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.
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!
(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!)
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.
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.
Where does the 6D fit into the Canon eco-system? I think that for many people looking for a first full-frame body, and for many whose primary consideration is purely image quality, the 6D is going to hit the sweet spot. A 20 MP full frame image, assuming you shoot with skill and understand how to post-process, can produce an outstanding print in sizes much larger than the typical user will ever produce. There is every reason to think that the image quality produced by this camera will be essentially indistinguishable from that produced by the fine Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I have not used the camera, but from many reports I have read from those who have had their hands on a copy, it sounds like it will be a fine performer.
B&H has the Canon 5D Mark II body on sale for $1799 right now. If you have been holding out for a full frame body, this seems like a great opportunity. While the newer Canon EOS 5D Mark III offers some improved features that can make a difference to some photographers, for others the 5DII can perform essentially equally well. For example, those photographing subjects like landscape or architecture and so on will find that the 5DII produces image quality that essentially equals that of the 5DIII, and that they likely won’t miss the newer features. (I considered upgrading from my 5DII, but I decided that the 5DIII – as fine as it is – won’t provide compelling advantages for my photography.)
It is also worth noting that this makes the price of the 5DII barely more than 50% of that of the 5DIII!