Canon 5Ds Review

I had the privilege of shooting with a pre-production Canon 5Ds the last few days. What a camera!! Below is a brief review of that new camera Canon 5Ds, I will post a full review in the next few weeks on my website.

Canon 5Ds - New Features:

Take the 5D MkIII’s body, install a 50 Million pixel full frame sensor into it and add some of the 7D MkII’s feature plus some brand new features never seen before and you have a 5DS. The 5DS inherited the following features from the 7D MkII: Interval Timer, Bulb Timer, Anti Flickering and as well as the Viewfinder display settings where you can see the Electronic Level, and shooting function information in the viewfinder.

The all new features are, and I will talk about them in detail below:

Cropping feature with masked viewfinder display, Customizable “Q” screen, New Picture Style called Fine Detail, New Auto White Balance called AWB White Priority, new settings under Mirror Lockup and the ability to shoot Time Lapse Movies under the Movie menu. In the camera is an all-new damping mechanism for the mirror, same AF system as the 5D MkIII but with added and improved iTR system that comes from the 7D MkII. Same 150,000 pixel metering sensor as the 7D MkII, plus the ability to set over/under exposure compensation in Manual mode when using Auto ISO. Let’s look closer at the some of these new features.


Cropping feature:

This was one of the most impressive new features I found on the camera! I allocated the M-Fn button as the shortcut for this function, so that you can change the cropping function without taking your eye of the subject. The function works as follow, if it is disabled no cropping takes place and you utilize all 50 million pixels for the image, if you apply the 1.3x crop (and the way I set the camera up, I just had to press the M-Fn button in and the 1.3x crop will be applied), a mask appears in the viewfinder, greying out the area that will be “cropped” (I have put cropped in inverted commas because the image is not physically cropped, just an instruction is written in the file to apply the 1.3x crop when developing the image, this instruction can be undone at any time, irrelevant if you use DPP, Lightroom or Photoshop. Yes Lightroom and Photoshop can read this instruction!) and you will use 30.5 million pixels for your image. Want to get in closer, just press the M-Fn button again and you get a 1.6x crop, utilising 19.6 million pixels.

review 5DS
review 5DS cropping feature
brief review 5DS

Customize “Q” screen:

Another cool feature, you can customize the Quick Control Screen. As a default there are far too many items on the “Q” screen, and ones you don’t even use. The Custom Quick Control menu (you will find it under the Set Up menu 3) allows you to get rid of the ones you don’t use and replace them with ones that you do use. You can choose from 21 options, plus you can select in what window size they must be.

review 5DS - customize

Picture Style Fine Detail:

Canon has added a new picture style called Fine Detail, hand in hand with the new Picture Style they have changed the Sharpening tool as well. The sharpening tool now includes two new sliders, the first one is called Fineness and for you that new the old Photoshop Unsharp Mask tool, fineness is the same as the radius setting. Fineness control how wide the sharpening will take place along an edge, so small numbers like 1 or 2 will use a much smaller edge width to enhance the edge whilst large numbers like 4 and 5 will use much wider edges and the sharpening effect will be much higher. The second slider is called Threshold, the same as in the Unsharp mask tool in Photoshop. The threshold controls how much the effect will be emphasized based on the contrast difference between the edge and the surrounding area. The smaller the number (1 or 2) the more the effect will be emphasized if the contrast difference is low. The higher the number the less effect will be shown.

review 5DS - picture style

New AWB setting:

AWB now have two options, AWB (Ambience Priority) or AWB (White Priority). This setting is maybe more targeted towards the architecture photographer; AWB (Ambience Priority) is the default setting and the same as all the other camera models AWB. When photographing under tungsten lighting conditions AWB (Ambience Priority) will retain some of the yellow (warm cast) that is created by the tungsten lighting. If you change the WB to the new AWB (White Priority) the yellow cast will be removed.

review 5DS AWB settings

Mirror lock-up:

