Several months ago Canon announced that it would release two new high-megapixel DSLR cameras in the 5D series, the 5Ds and the 5Ds R in June. June is now only a couple of days away. Although I don’t have any inside information, there are hints that the release could come as early as the first week of the month.
I think there will be a large pent-up demand for these cameras from Canon photographers, some of whom have watched from the sidelines as companies like Sony and Nikon have introduced higher MP camera bodies. Those who want to get early copies can preorder — here are links to site-sponsor B&H:
The primary value proposition of the new camera series is the 50.6 megapixel sensor. This is a higher sensor resolution than on any other current full-frame DSLR, and it more than doubles the number of photo sites on earlier Canon DSLRs. For photographers who make big prints from DSLR photographs, and especially for those who work with a great deal of care and focus on subjects in which image resolution may become critical, this will likely be significant advance.
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.
An interesting little article at site-sponsor B&H Photo (“History of the Canon 5D“) got me thinking back on this camera a bit today. The 5D was my first full-frame DSLR, as it was for quite a few other photographers. It was not the first full-frame DSLR, but the earlier models arguably made much less of an impact, either because of design issues that prevented them from being as successful or because their cost was simply prohibitive for too many photographers.
Today the 5D may seem dated by comparison to more recent cameras with higher megapixel sensors, additional useful features (dust reduction, video, live view, and more) and sometimes lower prices, back in 2005 the 5D seemed like quite a remarkable development. At this time, almost all photographers were shooting cropped sensor DSLRs and the MP level of sensors was universally a lot lower than what we regard as normal today. So a 12.8MP sensor full frame body seemed – and was! – state of the art in terms of potential image quality. And the price was a “mere” $3299 list $2500 or so – no trivial amount but much less than the price for the equivalent Canon 1-series full frame model that was the likely alternative. Far more people could find a way to afford the $3200 (or, as the price softened, $2500) camera than a $8000 camera.
Of course, the $2500 model was not the $8000 model. The 5D construction, while just fine, was not equal to that of the legendary 1-series tanks. Of course, this also meant that the camera was smaller and lighter – something that quite a few photographers found to be pluses. This was especially true of the large number of landscape photographers, who often carry the gear away from roads on their backs. The AF system was, again by today’s standards, nothing special. But the image quality was as good as it got nearly a decade ago.
I moved up to a 5D Mark II about 3 or 4 years after the introduction of the 5D. The 5DII was a worthy successor to the 5D, nearly doubling the pixel resolution to 22MP and adding a bunch of useful features like live view (which I cannot live without now!), a better display, excellent video quality, a functional dust reduction system, better high ISO performance, and more. In every way the 5DII equals or exceeds the performance of the 5D, but…
The 5D is still as good of a camera as it was back then, photographs made with it still hold up beautifully.
(I have kept my 5D for the past 4 1/2 years or so since I got my 5DII, primarily as a back-up body but occasionally to let me shoot with two cameras at once. That said, the time is finally coming to sell it. I haven’t quite put it on the market yet, but if you are a San Francisco Bay Area photographer who is looking for such a thing, let me know. I’ll also be selling a copy of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L lens – the non-IS version.)
Update July 26, 2014: The 5D body has now gone to someone else who should be able to get good use out of it. Since I occasionally read posts from people thinking of buying one today, I thought I’d finalize this story with some thoughts on that topic.
If you can find a good copy of the original Canon 5D (which some refer to informally as the “5Dc” or “5D Mark I”), it should produce photographs as well as it did when it came out about a decade ago. Many of us used the camera to produce some very wonderful photographs, and it can produce good sized prints if you shoot and post-process with skill and care.
Is it a worthwhile purchase today? That is a complex question.
With current prices floating around the $500 mark as I write this, the thing is certainly inexpensive. It is quite likely the least expensive entry point to full frame DSLR photography. People used it to make good photographs when it first came out, and a good unit should be capable of the same quality today. However, I do not recommend buying a used 5D to very many people. Here’s why…
While the 12MP full frame sensor was remarkable in 2003, today that is more than a bit behind the curve. So while you potentially gain something from the larger sensor, when it comes to system resolution you also lose something to the lower megapixel count sensor. Today even typical cropped sensor bodies have 50% more photo sites. In addition, even the least expensive cropped sensor bodies today have been AF system, better low light performance, faster operation, sensor dust reduction technology, useful features like “live view” and video that are missing from the older 5D.
