I had the chance to try Canon’s new EOS 5DS and 5DS R 50.6 megapixel monsters at a recent Canon Professional Services day in the New Forest.

Although I am now a confirmed FujiFilm X series shooter I was very keen to see how the latest Canons performed having owned a wide range of their SLRs in the past including the digital 5D, 5D Mark II, 6D, various 1Ds, 10D, D30, D60, plus EOS 600 and EOS 1N HS film cameras.

Rob Cook from Canon was on hand to ‘dish out’ the equipment while David Clapp showed how to optimise the camera settings and Tim Parkin from OnLandscape passed on his extensive knowledge of tilt and shift lenses.

Both cameras share the same specification apart from the low-pass filter (LPF), to avoid moire and false colour effects, on the 5DS while the 5DS R has a second LPF to cancel out the effects of the first (!) resulting in sharper images for landscapes but running the risk of moire on repeating patterns such as a pin stripe suit.

I tried the 5DS R first with the EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM lens and once I had got used to live view focusing again (after being spoilt by the fabulous electronic viewfinder with depth of field scale on my Fujis) set about making some images of the wonderful autumn colour in the New Forest National Park. Although it was a grey, drizzly day the rear screen seemed a vast improvement on previous Canon DSLRs that are often virtually impossible to view outdoors come rain or shine. A very neat feature is being able to set the crop factor (1×1 square, 30 megapixel 1.3x or 19 megapixel 1.6x) with the M-Fn button, 4×3 and 16×9 crop ratios can also be chosen for JPEG output, at this point you may wonder why it is necessary to crop having spent a large amount of your ‘hard-earned’ on the world’s highest-resolution DSLR? When assessing the scene to make a landscape image often the standard digital 3×2 format looks unnatural and false so an alternative crop such 4×3 or 16×9 works much better, starting with 50.6 megapixels gives you huge flexibility in this respect.

In common with other full frame DSLRs the 61 autofocus points are grouped into a small area in the centre of the frame, one of the best features of the Fujifilm X series mirrorless cameras I use is that the focus sensors extend right to the edges of the frame and also the spot meter can be assigned to any of these points, on the 5DS and 5DS R the spot meter only works with the centre AF point.

After lunch I grabbed a 5DS and a EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II lens, I was reminded straight away of the sheer bulk of a modern DSLR compared to my mirrorless FujiFilm X-T1 and X-E1 cameras, nearly 2.5 kg for the 5DS camera and 70-200 lens, with increasingly heavy rain it was fairly hard work carrying the tripod and an umbrella as well.

Rob Cook took time to explain that many of the older EF lenses are not able to resolve the 50.6 megapixel sensor well enough and recommended using the newer mark II versions, many people will also need to upgrade their computers to cope with the huge 8688 x 5792 pixel RAW files that these cameras produce, mine averaged 75-80 megabytes per image, so this could prove a costly exercise!

Adobe Camera RAW seems to do a very poor job with the 5DS and 5DS R files producing very ‘blocky’ shadows, overcooked saturation and harsh contrast. Rob recommended Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional 4 (DPP) software as it makes the most of the latest camera functions such as the Fine Detail Picture Style and the Digital Lens Optimiser, DPP does a cracking job retaining natural colours and subtle detail BUT is painfully slow especially when saving or transferring the files over to Adobe Photoshop.

Finally a big thanks to Rob, David and Tim and here is a selection of images from the day;

Comparison between Canon DPP 4 and Adobe Lightroom CC processing of a Canon EOS 5DSR RAW file. (Canon 5DSR, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 400)

Comparison between Canon DPP 4 and Adobe Lightroom CC processing of a Canon EOS 5DS R RAW file. (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 400)

New Forest National Park (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 800)

The lonely birch (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 800)

New Forest National Park (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 100)

Stumpy (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 100)

100% crop of the above image (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 100)

100% crop of the above image (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 100)

Trench warfare (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 800)

Trench warfare (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 800)

Beech, ferns and pines (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 800)

Beech, ferns and pines (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 800)

New Forest autumn (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 800)

New Forest autumn (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 800)

Beech and birch (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 400)

Beech and birch (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 400)

Green trunk (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 400)

Green trunk (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 400)

Mini landscape photographers conference, left to right Canon's Rob Cook, David Clapp and Landscape Photographer of the Year Andy Farrer (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM , ISO 800)

Mini landscape photographers conference, left to right are Canon’s Rob Cook, David Clapp and 2015 Landscape Photographer of the Year Andy Farrer (Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM, ISO 800)

5792 pixel square crop (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II  , ISO 800)

5DS square crop (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II, ISO 800)

Beech canopy (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II  , ISO 400)

Beech canopy (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II, ISO 400)

Leaf trap (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II  , ISO 400)

Leaf trap (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II, ISO 400)

100% crop of the above image (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II  , ISO 400)

100% crop of the above image (Canon 5DS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM II, ISO 400)