Some thoughts inspired by using the Canon 5Ds
- I've taken to using the Canon 5Ds much more than I thought I would. Bought to shoot images for a high resolution 'Beautiful Britain' project I'm involved with, it is accomplishing that with aplomb and I'm also using it more and more as my camera of choice to go out shooting with. Like most high end DSLR's these days, it's fast, efficient and the complete opposite of the old-fashioned 'dinosaur,' that many, it seems, would wish it to be. Without wishing to push the point, it does make the bulk of mirrorless cameras seem like toys. It's bulky, heavy, big, somewhat brutal in terms of design and handling, but boy does it get the job done.
- The Canon 5Ds doesn't need to be nursed through poor battery life, it doesn't have a restricted lens choice and it doesn't need to pretend to do everything a DSLR can do, it is one already. And people can endlessly publish articles about how this kind of camera is destined for the scrap heap and how photographers are deserting DSLR's for those lighter, smaller 'sexier' mirrorless marvels in droves, but they still keep selling and they keep on getting better.
- The headline feature here is the 50MP sensor and impressive though that is, the 5Ds is a lot more than that. It's a fuss free camera, it's a get the shot every time camera, it's a 'I can keep working as long as you want me too camera' and above all it's a 'turn me on, fit a lens and get shooting' camera. And if you write off DSLR's you do so at your peril.
- There is also the cost benefits of size, which may seem a strange thing to write, but these days with a lot of technology, the bigger it is the better the value. The classic examples are PC tower desktop computers. You can get some amazing machines for not a lot. Having bought a top of the line gamer PC, which is super fast, highly specified and edits 4K video with no problem at all for £800, I have proof of that. And initially I was thinking that I didn't want to start buying Canon lenses for the 5Ds, but looking around the S/H dealers I've got some great deals. I've now got a 17-40mm f/4, 24-105mm f/4, 24mm f/2.8 IS, 40mm f/2.8 and an 85mm f/1.8. I have in fact bought the camera, a battery grip and all those lenses for less than a Sony A7r II + 16-35mm f/4 zoom. So exactly where is the mirrorless advantage there? I've said it before and I'll say it again, mirrorless systems are way too expensive and they flatter to deceive. If you want current models then you pay a high premium for them. And this, I believe is the main reason that the expected 'mirrorless takeover' hasn't happened. Sure Canon get economies of scale because of the number of cameras and lenses they sell, but the mirrorless etc. manufacturers seem to still somehow think that paying more for less is a good marketing strategy!!!
- The 5Ds is for still photography, I have other options for video, so why would a Sony A7r II be a better option for me? More money for less pixels and a poor range of lenses. Doesn't sound like a good deal to me. Yes the Canon is bigger and heavier, yes the Sony may turn out marginally sharper files (though nothing a bit of sharpening in Photoshop can't fix) but for me it's much better value. And in the mirrorless range, it is only that Sony A7r II that can compete with the Canon in terms of resolution. Now looking at the files you wouldn't be particularly blown away by what you see. In fact the results look very similar to my Nikon A750, but then of course the files are twice the size.
- So who 'needs' all those pixels? Well need isn't the right word, it's more like who wants all those pixels. Well me for a start. It's true that very few (if any) of the people who buy my pictures will publish them at full size, but downsizing the images, as most will do, increases the sharpness and they simply blow away the vast majority of mirrorless etc, images for quality. Something I've come to realise more and more as I use the camera.
This is what the 5Ds is capable of.
I should point out that the image is a 50% crop of the original that I've upsized back up to 50M. So pretty impressive.
7. And try as they might, the mirrorless newly converted who love to preach at us, including all those ageing pro's who can't make a living as photographers anymore and have decided to give becoming an internet guru a go, can't disguise the fact that top of the line DSLR's still do a better job. And more importantly, with very few exceptions produce bigger and better image files.
8. Now I wish that mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L cameras COULD compete with this but from what I'veseen it's only my Leica Q (Typ 116) and the SL plus the Sony A7r II that can actually do that. OK not everybody wants 50MP files, I get that, but reading a lot of the nonsense written on the photographic internet, you'd think that the convenience and gimmickry of mirrorless was sweeping all before it.
9. However, there are still photographers, myself included, for whom ultimate image quality, speed of use, reliability, lots of lens options and high resale value is important and not whether it fits in my pocket and has lots of 'cool stuff.' Because if I want that I'll use a smartphone, which at the top end are getting frighteningly close to mirrorless anyway. I'm not anti mirrorless, I still have lots of that type of camera, including the Panasonic GX8 which is great, but I do feel compelled from time to time to counterbalance the mirrorless 'propaganda' with a slice of reality and try to convey just exactly how good current top of the range DSLR's are. And yes it's propaganda on my part too.
10. But then what's wrong with constantly making the point that we are lucky to have all of this at our disposal these days. And that there is no need to rubbish one type of camera just because you own another type. And people who should know better seem to be unable to avoid making themselves look like fools by constantly predicting the death of the DSLR. That clearly isn't going to happen anytime soon and by trying to position themselves as the champions of the new and the destroyers of the old they constantly undermine any reputation they might have earned in the past.
11. And if people want to dump their Nikons and Canons and buy into Sony FE and / or Fuji X, who am I to stop them? But this really isn't a 'road to Damascus' moment, it's just another choice that's been made from the ever improving range of digital cameras that we are able to choose our 'tools of the trade' from. They are just getting better and better and there is no doubt in my mind that the Canon 5Ds is going to be right there at the top of the tree for some time to come. And to deny that is to argue that black is white or 2 + 2 =5. But then this is the photographic internet, so anythings possible!!