Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS 5DS
Resolution: 50.60 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(36.0mm x 24.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 6400
Extended ISO: 50 - 12,800
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 sec
Dimensions: 6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in.
(152 x 116 x 76 mm)
Weight: 33.4 oz (946 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 06/2015
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon 5DS specifications
Canon EF 35mm
size sensor
image of Canon EOS 5DS
Front side of Canon 5DS digital camera Front side of Canon 5DS digital camera Front side of Canon 5DS digital camera Front side of Canon 5DS digital camera Front side of Canon 5DS digital camera
Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

Canon 5DS Review -- Review

by William Brawley
Preview Posted 02/05/2015

06/23/2015: First Shots posted
10/06/2015: Viewfinder Accuracy, Image Quality and Performance test results posted

Special update: The Canon 5DS was named Best Professional Camera in our 2015 Camera of the Year awards!

When Canon released the 1D X back in 2012, it replaced both the high-speed, sports-shooting 1D Mark IV as well as the high-resolution 1Ds Mark III cameras. With an 18.1-megapixel sensor, it was only a marginal boost in resolution from the 1DMkIV, but a decrease from the 21.1MP 1DsIII. Studio, advertising and other photographers needing high-resolution images were left worried that a pro-level, full-frame camera with a large megapixel count was gone from Canon's repertoire.

Fear not, though, as Canon has resurrected the "S" designation and introduced it to the 5D-series with the new Canon 5DS full-frame DSLR. Sporting a massive 50.6-megapixel, Canon-designed, full-frame sensor, the Canon 5DS is now the highest resolution full-frame DSLR in the world. Combined with dual DIGIC 6 processors like the new 7D Mark II, this new full-frame camera offers a substantial increase in sheer resolution horsepower over both the 22.3MP 5D Mark III and the previous 1Ds Mark III cameras. Targeting advanced amateurs and professionals that demand high image quality, the 5DS is also going after a chunk of the medium format market. Not only is the 5DS smaller and lighter than digital medium format cameras, but also the vast selection of lenses for the EF mount provides immense creative options.

Using a nearly identical body design as the 5D Mark III -- save for the model badging -- the big story lies under-the-hood with both hardware and software changes compared to the 5D Mark III. It should be pointed out, however, that the 5DS and simultaneously announced 5DS R do not replace the 5D Mark III. Each camera serves very different types of photographers with different use-cases and includes their share of advantages and disadvantages depending on the style of photography.

The 5DS has a pixel pitch of 4.14 microns, whereas the 5D Mark III's sensor has a pixel pitch of 6.25 microns giving the Mark III an advantage in terms of per-pixel noise. Given the massive 50-megapixel resolution is spread over the area of a 35mm full-frame CMOS chip, the pixel pitch of the sensor in the 5DS is actually comparable to that of the 20-megapixel APS-C 7D Mark II. This should give the 5DS a level of noise performance similar to that of the 7D Mark II. Interestingly, Canon is aware of this potential limitation, and as such, has limited the high ISO of the 5DS to 6400 (with an expandable high to 12,800 and low of 50).

The relatively limited ISO sensitivity range is indicative of the intended use-case of this type of camera, compared to a more general-purpose camera such as the 5D Mark III with its maximum ISO of 102,400. The Canon 5DS is designed for maximum performance in high resolution still images, particularly at lower ISOs. Landscape and architectural photography, where one would often use a tripod, are two primary use-cases for the 5DS. Also, studio, portraiture and advertising photography are other key areas for the 5DS, in which lighting conditions are more rigorously controlled and the need for high ISO performance is not as important. That being said, Canon states that the noise performance is still superior to that from the 5D Mark II, while the dynamic range performance is on the same level as the 5D Mark III.

The new Canon 5DS borrow heavily from the 7D Mark II in terms of under-the-hood technological improvements. In addition to the dual DIGIC 6 image processor configuration, the Canon 5DS utilizes the new 150,000-pixel RGB + IR metering sensor introduced on the 7D Mark II. This is a notable improvement from the iFCL 63-zone dual-layer metering sensor used on the 5D Mark III (and the 1D X's 100,000-pixel RGB sensor). The new system on the 5DS recognizes 252-zones, whereas the earlier 5D3 used a 63-zone system.

The Canon 5DS also shares the enhanced iTR AF (aka "Intelligent Tracking & Recognition AF") from the 7D Mark II, and is something not featured on the 5D3. Unlike the 7D Mark II, however, the 5DS uses the same 61-point AF point array as the 5D Mark III and 1D X, yet this is combined with the more robust metering system from the 7D2 for the enhanced iTR AF capabilities. The 5DS uses the 150K-pixel metering system to combine face detection and color information with the phase-detect AF sensor to help track subject movement.

The 5DS also introduces a host of new features, tweaks and improvements over the 5D Mark III, including the creation of timelapse movies in-camera, which itself is a first for the Canon EOS line. Within the menus, you can setup how many frames to capture and the interval between frame capture and the 5DS will produce a movie file right in the camera after all shots are recorded. According to Canon, the timelapse feature ranges from one second and up to a maximum of 99 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds. The playback rate of the resulting timelapse video depends on the video mode set in the menu. In NTSC mode, the playback rate is 29.97fps (30p), while in PAL mode, the playback rate is 25fps.

