So Canon’s hype machine is in full effect with the long-rumoured new DSLR-to-top-all-DSLRs – the 5DS – to be imminently announced.
The leaked spec on it is eye-wateringly impressive, though until the full detail emerge its difficult to see where it will lay in their stable of products, especially since a 2nd version with second-pass-moire-reduction, or something like that, is due also, and then a 5DIV later in the year.
Anyways this is going to be a pixel daddio, it’s said to be 50.6MP, which is to say each full frame shot will have 50,600,000 pixels in it. If you’re not very good at sums that’s quite a lot.
It’ll be 3:2 proportions so, the sensor size will be 8,712PX x 5,808PX – that’s still massive.

Let’s see how that compares:

Canon 5DII – 5616 x 3744px
Canon 5DIII – 5760 x 3840px
Nikon D800 – 7360 x 4912px
Canon 5DS – 8712 x 5808px (rumoured?)

That’s simply a massive amount of sensor real estate. With great size, comes great power, and considerable data issues that would need to be taken into consideration. Now of course you could dial down the pixels in every day use, using the M-Raw, S-Raw settings to create ‘normal’ sized photos, and it look like you could also use the crop functions of 1.3x and 1.6x – this would be pretty useful for sports photographers using the sensor massiveness to essentially zoom in. Your 200mm lens might feel like a 320mm lens, or that heavy 400mm will give you a scary 640mm. With that kind of available zoom it could lead to a different set of photos as being at the wrong end of the stadium would mean you’re still in with a possible shot.

But lets just assume we’re shooting full sized RAW throwing out 8712 x 5808px CR2 files…
Using some non-scientific guestimations, the RAW file in itself, could be approx 80MB a piece depending on content. So a 32GB CF or SD (dual slot is the rumour) will give you 400 shots, and a 64GB card – 800 shots (just in case). I hope nobody is honestly considering shooting 5-stop bracketed RAW 4k timelapses. But since I mention timelapses those rumours talk of an in-built intervalometer which could be quite nice feature.
Buffering is going to be an issue and shooting at this rate the Frames Per Second will be more shallow that Canon would like, if it is more than 4 FPS I’d be impressed. This will be a huge issue for Press Photographers and Fashion Photographers who are always keen to squeeze off a load.

An open JPG of that gargantuan pixel count is 144.8mb, but will crumple down to 5-6mb with JPG compression of 9/12, again depending on the actual content of the photo (more darks and complex colors will add to its size). But add in a few layers and an alpha channels to suit your non-destructive editing and save out as a layered PSD and we’re quickly touching 500mb for a finished file. Saving and copying times are rocketing and RAM response on any machine will feel considerably different to how you’re used to it. Suffice to say, buy a 5DS and get ready to moan about your laptop, upgrade your main PC’s RAM (again) and get another stack of external HDs.

With resolution of that size another thing to consider is your optics, mediocre glass will be shown up at this rate. Canon have released and updated much of their range of late, and it will be interesting to see how that ‘new’ glass rates under such intense pressure. Any fall off sharpness, or colour around the edges that has never been even noticed could become quite apparent with this sensor. UV lenses will also be put into question like never before.

Data Connectivity
It will have to use USB 3.0, as passing that much data is a mammoth task, and even though Apple fanboys would like a Thunderbolt connection that just wouldn’t be a runner until Apple buys Canon with its cash mountain, possibly circa late 2017. I’ve always been quite impressed with 3.0 speeds even though it’s not often I get full performance due to under powered ports – this will change.
Streaming over Wifi is just not going to be possible, unless there’s a in camera resize pre-sending which could tax the processor while it’s shooting at max FPS. I’d really like to see more Wifi cameras like the great Canon 6D but until Canon allow more 3rd party access to it, it will remain clunky and under used. Canon Utility is an utter pain to work with across OS and networks and applications.

Anyways, the announcement is soon, all of this is possibly pre-supposed rubbish – that said I’m itching to get my hands on something this gargantuan DSLR.

*NB look at the date! This written on 4 February 2015, before we all found out the Apple bought Canon and added phones to the DLSRs