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Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

The Canon EOS 5DS and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2015 and March 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 5DS has a resolution of 50.3 megapixels, whereas the 5D Mark III provides 22.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5DS   Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 5DS Canon 5D Mark III
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
50.3 MP, Full Frame Sensor 22.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-6400 (50-12800) ISO 100-25600 (50-102400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1040k dots 3.2" LCD, 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 6 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
700 shots per battery charge950 shots per battery charge
152 x 116 x 76 mm, 930 g 152 x 116 x 76 mm, 950 g

Body comparison: Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5DS and the Canon 5D Mark III. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Compare Canon 5DS and Canon 5D Mark III
Compare 5DS versus 5D Mark III top
Compare 5DS or 5D Mark III rear

In this particular case, the Canon 5DS and the Canon 5D Mark III have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the 5D Mark III is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the 5DS. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 5DS» 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5D Mark III« 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« » 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Nikon D850« » 146 mm 124 mm 79 mm 1005 g 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D810« » 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 980 g 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Sony A99 II« » 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 5D Mark III was somewhat cheaper (by 5 percent) than the 5DS at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 5DS and Canon 5D Mark III sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5DS offers a higher resolution of 50.3 megapixels, compared with 22.1 MP of the 5D Mark III. This megapixels advantage translates into a 51 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5DS has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.14μm versus 6.25μm for the 5D Mark III). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the 5DS is much more recent (by 2 years and 11 months) than the 5D Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Canon EOS 5DS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400..

5DS versus 5D Mark III MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 5DS has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 5D Mark III (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 5DS» Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 5D Mark III« Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100Nikon D850
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397Nikon D810
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the 5DS provides a higher frame rate than the 5D Mark III. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the 5D Mark III is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5DS and the 5D Mark III are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 5DS and Canon 5D Mark III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 5DS»optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 5D Mark III«optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n Nikon D850
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D810
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II

The 5DS writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the 5D Mark III uses Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5DS and Canon EOS 5D Mark III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 5DS»YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
Canon 5D Mark III«YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 6D Mark II« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
Nikon D850« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D850
Nikon D810« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Nikon D810
Sony A99 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II

It is notable that the 5D Mark III has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The 5DS lacks such a headphone port.

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

The 5DS is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the 5D Mark III has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 5D Mark III was succeeded by the Canon 5D Mark IV.


Review summary: Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5DS and the Canon 5D Mark III? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5DS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (50.3 vs 22.1MP) with a 51% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 5D Mark III launch.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (950 versus 700) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2012).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5DS emerges as the winner of the contest (6 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

5DS 06:04 5D Mark III

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5DS or the 5D Mark III. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews: Canon 5DS vs 5D Mark III

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 5DS»Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5D Mark III«HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 5DS:
Check Amazon price
Canon 5D Mark III:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark III

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 5DS Canon 5D Mark III
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2015 March 2012
    Launch Price USD 3699 USD 3499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 50.3 Megapixels 22.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 8688 x 5792 pixels 5760 x 3840 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.14 μm 6.25 μm
    Pixel Density 5.82 MP/cm2 2.56 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-6400 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-12800 ISO 50-102400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 6 (Dual) DIGIC 5+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 87 81
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.7 24.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.4 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2381 2293
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 6 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E6 power pack LP-E6 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)700 shots per charge950 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 116 x 76 mm
    (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    152 x 116 x 76 mm
    (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 930 g (32.8 oz) 950 g (33.5 oz)

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