Tag Archives: dslr

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!)

Notes:

  • 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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | 500px.com | 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.

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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | 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.

Digital Exposure: Some Basic Rules (Morning Musings 1/10/15)

Earlier this week I read Alan Ross’s fine article about the zone system and the possibility of adapting it for use with digital photography. (“Can the Zone System Go Digital“) It is a fine summary of some very important principles of exposure, and it is one of the most straightforward and readable explanations of the basics concepts of zone system exposure I’ve seen. It also offers a useful way to apply zone system principles to shooting with digital cameras.

Shoreline Reflections, Tenaya Lake
Shoreline Reflections, Tenaya Lake

I don’t use the zone system, but I do expose in ways that often have the same goals, especially when faced with subjects that have a very wide dynamic range (risking a loss of shadow and/or highlight detail) or, oddly, a very narrow dynamic range (where metering systems can try to turn everything neutral gray.) As I read his article I thought it might be fun to try to distill some of my basic principles for exposure down to a very short list. Here it is:

  • Protect the highlights! — Overexposed highlights and bright areas can completely lose detail if they are overexposed with digital photography, and these details may not be recoverable in post.
  • Watch out for dark tones that are too dark — If dark tones go too dark, they may need to be pulled back up in post, and noise, banding, and other artifacts can be the result of radical lightening of dark areas.
  • Consider the most important values in the scene, and adjust exposure to favor them — You may want to compensate for the camera’s tendency to want to make black and white tones end up gray in narrow dynamic range photographs
  • If important, subtle tonal variations are found in the shadows or in the highlights, consider offsetting exposure to protect them — You may want to underexpose just a bit to retain differences among tones in the bright areas. If there are a lot of important details in very dark shadows, you may wish to overexpose a bit.
  • Use the danged histogram — The RGB histogram display quickly tells you a lot of important things about your exposure.
  • Use the camera as the meter — Go ahead and make an exposure to test your settings. While there is a certain historical macho that says you should get it right in a single exposure, or that you should use a handheld meter, modern digital cameras can provide just as much information as external meters.
  • Don’t be afraid to bracket — Sometimes it is simply faster to make several bracketed exposures rather than to figure out one “perfect” one. That may sound like a photographic blasphemy to some… but it works!

Do you have other basic exposure rules that can be applied in a general way?


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+ | 500px.com | 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.

Switching. And Patience. (Morning Musings 9/18/14)

Friday Night, Manhattan
Friday Night, Manhattan*

Today I’m going to muse about equipment, and how to respond to the ongoing and inevitable continuing improvements in the capabilities of photography gear. My primary context is the Canon DSLR gear that I use, though the issue that I’m “musing” about is a more general one.

I shoot mostly with a Canon 5D Mark II camera body, typically using four or fewer lenses. (I also use a Fujifilm X-trans camera for situations where small and light gear is more important than having a full frame sensor.) The 5DII is a 21MP full frame DSLR camera and can produce marvelous photographic results, including quite large high quality prints.

Recently Canon-using photographers have become acutely aware that full frame cameras from Sony (such as the A7r) and Nikon (the D800 and D810 models) incorporate important advances in digital sensor technology. These include greater photo site density (36MP sensors) and increased dynamic range (or “DR” in photospeak), and these cameras have gotten the attention of many serious photographers. (Today the issue came up in the context of a forum discussion of a vague and unsubstantiated rumor of a new Canon camera.)

Since photography relies on the technology of cameras and lenses, photographers are almost always interested in technological improvements. In fact, some folks can become so interested in this that the technology becomes more important to them than the photographs, and it be a challenge to keep things in perspective. Continue reading Switching. And Patience. (Morning Musings 9/18/14)

Canon, Nikon, Sony Deals Ending

Since this is timely, I’m interrupting the “usual stuff” on the blog to share…

Site sponsor B&H reports that a number of Canon, Nikon, and Sony promotion/rebate offers are ending*… and that they will not be extended. There are also rumors floating about that Canon is going to try to return to enforcing MAP (minimum advertised pricing) on their photography equipment in April, and that this could make it more difficult to find bargains for a while.

*IMPORTANT: The B&H website will NOT accept orders between Friday March 28 at 7:15 PM EDT and Saturday, March 19 at 8:45PM EDT. For many of you, this may make TODAY the final day to order!

Follow these links for full details.

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+ | 500px.com | 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.

Canon 6D DSLR and 24-105mm Lens Bundle Deal

I just got an email from B&H Photo about a special bundle pricing on the Canon EOS 6D DSLR bundled with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens$500 off at $1999. (The initial price on the landing page will appear to be $2499—the discounted price appears after you add the product to your shopping cart.)

The 6D is Canon’s excellent full frame DSLR which produces photographic quality essentially equivalent to that of the more expensive 5DIII. The 24-105mmm f/4L IS lens (which I own) is a fine and versatile lens for a wide range of types of photography. The combination is the core of a fine system for many photographers. If you have been considering moving the the full-frame 6D, this sounds like a great deal.

By the way, a few years back I wrote that it would not be all that long before high quality full frame DSLRs would be available in the price range of what were then the high end crop sensor bodies – like today’s 7D. Well, considering what the list price is of this lens alone, we are now there and more!

Canon 6D DSLR with Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Canon 6D DSLR with Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS

(Purchasing via the affiliate link in this post—and by using similar links elsewhere on this blog—helps support the website… and won’t change your purchase price at all. Thanks!)

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+ | 500px.com | 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.

The Original Canon 5D

(Updated July 26, 2014)

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.

Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS 5D

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.

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+ | 500px.com | 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.