Canon EOS 5DS stellar image quality

Good for commercial, landscape and fashion photographers who need super-large prints

With the EOS 5DS and 5DSR, both high-resolution full-frame DSLRs, Canon is targeting commercial, landscape and fashion photographers who need super-large printouts for billboards or art galleries.

Both have the same 50.6-mega pixel full-frame image sensor, dual Digic 6 image processors, a shooting speed of five frames per second, 3-inch LCD screen and 61-point autofocusing (AF) system.

The only difference between the two is the lack of an anti-aliasing (AA) filter, which Canon terms as "self-cancelling" AA system, in the 5DSR. The 5DSR costs $300 more than the 5DS ($5,099, body only).

The AA filter is meant to reduce the moire effect, or jagged edges. Omitting this filter produces images that are sharper and possess finer details.


  • PRICE: $5,099 (body only)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 50.6-megapixel full-frame CMOS

    DISPLAY: 3.2-inch LCD with 1,040,000 dots; optical viewfinder

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 50 to 12,800

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 5 frames per second

    WEIGHT: 930g (body with battery and memory card)


    FEATURES 1 2 3 4 5

    DESIGN 1 2 3 4 5

    PERFORMANCE 1 2 3 4 5

    BATTERY LIFE 1 2 3 4 5

    VALUE FOR MONEY 1 2 3 4 5

    OVERALL 1 2 3 4 5

    (ST Digital Editor's Choice)

But for a fashion photographer who may be called upon to photograph clothing with stripes, which would be bound to exhibit the moire effect, the 5DS might be a better idea. I tried out the 5DS using my own EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens and the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 C lens that I recently reviewed.


The 5DS looks like its cousin, the EOS 5D MK III, launched in 2012. Its magnesium alloy body is weather sealed to resist dust and moisture. The build is solid and sturdy.

I love the 5DS' ergonomic contoured grip and generously-arched thumb rest. My fingers wrapped around the grip and thumb rest very comfortably.

The button layout and controls are well thought out and intuitive, especially for those who are used to Canon DSLRs of this class.

If you are thinking of upgrading from a 5D series camera, you will feel right at home with the 5DS. Plus, you can easily reassign functions to many of the controls, for example, you can assign the depth-of-field button to a toggle button between One Shot and Al Servo shooting.

I still do not understand the need for the Rate button, which sits to the left of the display. It first appeared in the 5D MK III, and this button is used to rate how many stars - up to five - a picture gets.

Maybe it can be reassigned to a more useful function, such as toggling between JPEG and RAW shooting formats.

I do like the addition of the Creative Photo button above the Rate button. Press the Creative Button during playback, and you can see two images displayed side by side for comparison.


Start-up and shutdown of this camera are immediate. Shutter lag is non-existent.

Using a CF card rated at 30MB per second, I shot 15 images in RAW format in 3sec before the buffer ran out of space. This is in line with what is advertised.

In bright sunlight, autofocusing is instantaneous. And in dim lighting, focusing takes less than a second.

In very dim conditions, it can lock on to a focus within 2 sec. Most DSLRs would not even arrive at a sharp focus under such conditions.


Image quality is simply stellar. Even in the darker areas, there is such a wealth of details.

You can differentiate each strand of hair in an eyebrow, and pick up even the slightest of blemishes on a subject's skin.

The images shot by 5DS are razor sharp. But the sharpness is uneven across the frame. At the edges, it tends to be slightly softer. Not a big issue though. Auto white balance is generally spot on in both natural and artificial light.

As I usually shoot in standard mode for reviews, the colour reproduction is not as vivid as in other modes or DSLRs.

But I prefer this neutral tone, as I can tweak the contrast in post-processing.

Image noise performance is equally splendid. There are no noise artefacts until ISO 3,200. While chromatic noise is visible at IS0 6,400, images are still usable. But nothing beyond that is recommended.

Battery life is very good at 700 stills on a full charge.

But certainly not as good as the 5D MK III's battery, which is good for 950 stills.

For photojournalists or photographers who work on a variety of assignments, the Canon EOS 5D MK III will continue to be your workhorse. However, if you do not need the speed but require the high resolution, the Canon EOS 5DS is the DSLR you want.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2015, with the headline 'Canon EOS 5DS stellar image quality'. Print Edition | Subscribe