Review of the Canon EOS 5DS R | From a Portrait Photographers Perspective

Sooooo I completely water logged my 5D Mark III which is my back up camera (want to see all my gear? Click on Whats in my Bag? HERE) and I was perusing a photography magazine when getting my hair done the other day and happened upon the 5DS R. For some reason I had not see it before and I read the review and was kind of sold. Basically nothing would change on the layout/buttons/controls but it did promise more detail, sharper images. In fact, it said it was great for landscape photography for just that reason. While I am not a landscape photographer I do enjoy a wide angle which tends to not be as sharp as longer focal lengths zoomed in and really, who doesn’t want the sharpest images possible? So I ordered it…literally in the chair. No I haven’t receive my claim check from PPA but I am confident that I will and I have to have a back up anyway right? I posted it and immediately everyone wanted a review. This won’t be technical and it is just my opinion so take it for what its worth you know? I took it out to photograph the kids of course (want to see more from that? go to my website HERE) and I am writing this line after I wrote the entire review below….the camera is growing on me but I feel confident I can get the same results from a new Mark III…Be sure you read all the way down as I posted a video clip from the 5DS R as well!



Taken with the 5DS R (Edited with The Kansas Collection PS Action Set – Arise+Shine, Bold Beautiful Skies, Rosegold Glow, SharpenNoise)


Before we begin – the controls, layout, etc. are really very similar (almost identical) to the Mark III but the price is quite different. You can get a brand new Mark III for around $2499 while the new 5DS R is $3899 (and its counterpart, the 5DS, which I won’t even review as I see no reason to purchase that above the Mark III at all is $3699-again, just my humble opinion).

One of the reasons that this is supposed to be a great camera, it touts, is that the sensor has the most resolution of even the highest end full frame Nikon on the market currently (50.6 mp). This can be good and bad-better detail (supposedly) but the image processing can be tedious. Here’s the real deal…while having all those megapixels does allow more cropping and “future-proofs” your images there is really no need for a portrait photographer to have 50+ mp images. Storage is cheap, though, so if cropping & making sure you have an image that will comparable to the resolution of cameras that come out in 5 years is important then its not a reason to rule out the 5DS R.

It does have wi-fi connectivity and a USB 3.0 port which is great for the huge files it will produce.

Now to the real reason I purchased it…greater detail, more sharp. There is no better way to test this that to take an image at lower light using a wide angle lens. To me, that is the true test. Will I see a difference far away? Or do I have zoom in to see a difference? Will it even matter? (It looks to me these appear a little compressed on here but since its all relative it should be no biggie)


These are unedited and then edited images, with settings. Obviously I didn’t have my Mark III at this session but I found one on a comparable day, with comparable lighting and settings. But, keep in mind my Mark III is many many years old – 3.5 actually while the 5DS R used for these images is brand new.


The Verdict?

I have to tell you…I already printed out my return form for the 5DS R and ordered a new Mark III (I am pretty sure Canon will be replacing the Mark III altogether by years end, though soooo-Canon Rumor). Why? Because the benefits outweighed the downfalls for what I do which rules out any good things this camera has going for it to be in my bag.

I shoot a lot of action-in the 5D S R, the speed bursts are anything but speedy, even compared to my Mark III which is now painfully slow compared to the 1D-X. I think I read that for every 33 the Mark III does, the 5DS R does 12 and the 1D-X has been tested at 54!). It is something I can’t live with honestly. My backup camera is usually what I take with me for family stuff and I love photographing my kids in action too so I have to have some speed ya know?

Speaking of slow, that shutter lag is off the charts terrible – I need lightening quick-when I shoot something fast I need to actually capture that thing and not the next action. The Mark III has a 59 ms shutter lag, the 1D-X can go down to 36 ms, and the 5D S R, while I couldn’t find it anywhere online, was remarkably slower in my test.

And, it doesn’t handle noise as well as the Mark III – for a low light shooter like me that is a big fail. In fact, the recommended range for the new 5DS R is around 6400 while the Mark III can go up to 25k (further but not recommended, even higher). So with that range, you can guess at ISO’s you may use for low light portraiture the Mark III will outperform every time.

As far as video capabilities, it doesn’t shoot 4K video – I only shoot video with my back up (honestly don’t even know how/if my 1D-X even does). If my drone with its itty bitty camera and my go pro can shoot 4k, my camera has to. I have only just started shooting a little video here and there of the family or during a session (and haven’t been able to since my Mark III bit the dust) but I love doing it and feel like I will do more – I want the best I can get on that! (**Okay after actually looking at the video I am kind of okay with that part-here is a snippet; excuse my crazy laugh & loud mouth**)

And on a weird note, the white balance is nothing like my 1D-X OR my Mark III – its weird and I can’t seem to get what I want out of my RAW files with it in camera or in post. On the post I posted from the test on my website (HERE) I literally had to adjust a million times to get the white balance I wanted and I am still not 100% happy.


Bottom line? I jumped the gun. I saw sharp detail and I didn’t read into more reviews to see that its shortcomings were the most important things to me in what I shoot. As one review I saw said, the new sensor is worth it…for images taken in good, controlled light at low ISO’s…..There are lots of technical reviews out there to read and every person is different so judge for yourself-rent it and compare it to your current camera. But I can see where this would be perfect for a landscape photographer-great detail, don’t need speed, don’t need low light (while stooging handheld), etc. But that’s not me so its gotta go back!


But that detail is pretty dang good for stationary things….


Edited with The Basics (Neutral WB) from the Gulf Collection (Lightroom Presets) + Arise and Shine, SharpenNoise (From the Kansas Collection for PSE & PS Action Set)


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