Category Archives: Equipment

Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R Pre-Orders Available


Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR
Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR

Recently Canon announced the upcoming Canon EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R DSLRs, 50.6MP full frame cameras that should provide extremely high system resolution for those of us using full frame DSLRs for our photography. I just got word from site-affiliate B&H Photo that pre-orders are now available for both models of the camera. Yes, I pre-ordered mine…

The two models are nearly identical with the “R” model canceling the anti-alias (“AA”) filter that is present in the non-R model. The R model should be capable of slightly higher resolution, though it could be slightly more susceptible to aliasing and moire effects when shooting certain subjects that contain very small and regular geometric patterns.

Which should you get? Beats me! If you are mostly a landscape photographer the R model might be a good choice. If you photograph subjects that are not natural and which tend to have repeating patterns, the “regular” model might be a safer choice. In the end, I believe that both will produce excellent resolution.

Do you need a 50MP DSLR? That is also a good question. (It extends to asking whether you need a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, whether you need a full frame camera, and more — always important things to consider when making expensive photography equipment purchases.) For most people, such a high resolution sensor will probably not make their photographs visually any better. You certainly are not going to see the difference in web, email, or other images that are displayed on a computer screen. The primary advantages of a 50MP sensor will be for those who work very carefully — typically using excellent lenses and good technique and shoot from the tripod — and who make very large prints that already push the upper boundaries of what is possible with 20+ MP sensors.

How good is it? It is too soon to know for certain, though the picture is becoming clearer as review copies get into the hands of photographers and writers and as more sample images begin to appear on the Internet. Canon has made some sample .jpg images available, and I did some resolution testing with one of them a few weeks ago. I downloaded it and applied some minor post processing of the sort that I would typically use. I resized the image to 30″ x 45″ and  and then make a print of a letter-size section of this image — it looked very good. The detail was excellent and I could not see any concerning distortions or artifacts in the image. Encouraged, I went back to the computer and resized to a truly huge 60″ x 90″ size (!) and made another letter-sized print. Things still looked good for such an extreme enlargement. (You can read more about this test here.)

The estimated release date for the cameras is currently given as “June 2015.” I’ve seen dates as late as June 29 suggested and I’ve also seen speculation that it could be a bit earlier.


New Canon 5DS R DSLR: A Printing Test

(Updated: May 2015)

In February 2015 Canon announced the new EOS 5DS DSLR bodies in two versions: the EOS 5DS and the EOS 5DS R The “R” model does not apply anti-alias filtering (AA-filtering) to the image. This is said to have the potential to optimize image sharpness in some cases, though it increases the risk of aliasing/moire artifacts in photographs that include fine patterns such as fabric, screens, and similar. Both versions of the camera have 50.6MP sensors, which more than double the number of photo sites compared to previous Canon 21MP and 22MP full frame sensors.

A big question for people considering this camera is how much potential for image improvement will come from the higher-MP sensors. My feeling is that the improvement should be meaningful for photographers who already push the upper boundaries of potential print size from full-frame image files, but that the increase in MP will not likely mean amuch to photographers who don’t do this. Since I’m in the former category — and therefore quite interested in the new bodies — I wondered how this might play out in an actual print. (Prints, after all, are where the rubber meets the road with high MP cameras.)

I did not have access to raw files from the new camera at the time of this test, however Canon had made full resolution jpg files available online. (RAW files were not available at the time I conducted the test, but they are not necessary for creating a high quality print, as long as extensive post processing is not used.) I downloaded “Image 2″ from the link, which appears to be a straight-from-camera jpg image made with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS lens at f/11, 1/500 second, at ISO 200. The image is an aerial photograph of a dense downtown area, with many buildings and other details, including some that should reveal moire artifacts if they are going to be an issue.

My entire workflow with the image was as follows:

  1. Open the Canon jpg file in Photoshop CC.
  2. Resize to 30″ x 45″ at 300 ppi
  3. Select a letter-size section of this resized image and crop it out of the full image. Since I am interested in detail reproduction and how the non-AA-filtering body handles potential moire, I took a section that included the radiating spokes of a ferris wheel against the linear forms of buildings.
  4. Apply my customary output sharpening for prints.
  5. Keeping the resolution of the 30″ x 45″ image, I printed the small section on 8.5″ x 11″ Epson Ultrapremium Lustre paper using my Epson 7900 printer.

The results?

If I handed most people the letter-sized print they would probably think, “Not a bad print — not great, but fine.” But they would not likely notice that they were looking at a tiny fraction of an original 30″ x 45″ print. Skillful photographers and printers who looked closely would be able to see some things suggesting this… but once they heard that it was from a 30″ x 45″ inch print, I’m positive that they would join me in being very impressed. Detail is excellent, especially so for such a gigantic print size. I see no obvious examples of moire artifacts, and I’ve looked closely. I do not not see any smearing of colors, and I can see no noise whatsoever in the print.

