprise. However, the flip-side to the ultra-high-resolution 50.6MP full-frame sensor is very tiny individual pixels. In what's basically the polar opposite of the low-resolution Sony A7S II, whose full-frame, 12-megapixel sensor has extremely large individual pixels, the Canon 5DS R has rather limited high ISO capabilities as a result-- at least for a full-frame camera.

In fact, Canon's even explicitly stated that the pixel pitch of the 5DS R's 50.6MP full-frame sensor is more comparable to the Canon 7D Mark II, with its 20.2MP APS-C sensor, than with the earlier 5D Mark III. With this, the high ISO performance should be similar to the 7D Mark II. Bottom line, though, is that I went into this Field Test with the understanding that the Canon 5DS R probably wouldn't have stunning low-light performance, as it's not designed to for that. Its primary focus is on high-resolution images at lower ISOs; similar to many medium format cameras. Nevertheless, the standard, native range of the camera's ISO scale tops out at 6400, which gives it some decent capabilities in lower light situations.

Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate