Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Canon 5DS Thoughts

I've waited a few days to comment on the up-coming Canon 5DS DSLR camera, mostly because I wasn't sure what to say that others haven't already said. I'm not going to say something just because other people are already saying it.

For those that may not know, Canon is releasing in a few months a new full-frame DSLR with a 50-megapixel sensor. There will even be a version without an anti-aliasing filter.

50 megapixels is medium-format resolution. The Pentax 645Z has 51 megapixels, for example. That's a lot of resolution, more than what most professional photographers need. But, still, lots of resolution is tempting.

What I'm curious about is whether or not Canon will get lots of dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities out of the sensor. This is something Canon has struggled with over the last five or so years--at least on their sensors that have a lot of light-sensing-pixels on them.

Canon was on top of the photography world 10 years ago. Their product was superior to the competition. In the time that has passed since they've made slow progress while the rest of the camera manufacturers have made giant leaps. Instead of improving image quality from the sensor, Canon has focused on silent motors and multi-layer sensors and things that are not really all that important but perhaps in time will pay off.

So Canon has been coasting, mostly living on past successes. Then, seemingly out-of-the-blue, they drop on us 50-megapixels. Is this in response to Nikon's highly successful D800 and D810? Or is this a real advance?

When the camera comes out and people get their hands on it, we will know for sure whether this is a high-resolution wonder or a high-resolution pig. Will it have similar dynamic-range and high-ISO capabilities as the Nikon D810 and other high-resolution full-frame cameras? Or, like some of Canon's other cameras, will it fall short in those categories?

If 5DS lives up to the early hype, this will be a huge deal and will be a tempting alternative to medium-format. This will ensure that Canon stays at the top and that the fierce competition doesn't overtake them (at least for a few more years).

But if the camera doesn't live up to the hype, Canon will give the competition more ammo to try to displace the digital camera leader.

Either way, it will be interesting to watch.

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