Some Thoughts About My Canon 5Ds

I have had my Canon 5Ds  now for about a month. I have not yet done a significant shoot with it yet. That may come at the end of September when we travel back to Santa Fe. However, I have had some time to do some simple shooting and comparisons between my Canon 1D Mark 3, Nikon D800e, and the 5Ds. I am not a trained camera tester, so all I am trying to talk about here are just my preliminary impressions.

Reason For Purchase

I tend to do compositing and plan to do more of this in the future. When I take pieces of photos and put them together, I often prefer to have those pieces be at the best resolution I can get. My Nikon D800e, at 36 mp, has been terrific so far. But because of the lower price point than expected of the 5Ds, I was in a position to make this purchase. My only disappointment with the Nikon is that in low light conditions, it is noisier than any of my Canons.

Resolution Comparisons

Nothing elaborate here. I used a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens on my Canon 1D Mark 3 and the 5Ds, and a similar lens on the Nikon D800e. I set up my tripod, used a remote shutter release, and used mirror lockup without IS turned on. I took aim at a lightbulb in an outdoor fixture at my house in order to read the wording on the bulb from twenty feet away. The 1D M3, at 10 mp, could not compete, as expected, with the clarity of the other two. However, there wasn’t a significant difference between the D800e and the 5Ds. Both were able to read the tiny print on the lightbulb base with complete clarity!

Ease Of Use

For me, one of the big differences between the Nikon and Canon lines is where some of the most used/needed camera features are located. Some of those features are mirror lockup, live view, frame rate. Nikon positions these on the outside of the camera with easy to use knobs or buttons. Canon buries them in their menu system, though these can be placed on the custom menu.

The 5Ds, however, has made a compromise by creating a Quick Control button which allows the user to easily make changes to shooting items like exposure, frame rate, etc. The display is also customizable.

Live View

The LCD on the back of the 5Ds is 3.2 inches, the same as the D800e, but seems clearer due to more screen dots. For me, this really makes Live View pop and is easier to view items at 100% zoom.


So far, the best customization I made was to assign the set button as the 100% zoom button when viewing image playback or, more importantly, during Live View operations. This is really handy feedback to ensure that your captured image will be as sharp as possible. During Live View, at 100%, you get to ensure that your item focus is as sharp as possible. Also, this allows you to verify that your tripod/lens is not shaking for some reason which of course would soften the image result.

And it has a built-in electronic level!

Frame Rate

So much has been said that the 5Ds is only good for single shots, not action photography. Though this is true, the camera still can do action photography, albeit slower than a high-rate camera. Don’t discount its ability to capture some sports or bird movements, for example.


Because of the compositing nature of my photographic art, this camera positions me for better resolution image crops.