Given the massive 50-megapixel image files, it's no surprise that continuous burst performance is a bit lower than the more manageable 22.3MP 5D Mark III, for example. The 5DS can shoot up to five frames-per-second, whereas the 5D Mark III clocks-in at 6fps. See our Performance page for actual lab test results.

Also, in what we believe is another EOS camera first, Canon has added crop shooting modes for both 1.3x and 1.6x crop factors. It's an interesting addition to a camera that has not been specifically designed for wildlife or sports photography, in which a longer "reach" with the narrower field of view or smaller, quicker-to-write file sizes are potentially advantageous. Nevertheless, for a camera with such a massive resolution, it'll be pumping out huge file sizes -- especially when shooting RAW -- so, for situations were full resolution files are not needed, the option to crop down a bit for smaller files can be very useful. With the 1.3x crop mode -- effectively the FOV of the Canon's unique APS-H sensor size -- the images will be about 30.5-megapixels and the 1.6x crop for an APS-C FOV will be about 19.6-megapixels. As with other Canon EOS cameras, there are also variable quality/resolution sizes for JPEG files as well M-RAW (28MP) and S-RAW (12.4MP) options.

The Canon 5DS also adds a USB 3.0 port, a notable improvement to the USB 2.0 port on the 5D3. For studio and other tethered shooting situations, the significantly faster transfer rate that USB 3.0 offers will undoubtedly help speed up workflow with the 5DS' massive 50MP files.

The viewfinder itself also get a slight upgrade. While the focusing display with the 61-point AF system remains the same as the 5D Mark III, the 5DS R gains AF point illumination during AI Servo AF like the 1D X and the text display now matches that from the new 7D Mark II. Also with the new crop modes, framing guides will be displayed in the viewfinder to help with composition and framing.

For landscape photography, long exposures and other types of shots where detail is critical and the reduction of any sort of vibration is crucial, mirror lockup has been a key feature for photographers. The Canon 5DS, not surprisingly, includes the standard two-press method, in which you press the shutter button once to lock up the mirror and then a second time to capture the photo. However, there could still be some residual vibration in the camera or tripod from the shutter movement and from the photographer physically touching the camera, and so Canon has included a shutter delay feature. You can now set a timed delay between when you press the shutter button to lock up the mirror and when the camera takes the photo. You only have to press the shutter button once and you can allow the vibrations to calm down before the photo is captured.

Vibrations are further controlled with a newly designed mirror mechanism. In the 5D Mark III, the mirror mechanism was spring-driven, and as such, it could induce a lot of vibration at the top of its travel. With the 5DS, however, the mechanism is motor-driven, which allows the speed to be controlled, and the mirror's speed is actually slowed down just before it hits the top of the its travel. The chassis of the camera itself and the tripod socket has also been carefully tweaked for improved stability.

On the software side, the 5DS brings over the flicker detection from the 7D Mark II to help time shots properly to counteract the fluctuating brightness of certain types of artificial lighting. Canon has also improved Auto White Balance performance. Previously, the sensor was limited to color temperatures ranging from around 3000 Kelvin to 7000 Kelvin, and so extreme color temperatures were still captured incorrectly. With the 5DS, the ability to select ambience priority or white priority, the latter of which will give a much more neutral white balance at extreme color temps.

Fans of the "Q" Button for Canon's Quick Control interface now gain the ability to customize the layout and what settings and other information is displayed.

Canon has also introduced a new Picture Style adjustment option called Fine Detail, which expands the customizability of image sharpness, for both still and video. Essentially functioning similar to Photoshop's Unsharp Mask, you can now tweak and control the strength, fineness and threshold, rather than just having a simple 0-7 scale as on Canon's other DSLRs.

Speaking of video, this is an area with differs radically between the 5DS and the 5D Mark III. The short of it is: if you're serious about video or a multimedia producer who needs expanded video options, the 5DS is not the camera for you. The Canon 5DS is focused primarily as a still photography tool. And while it does have the ability to record video, its options for movie recording, such as resolution and frame rate, focus and audio recording are very limited compared to Canon other current line of HD-DSLRs. For example, video resolution is maxed out at 1080/30p, despite the DIGIC 6 processors that allows for 1080/60p in cameras like the 7D Mark II. Furthermore, the 50-megapixel sensor is not a Dual Pixel AF sensor, so Movie Servo AF will not be as fast and smooth as on the 7D Mark II and 70D. There is also no headphone jack, but at least there's an external microphone input.

Like the 5D Mark III, the 5DS includes dual card slots -- one CompactFlash and one Secure Digital -- however, unlike the Mark III, the SD slot in the 5DS is UHS-I compliant. Also, given the same body design as the 5D Mark III, all the standard Canon accessories, such as batteries and vertical grip, are compatible with the 5DS. And as with the 5D Mark III, the estimated shutter durability is rated at 150,000 cycles.

Available from June 2015, the Canon 5DS is priced as a body-only configuration at an MSRP of US$3,699.

However, if you're yearning for the utmost image resolution and sharpness, Canon has also released a sibling to the 5DS, appropriately called the 5DS R. This version keeps the same 50-megapixel sensor but cancels out the effect of the optical low-pass filter -- a la the Nikon D800E -- for maximum image resolution, sharpness and detail. Otherwise, the two siblings are identical.

Head over to our full Canon 5DS R Review which includes two Field Tests for our take on handling, operation, performance and features which also apply to the Canon 5DS, and be sure to check out our Image Quality Comparison to see how the 5DS compares to the 5DS R to decide which model is the one for you!


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