Revolutionary 5D Mark IV, 5DS R, and 1DX Mark II Thoughts and Admissions to Consider… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Revolutionary 5D Mark IV, 5DS R, and 1DX Mark II Thoughts and Admissions to Consider...

What’s Up?

Boy, this is getting repetitive. What’s on the schedule for Sunday? BAA clerical work and answering e-mails, preparing blog posts, posting different stuff on FaceBook–most recently some tulips, an easy 3/4 mile swim, and more core exercises and stretching. All accompanied by UFC on Tivo.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 291 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

What to do, what to do, what to do?

With the release of the EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR it is an exciting time for bird, wildlife, and nature photographers using the Canon system. Do you go with the new body, with the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR, or with the rugged blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR with 64GB Card and Reader?

The discussions below can help you with your decision. If you are in the market for a new body, please remember to use one of my B&H affiliate links; it is the best way to thank me for the work that I am doing both here and via e-mail. If you opt for the 5D Mark IV, please, once you get to the B&H product page, click on Pre-order. If instead you click on Request stock alert that option will not track to me.

Most Important

Please remember that it ain’t the camera and it ain’t the lens… A competent and creative photographer with older gear who practices and studies and works hard on their post-processing skills will create much better images than a lazy incompetent photographer with the latest greatest camera bodies and lenses. But only 100% of the time.

Before you reach for your credit card, be sure also to ask yourself, “What is the end purpose of my images, what will I be using them for?” Your honest answer might save you thousands of dollars.

The Canon EOS 5DS R versus the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Here is an e-mail exchange with Ken Lui who e-mailed with a gear question:

am: Hi Ken, re:

KL: I take both landscape and bird photos, including birds in flight. I have both 100-400 IS II and the 600 mm IS II and a few other L lenses for landscapes. Any thoughts as to which camera would be better for me, the 5DS R or the Canon 5D Mark IV?

am: Unless you are routinely making very large prints I would lean toward the 5D Mark IV for its faster frame rate, its likely improved AF system, AF at f/8, improved low light/high ISO performance, and its more manageable file sizes (though I have no problem at all with the large 5DS R image files on my Macbook Pro). More on the AF at f/8 bit: at f/8, the 5D IV (like the more expensive 1DX II) offers all AF points and all AF Area Selection modes.

That said you should be able to make some pretty wonderful large prints with 5D Mark IV images. If you remember, when I first mentioned that it is harder to make sharp images with camera bodies with densely packed pixels, pretty much everyone told me that I was wrong. Good friend and technical wizard Alan Lillich kindly explained that I was right because the lens shake needs to be considered on a pixel level. I did not and do not really understand the physics of it, but I knew I was right all along because of what I was experiencing with the 7D II and then later with the 5DS R, each with tiny, tightly packed pixels.

If you watch the 5D Mark IV panel discussion video here, you will note at about the 53:50 mark, that both pros made comments that showed that I was indeed correct. Therefore, for most folks, the real possibility is it would be easier for many of them to make sharp images with a 30mp body than with a 50mp body. For some, this seemingly fine point might be a hugely important factor.

KL: Thanks. Now I have a even harder time choosing between the 5DS R and the 5D MK IV…

am: Whatever you do, please be sure to use my B&H affiliate link. Many thanks for that. And later and love, artie
ps: let me know if you have any additional questions.

KL: I will use your link to purchase when I make up my mind.

am: Many thanks.

To Be Clear: The Big Realization

While it will be slightly more difficult for folks going from a 16-22mp camera body to a 30mp body–the 5D Mark IV–to make sharp images, it will surely be a lot easier for many folks to make sharp images with a 30mp body than with a 50mp body–the 5DS R.

The Canon EOS 5DS R/600II/1.4XIII TC versus the Canon EOS-1DX Mark II/600II/2XII TC.

A Comments conversation with Ryan Sanderson from the blog post here.

RS: What considerations go into your choice of 5DS R/600II/1.4XIII TC versus the 1DX Mark II/600II/2XII TC.

am: There are lots of factors.

RS: It would seem to me that frame rate and perhaps higher ISO capability would be the only reasons you would want to go with the second combo and I guess one could possibly make an argument about weather conditions.

am: Yes to the things that you noted above. And the fact that the 1DX II offers faster initial focusing acquisition (possibly because of battery considerations…) And the 1DX II offers all AF points and all AF Area Selection modes while the 5DS R offers only the center AF point plus the assist point in Expand.

Common sense dictates that a sharp image made with the 5DS R/600II/1.4XIII TC and then cropped will better image quality than an image made with the 1DX Mark II/600II/2XIII TC. And the former combo will enjoy both one stop of AF and ISO advantages as wide open will be f/5.6 rather than f/8. That said, here is one factor that I have long thought about and realized but never written about until now: there is always a subconscious factor that overrules common sense. The brain thinks, “Having the bird larger in the frame (with the1DX Mark II/600II/2XIII TC combo) has got to be better.” In addition, bigger in the frame is comforting both to the psyche and the ego.

