Canon EOS 5DS

50.6MP full-frame CMOS sensor | 61-point AF system | 1080/30p video

What we like:

  • Very high resolution for a DSLR
  • iTR brings rudimentary face detection and better subject tracking to the 5D line
  • Excellent build quality and ergonomics

What we don't:

  • Subject recognition and tracking not as good as some peers
  • Limited dynamic range compared to the competition
  • Small ISO range
The Canon EOS 5DS and its nearly identical counterpart, the 5DS R, are two of the highest resolution DSLRs currently on the market, boasting 50MP stills image capture. The distinction is that the 5DS has an optical low pass filter. The 5DS will likely appeal to those worried about moiré occurring in fine patterns, like fabrics, which can require an excessive amount of post-production work to correct. For example, wedding photographers, who can't risk aberrant color appearing in their subjects' wedding dresses.
As one would expect for a pro-level camera, build quality is impeccable, and the control layout will be familiar to anyone who has used a mid-to-high-end Canon DSLR. The 5DS has both SD and CF card slots, a 3.2" fixed LCD and a large optical viewfinder. It has a redesigned, more refined shutter to reduce shutter-induced vibration, though the problem is not completely eliminated.
When the shots are pixel-sharp, image quality is downright incredible
The camera's 150k-pixel metering sensors offers Canon's Intelligent Tracking and Recognition Autofocus (iTR). The system is somewhat inaccurate when it comes to tracking features like eyes, working best when objects are well-isolated in depth. This means that subject tracking can be quite effective for birds-in-flight and some sports, but ultimately isn't as reliable or versatile as we'd like. Its 41 cross-type points ensure decisive AF in challenging lighting, or with low contrast subjects. It's worth nothing that you may have to microadjust your lenses for perfect focus at these resolutions, though.
When shots are pixel-sharp, image quality is downright incredible with bags of detail and Canon's pleasant color reproduction. Low light image quality is quite good, but falls behind some of the competition, and ISO sensitivity is somewhat arbitrarily limited to 12800. Despite some improvement over predecessors, Raw dynamic range continues to be limited, offering less exposure latitude and ability to brighten shadows in post compared to the competition. Landscape photographers, and anyone extensively post-processing files, may find the increased pixel-level noise to be a headache.
Video-wise, the 5DS is not particularly well-suited for any sort of advanced movie capture; offering neither clean HDMI-out, nor headphone sockets. While it's capable of 1080/30p and all intra-frame video, it lacks 1080/60p and 4K capture, and generally offer softer video than the best of the competition. Built-in intervalometer and time-lapse functions are nice to see.
One could argue the 5DS foregoes an emphasis on pure features and instead focuses on core reliability and the consistency of experience we've come to expect of Canon. Ultimately, if you can justify the cost, the 5DS does what it does, well. When used properly, with careful attention to the nuances of high resolution imaging, it can produce truly compelling, rewarding images.

Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared


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