What if you really need full frame and cannot afford it? This is a tricky question. First, I think that quite a few people who are convinced that they “need” full frame really do not. Current cropped sensor cameras can produce truly excellent image quality. Unless you do some very specific things in your photography, the odds are that you will not get better image quality from the 12MP 5D than you would from even an entry level contemporary cropped sensor DSLR. But let’s say you are still convinced that you need full frame but are on a budget. What are you going to do for lenses? Clearly, you are not going to get the advantages of full frame if you cannot also get good lenses.
While I can imagine a very, very small percentage of camera users for whom the value of the full frame sensor might be great enough in comparison to the many other features that you give up with the 5D, for most people it just isn’t a great deal. And keep in mind that the price of the much more capable Canon 5D Mark II (which adds the features from my list a couple paragraphs up) with its 21MP sensor is rapidly dropping toward the $1000 point. Between $1000 on a 5DII (which is still my primary camera), and $500 for the 5D, I would think about delaying a purchase and saving a bit more.
YMMV, so feel free to leave a question or comment below.
(In another forum someone asked a question – actually, more like posed a challenge – related to how much usable detail and quality could be extracted from a raw file that contained areas of very low luminosity, as could happen with a badly underexposed image or with an image of a scene with a very large dynamic range. Since I went to the work of responding and illustrating my response, I figured that I might as well share it here, too. With minor revisions, here it is.)
First, I actually have a “real” version of this photograph in which highlights were slightly blown, but which I preferred to use since I could bring them back in post and get a bit more shadow detail to start with. (It looks a bit bright to me as an on-screen jpg, but it makes a fine print.) That photograph ended up looking like this:
This photograph and the other I’ll move to below were both shot from a tripod with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at ISO 100 using the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at f/16. While the “keeper” used for the photograph above had a 1/4 second exposure, the example I’ll use below was shot at 1/30 second.
The exposure challenge in this scene was the very large dynamic range between the bright spot of sky at the head of the canyon and the much darker colorful foliage in relatively deep shadow in the foreground. Exposing for optimal quality in the foreground would completely blow out the sky, while exposing for the sky would necessarily grossly underexpose the foreground.
I originally thought that I might like to have four bracketed exposures in case that would let me produce a better final image via layer blending, but it turned out to be unnecessary and the final image (as shown above) has a single source file with no blending. However, this means that I still happen to have one very badly underexposed (by three stops) version at 1/30 second which I’ll use here as the starting point for what I plan to illustrate in this post. Follow along with me and see what I can do with the very underexposed version of the file… Continue reading Post-Processing: A Shadow Recovery Example→
UPDATE: – Canon 5D Mark II bundle for $1599, and very low price on Canon Powershot S100.
Canon 5D Mark II Body for $1599.00 – (click to add to your cart to see the discount price) – bundle also includes Pearstone LP-E6 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (7.4V 1450mAh), Vello BG-C2 Battery Grip for Canon EOS 5D Mark II, SanDisk 16GB CompactFlash Memory Card Extreme 400x UDMA. A word about this camera: I shoot the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Although there is a newer Canon EOS 5D Mark III now, for many photographers the 5D2 will perform extremely well and at barely half the cost. Although I could upgrade to the new 5DIII, I have chosen to stick with the 5DII since it performs so well for me. If you have been waiting to get a full frame Canon camera, this may well be what you have been waiting for!
A quick note this morning about limited time discounts on four popular Canon L zooms at site-affiliate B&H – including the new 24-70mm f/2.8 L II zoom and the popular 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS and 16-35mm f/2.8 L lenses.
I’m occasionally torn about these posts, but then I see that folks are using the posts and their links to order at these seasonally-reduced prices… so I hope that some of you will find the information useful.
Some new holiday deals from site-sponsor B&H follow. You may have to add some of them to your cart to see the lower pricing:
Canon 60D with lens and accessory bundle – list prices total $1643,62, but now $899. Includes Canon EOS 60D, EFS 18-135mm IS lens, 16 GB memory card, Vello remote wireless release, Pearstone spare battery, Lowepro Rezo 170AW shoulder bag. B&H tells me that you must add the bundle at this link to your cart to see the discounted price. Also eligible for 2% rebate offer and free shipping.