Since this looked so good, I decided to take things to further and repeat the process — but this time resize to 60″ x 90″ at 300 ppi. For those who don’t know, that would be a very, very big printfour times the print area of the 30″ x 45″ print. Again I selected a letter-size subsection of the final huge image and printed it.

The results?

At this huge size I can certainly see that the image is softer — though whether that is a result of using a 16-35mm ultra wide lens or from the resizing or a combination of the two is open for debate. If you looked at the letter sized print and did not know that it was a crop from an image 5 feet tall and 7.5 feet wide, you would think it was soft. If you made the full print (which I’m not equipped to do!) you would be very impressed. I still see no aliasing/moire artifacts. I do see some slight color smearing in a few areas where there is a sharply delineated edge to a colorful area.

Bottom line: I’m confident that photographers using full frame images to make very large prints are going to like the results from this camera a great deal. I am certainly going to get one — in fact, I have pre-ordered a 5DS R from B&H. (You can do the same using the following links — the cost to you is the same, but you’ll help support this website and article like this one. Thanks in advance!)


  • Update 5/15/15: Since I first posted this article much more information about the cameras has become available, including reports and raw files from parties using late-beta versions of the camera. I have had a chance to look at some raw files and they seem quite good to me in every way that matters to my photography.
  • Update: The cameras are now available for pre-order (as of 3/23/15), and I posted an article with more information more about the cameras.
  • The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Canon’s example file was made with the new EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens. The article has been edited to correct this error.
  • As a side note, the level of detail in the sample image speaks very well for the resolving power of the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS lens.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Canon 50MP 5DS Body, 11-24mm Lens, and Updated Rebel DSLRs

I’ll start with a list, and I’ll add a few comments below.

You may feel differently, but the most interesting announcement to is that of the two versions of the EOS 5DS, a 50.6mp full frame DSLR that seems optimized for image quality. While not everyone will need 50MP in a full frame body, some of us will most certainly benefit from sensor resolution that more than doubles what was previously available from Canon. There are two models, the 5DS and the 5DS R — the 5DS R doesn’t apply anti-aliasing filtering. This has the potential to maximize image sharpness for certain kinds of photographers, and the potential risk of some moire artifacts in photographs of certain types of patterned subjects. The cameras are supposed to begin shipping in June, and I plan to get one — most likely the R model.

For those who like really wide angle zoom lenses, the EF 11-24mm f/4L lens is arguably going to be king of the hill. Early reports are that it is optically excellent, and 11mm is 1mm wider than the excellent 14-24mm Nikon f/2.8 zoom. This lens (as noted above) can apparently now be pre-ordered.

The Rebel T6i and T6s are the newest updated models in the family of consumer Rebel DSLRs. These are fine cameras at a good price, and Canon will no doubt sell tons of them. They use 24mm cropped format sensors, and they are available in body-only version and it kits that include a basic zoom lens. The T6s is said to have a few more “advanced” features added.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Lenses for Landscape Photography (Morning Musings 1/12/15)

This isn’t exactly a regular “morning musings” post, but I wanted to share this stuff and it seemed like a good pretext! This post concerns two related articles at the website:

From time to time I share new posts in my “Photographic Myths and Platitudes” series. These articles deal with common ideas about photography that range from “open to question” to quite wrong. I try to look at these issues from a perspective that is both objective and based on actual photographic practice.

I wrote the first of these two articles about lenses for DSLR landscape photography back in 2010 after reading one too many claims that wide-angle lenses are landscape lenses and that longer focal lengths are not good ‘landscape lenses.’  It shouldn’t be a surprise that I disagree. The first article goes over reasons to consider a wide range of focal lengths for photographing landscape.

When I wrote that first article I realized that there was another notion about landscape photography that needed a closer look, a belief that prime lenses are better than zoom lenses for landscape photography. This long-cherished idea probably has its roots back in an earlier period of photography when all photography (not to mention all landscape photography) was done with prime lenses, and in a somewhat later period when early zoom lenses had some serious shortcomings. But things are a lot different today, and most of the excellent contemporary DSLR (and a great deal of medium format) landscape photography that you see and enjoy today was done with zoom lenses.

Knowing what a sensitive issue this is for some photographers, I delayed writing part II for over four years! I’ll acknowledge in advance that there are some reasons to shoot landscape subjects with non-zoom lenses, and that my perspective is not The Truth about landscape photography lenses. However, I’m certain that the majority of landscape photographers will be best served by today’s excellent zoom lenses.

