Canon's 5DS R and 5DS Are 50-MP DSLR Monsters

We're going to need bigger memory cards. With Canon's 50-megapixel EOS 5DS and 5DS R, the DSLR megapixel war has two new champions.

The $3,699 5DS and $3,899 5DS R (body only) start with the chassis and layout of the 5D Mark III. But they make some drastic changes to the insides, resulting in cameras with full-frame 50.6-megapixels sensors and dual DIGIC 6 image processors, boasting more than double the resolution of the $3100, 22-MP 5D Mark III. The former highest-res DSLR is the Nikon D810, which features a suddenly less impressive 36.3-MP, while on the mirrorless side, the Samsung NX1 tops out at 28.2-MP.

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Canon is quick to point out that the Mark III isn't going away; Canon claims it will still be the camera of choice for people who want the best all-around features for pictures and videos, with its slightly faster burst shooting (6 fps for the Mark III vs. 5 for 5DS/5DS R) and much wider ISO range (100-25,600 versus 100-6400). The only new video feature of note for the 5DS/5DS R is the Time Lapse Movie mode, which creates an HD video in camera (up to 2 minutes 30 seconds in length) from a specified set of interval shots, a first on all Canon cameras.

The 5DS and 5DS R target studio and landscape photographers looking for super detailed pictures with every last bit of sharpness. The 5DS R even lacks a low-pass anti-aliasing filter, which was used for reducing jagged lines and moire (wavy patterns), but at the cost of detail. This the first time a Canon EOS DSLR will ship without a low-pass filter, although this technique has already been employed on Nikon's D810 and Samsung's NX1.

In the quest for ultimate sharpness, the 5DS and 5DS R also have a built-in unsharp mask-like feature called “Fine Detail” for improving JPEG photos, with adjustable settings for strength, fineness and threshold. These settings look to be a match for the kind of adjustments you would find in Photoshop or Lightroom.

While the button layout on the 50-MP beasts remains identical to the 5D Mark III, Canon has added a new Quick Control Screen for customizing the function of commonly used buttons and making specific settings easier to access.

With DSLR-leading resolution and additional features such as improved vibration control, and a new time lag mirror lock-up setting, the 5DS and 5DS R look to potentially replace medium format cameras from makers such as Hassleblad and Mamiya, which often have price tags well north of $10,000.

Finally, the 5DS and 5DS R borrow the auto-exposure system from the 7D Mark II for detecting and adjusting to difficult lighting situations such as sodium vapor lamps.

If you’re already drooling over the prospect of 50-MP Canons, you’ll have to wait until June to purchase them from the nearest authorized dealer. question

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).