OK, “torture test” might be overstating things just a bit, but I’ve been meaning to check out a few things related to the capabilities of the autofocus system of my new Canon EOS 5DS R. A few years ago birds, especially winter migratory birds, became one of my photographic passions. While this camera is not really optimized for this sort of photography, I plan to use it for this purpose, as I did my 5DII.
Most often when I photograph birds I use the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens. It usually provides enough reach for my purposes, it focuses accurately and quite quickly, it is sharp, and its flexibility fits my style of photography. (I often pause while photographing the birds and use the lens to photograph landscapes.) It was my understanding that the 5Ds R added the capability to autofocus (AF) at smaller apertures down to f/8. This means that I should be able to add my Canon Extender EF 1.4x III tele-extender to get 560mm at f/8 from this lens.
A few days ago I was doing landscape/seascape photography along the Central California coast between lower Big Sur and San Francisco. On the final afternoon as we drove north we passed a small island where scores of brown pelicans had landed. Continue reading The Canon 5Ds R — Autofocus ‘Torture’ Test→
Ongoing development and refinement of digital camera technology continues to improve cameras and the technical quality of the images they produce. Color accuracy improves, dynamic range expands, sensor resolution increases, AF accuracy gets better, and so on.
The Canon EOS 5Ds and the Canon EOS 5Ds R continue this process. Their most notable feature is the 50.6 megapixel (MP) sensor, currently the highest sensor photo site density available on full frame digital cameras. (Nikon and Sony both produce 36MP sensor cameras using Sony sensors, and Sony has announced an upcoming camera with a 42MP sensor. Note that the differences between 36MP, 42MP, and 50.6MP are less than you might expect.)
When it comes to dynamic range — the ability of the sensor to record a wide range of luminosity levels from very bright to quite dark in a single exposure — Sony is the current champion, and cameras using their sensors have the largest available dynamic range among comparable cameras.
(All current digital cameras capture images with more dynamic range than we can display on monitors or in prints — the display media cannot keep up with the capture technology. Consequently, the primary advantage of greater dynamic range comes in post-production, where the photographer will find more useful scene data in darker areas that can be “pushed” or otherwise recovered while maintaining useful image quality.)
If you can get more dynamic range without giving up anything else, there is no reason not to have it. In marginal situations, that extra bit of dynamic range might enable you to get a bit more image data in a single exposure, while a photographer with a camera providing less dynamic range is a bit more likely to have to use exposure bracketing or HDR techniques (which combine multiple images in post-production), use a graduated neutral density filter, or possibly find ways to suppress noise in shadow areas of scenes with very wide dynamic range. That said, all current high quality digital cameras capture a wide dynamic range — much larger, for example, that was possible with typical film media.
A few days ago I spent four days in the high Sierra making photographs. At the end of one evening I made a photograph that isn’t intended to have any particular aesthetic value, but which was intended as a test of something about my new camera, a Canon EOS 5Ds R.* So I pointed it up at the top of this nearby granite dome just as the last light washed over its summit.
First, the resulting photograph — which is, I will be the first to admit, not a stunning example of photographic art!
Next a crop from the same photograph showing a little surprise at the edge of the precipice. This is the same photograph, but this time a 100% magnification crop of a 600 x 450 pixel section. (You’ll have to click on the photos to see the 600 x 450 versions, since the design of this website slightly downsizes photos posted at that size.)
I’ll share some other examples later that are better optimized to show the resolution potential of this camera — photographs using something closer to the diffraction-limited aperture, focal lengths not at the extreme long end, with a lens that has even better resolution potential, and with a subject that is not so far away. (The distance introduces atmospheric elements that reduce resolution.)
Not bad, I’d say.
Added later: Someone asked how the 5Ds R handles the fine details of feathers. I’m sorry to say that I have not photographed birds yet — that is more of winter thing for me. However, while making landscape photographs this past week, deer wandered into several of my scenes and I went ahead and photographed them. The following 100% magnification crop (actual pixel size) was also made using the EOS 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II at 400mm, f/5.6, IS and AF on, ISO 100. The critter was in shadow, and exposure has been pushed here roughly a full stop. (Click the image to see the original 600 x 450 pixel image — the version on this page is slightly downsized.)
Links to the Canon EOS 5Ds and the Canon EOS 5Ds R in this article go to site-sponsor B&H photography with whom I have an affiliate relationship. When you purchase through these links your price is the same, but a small percentage is returned to help support this website.
If you are a Canon-using photographer you are almost certainly aware that Canon has released two new DSLR cameras in the 5D series, the 5DS and the 5DS R models. Both provide approximately 50 megapixels (MP) of sensor resolution along with some other improvements. The cameras seem to be an excellent next evolutionary step for Canon photographers who can use the additional resolution.
I have the 5DS R model and I’ve had the chance to photograph with it twice as of this date. I have been asked to share my thoughts on the camera, but it is still a bit too early for me to write a full report — I want to make more photographs with it and I want to make some very large prints from the files first. Meanwhile I can share a few things: Continue reading Canon EOS 5DsR Quick Update→
Earlier today I came across a question someone asked about “typical landscape photography settings.” I think their goal was to determine whether to make settings manually or automate them, what sort of initial settings might be useful, what techniques might be employed in typical situations, and so on. That covers a lot of ground, and there is a ton of room for variation depending on your goals and idea of what landscape photography is and is not.
In fact, at first the question seemed so broad and general that I wasn’t going to reply. However, rather than ignoring the question, I decided to offer a quick summary of some of the general techniques I may employ when making a landscape photograph. And since I had already written it I thought it might be useful to share it here, too.
(Of course, I have to acknowledge that this doesn’t address the most important things about landscape photography, namely how to approach the landscape, how to “see” the landscape as an esthetic subject, and how to go beyond mere technique to focus on the image itself and what it can express. That is another post. Or chapter. Or book. Or two. Or more.)
So, on to the short “answer,” or at least to my reply…
Everyone has their own approach to landscape photography, but most folks I know photograph landscape using manual settings and manually focusing using live view. My typical starting point includes the following: Continue reading Landscape Photography Settings→
The 5DS (including the 5DS R variant) is Canon’s new 50.6MP full frame DSLR. The camera provides the highest resolution sensor of any current full frame cameras, along with several other improved features.
(The 5DS R model cancels the anti-aliasing filter that has long been a standard feature of digital cameras. The “R” model is back-ordered, so those who want that version and don’t want to wait should consider putting in an order.)
(You may use the links in this paragraph to order/reserve either the 5DS or the 5DS R from site-sponsor B&H photo. I have reserved mine — I’m going with the “R” model.)
(Note: The images were not included in the original post, which instead included text links only. The images are now part of the post.)
I just took a break and had time to play with a Canon 5Ds raw file that I found on the web. (Anyone wanting to look at files from the 5Ds should head on over to that link right now — there are something like 90+ files to look at.) It was made with the 5Ds at ISO 100, f/8, 1/400 second. It isn’t clear what lens was used, but it appears that it could have been either the 50mm f/1.8 STM lens or the 24-70mm f/2.8 II.
I opened the file in ACR. I made no adjustments to curves, color, etc. I let ACR automatically correct for CA. Default ACR sharpening used at 15 with masking at 50.
I brought the converted file into Photoshop as a smart object to allow for non-destructive re-editing in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). I confirmed that shadow areas along the waterline of the boats have luminosity values of 0 — I did this by checking the Lab color representation and watching the L value, which hits 0 in several spots. The general area is shown by the rectangle in the following image: Continue reading Looking at Canon 5Ds Raw Files: Noise and Dynamic Range→