The rumors were true. Canon is going big in terms of resolution with its latest full frame DSLRs. The newly-announced Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R each boast 50.6-megapixel sensors, that's more than double the 5D Mark III and considerably bigger than previous megapixel monsters like the Nikon D810 or Sony A7R. This gives the new megapixel-heavy duo the highest resolution of any current 35-mm-format DSLR.
While new 5DS cameras might be based on the 5D M3, complete with familiar magnesium alloy weather-resistant bodies, the jump in resolution to 50.6-megapixels turns them into very different beasts. They're designed for users who need the sharpest possible image, and have the computer processing power and storage to manage the colossal files they can produce – think advertising, fashion and landscape photographers.
The reason for having two 5DS models is that the R version will use a low-pass cancellation filter to reduce the effect of the optical low pass filter (OLPF) and maximize sharpness. While this means it runs the risk of suffering from more moiré, and is therefore best suited to situations where patterns are organic, it will produce more detailed images. It's similar to the Nikon D800/D800e setup.
Pairing with those 50.6-megapixel effective full frame (36 x 24 mm) CMOS sensors are Canon's Dual DIGIC 6 image processors, which look able to keep things running surprisingly quick given the resolution of the files. The 5DS cameras will be able to shoot at 5 frames per second (fps) for 510 JPEGs or 14 RAW images and have an ISO range of 100 to 6,400, which can be expanded to 12,800. This isn't quite up to the 100 to 25,600 of the EOS 5D Mark III, which will remain on sale alongside the new cameras.
Autofocus should be fast and accurate with the 5DS and 5DS R using a 61-point AF system, with 41 cross-type points. Canon's EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF (iTR) is there to make sure the cameras can maintain focus with moving subjects and track both faces and color and a 150k pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with flicker detection helps to ensure consistent and accurate exposures in any lighting condition.
There's good news for your computer processing and image storage needs, RAW files from the new cameras can be saved as RAW (8688 x 5792), M-RAW (6480 x 4320) 28-megapixel, and S-RAW (4320 x 2880) 12-megapixel. In-camera crop modes can also deliver more manageable JPEG files for those times you find a 50.6-megapixel resolution overkill. In 1.3x crop you'll still get a 30-megapixel file, while 1.6x crop gives a 20-megapixel file and in 1:1 the files will be 36-megapixel. Storage is handled by CompactFlash and SD memory card slots.
One area in which the 5DS and 5DS R run the risk of disappointing more demanding users is their video credentials. That's because the new cameras are limited to shooting HD 720p video at a maximum of 60/50 fps and Full HD 1080p video footage at 30/25/24 fps, which is beginning to look a bit dated. Also, while there's still the option to attach an external microphone by a stereo mini jack, the headphone socket has been dropped. Uncompressed HDMI, which was added to the 5D M3, is also lacking in the new cameras.
On the back of the cameras are the 100 percent coverage optical viewfinders you would expect, and 3.2-inch LCD monitors with 1,040k dots. Their durable magnesium alloy build also means that the 5DS and 5DS R cameras will be able to survive in the hands of professionals, and have a level of water and dust resistance. Canon has also made a number of improvements aimed at reducing any blur-inducing vibration, including a Mirror Vibration Control System which drives the cameras’ mirror up and down in a more controlled manner.
As is frustratingly typical of professional-focused cameras, there's no built-in Wi-Fi. However, the cameras are compatible with the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7 version 2, and Eye-Fi cards if your wireless needs aren't quite as demanding.
The new cameras will be available body-only from June. The EOS 5DS will set you back US$3,700, while the EOS 5DS R will cost you $3,900.