Canon 5DS/5DSR hands-on preview

This past weekend I was invited to attend the official start of Canon's event promoting their new 5DS and 5DSR.  These are their new 50+ megapixel beasts and the latest in the 5D-lineup.  As well the opportuniy to try out each of the cameras there were also professional photographers speaking about their work & experiences with each camera.  A scattering of other companies promoting everything from printer paper to 4k monitors rounded out the show.

With 50.6 megapixels, extreme resolution is the main USP for the new cameras and the 5DSR goes a step further, removing the low-pass AA filter.  What this means is that you get even sharper images at the expense of increased moire in certain circumstances.  Generally speaking it's going to be an acceptable trade-off if the promo images are anything to go by.

Hosted in the National Library, the event was full and pretty buzzing with people wanting to get their hands on the cameras and check out the much-touted resolution improvement.  The bulk of the display area was taken up with a huge fixed "experience zone" where half of dozen of each camera, outfitted with a wide range of lenses, was pointed at the static display area.  As well as this, the inner ring of cameras were tethered directly into DPP so you could see the results of your test shots immediatly, a sensible idea since the LCD screens on the rear aren't enough to truly see the improved resolution.

Quite how much some of the people were looking at the cameras vs. simply checking out the models is an interesting question though...

Some of the nature shots taken on the 5DSR were absolutely awesome.  The one on the right particularly caught my eye.  These are pretty large, maybe A2-size, prints yet held up to really close inspection.  Impressive.

The 5DSR and the new 11-24mm - we only need one kidney right?  Because I need new toys!

Keep an eye out for a review of the 11-24mm lens very soon, I've been promised one as soon as the SEA Games are over :) The huge FOV from this lens at 11mm is astonishing and the effective out rapidly zooming in/out is a little trippy! 

Even with some chunky continuous lighting it was still less-than-optimal lighting in the "experience zone".  Ducking out one of the 3rd party lectures early was the best time to get some uninterrupted hands-on with the 5DSR in particular, most people seemed interested in the R-version over it's "vanilla" sibling.

There were three main speakers on the day with the keynote presentation delivered by Kevin Ou.  I liked that each presentation covered a different style of shooting and although it was all very clearly a sales pitch, from a photographic perspective all of the speakers seemed very genuine in their praise for the new kit and the examples they used to highlight the capabilities were genuinely impressive. Kevin Ou & Raymond Phang, covering celebrity/fashion & wedding photography respectively, were my personal favourites on the day.  Though neither genre is something I'm really experienced (or dare I say, not usually interested in either!), what they had to say and show me was very engaging.  Their talks were worth listening to on their own, without even getting a chance to use the 5DSR.

As for the cameras themselves, though I only had 10-15 minutes with each of the new models it was long enough to get some first impressions.  Sadly I wasn't allowed to shoot on my own memory card so I can't share any of my own sample images yet and I also didn't see any of the 5DS images at full resolution on the computer.  Both cameras handled as well as you'd expect and both were instantly familiar - Canon does do the useability side of things very consistently, which helps a lot - and although they were noticeably heavier than the 6D I was toting around, neither was disproportinately heavy.  Most of the bulk came from the lenses anyway.  

The biggest question I had was if I could see the improved resolution when I shot tethered.  In all honesty, despite shooting RAW+JPG on a tripod mounted camera I only shot a couple of images that were sharp enough at 100% to really stand out though given the conditions I'm not surprised. I'll have more time to experiment when I get a review unit but to get the absolute best out of the enhanced sensors you're going to need to either take your time or have perfect conditions - neither was really an option on the day.  First impressions?  Cautiously positive :)

Still, seeing the 100% cropped promo shots is enough to keep me excited about these and to put them through their paces very soon!  I do wonder where the 5DS will lie in relation to the 5DSR - I don't yet understand why you would buy the non-R version - but I'll have to wait and see...

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Release dates & prices for the cameras in SG and the UK have not been officially announced but they are expected to be on shelves around the end of June priced at approximately S$5200/£2500 for the 5DSR with the 5DS coming in a little cheaper.