Then there is the motion blur across the more densely-packed 5DS R pixels (as discussed in the first item in this blog post) to add to the mix as everything above assumed prefect sharpness techniques with each rig. The facts are that I have made lots of great images with the 5DS R/600II/1.4XIII TC, made great images with the 1DX Mark II/600II/2XII TC, and, in the best of all worlds, made great images with the 5DS R/600II/2XIII TC…

RS: I’ve followed your blog daily and have seen the fine images coming from the 1DX2 combo, but sometimes I did wonder if the 5DsR combo would have been better.

am: As above, I have wondered too.

RS: I’ve recently acquired a used 5DS R to accompany my 7D Mark II. The 7D II has not been used since I picked up the 5DS R and it’s gotten me to thinking about selling the 7D II and picking up a used 1DX as a back-up.

am: Good plan. I’d be glad to help you sell your 7D II via the Used Gear page.

RS: I don’t shoot video and with the 5DS R, I feel that any significant reach situations would be handled by cropping 5DS R images. I don’t know that going for a 1DX Mark II for double the price of a used 1DX would be advantageous for me, especially since I’m only a hobbyist.

am: I can never know what is “worth it” for someone else. I am blessed to be able to get the gear I need and want whenever I so choose. I will likely be getting my hands on a 5D Mark IV sooner rather than later. Hey, here’s something for you to consider: should you be buying a new 5D Mark IV instead of a 5DS R? See the item that opens this blog post for help with that decision…

A Note On Camera Body Weights

Do not forget that both the 5D Mark IV and the 5DS R are a lot lighter than the relative behemoth, the 1DX Mark II.

All Things Considered…

If you read and understand and consider everything above, it sounds as if new 5D Mark IV might be the perfect body for those who do serious landscape, travel, Urbex, nature, and wildlife photography, including and especially birds. I will be borrowing one to test as soon as possible. I will almost surely have one to use on the DeSoto IPT. And each participant will get one hour to play with the new body.

You can learn lots more about the 5D IV in the blog post here.

For folks who specialize in photographing birds in flight and in action, or those who work often in extremely low light conditions, the 1DX Mark II might very well be best for them… Click here for more on that.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall one way or another. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99. Limit 12/Openings: 10)

Join me on the morning of October 2, 2016 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images, especially with a 7D Mark II. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.


Folks attending the IPT will be in the field early and stay out late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto Short Notice Fall IPT/September 28 (meet & greet at 2pm followed by our afternoon session) through the full day on October 1, 2016. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1549. Limit 10/Openings: 6. Sunday morning ITFW free to IPT registrants.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds in fall. There they join dozens of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With any luck, we should get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher likely. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join me as my guest on the ITFW on the Sunday morning following the workshop. See above for details on that.

On this and all other IPTs you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify and age many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

At brunch (included) we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one? If you opt to bring your laptop, we can take a look at a few of your images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As I already have one signed up for this workshop, it is a go. Hotel info will be e-mailed when you register. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). It is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel so if you are interested it would be a good idea to register now and make your hotel reservations as soon as you hear from us. We can, however, coordinate with local folks who opt to stay at home.

Because of the relatively late date, payment is full is due upon registration either by check or credit card. If the former, please e-mail us immediately so that we can save you a spot. If the latter, please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to register. Your registration fee is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight so please check your plans carefully before committing. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions and gear & clothing advice a fairly soon.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

12 comments to Revolutionary 5D Mark IV, 5DS R, and 1DX Mark II Thoughts and Admissions to Consider…

  • avatar Whayne

    Hi guys, I see the discussion is 5DsR vs 5D4 vs 1DXII, but I’m sure a lot of us have 1DX and would like to know how the real AF of the 5D4 compares to the 1DX especially when using a TC on a supertele. I currently have 5DsR and 1DX and was considering whether to bother with replacing 1DX by 1DXII or 5D4. I know the AF is basically the same in 5D4 and 1DXII but 1DXII has dual cpu’s, dedicated AF cpu, higher res colour metering sensor and bigger battery for faster intial drive of mk II supertele’s. So to me a more logical comparison is 5D4 vs 1DX. Apart from 7fps vs 12fps, for action work especially bif, has anyone compared these two. I suspect AF with TC’s is a bit better with 5D4 (a fair bit better with 1DXII especially f/8 combos) and in low light 5D4 should be a bit snappier. Also is it better with low contrast subjects like 1DXII.

