Testing the BIG sensor -> Canon 5DS 50.6MP!!

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Ken St John
I checked out a Canon 5DS body this weekend from Canon Pro Services. It's a 50.6 MP beast. I've been looking at them for the past few months on the used market as we're planning another trip in a few months, and are currently planning to stay 2 nights in Monument Valley, one of my all time favorite places to shoot. Although my 6D Mk II is no slouch at 26.2 MP, I've been wondering if the extra MP might come handy on this trip.

Here's a quick first shot of our car in the driveway. The original RAW file is 60+MB!!
5DS Test 1-3.jpg
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Interestingly, one thing I can say right now is I do not like the basic ergonomics of the 5DS!! It's clearly older tech, therefore there's no touch screen, no articulated screen, no built in GPS, no built in BT/wifi, etc. The body is bigger in size and it does have a nice feel to it, and the shutter is quieter than mine. In Nikon-land, more like the D750/D800 vs D850 ... but with a HUGE sensor!!

I'll be busy this weekend ... check back for a full discussion!!

Ken
 
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I shoot with the sony a7riv, 61mp. The files are huge, they clog up your computer and fill up storage faster than you can imagine. I often print BIG, so I need every pixel I can get my hands on.
If you do not routinely print, the bigger files offer little benefit. If, like many photographers, you never print bigger than 8x10 and most of your work is viewed on line- the bigger pixel counts don’t do much. I try to build a system based on my present needs. If you need a pickup truck, you don’t go out and by a huge dump truck.
Gary
 
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I shoot with the sony a7riv, 61mp. The files are huge, they clog up your computer and fill up storage faster than you can imagine. I often print BIG, so I need every pixel I can get my hands on.
If you do not routinely print, the bigger files offer little benefit. If, like many photographers, you never print bigger than 8x10 and most of your work is viewed on line- the bigger pixel counts don’t do much. I try to build a system based on my present needs. If you need a pickup truck, you don’t go out and by a huge dump truck.
Gary
True ... and after a whopping three shots, I tend to agree!! However, I've seen so many wonderful landscapes where every pixel counts that I've been thinking that "more is always better" might have some truth in it.

What I really appreciate is the chance to try this option out at virtually no cost (just return postage). We'll see ...

Ken
 
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Had some time this weekend for a better test ... and if you want the Reader's Digest version: I'll pack this body up today, send it back, and will not be buying a used 5DS!!

Here's three sets of images that explain my rationale. These sets from the 5DS (50.6MP) are CR2/RAW file images. The first is the familiar Space Needle from I-5 (since we were moving at 60+ MPH these are a tad soft focus-wise). Here's the full frame (only a little "Auto" touchup in LR added):
Needle Full Frame.jpg
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Here's 100% crop (all screenshots from my LG 4k monitor):
Needle 100.png
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At 200%:
Needle 200.png
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And, at 400%:
Needle 400.png
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Another example (better focus this time as I was stationary, although the subject moved!). Full frame:
Plane Full Frame.jpg
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Crop at 100%:
Plane 100.png
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Crop at 200%:
Plane 200.png
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And, crop at 400%:
Plane 400.png
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For comparison, here's a set from my 6D MkII (26.2MP), all taken from JPG's: The full frame:
Bridge Full.jpg
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Crop at 100%:
Bridge 100.png
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Crop at 200%:
Bridge 200.png
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And, finally, crop at 400%:
Bridge 400.png
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Clearly my 6DII drops off a lot after 200% ...

I realize that to be a totally fair test, this should have been done side by side, same ISO, all RAW, same lenses, tripod for stability, etc. But, I was really just looking for any subtle improvements the larger MP sensor gave me, for the kinds of landscapes I shoot, and I really don't see any. We've got an upcoming car trip through Utah and Arizona, and I want to make sure I capture as many usable pixels as I can!! After looking closely at the shots I captured over the weekend, I'm confident my 6DII is just fine.

Also, the ergonomics using the 5DS are clearly a step back from my 6DII!! I really missed the touch screen for the menus, the built in GPS and so on!!

(On a side note: this is the third time I've borrowed things from Canon Pro Services, 2 x lenses, and then this body. On all three occasions, I decided NOT to buy the items!! I suspect this runs counter to the company's marketing plans for these loans!!)

Cheers!!

Ken
 
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How fast was the I-90 bridge moving? :D

High pixel density sensors demand more care in handling to really shine.
The bridge was stationary ... but we were moving at the posted 60MPH speed limit (or maybe a little more ...) which my wife snapped these.

Agree that a stationary tripod, etc., would have helped. But I was mainly looking for subtleties and really didn't see many.

Ken
 
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There is no data here to compare. Too many variables. Different lenses, different shooting environments, heck it sounds even like different shooters.
This does allow you to come to any conclusion you wish.
None of the 5DS images are sharp. If that is the best it can do I would send it back as well. Is it broken?
Testing a camera while driving down the road at 60mpg is fraught with issues. I can tell the difference between careful handholding and a tripod almost all the time. That is where the fine detail lives. Having the camera flying along at 60mph throws all the subtleties out the proverbial window.
What many forget is looking at a 50megapixel image at 100% is much different than looking at a 26mpx image at 100%, scale the larger image back until it is the same size as the smaller file and you can do a more accurate comparison.
But, as you discovered- a new camera will rarely change our art.
gary
 
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Frankly I love pixels for landscapes. For cityscapes, I've settled on 20/24 mp as really more than good enough and probably 90% of the time 24 is more than good enough for countryscapes. But there is just something seductive (maybe addictive is more accurate) about high (45+) mp landscapes with quality glass.

I'm the first to admit that it is irrational as I rarely print large enough to be able to tell the difference from normal viewing distances . . . but there it is.
 
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As impressive as this body is, and the more I look at the images I got this past weekend, the more I can see subtle differences. However, at the resolutions I print at (generally 13x19 at home and no more than 20x30 commercially), I'm not convinced I'd really see much difference. The 5DS (on the right below) is a bit larger than my 6D2, and a tad heavier. Not a significant difference, but noticeable.
IMG_0190.jpeg
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What was noticeable was the ergonomics and feature set of my 6D2 is clearly more advanced. When I moved my memory card back and reformatted it, it took just a few seconds to tap the touchscreen and compete the task. Much better than the joystick method, although I'm sure over time I would get used to it.

All in all ... it was a fun experiment, but I'm pretty happy as is so back it went!!

There is also this: I shot just over 100 RAW images ... and it's taking up 5.98GB of space!! Yikes .... that would surely fill up my data drive in short order!!

Plus ... I just saw this that may be out before the Tokyo Olympics. Just in case I win the lottery in the next few weeks ...
R3.jpg
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No specs listed ... but I am sure it will be very expensive!!

Thanks for dropping by!!

Ken
 
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Wish you'd given it a fair test, and done some real world crops (as you would when cropping to print). Oh well, you have scored a few points by not giving in to temptation . . . .
Actually, I did try some of that ... even a few prints on the Pro-100. My ancient eyes couldn't see anything that was all that special.

Ken
 
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