Should I get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the 5Ds/5Ds R?

With the arrival of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, many questions are being raised. Recently, we answered the Should I get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the 5D III? question. Here, we're going to compare the 5D Mark III's successor to the ultra-high resolution 5Ds and 5Ds R models in attempt to answer the "Should I get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the 5Ds/5Ds R? question.
 
It seems logical to start such a comparison by showing a chart of the specification differences. For the purposes of this post, we'll lumping the 5Ds and 5Ds R models together as they are identical except for the low-pass cancellation feature found in the "R" model.
 
5D Mark IV5Ds/5Ds R
Resolution30.4M50.6M
DLAf/8.6f/6.7
Image ProcessorDIGIC 6+ plus iTR/AF processorDual DIGIC 6
Continuous Shooting / Buffer7 fps / 21 RAW5 fps / 14 RAW
AF Working RangeEV -3 - 18EV -2 - 18
AF points @ f/8615
Metering RangeEV 0 - 20EV 1 - 20
Sensor AFDual Pixel CMOS AFContrast AF
ISO SensitivityAuto 100-32000 (L:50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400)Auto 100-6400 (L: 50, H1: 12800)
LCDTouch panel 3.2-inch (3:2) / 1,620K dots3.2-inch (3:2) / 1,040K dots
Video Recording4K (17:9) 4096 x 2160 (29.97, 25, 24, 23.98 fps) Motion JPEG
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, 23.98 fps) intra or inter frame
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 HDR ( 29.97, 25 fps) inter frame
Full HD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25) lite inter frame
HD (16:9) 1280 x 720 (119.9, 100 fps) intra frame
FHD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps) intra or inter frame
HD (16:9) 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps) intra or inter frame
SD (4:3) 640 x 480 (59.94, 50 fps) inter frame
Wi-Fi / NFC / GPSBuilt-inGPS / Wi-Fi via accessories
Battery LifeApprox. 900Approx. 700
Weight31.4 oz (890g)32.8 oz (930g)

Here is the full EOS 5D Mark IV vs. 5Ds specifications comparison.
 
Obvious from the table above is that the EOS 5Ds/5Ds R has one notable advantage over the EOS 5D Mark IV – resolution. The 5Ds R model, specifically, also has a slight sharpness advantage on the 5D IV as the latter features a traditional low-pass filter without the R's cancellation feature. Here is a resolution test chart comparison between the 5D IV and the 5Ds R.
 
Just as I noted in the 5D IV vs. 5D III post, if you're interested in creating 4K content, or otherwise need the benefits of Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF, the choice is clear – get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
 
If you're a landscape, wildlife or studio photographer who requires the ultimate in resolution for making big prints, the 5Ds/5Ds R models offer 40% more resolution compared to the 5D IV. Aside from big prints, the additional pixels allow for more leeway in cropping while maintaining still-manageable resolutions. To put that into point perspective, the 5Ds/5Ds R's 1.6x crop feature (simulating the field of view realized by using an APS-C sensor camera) results in a 19.6 megapixel image. This difference is noticeable. To obtain the same APS-C field of view with a 5D IV base image, the end result would be 11.7 megapixels.
 
Does that make the EOS 5Ds/5Ds R a better camera for those interested in wildlife? Maybe, but not necessarily. There are a lot of factors that go into creating a compelling wildlife image. The ability to crop an image heavily is just one of them.
 
Other factors like burst speed, buffer depth, high ISO noise results and AF capability/performance also play significant roles. That the 5D IV allows for two additional frames-per-second in burst shooting may not seem like much, but it can definitely help. The greater buffer capacity is always welcome. As hinted to by the increased standard max ISO setting (to 32000), the 5D IV performs better in the noise department than its predecessor, the 5D Mark III, and the 5D IV also performs better than the 5Ds at the pixel level in this regard.
 
Downsize the 5Ds image to 5D IV dimensions and the comparison becomes considerably closer. The 5D IV is still the better performer, but the equivalent comparison shows this attribute being less of a decision factor. The 5Ds/5Ds R's standard max ISO tops out at 6400.
 
The 5D IV also features a vertically expanded AF point spread to its benefit. This is a feature that wildlife (and many other) photographers will appreciate. If a subject is moving, AI servo is needed and if AI servo is in use, a focus point must be held on the subject (usually their closest eye). Having a larger AF point spread sometimes permits better subject framing in these situations (I provided an elk photo example in the 5D IV review).
 
So, which body is best for you? If you want the most versatile, general purpose DSLR, the 5D Mark IV's feature set will likely make it the best overall choice. At their introduction, the ultra-high resolution 5Ds and 5Ds R were marketed more as specialty cameras rather than a camera for everyman. And their place in Canon's camera lineup hasn't changed; the only difference is that the everyman camera has a "IV" in its name and packs a great new feature set to go with it.
 
Get your Canon 5D Mark IV and/or EOS 5Ds/5Ds R at B&H.
Posted: 8/29/2016 9:08:51 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Posted to: Canon News
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