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Still The Best Landscape Camera?

This is my Canon 5DS R. Its a few years old now, it has been dropped, used and abused, has handled the worst weather that UK's National Parks, Western Isles and Iceland can throw at it. It has been drenched in rain, covered in snow, covered in sand and it has never missed a beat.

Since it's launch about 5 years ago, there has been a huge advance is camera technology. All of the major camera manufacturers are putting the majority of the research and development funds into mirrorless bodies; today's autofocus capability is at a whole new level and ISO ranges have increased. At 50.6 megapixels the 5DS R used to have the highest resolution of any full frame camera, but it has now been over taken. So the question is, is it time to retire the old lady gracefully and upgrade?

There is a very quick answer to that question - absolutely not, and here is why.

Firstly it is built like a tank as I have already described. With the treatment that this camera has had over the years, you would expect it to have given up the ghost a long time ago, yet it just keeps on going. Fans of Top Gear may recall in the good old days of Clarkson, Hammond and May they tried to kill an old Toyota Hi Lux. They couldn't, it just kept on going and going no matter what they did to it. That is the best comparison that I can give to the build quality of this camera.

Now there is an argument that many could quite rightly present that the Canon R5 is a much better camera and you would be right. The technology that is packed into the R5 makes the 5DSR look like a car from the 80's compared to something fresh off today's production line. The R5 will undoubtedly focus quicker, it will track subjects brilliantly, it has eye AF for humans, birds and animals, it will shoot at 20 frames per second, it has an amazing electronic view finder, will shoot 8k video, you can grab individual images from the 8k video that will give you about 30 megapixels stills. The list goes on and on, oh and it costs over £4000 here in the UK, granted you can get one cheaper if you import it and they are appearing on Ebay now for around £3400. Canon stopped making the 5DS R and 5Ds last year which should tell you something about how dated they were.

But let's just stop and think for a moment. Last year you could probably pick up a second hand 5DS R in great used condition for about £1000. Today you will be lucky to get one in the same condition for £1200. They are appreciating rather than depreciating. Why? Well simply because they are not being made anymore and for landscapes they are in my opinion still pound for pound the best on the market.

So what do you get for your money? 50.6 megapixels in higher than the R5, the anti aliasing filter is removed on the 5DS R which gives even sharper images. Granted if you are shooting portraits then you can get Moire within fabrics but we are talking about landscapes here. My workflow 99 times out of 100 has everything in manual mode, I will use live view to focus the composition, if needed I will bracket images to increase the dynamic range, I use filters where needed and can also add luminosity masks in photoshop. All off which really means that I have no use of any of the R5's features. Having a higher ISO capability on the 5DS R would be great but again I very rarely go above ISO 400 for my landscapes and it handles this perfectly. I have even used it for dark sky images as you can see by the image below. This image was taken at ISO 3200 on the Isle of Harris last September and the clarity is amazing. There is no noise at all, that is simply because I took 12 images, one after another and stacked them which averages out noise, making it almost invisible.

I recently had the opportunity to use an R5 and I have to say it is amazing. I was blown away by what it was able to do. I certainly wouldn't refuse it, if Canon were to give me one for free. But and it's a big but, 99% of the images that I take are landscapes ay various stages of the day or at night. In my opinion nothing within the current Canon range comes close to matching the 5DR S performance for this genre. Sony's A7 Mk iv has higher megapixels but I am a loyal Canon shooter and always will be. I am totally invested in their system. For the extra few megapixels I just couldn't justify swapping systems, not to mention the the Sony menus are more complicated than a Stephen Hawkins paper on the universe.

So for now and the foreseeable future the 5DSR will be firmly staying in the camera bag. It will be retired one day but that day is still yet to come.... There are rumours circulating about the R5S online at the moment, with a potential 100 megapixel sensor, pixel shift technology taking images close to 300 megapixels, increased dynamic range with maybe an announcement set for Q1 2022. Only time will tell but with these specs it would certainly be a worthy successor to the still brilliant 5DS R.

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