The usual setting for mirror lock-up is enabled or disabled. If you enable mirror lock-up you have to press the shutter twice to take a picture, first press lifts the mirror, second press opens the shutter. On the 5Ds you now have the option of having a time delay for the shutter to open after the shutter button was pushed ones for the mirror to lift up and lock into position, eliminating the need to press the shutter button again to open the shutter. This is all done to prevent any camera shake when taking images at slow shutter speeds and macro images.

review 5DS - mirror lock up

Time Lapse Movies:

Brand new function for any Canon DSLR, this function is under the Movie menu. You set-up the camera to shoot x amount images (maximum 3600 images) over an x amount intervals (maximum 99 hours 59 minutes 59 seconds). Once the images are taken the camera will produce a time lapse movie. Digital Noise: This must be one of the questions on everybody’s lips. Again I need to emphasize, the camera I used was a pre-production, so this is my findings with this model!! When I looked at the specifications when Canon announced the 5DS/5DSR the ISO range was stated at 100-6400 with the expanded option to have it at ISO 50 and ISO 12800. I thought by myself, well that tells the story; if the range is so small then the camera is going to have noise issues!! I was blown away, yes the 5DS is not as good as the 1DX or the 5D MkIII (and that is because the 1DX has a pixel pitch of 6.9µm and the 5D MkIII has a pixel pitch of 6.25µm) and the 5DS’s pixel pitch is 4.14µm very similar to the 7D MkII’s 4.1, but it is as good as the 7D MkII’s noise levels, and if you take the 5DS file size down to match the 7D MKII’s file size it is at least a stop better than the 7D MkII. I photographed easily with the 5Ds at ISO 1600, yes the noise is more noticeable at 50 million pixels but with DPP 4 you can remove the noise very effectively without losing detail and sharpness. I have added to screen shots, the first one comparing ISO 1600 between the 5DS and 7D MkII and the second image showing the 5DS image reduced to the same size as the 7D MkII’s image but with the 5DS image at ISO 3200 and the 7D MkII’s image at ISO1600. All images below have zero noise reduction, Luminance or Colour noise.

review 5DS digital noise
review 5DS digital noise

Just a final note, the camera is designed to shoot Landscapes and Studio images and if you shoot at ISO’s 50-400, where most of these photographers will operate in, you do not have any noise!!



Well, you have not seen anything like this yet!! The amount of detail you get out of this camera is amazing. See images below:

review 5DS digital noise

Full frame shot at 1/1000sec, f5.6 and ISO 1600

review 5DS digital noise
1.6x Crop shot at 1/500sec, f8 and ISO 160


Shooting with this high pixel camera is not easy at all!! AF needs to be spot on, with 24 million pixels or less cameras you don’t see when the focus was slightly of target but with the 5Ds you see that immediately! I think microadjustment is going to become one of the most used tools with this camera, if the camera slightly front or back focus it shows clearly in the image. If you have the focus spot on then the next point becomes very important and that is camera support. The slightest of movement causes your image not to be sharp. My first attempt with the camera was on a game vehicle shooting from a monopod, what a disaster!! I eventually ended up shooting from a bracket and ball head and that increased the success rate of getting sharp images. If you have the support sorted out shoot at much higher shutter speeds than what you are used to, not only to prevent camera shake but to prevent any motion blur if your subject is not static. The old rule of using a shutter speed equal to the inverse of your lens’s focal length to prevent camera shake is gone with this camera, you need to double or triple this rule, making it a very difficult camera to shoot wildlife with, and yes I know it was not design for that purpose! Not only does the camera show up all you flaws in technique but will also show all the flaws in your lenses. Be sure to use the newer lenses with this camera and be aware of diffraction. With the 5Ds you will have to know where the sweet spot of your lens is, andwhat the maximum aperture is you can use before diffraction becomes a problem and don’t deviate from that as the camera will magnify any flaw.

Manus van Dyk