Canon EOS 5Ds Quick Field Test

Click images to enlarge.

At 9 AM this morning I took my Canon 5Ds, which arrived last week, for a field test. The location: The Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent, NY - which is about 30 minutes from my home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York and one of the locations on my Rick's Backyard Photo Workshop. Hey! I hope you can join me someday on this workshop, which I run twice a year. You will learn a lot and have a lot of fun. I promise.

My main goal for this quick test was to check out the sharpness of the files from this whopping 50.6 MP digital SLR - because one of the main reasons I choose a camera is image sharpness: I want/need the cleanest possible image. This is especially important, to me, when shooting in low-light/low contrast situations – which is why I chose this location for my test.

I created the opening HDR image for this post from a seven-stop, automatically bracketed sequence. To get the seven stops, I changed the Number of Bracketed Exposure from the default setting of 3 to 7. Setting AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) is fast and easy with this camera. Note: you cannot set AEB when the camera is set to built-in HDR - and vice versa.

I used my Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fish-eye lens and my ISO was set to 160. My camera was set on a tripod.

I processed the series of images in Photomatix.

Above: To check the sharpness of my HDR image, I zoomed in on the two small sections of the original image you see here. Sharp and clean, as expected. And . . . keep in mind the statues are soft in and of themselves.

Above: Here's another set of images that illustrates the clarity of the images from this camera – as well as the sharpness of the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L lens. ISO was 160.

When I zoomed in (right image) the original file not only revealed good detail, but I noticed something I had not seen before: a small carving of a Buddha in the headdress of the larger Buddha.

I used Live View for this shot, as well as for the previous shot. I like the camera's Live View feature because it tells you to Press the Set Switch for AF. Kinda cool. Speaking of cool, here's a cool feature of the 5Ds: Mirror Lockup . . . with the option of choosing a delay from 1/8 second to 2 seconds after pressing the shutter release button. Want to get the steadiest/sharpest shot? Go for mirror lockup!

And speaking of clean, I used the in-camera Long Exposure Noise Reduction feature to get an extra-clean shot.

Above: To digress (from the Buddhist temple but not from cropping) for a minute, being able to crop an image for an end-result image with more impact is important for me. Why? Sometimes,  I simply can't get close enough to the subject. Cropping gives me (and you) a second chance at composition - so the 5Ds gives me even greater cropping possibilities.

I grabbed the shot above on the right with my Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-300mm F/4-5.6 IS USM lens (set at 300mm) while on safari in Kenya. I shot quickly because I did not want to miss capturing the leopard's intense stare. Cropping my image produced a photograph with impact.

Learn more about composition in my KelbyOne class: Composition - the strongest way of seeing.

Above: Continuing on quest to test the camera's image quality, I photographed these small (maybe two inches high) Buddha statues. This is a hand-held shot taken with my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens. My ISO was set at ISO 500. When I zoomed in on a statue near the middle of the frame (my focus point), I could clearly read the writing under each statue.

Above: Here's another 14mm lens shot. Above the painting you'll see just some of the 10,000 Buddha statues that surround the main statue of Buddha. I could not ask for a sharper image.

Above: After my quick indoor, low-light/low contrast test, I headed home to check my results – but not before making this image. I set my camera to the HDR mode and then chose the +/- 2 EV setting and the Art Vivid mode. Here, the in-camera HDR worked beautifully. In much higher contrast situations, I use Photomatix to process my images.

Well, that's my quick Canon EOS 5Ds field test. There are many other camera features I want to test, including the AF system. But that will have to wait. My son is home for a few weeks and I want to spend as much time with him as possible.

Speaking of time, for someone as hyper as I am, the review time of the images is noticeably longer than with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which I used for the leopard image. That increased time is especially noticeable when it comes to in-camera HDR. But heck, everything in photography (and life) is a trade off, and I'd trade a few extra seconds for awesome image quality any day.

That said, my Canon 5Ds will probably be my camera for landscape, portraits and subjects that don't move – although at five frames per second, it's fast enough to capture all the action I need to capture.

I'll probably still use Canon 5D Mark III as my main camera for action shots. I used that camera and the Canon 200-400mm IS with built-in 1.4x teleconverter for this shot of two lions mating in Kenya.

Above: Here's a shot taken with my Canon 100-400mm IS lens (new model). ISO was 400. I converted the image to black and white in Lightroom.

Again, I hope you can join me someday on one of my workshop. Lots of shooting, lots of processing and lots of fun.

Explore the light,
Canon Explorer of Light

What's new? My new (and 36th) book: Creative Visualization for Photographers - which features lessons on Composition, Exposure, Lighting, Learning, Experimenting, Setting Goals, Motivation and more!