    I don’t really want to give up 5DsR as I do. A lot of landscape too, but it’s also a very good birding combo, and I’ve found it’s AF to be better than 5D3 and not far behind 1DX in many situations. So it’s down to either waiting for 7D3, 5DsRII (late 2017 it appears), 5D4 or 1DXII or do nothing and just ain’t for the 600 f/4 DO next year :o)

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Whayne, You have covered all the bases well. I can have no idea what is best for you. I am getting on the ship for 2 1/2 weeks tomorrow and I can say that I have been using my 2 5D IV bodies with both TCs including at f/9 and been thrilled. I did do a session with the 1DX II on our last day at Bleaker and my success rate was a bit higher than with the 5D IV but I did stick with center AF point only with the 1DX II. And there was a ton of operator error involved. I will turn to the 1DX II on the really dark days on South Georgia. Whatever you decide, please remember to use my B&H link 🙂


  • Cameras without an AA filter –

    Canon –
    Canon 5DsR

    Nikon –

    Fujifilm –
    All of their cameras with X-Trans CMOS and X-Trans CMOS II APS-C sensors do not have an AA filter.

    Pentax –
    The Pentax K-3 and K-S1 have both options – you can shoot without an AA filter and you can also simulate the effect of the filter using an internal sensor shift mechanism.

    Sony –
    A7r and A7r II do not have the AA filters. The difference it makes to the image is quite significant.

    Sigma –
    Their cameras with the Foveon X3 sensors do not have AA filters and are renowned for the image quality (and equally notorious for poor battery life and other problems). However, the IQ is truly special.

    One does so wish the Canon made more cameras without the AA filter.
    Given that their own lenses give better results when used with the Sony A7r or A7r II bodies (with the probable exception of the 5DSr), it is a pity that they haven’t gone into this area seriously.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and many thanks for this informative blog. It seems pretty clear to me, based on the specifications, that if you could have only one of the following cameras for all your photography needs–1DXII, 5DS-R, 5DIV, and 7D2–the 5DIV is the best, most versatile choice. I have a question and a comment.

    The question. You wrote “there is always a subconscious factor that overrules common sense. The brain thinks, “Having the bird larger in the frame (with the1DX Mark II/600II/2XIII TC combo) has got to be better.” In addition, bigger in the frame is comforting both to the psyche and the ego.” Assuming that you’re not losing important compositional factors by having the bird large in the frame, why is this NOT true, as you imply?

    I am not sure what you are asking as I do not think that I was implying anything. I was saying that the brain knows that an image made with the 1.4X and a 5DS R and then cropped will be of higher quality than an image made with a 1DX II and a 2X III TC but that the ego and the psyche like the latter combo better because the bird is larger in the frame when you are looking through the viewfinder. Patrick Sparkman agrees… artie

    ps: I recommend never going larger than 75% of the longest dimension of the frame.

    The comment. Why do many tightly packed pixels show more motion blur? It’s because the resolution is higher. If you can resolve only a quarter-sized object, then motion blur that’s half of a quarter size will be hard to see, whereas if you can resolve a dime-sized object, motion blur half the size of a quarter can also be resolved and seen.

  • avatar Doug

    Hi Art

    Why does Canon continues to put AA filters on all its sensors which diminishes sharpness (as much as 15-20%)? Meanwhile, competitors, including Nikon, has all but abandoned AA filters. Even the sensor in the 5DS R was manufactured with an AA filter which required yet another filter to nullify the effect.

    I am contemplating a purchase of the 1DX MK2 to compliment a 5DS R. The benefits of frame rate and ISO performance are wonderful but at a cost. For most wildlife photography, cropping is a necessary evil. Doesn’t the combination of cropping a modest 20 MP image and the blurring of a AA filter result in a small file lacking resolution?

    Could Canon not significantly enhance the 7D Mk2 and the 1DX Mk2 by simply removing or nullifying the AA filter?

    Thank you for the great web site.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Don’t know but will try to find out why.


      ps: what DSLR bodies from “competitors” are available without the AA filters?

  • avatar Bob

    Ideally, I’d have a 1dxii for bif and low light, a 5dsr for scenic and big prints, a 5div for other things and someone to carry it all for me. I’m becoming convinced the 5dsr will stay in my kit because any way you slice it 50 is greater than 30. I’m wondering if the 5D4 will be usable as a 1dxii replacement for those of us who do a limited amount of BIF, are weight conscious (both total gear and camera), and don’t like two battery systems. Much of this may depend on what the “usable” (not published) high raw file iso really is and how dummy down the AF is from the 1dxii (supposed to be the same system but then the 5dIII and 1dx1 shared the same system but I don’t think real world performance was – due to smaller computer power etc). That will only come after reviews from people like Artie who I trust.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Bob, 50 is indeed greater than 30 and once you have become addicted to that fine feather detail it is hard to get away from it… I am positive that the 5D IV will be a great back-up for the 1DX II. I have my request in for a loaner 5D IV and the 24-105 II… Time will tell. Thanks for your faith in me and BAA.


  • avatar Moody McCall

    Enjoyed the blog. Lots of great thoughts. They are all fantastic bodies. Many times I purchase something and then think well maybe this or that might have worked better. I think like you said if you use good techniques we can make nice images with what we have in our hands!

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    very informative!

  • I need a spreadsheet just to keep track of all these
    5D cameras 🙂