Canon has unveiled two successors to its popular 5D series: the EOS 5Ds and EOS 5Ds R, which share a staggering 50.6MP sensor. We get hands-on for a first look

Product Overview

Canon EOS 5Ds


Canon EOS 5Ds Review – Hands-on First Look


Canon EOS 5Ds Review and 5Ds R Review – Hands-on First Look

Canon EOS 5Ds at a glance:

•    50.6 MP CMOS sensor
•    Dual DIGIC 6 image processors
•    ISO 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 50-12,800
•    5fps continuous shooting
•    61-point AF system with 41 cross types
•    1.3x (30MP) and 1.6x (19MP) crop modes available
•    EOS 5Ds (body only) £2999, EOS 5Ds R (body only) £3199

Those who were wondering whether Canon would bring out anything of note in 2015 can consider that question well and truly settled. The manufacturer has today unveiled two new full-frame DSLRs that build on the phenomenal success of its EOS 5D Mark III – the EOS 5Ds and EOS 5Ds R, which both come sporting a world-first 50.6MP full-frame sensor.

The EOS 5Ds marks a new standard in full-frame resolution

The EOS 5Ds marks a new standard in full-frame resolution

As you might imagine, these cameras are pitched towards photographers who want to record an enormous level of detail. The two are identical save for one key difference: the EOS 5Ds incorporates an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) in front of the sensor to militate against moiré and false colour effects. The EOS 5Ds R forgoes this filter in favour of maximising the resolving power of that massive sensor (it’s the same approach we’ve seen previously on the Nikon D800 and D800E). For simplicity we’ll refer solely to the EOS 5Ds from here on, but keep in mind that everything we’re saying about the EOS 5Ds applies to its stablemate the EOS 5Ds R as well.

So, what else is new? For a start, Canon has introduced in-camera crop modes, specifically 1.3x and 1.6x crop modes that allow photographers to get a little more reach from their EF lenses, though this does come with a resolution cost – the 1.3x crop produces 30MP images, while the 1.6x crop produces 19MP images.

There’s also been some tinkering by Canon in the mirror box assembly, designed to eliminate any risk of mirror movement causing image blur. A new vibration control system for the mirror is implemented for smoother operation, and this certainly seems to be the case – in our hands-on experience with the EOS 5Ds, we found its shutter release to be noticeably quieter than that of the EOS 5D Mark III.

Shutter action is smoother and faster than that of previous 5D cameras

Shutter action is smoother and faster than that of previous 5D cameras

The Canon EOS 5Ds’s sensor offers a native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50-12,800. This may seem a little middling, especially when compared to the previous EOS 5D Mark III (native ISO 100-12,800, expandable ISO 50-102,400), though Canon would no doubt argue that this sensitivity ceiling will be sufficient for the target audience of this camera. Given that this audience is landscape, fashion and architectural photographers, we would be inclined to agree.

The 5Ds liberally borrows its features and internals from previous Canon success stories. The dual DIGIC 6 processors are borrowed from Canon’s flagship model, the EOS 1D X, and are equipped to handle the enormous volumes of information coming from that 50.6MP sensor, and to allow the camera to shoot at up to 5fps (a shade slower than the EOS 5D Mark III). The AF system is inherited the superb 61-point example with 41 sensitive cross-type points, including five dual cross-type points at f/2.8, from the EOS 5D Mark III.

With regards to exposure and metering, the 5Ds houses a 150k-pixel RBG+IR metering sensor that made its debut in the recent Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Also lifted from that camera is the flicker detection technology that adjusts for minor fluctuations from a light source.

Externally too the 5Ds borrows from what’s gone before, with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body that will look and feel very familiar to any photographer who has used a 5D Mark III, though gold lettering (gold and red on the 5Ds R) helps mark the model out as the premium camera that it is. It is powered by the same rechargeable LP-E6N Li-ion battery as previous entries to the 5D series, capable of firing off up to 700 shots per charge. The body is also compatible with the Canon BG-E11 battery grip.

The Canon EOS 5Ds with battery

The Canon EOS 5Ds with battery

The 3.2-inch, 1040k-dot Clear View II LCD screen is, once again, inherited from the EOS 5D Mark III, however the Quick Control interface has been made fully customisable. Users can now arrange the layout and type size to their preferences.

The 5Ds is capable of recording video footage at Full HD (1920×1080) resolution, and the user can choose from frame rates of 30, 25 and 24 fps. The headphone port on the side has been done away with, replaced instead with a USB 3.0 terminal. The 3.5mm mic port for external microphones, however, remains, sitting above the PC socket and remote release sockets at the side.

First Impressions

No-one could accuse Canon of being conservative with this release. The 50.6MP sensor housed in the EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R represents a pretty clear shot across the bow against Nikon’s D810 and Sony’s a7R, its closest high-resolution full-frame rivals designed for photographers who want to resolve as much sharpness and detail as possible. It inherits the best of what’s gone before, including the solid build and design that has seen the EOS 5D Mark II become such a phenomenally popular camera. The 1.3x and 1.6x crop modes prove a welcome addition, and it’s particularly impressive how the AF coverage stretches to the corners of the frame in 1.6x mode.

A 50MP sensor may sound like it has potential for disaster in terms of slowing down the camera’s operation, but Canon looks to have risen to the challenge by shoving in two powerful DIGIC 6 image processors. During our hands-on with the 5Ds we were impressed by how smoothly it ran even when producing large files and set to continuous shooting.

However, just because the camera can handle these enormous files, that doesn’t mean the rest of your equipment can. Will anything but the fastest and most expensive computers be able to run these  huge image files with anything like acceptable speed in post-processing? Will this camera be simply impractical for users who can’t afford to invest in state-of-the-art computers? We’re not sure, but we plan to find out. Keep checking back for our full review when the sample arrives at WDC headquarters.

The EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R are expected to hit the UK in June. The Canon EOS 5Ds will hit the market at £2999.99, while the EOS 5Ds R will cost £199 more, with an asking price of £3199.99.