Michael Tapes EOS 5DS R Video: Not My Style At All (right now) But Still Quite Interesting… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Michael Tapes EOS 5DS R Video: Not My Style At All (right now) But Still Quite Interesting...

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Michael Tapes EOS 5DS R Video: Not My Style At All (right now) But Still Quite Interesting…

That Michael Tapes is a pretty smart guy is a given: he is the creator of both the LensAlign System and FocusTune, an amazing pair of tools that can help all photographers get the most out of their gear. By the time this is posted we should have updated our stock with the latest V4 LensAlign hardware and the just released V4 FocusTune software serial numbers. Learn more about LensAlign Fusion or order here. I am hoping to complete the long awaited LensAlign/FocusTune tutorial in early August after my return from the Galapagos.

In any case, though the huge crops shown in the video are not my style the presentation is quite interesting. And quite impressive…. Thanks to Michael for sharing.

Why the 5DS R?

I asked Michael Tapes, “Why the 5DS R over the 5DS?”

He kindly responded:

I chose the 5DS R simple because it will render more detail if the lens and shooting conditions allow. Though it is not always the limiting factor, the Anti-aliasing filter in 99% of all cameras is a blurring filter that is designed to minimize moire (the pattern caused by the frequency of a repeating pattern in an image and the repeating pattern on the sensor). The more pixels the worse the problem. But since I do not photograph fabric and repeating patterns are rare in nature. I chose the R version to get the most sharpness possible from the sensor and the photographic chain. Most people will not notice the difference and can save their money and by getting the 5DS. Note that Canon, like Nikon did with the D800/D800E bodies, chose not to eliminate the Anti-Aliasing filter, but to cancel its effect with an additional filter to cancel the AA filter effect. It is simple/easier/cheaper to do it that way when manufacturing two otherwise identical models.

Canon’s Two 50+ Megapixel Camera Bodies

Many of you have read about the two new Canon 50+ megapixel bodies, the Canon EOS 5DS DSLR and the Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR. The two cameras look, sound, and pretty much are quite similar. I have withheld commenting until now because I did not have a good–heck, I did not have any–understanding of the single difference between the two bodies, that being the Low-Pass Filter Effect Cancellation.


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From the 5DS R Overview

Low-Pass Filter Effect Cancellation

Low-pass filter effect cancellation takes full advantage of the 50.6MP sensor, delivering greater detail and even higher resolution images than those of the 5DS.

As that is the elephant in the closet and because I was unable to find anything definitive anywhere online, I wrote the always brilliant Rudy Winston. Below I share his e-mail with you. My brief comments follow.

By e-mail from Canon’s Rudy Winston:

Hi Artie,

The basics are as follows…

1. Canon’s engineers believe strongly that a low-pass filter is an important aid, IN GENERAL, to image quality with digital SLRs. We’ve had one in-place immediately in front of the image sensor on all previous EOS D-SLRs to date.

2. Low-pass filters basically attack problems with false colors and especially occasional moire patterns that can arise when fine, repeating patterns (think of the weave in some fabrics, for instance) begin to line-up with and approach the size/frequency of the patterns of pixels on an image sensor. Low-pass filters work by spreading the incoming light by the width of approximately ONE PIXEL horizontally (left and right), and a second low-pass filter layer does the same vertically, splitting it up and down.

3. This scattering of light in effect produces a slight blurring effect (usually easy to correct with slight Unsharp Mask-type sharpening in the computer, after the fact, or judicious use of the in-camera sharpening via Picture Style control). But the by-product is far less tendency to give psychedelic-looking moire patterns with certain subjects, in certain conditions (and of course, you never see these moire patterns in the viewfinder, before the fact).

(Note: To learn more about moiré and see two good example photos, click here. Moiré is rarely a problem for nature photographers. There are many pronunciations: “mwahr” is the most common and the most widely accepted.)

4. The filter array that includes the two different low-pass filters mentioned above is a part of the optical system, even though it’s sandwiched right up against the front of the imaging sensor. The total filter array includes at least one layer of IR-absorbing glass, a dichroic mirror layer to reflect infrared and UV illumination, and what they call a phase plate, which changes the polarization of incoming light into circular polarization. In other words, it’s a pretty sophisticated optical sandwich, even though to the naked eye it appears as a super-thin layer of glass in front of the sensor.

5. All that said, it is true that if we were to remove the low-pass filter component, in theory, we’d have the potential of greater initial, out-of-the-camera sharpness in many situations. And, it’s definitely true that the moire pattern risk mentioned above won’t occur in the majority of images, unless you were shooting things like fabrics or products with very fine, repeating line patterns on a regular basis. (For the type of bird imaging you normally do, or most landscape applications, I’d guess the risk of moire is pretty much nil most of the time.)

6. As a parenthetical note, these moire patterns, IF they do occur, can usually be moderated or even eliminated in some cases with various image-editing techniques… Photoshop gurus have a multitude of them, and some RAW file processing software now contains anti-moire tools for these occasions. Still, it’s an extra step — sometimes a fairly sophisticated set of them — to reduce or remove moire completely from an image, if it does occur.

