Since evaluating the Canon EOS 5Ds and 5Ds R, the 5Ds R has become my primary camera model. I fell in love with the 50.6 MP resolution along with the rest of the package including the great AF system. I have two of these cameras in my kit and a third spends most of its time in the lab testing lenses.
While the 5Ds R is an incredible camera, its max frame rate is not so impressive. Of the three categories I listed above, “sports” (and sometimes wildlife) imagery can be substantially improved with a fast frame rate and I am blessed to also have a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II in the kit to handle those scenarios.
I’m always looking to improve my kit and a new, great-performing full frame EOS camera model, such as the 5D Mark IV, always garners my attention. So, the “Am I going to keep this camera?” was an ever-present question to myself while reviewing the 5D IV.
The short answer is “No”, or at least “Not now”, but listen to my reasoning.
First, here are some of my personally-important 5D Mark IV vs. 5Ds differentiators:
- 30.4 (6720 x 4480) vs. 50.6 (8688 x 5792) megapixels
- 7 fps vs. 5 fps
- Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi and NFC vs. optional accessories
- Improved AF system with better f/8 max aperture support (61 pts vs. 5 pts)
- AF at EV -3 vs. EV -2
- ISO 32000 vs ISO 6400 (extended 102400 vs. 12800)
- Touch screen 3.2″ (8.10cm) Clear View LCD II, approx. 1620K dots vs. non-Touch 3.2″ (8.11cm) Clear View II, approx. 1040K dots
- Dual Pixel CMOS Live View/Video continuous AF vs. contrast detection AF
- 4k, 1080p 60 fps, 720p 120 fps with no 4GB file limit using exFAT CF card plus other advantages vs. 1080p 30fps, 720p 60 fps
- 28.2 oz (800g) vs. 32.8 oz (930g)
- Requires 2-second self-timer for mirror lockup delay options vs. has 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, one or two second delay optionally selectable
Check out the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV vs. 5Ds specification comparison to fully compare these cameras.
The first option on the above list represents one of only two 5Ds R advantages listed. But, it is a major one. All other things being equal, a 50.6 MP image has significantly higher resolution than a 30.4 MP image. Here is a resolution test chart comparison between the 5D IV and the 5Ds R. The 5Ds R, with it low-pass cancellation filter, delivers incredible detail, bringing fur, feathers, hair, foliage, eye lashes, etc. to life. With APS-C-level pixel density, this imaging sensor provides plenty of headroom for cropping when needed, adding “reach” to inadequately-long focal lengths, with adequate-for-many-purposes resolution remaining.
The second difference listed above is very tempting to me as the difference between 5 and 7 fps is quite noticeable. But, that is where my 1D X Mark II takes over. The 1D X II’s 14 fps is twice as good as 7 fps, though I give up resolution in this trade-off.
List item #3, GPS and Wi-Fi, was only a minor differentiator for me. The Canon W-E1 Wi-Fi Adapter will give my 5Ds R the Wi-Fi capability and I’ve not yet found a strong need for the GPS coordinates in my EXIF.
An improved AF system, including lower light performance, is always important to me (an out of focus image usually heads straight to the recycle/trash bin) and the expanded AF point coverage area is definitely a 5D IV benefit for my wildlife and sports photography. While the 5D IV’s f/8 AF advantages are really nice, I do not frequently use the lens plus extender combinations that make use of this feature.
Having higher ISO settings available is definitely an advantage, but only if the noise levels are acceptable for the intended purpose of the image. As hinted to by the higher standard max ISO setting, the 5D IV delivers lower high ISO noise levels than the 5Ds R. In general, you can have low noise or high resolution. Technology continues to bring us improvements in this compromise and the the 5D IV performs better than the 5Ds in this regard at the pixel level. Better, but not close to as much better as the max available ISO settings may indicate. Downsize the 5Ds image to 5D IV dimensions and the comparison becomes considerably closer. The 5D IV is still the better performer, but the equivalent resolution comparison shows this attribute being less of a decision factor.
While I continue to make increasing use of Canon’s touch screen LCDs, they are not yet a must-have feature for me. That the 5D IV has this feature is an advantage, but … this is not yet a decision maker for me.
The Dual Pixel AF feature is an important advantage for the IV, but … my 1D X II has this feature when I need it. Same with the 4k video feature.
The 5D IV’s weight is an advantage, but the amount of difference was not enough to “weigh” in on my personal decision.
While the last option on this list, mirror lockup delay, may seem minor, I use it constantly and it saves me time in the field.
While price is often a differentiator between camera models, there is a relatively small difference between these two. That I already owned the 5Ds R was a disadvantage to the 5D IV in this scenario and the budget wasn’t open to an additional camera joining the kit at this time.
In the end, it was the resolution that compelled me to stay the course with the 5Ds R bodies. I love reviewing images with incredible detail, especially when I work really hard to get something special. I love to be able to print huge. I love to be able to crop when I fine tune (change my mind) later, when I was focal length limited or when I needed to choose less-than-ideal framing to hold a focus point on a subject in motion. Perhaps most important is that when evaluating lenses, I want to see any aberrations present as clearly as possible and I want to know if the lenses are up to use on a camera of this resolution.
Everyone’s criteria for camera selection is not the same. You must make the decision that is right for you. If the resolution advantage is unimportant to you, the answer is easy – get the 5D IV. It is an incredible camera and a great upgrade from most other models in many respects.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is available at B&H Photo | Adorama | Amazon | Wex Photographic
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