Should I get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the 5Ds/5Ds R?

Last week we compared the newly announced 5D Mark IV to the 5D III. Today we’re going to compare the 5D Mark III’s successor to the ultra-high resolution 5Ds and 5Ds R models to help determine which DSLR may best serve one’s needs.
It seems logical to start such a comprison by showing a chart of the specification differences. For the purposes of this post, we’ll lumping the 5Ds and 5Ds R models together as they are identical except for the low-pass cancellation feature found in the “R” model.

5D Mark IV 5Ds/5Ds R
Resolution 30.4M 50.6M
DLA f/8.6 f/6.7
Image Processor DIGIC 6+ Dual DIGIC 6
Continuous Shooting / Buffer 7 fps / 21 RAW 5 fps / 14 RAW
AF Working Range EV -3 – 18 EV -2 – 18
AF points @ f/8 61 1
Metering Range EV 0 – 20 EV 1 – 20
Sensor AF Dual Pixel CMOS AF Contrast AF
ISO Sensitivity Auto 100-32000 (L:50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400) Auto 100-6400 (L: 50, H1: 12800)
LCD Touch panel 3.2-inch (3:2) / 1,620K dots 3.2-inch (3:2) / 1,040K dots
Video Recording 4K (17:9) 4096 x 2160 (29.97, 25, 24, 23.98 fps) Motion JPEG
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, 23.98 fps) intra or inter frame
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 HDR ( 29.97, 25 fps) inter frame
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25) lite inter frame
HD (16:9) 1280 x 720 (119.9, 100 fps) intra frame
FHD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps) intra or inter frame
HD (16:9) 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps) intra or inter frame
SD (4:3) 640 x 480 (59.94, 50 fps) inter frame
Wi-Fi / NFC / GPS Built-in GPS / Wi-Fi via accessories
Battery Life Approx. 900 Approx. 700
Weight 28.2 oz (800g) 32.8 oz (930g)

Obvious from the table above is that the EOS 5Ds/5Ds R has one notable advantage over the EOS 5D Mark IV – resolution. The 5Ds R model specifically should also have a sharpness advantage on the 5D IV as the latter features a traditional low-pass filter.
Just as I noted in the 5D IV vs. 5D III post, if you’re interested in creating 4K content, or otherwise need the benefits of Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, the choice is clear – get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
If you’re a landscape, wildlife or studio photographer who requires the ultimate in resolution for making big prints, the 5Ds/5Ds R models offer 40% more resolution compared to the 5D IV. Aside from big prints, the additional pixels allows for more leeway in cropping while maintaining still-manageable resolutions. To put that into point perspective, the 5Ds/5Ds R’s 1.6x crop feature (simulating the field of view realized by using an APS-C sensor camera) results in a 19.6 megapixel image. To obtain the same APS-C field of view with a 5D IV base image, the end result would be 11.7 megapixels.
Does that make the EOS 5Ds/5Ds R a better camera for those interested in wildlife? Maybe, but not necessarily. There are a lot of factors that go into creating a compelling wildlife image. The ability to crop an image heavily is just one factor.
Other factors like burst speed, high ISO noise results and AF capability/performance will also play significant roles. That the 5D IV allows for two additional frames-per-second in burst shooting may not seem like much, but it can definitely help. And while we have yet to test the 5D IV, the fact that Canon raised the standard max ISO setting to 32000 is evidence that the body should perform better in the noise department than the 5D Mark III (of course, it’s not conclusive evidence). Noise improvements, including in shadow detail, have been promised. The 5Ds/5Ds R’s standard max ISO tops out at 6400.
The 5D IV also features a vertically expanded AF point spread. That’s surely a feature that wildlife (and many other) photographers will appreciate. If a subject is moving, AI servo is needed and if AI servo is in use, a focus point must be held on the subject (usually their closest eye). Having a larger AF point spread sometimes permits better subject framing in these situations.
So, which body is best for you? If you want the most versatile, general purpose DSLR, the 5D Mark IV’s feature set will likely make it the best overall choice. At their introduction, the ultra-high resolution 5Ds and 5Ds R were marketed more as specialty cameras rather than a camera for everyman. And their place in Canon’s camera lineup hasn’t changed; the only difference is that the everyman camera has a “IV” in its name and packs a great new feature set to go with it.
B&H has the Canon 5D Mark IV available for preorder and the EOS 5Ds/5Ds R in stock.

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