7. Because the afore-mentioned low-pass filter array is a part of the optical path, you can’t just remove it — you’d change the effective length of the optical axis, and have to re-design the entire camera body slightly, including the AF system’s optical path, to accommodate such a change. Since Canon made the strategic decision to offer TWO high-resolution cameras, a different technique was needed to achieve removal of the low-pass filter effect, without upsetting the optical system within the camera body. And, without the expense of (in effect) having to design an entirely new camera from scratch, with slightly altered internal dimensions.

8. All that said, here’s what Canon has done: they need two low-pass filter layers in-place to preserve the same optical length within the body. The traditional EOS 5DS of course does just that, with Canon’s typical low-pass filter approach. With the EOS 5DS R, they also have two low-pass filter layers in-place. The first scatters the incoming light by spreading it vertically, similarly to how it’s done in the standard 5DS camera. But the next low-pass filter layer bends the incoming light VERTICALLY again, in the reverse direction — back to ONE single ray path, so the scattered light is effectively “un-scattered” and re-focused into a single optical beam. Thus, the low-pass filter effect is “cancelled.”

9. The result of this cancellation of the low-pass filter effect in the EOS 5DS R is a slight — but noticeable, in many instances — increase in the overall contrast and sharpness of fine detail, lines, and texture in subjects. Canon is clear that photographers need to understand that a by-product of this is a risk of moire patterns appearing occasionally, and that it’s up to the shooter to work with post-processing to limit this effect if and when it happens. But I have no doubt that there would be a bit more detail and texture in things like feather detail in birds, for example. I don’t want to over-state the improvement in sharpness in the EOS 5DS R vs. the standard 5DS model… you can see it when you start magnifying images and look for it, but it’s not an “in-your-face” type of obvious difference that my Mom would immediately spot when viewing on-screen at 100%.

10. Bottom line: we anticipate that the majority of sales of our 50.6 million pixel camera will be the standard 5DS camera, and that in the eyes of most users, the 5DS R will be seen as something of a specialty version. Buy the latter for the right reasons, and it’ll delight you. We just want all potential buyers, and dealer staff, to understand that along with its added initial image sharpness does come a risk of occasional optical imperfections in certain shooting situations. I’ll finish where I started: overall, Canon’s engineers remain very firm that in their opinion, OVERALL digital image quality is enhanced by the use of traditional low-pass filter design in digital SLRs. We’ll let the market be the ultimate judge!

Let me know if you have any other questions, or if any of this is not perfectly clear. Good questions you ask, and it’s up to us here at Canon to make sure every potential customer understands the answers to them! Be well, stay warm!

— Rudy Winston
Canon USA


Thanks a huge stack to Rudy for sharing his almost infinite knowledge of all things Canon with us.

The Overview and the Specs

You can learn all about the Canon EOS 5DS DSLR by clicking here , scrolling down, and then clicking on the Overview tab or on the Specs tab.

You can learn all about the Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR by clicking here, scrolling down, and then clicking on the Overview tab or on the Specs tab.

My Comments

Even after watching Michael’s intriguing video, I still have no idea as to whether I would want either of these bodies for nature photography. I can understand that serious landscape folks and those who make large prints as a matter of course are salivating over the thought of getting their hands on whichever of these bodies they deem to be best. When, however, I can borrow one from either CPS or from B&H I will do so with relish. I may try to get one for my Alaska trips in August…

There are some great features that many might love; each features the new 50.6 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor that will deliver ultra-high resolution images for large-scale printing and extensive, creative cropping, fine detail mode in Picture Style (I wonder if Arash will like that….), 1.3x and 1.6x crop shooting (I need to learn a bit more about that and will share what I learn with you here at some point), full HD 30p movie capability, a built-In intervalometer and bulb timer, and lots more.

High-speed continuous shooting at up to 5 fps might leave those accustomed to the blazing frame rates of the 1D X and the 7D Mark II feeling a bit sluggish.


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7 comments to Michael Tapes EOS 5DS R Video: Not My Style At All (right now) But Still Quite Interesting…

  • Informative to the max, as usual. Thank you, Artie.

  • avatar Dave Adler

    Thank you!! All this was great information, but I just ‘gotta’ say it leaves me a little disappointed that a brand new Canon camera, right out of the box, would require micro-adjusting of the auto focus. Why is that!?!?
    and, am I the only one that finds that really annoying?

    • avatar Mal

      Dave, I’m with you on that one. You’d think if you’re shelling out a few thousand dollars on a new camera body, and potentially many thousands more on big telephoto lenses, that you should be confident that one of the most important parts of the camera technology – the autofocus – would be spot on. I am a complete novice when it comes to autofocus micro-adjustments, so I was pretty happy to see Artie mention above that he has a tutorial in the works.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Dave,

      Being annoyed is a choice. Michael explains the realities of all camera bodies and lenses very well in the video. Micro-adjustng is not for the everyday hobbyist. It is for serous folks who want to achieve the utmost in sharpness from their gear…. In short, nearly all of the cameras and lenses out of the box are within spec. But each is camera and each lens is slightly different in terms of AF. And as have sad here often, AF, as amazing as it is in its present form, is far from being consistently perfect…. a

  • avatar Loren Charif

    Tons of great info; maybe someday the technology will filter (punny? you decide!) down to the 7DMk##! As always, thanks Artie!

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Very interesting–both the video and the Canon interview. I am wondering what this all means for the new 1D?