Tag Archives: canon

Reader Question: 5Ds/5DsR Print Quality

Reader “Tom” writes to ask:

I’ve read your reports on the 5Dsr.  I assume by now you have one?  Maybe you have different thoughts now, but you seem to point to the new body being good for large print/detail, but maybe not so great for fine art print. 

If that’s still the case, what would you opt for if leaning towards fine art prints, large, maybe a heavily cropped slice measuring say 16″ x 72″ or so? Minus a mf body. 

I’m looking to switch bodies and thinking the 5dsr or possibly the Nikon d810.  Just curious what your thoughts might be if you ever had time. Thanks.

Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR
Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR

It has been a while since I’ve written about the Canon 5DS and the 5DsR cameras here, but since you asked I’ll share more based on my extensive use of the 5DsR over the past months. I have used it to photography everything from landscapes to people to wildlife. I think I see several sub-questions here, so let me respond to each of them.

Are the 5DsR and  5DS good for large prints? Continue reading Reader Question: 5Ds/5DsR Print Quality

Morning Musings: Canon and Mirrorless Cameras

(It has been a while since I’ve written a “morning musings” post, but since I’ve been “musing” about Canon and mirrorless cameras over the past few days and learning a few things about the subject, it seems like time for another such post.)

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few years you are aware of the introduction of so-called mirrorless cameras by several manufacturers and of the increasing sophistication of these cameras. Their features typically include:

  • smaller and lighter bodies that may be reminiscent of older rangefinder film cameras.
  • the ability to allow use of smaller lens designs, due to the shorter distance between the lens mount and the sensor.
  • electronic viewfinders (EVFs) that can incorporate additional useful tools and information into the viewfinder display and which have advantages in low light.
  • designs and features that increasingly appeal to serious photographers.

There are still issues with these cameras, and while much progress has been made and will continue, they still lag behind DSLRs is some areas:

  • battery consumption rates tend to be quite high by comparison to DSLRs.
  • AF performance is uneven and in some cases quite slow.
  • EVFs have latency issues.
  • Not everyone is fond of looking at an EVF monitor instead of the “real” image on focusing screen.
  • With some systems (notably Sony) using a wide range of lenses will likely require the use of third-party adapters.

I’ve been using a Fujifilm X-trans mirrorless system for my travel and street photography for nearly three years. (Mine is a discontinued model, but if I were buying today I would get the Fujifilm XT1 or perhaps the Fujifilm XT10.) Virtually all of my street/travel photographs of the past two years were made with my Fujifilm camera and lenses.  For this photography, the small size and excellent quality of the system compensates for the slower AF speeds and the battery consumption issues.

More recently the Sony A7r and A7rII cameras have gotten a lot of attention. When first introduced, the A7r came with the highest MP full frame sensor then available. The cameras can use (with varying degrees of compatibility and functionality) a wide range of non-Sony lenses, and they have a number of the other pluses associated with mirrorless designs. Several landscape photographer friends use the A7r and A7rII bodies for their tripod-based, manual focus photography, and I know several street/travel photographers who like the system a lot.

Sony and Fujifilm are not the only companies moving in this direction. For example, Olympus and others produce some very fine small mirrorless cameras.

All of which leads to the question: “Where is Canon’s mirrorless offering?” (Or, “Is the EOS-M the best Canon can do?”) Continue reading Morning Musings: Canon and Mirrorless Cameras

Photographic Myths and Platitudes: The Best Camera! (part 1)

Three manufacturers companies now produce widely available full-frame digital cameras with features that are attractive to folks who photograph landscape subjects, among other things. Two of them recently released new models that are getting a lot of attention, and plenty of photographers are interested in their relative merits and perhaps in choosing among them.

The three I’m thinking of are:

Three Full Frame Digital Cameras
Nikon D810, Sony A7rII, Canon 5Ds R

Here is a statement that a thoughtful, experienced, knowledgable photographer who has looked at the options carefully and selected one of them might make:

I chose this camera because it exemplifies the continuing evolution and improvement of digital cameras. It introduces useful and powerful improvements that offer the potential of a range of image quality improvements. The camera has the ability to produce photographs with outstanding image quality in a wide range of conditions and circumstances, and photographers who use it are going to be very pleased with what it can do. It has its pluses and minuses, and other cameras may be a bit stronger or weaker in various areas, but on balance it is a first-class and powerful tool that works extremely well for the most demanding photographers. I recommend that other photographers take a look at it!

The question: To which of the three (and a half?) above-listed cameras does this statement apply?