In any case, part II deals with this issue, and it is available now. I hope you’ll enjoy it and perhaps learn something new.

Morning Musings are somewhat irregular posts in which I write about whatever is on my mind at the moment. Connections to photography may be tenuous at times!

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Photographic Myths and Platitudes — ‘Landscape Photography Lenses’ (Part II)

(The “Myths and Platitudes” series of posts concerns common photographic beliefs that may be questionable.)

Submerged Boulders, Lake, and Cliffs
Submerged Boulders, Lake, and Cliffs

Recently a reader asked me about lenses for landscape photography. As part of my reply (see “Landscape Lenses” in my “reader questions” series) I referred him to the older article on landscape lenses: .”Photographic Myths and Platitudes – ‘Landscape Photography Lenses’ (Part I).” In doing so I realized that “Part I” had been written way back in 2009, and that Part II was way overdue!

The myth or platitude that I left out of  part I is a perennial one: Primes lenses are best  for landscape photography. Given how often this comes up, it might seem surprising that I didn’t write about it sooner, but I put off dealing with it for several reasons. It can become a very big subject. Not everyone cares, since today most photographers have moved happily to zooms. The “primes are best” notion has been cherished by some for a long time. It is a subject about which folks can become quite passionately partisan, perhaps in part because it is one of the gear issues that lend themselves to technical arguments, or because lens choices can be a way to try to align oneself with certain approaches to landscape photography.

Arguments for using prime lenses in landscape photography include the following:

  • Primes can produce higher resolution
  • Primes may better control certain kinds of image distortion
  • Using primes will slow you down and make you think more about your photography. (Conversely, using zooms will make you lazy.)
  • Great landscape photographers have relied on primes for a long time.
  • Primes provide some features that aren’t available from zooms

Before dealing with the question, let me reveal my own background and point of view. Continue reading Photographic Myths and Platitudes — ‘Landscape Photography Lenses’ (Part II)

Reader Questions: Landscape Lenses

From time to time I get questions from readers, and I usually like to share the answers so that other might learn something, too.

Recently “Gregory” wrote:

I just read one of your articles on appropriate lenses to use for landscape photography. I’m a hobbyist photographer in California that has a passion for landscape photography. I sold my Canon equipment and will be purchasing some Nikon lenses and camera body. I wanted to get your input as to what the majority of landscape photographers use – prime lenses or zoom lenses? Based on my limited budget, here is what I am thinking of:

Option A — Primes: 20mm, 28mm, 50mm, 85mm
Option B — Zooms: 24-70mm, 70-200mm
Option C — Zooms: 16-35mm, 24-70mm

I don’t have the budget to purchase both a super wide zoom AND a telephoto. I’ll have to settle for one of these and then acquire an additional zoom later on. I’m thinking the primes maybe slightly sharper in the borders and lighter to carry, but what about the hassle of constantly switching lenses back and forth? Not sure I want to do this. I would appreciate any recommendations/suggestion you might have.

Before I reply here, let me share a couple of articles that I wrote about more or less this topic:

By the end of this article… I probably will not tell you which lenses to select! But perhaps I’ll help you consider factors that will assist in making a good personal decision that is right for your photography.

To a great extent, many of these decisions are personal and they come down to your own personal preferences and the ways in which you approach your subjects. Some people have reasons for preferring prime lenses, some have reasons for preferring zooms, and others have good reasons for wanting both. Some are comfortable working with a relatively narrow range of focal lengths, while other feel the need for a wider range. Some have a predilection for wide-angle lenses, while others are drawn to longer focal lengths. And this doesn’t even get into the questions about tilt/shift lenses and other variables.

I mention this for a couple of reasons. First, there are going to be people who disagree with my preferences — listen to their perspectives, too, and then use your own judgment. Second, consider your own preferences at least as much. Continue reading Reader Questions: Landscape Lenses

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II Lens — A First Look

(Note: Updated 12/24/14 to add thoughts about “who should buy” this lens.)

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS IICanon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II

Canon recently released the successor to their venerable 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens, the new EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens. I have relied on the older model for some time now… but my copy of the new lens arrived a few days ago. Now that I have used it for a day of wildlife and landscape photography I would like to share some first impressions

Four Sandhill Cranes
Four Sandhill Cranes

Four Sandhill Cranes. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 22, 2014.
© Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell — all rights reserved.

First, a few technical details. The new lens covers essentially the same range as the older model — a focal length range of 100mm to 400mm and a variable aperture range of f/4.5 (at 100mm) to f/5.6 (at 400mm). Both lenses use a zoom mechanism that extends at longer focal lengths. However, there are some technical differences:

Continue reading Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II Lens — A First Look