Tag Archives: dslr

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 $1200.

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. $925. Does not include a lens.

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

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 — 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

The Canon EOS 5Ds R — Resolution Examples

… and the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

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.

The technical information about the photograph:

First, the resulting photograph — which is, I will be the first to admit, not a stunning example of photographic art!

Lembert Dome Sunset Watcher
A lone person watches the Sierra sunset from the summit of Lembert Dome

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.)

Lembert Dome Sunset Watcher (crop)
A lone person watches the Sierra sunset from the summit of Lembert Dome

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.)

Deer — 100% magnification crop at 600 x 450
5Ds R, EOS 100-400mm f/4.5-f.5L IS II @ 400mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 100, AF and IS in us

And one more example, also a 100% magnification crop: Canon EOS 5Ds R, ISO 100, 1/13 second, f/8, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II @ 105mm

100% Magnification Crop — 5Ds R & 100-400 v2 lens
Canon EOS 5Ds R, ISO 100, 1/13 second, f/8, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-f5.6L IS II lens @ 105mm

5Ds and 5Ds R Articles:

  • 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.

Mentioned in this article:

© Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.


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


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

New Canon EOS 5Ds In Stock

Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR
Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR

As of this morning, the new Canon EOS 5Ds is in stock right now at various dealers, including site-sponsor B&H Photo.

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.)

Articles on the 5Ds and 5Ds R on this website:


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Looking at Canon 5Ds Raw Files: Noise and Dynamic Range

(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

Canon EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R Release Near?

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.

Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR
Canon EOS 5Ds DSLR

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.

Continue reading Canon EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R Release Near?