Join Canon Explorer of Light George Lepp as he explores Silver Falls State Park in Oregon with the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras. George goes into his experience with the camera and how it compares with what he has shot in the past. Watch his landscape and macro videos and also download two original full-res RAW and JPG files in the related section below, which were shot by George with the cameras, to see all the rich detail that 50.6 MP has to offer.
Canon Digital Learning Center (CDLC): You’re known for not just great imagery, but for superb large printed output. Until now, what was your go-to camera when you knew your end-goal was a really large print? And with those cameras, what typically was the largest print size (for a single image) you felt comfortable with, from a detail and quality standpoint?
George Lepp (GL): I’ve embraced every new higher-resolution Canon DSLR as it has become available; most recently, I’ve been working with the EOS 5D Mark III. This camera allows excellent enlargements of 30 x 40 inches from a perfect file. The EOS 5DS cameras allow me to achieve the same quality at 40 x 60 inches.
But, as you know, I’m often looking for prints of much greater size; 60 x 120-inch panoramas are not uncommon. To achieve these extreme dimensions, my workflow includes multiple captures in a panorama format with approximately 30% overlap between images. With this technique, I can work at 40 inches tall or wide with the 5D Mark III, and 60 inches with the 5DS, for as long as I keep taking images. To increase image size even further, I sometimes capture composite panoramas with multiple rows of images using a tool from Really Right Stuff or the GigaPan. In this manner I can make prints that are only restricted by the size of the printer or the display material. Just imagine the possibilities with the 5DS!
CDLC: What are some of the scenes, situations and subjects up to now where you’ve had a chance to use either the EOS 5DS, or 5DS R?
GL: Using both cameras I’ve photographed landscapes, models, and macro subjects in the desert (Valley of Fire State Park) near Las Vegas, Nevada; landscapes of waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park, in Oregon; aerials from a fixed-wing aircraft over the Cascade Mountains in central Oregon; detail portraits and flight shots of raptors at the High Desert Museum near Bend, Oregon; landscapes and rock climbers at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon; and a multitude of flowers and insects at the Oregon Gardens near Silverton, Oregon. I’ve also put the cameras through their paces in my studio, capturing high-magnification images to 10X using focus-stacking techniques.
CDLC: Tell us about your reaction the first time you had a chance to work with an EOS 5DS (or 5DS R) file. What were some of the nuances you spotted right away?
GL: The first time I used the EOS 5DS R at Valley of Fire in Nevada, we were working with a female model positioned on a dramatic rock formation. In what we wildlife photographers would call an “environmental shot,” the model’s face occupied only about 1% of the frame. But when I viewed the image at 16X on the camera’s LCD, I was stunned to see that even with the extreme crop, every detail of her face was completely clear on the screen. I knew at that moment that this camera was going to be a powerful tool for my photography.
CDLC: For the critical landscape shooter, do you think there’s enough detail and quality difference with these 50 million pixel cameras vs. previous full-frame EOS models that you’d recommend them to almost any such photographer?
GL: If the landscape photographer has a need for (or an obsession with) capturing fine detail, wants to make large, high-quality prints and/or the creative option of cropping the image in post-processing, the 50MP sensor is very important. These cameras can replace the medium- and even large-format film bodies that were the tools of choice just a few years ago for serious landscape photographers, and even the expensive DSL medium-formats available today. With the 5DS and 5DS R we have affordable replacements of commensurate quality to those formats, but with much greater versatility in lenses and accessories. If you need these capabilities, you need these cameras.
CDLC: Landscape and studio/commercial applications are two that most people think of right away for the EOS 5DS cameras. Now that you’ve had a chance to work with them, can you see using them in less-traditional applications? Even things like action images, birds in flight, and so on?
GL: While the high-resolution capabilities of the 5DS cameras argue for use in stable, controlled conditions, I was pleasantly surprised at their performance in hand-held pursuits, even with longer lenses, for subjects such as birds in flight and aerials. With the birds, the autofocus performed extremely well, and the larger format gave me the advantage of cropping to improve composition. However, in completely controlled settings in my studio, I’ve been working at high magnification with the intent of extracting all the sharpness that can be achieved with the optics. The sensors of previous cameras were incapable of recording all the information that the MP-E 65mm and 100mm macro lenses were able to deliver. With the EOS 5DS R it is all there.
CDLC: What lenses did you work with during your time with the EOS 5DS and 5DS R cameras? Any initial observations about how they performed, when teamed with these high-resolution cameras?
GL: I have used nearly every class of Canon lenses while testing the EOS 5DS and 5DS R cameras: the 15mm fisheye, 11-24mm wide-angle, 24-70mm MK II, 24-105mm, 100mm macro, 65mm MP-E macro, 180mm macro, 100-400mm MK II, 500mm f/4, and 800mm f/5.6. Some lenses, such as the 100-400mm, 500mm, and 800mm, were also tested with EF 1.4X MK III and EF 2X MK III tele-extenders. I was pleased to note that every lens I used performed well and at a higher level with the 5DS and 5DS R bodies than when attached to the EOS 5D MK III. The extra resolution truly makes a difference, and it’s clearly seen when enlarged in the computer. Even lenses such as the 24-105mm f/4L — a kit lens for the EOS 5D MK III — performed extremely well. I used it for my aerials because it has image stabilization, which the 24-70mm f/2.8L Mark II lens doesn’t have.