If you have paid a lot of attention to the passionate and hyperbole-filled discussions and “tests” that inevitably accompany the release of new cameras, you have read proclamations that any one of those is “the best” or even that it will transform your photography.  And it is possible that “the answer” is already obvious to you, and you are certain that one surpasses the others in obvious ways. You might even have come to the conclusion that a photographer choosing one of the other options is making a mistake, is probably unaware of the significance of the error,  and that his/her photographs are likely to suffer as a consequence of this flawed decision.

With all of that in mind, the answer is… Continue reading Photographic Myths and Platitudes: The Best Camera! (part 1)

DSLR & Mirrorless: Flexibility and Adaptability

(Note: This is one of those occasional posts adapted from something I originally wrote elsewhere. This one came from an online discussion of the relative merits of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras and their abilities to work with various lenses and photographic subjects. I have edited the original slightly for its re-use here.)

With all of the recent (justifiable!) interest in new mirrorless camera developments from Sony, there are factors that may persuade some photographers to go slow on giving up DSLRs for mirrorless. (It may also convince them to do what I did — I augmented my DSLR system with a second mirrorless system.) As good as mirrorless cameras are becoming, in particular the full frame Sony A7r and newer A7rII, they have their pluses and minuses when it comes to real-world photography. They can do some things quite well – there are advantages in some cases to the electronic viewfinders, Sony sensors provide state-of-the-art dynamic range, the bodies are compact, and more. They do some things less well — native lenses are few, other lenses require adapters, the autofocus systems are slower than DSLRs, there are still latency issues with the viewfinders, and so on.)

In this context, I recently realized that one of the nice things about the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II Lens and the newer Canon bodies (like my 5Ds R, which is very similar to the 5Ds)  is that they now autofocus (AF) quite well at f/8. The 100-400 len’s maximum f/5.6 aperture at the long end is no longer a barrier to getting 560mm out of the lens by adding the TC.

I’ve only tried the combination on one occasion so far, when the opportunity to photograph wildlife came up on a recent photography venture along the California coast. I put the 100-400 version II and the Canon 1.4x TC on my 5DsR and photographed two wildlife subjects, elephant seals lounging on a beach and pelicans doing everything from flying past to landing to sitting still. (For those who want more information than I can provide here, I wrote about the initial results in a another article.)

While I do not recommend that people whose primary photographic focus is birds in flight rush out and get a 5Ds or 5Ds R, a 100-400 v2, and a 1.4x TC as their primary setup, it does work decently and in some cases extremely well.  Most importantly, it means that my primary landscape photography setup and can also work very effectively with non-landscape subjects, including wildlife — a task that will severely challenge the best current mirrorless options.

The Landing
A brown pelican joins the flock on a rock along the Pacific coast of California

The combination focuses well and provides good resolution, even with moving subjects — though, obviously, not as well as using something like a 1Dx with a 300mm f/2.8 prime. It is good enough that I can track birds in flight and catch sharp photographs of them in motion. Continue reading DSLR & Mirrorless: Flexibility and Adaptability

For Sale: EF 24mm f/1.4L II and EOS 5D Mark II Body

I am selling some equipment that I no longer use:

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L IICanon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II lens – This is the newest version of Canon’s wide-angle, large-aperture 24mm prime lens, known for its excellent image quality and performance at large apertures. This lens is in “like new” condition — no scratches or blemishes, as it was purchased for a particular project and only used minimally for that purpose. Includes lens, both caps, hood, pouch, and original box. Reduced to $1150.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR body-only — This is the 21.2 MP full-frame DSLR body that I have used to make the great majority of the photographs you see on this website and elsewhere. I am selling it now that I have acquired a 5Ds R DSLR body. This is a “well used” camera body — it is not in new condition, but everything works well and nothing is broken. It includes a body cap, several batteries (not new), the charger, the original box, and a few other small odds and ends. This is a fine body for someone on a budget who wants a solid full frame camera. $900. Does not include a lens.

If you are interesting in buying both items as a package… talk to me about a discounted package price.

I prefer a person-to-person cash sale in the San Francisco Bay Area — that way be both know what we’re getting. Leave a comment on this post or email me if you are interested in either item.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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The Canon 5Ds R — Autofocus ‘Torture’ Test

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.

The Landing
A brown pelican joins the flock on a rock along the Pacific coast of California

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

The Canon 5Ds R — Dynamic Range Examples

Updated August 13, 2015 to add a second dynamic range adjustment example.

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 introduced a 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. (Some MF cameras have more dynamic range capability than any current full frame camera. )

(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. (Note, however, that no currently available full frame camera can capture in a single exposure the largest dynamic range scenes that you may encounter.)

With all of that in mind, I thought I’d share a couple examples of files from the Canon 5Ds R that have been pushed quite a bit. Continue reading The Canon 5Ds R — Dynamic Range Examples