As would be apparent from my previous post, I very recently added the Canon 5DSR to my equipment arsenal as I have several upcoming projects for which I really will need the increased resolution that it offers. I was also lucky enough to have a trip to Tasmania planned (part work, part holiday) during which I could thoroughly test the camera’s capabilities. The following account is certainly not meant as a technical review, since there are many other websites such as dpreview which are dedicated to furnishing such detailed information; rather it is simply my experiences in using the camera in the field.
If you have visited my portfolio website, you would be aware that the majority of my photography is in the commercial, architectural and industrial sector both here in Melbourne and interstate or overseas. In carrying out my commissions I have been extremely happy using the Canon 5D Mk III and the 1Ds Mk III; I am also fortunate in that I have extensive experience using the Nikon range, such as the D3, D3s, D700, D800 and D4s, and am very familiar with the resultant files, handling, ISO and dynamic range capabilities. As such I was eagerly anticipating working with the (albeit huge!) 5DSR files, and learning just how far they could be manipulated in post production.
After thoroughly researching the 5DSR, I was still convinced that it would offer me the increased resolution that I needed for the large panoramic prints that I regularly produce, as well being my prime camera for certain commercial projects. It certainly does not replace my beloved 5D Mk III, but sits nicely alongside it, enabling me to select the best tool for the job. Since the body and controls are based on, and in fact pretty much identical to, the 5D Mk III, the camera felt instantly familiar, consequently the Canon BG-E11 battery grip that I use on the 5D Mk III fits the 5DSR perfectly, as does the Ikelite underwater housing, offering interchangeability and significant savings over having to purchase a new range of accessories.
If you have in any way researched the 5DSR then you would have read that it is a far more demanding tool to work with, and I would certainly agree with this after my 2 weeks of constant use. It isn’t an easy camera to just pick up and shoot with, expecting to get the same pin sharp images as you would with the 5D Mk III. It is a camera that demands more care and attention from the photographer, however as I began my career shooting with a Sinar f2 4 x 5 inch plate camera, I do not necessarily consider this to be a bad thing. Sometimes it just pays to slow down, look and think before pressing the shutter release…
Certainly the increased pixel density on the sensor magnifies the slightest amount of camera shake, vibration or blur due to a slow shutter. Canon have mitigated this somewhat in the new mirror box dampening design, however I have also found that by using the 1/8th second shutter delay combined with the silent shutter mode leads to a far higher percentage of pin sharp images. I also find that I will often just increase the ISO a little beyond that which I would have used with the 5D Mk III in order to use a faster shutter speed for the aperture I wish to shoot at, and yet even so I do not find the files to be any noisier than the 5D3’s at comparable settings, again despite some internet claims to the contrary.
This was my second visit to Tasmania, and a perfect opportunity to put the new camera through it’s paces since I planned to shoot not only panoramic landscapes, but also a series of long exposure images using the Lee Filter system.
We arrived in Launceston the day after the state’s worst flooding in something like 60 years, which meant that a lot of the roads and bridges were impassable; the weather remained wet, grey and generally grim for the next day, and I knew that any hand held images were going to be captured at around the ISO 500 – 800 range. From Launceston we headed to Cradle Mountain for the long weekend, eagerly anticipating the snow that was forecast for day two of our four day stay at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village.
Naturally I was also very keen to try making a panoramic image using 5DSR for some serious pixel peeping, and it was only after stitching the above shot together and then zooming in to 100% that I noticed the other hikers on the rock (1/3 of the way into the frame from the left) above… the lake
Of course this camera is all about the incredible resolution, not only for producing panoramic images, but also for the incredible flexibility it offers when cropping files. On some of the following images I have included the metadata in order to give some idea of the shooting conditions.
I shall continue to post my observation of the camera as I process the other images from the trip, but for now I am extremely impressed with this photographic tool. I would stress that I do not believe it is as versatile a camera as the 5D Mk III and certainly will not suit every photographer, but what it does when used carefully, it does exceptionally well. Of course it is impossible to tell from a simple blog post such as this, but to my eye the files have better colour and dynamic range than the Mk III; there is almost a Nikon-esque quality to them, in the almost film grain feel. I realise this does not necessarily make sense, and I expect the ‘grain’ is in fact the greater pixel density, but the files really do remind me of those that I used to see coming from the Nikon range.