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Canon 5DS versus Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon EOS 5DS and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2015 and August 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 5DS has a resolution of 50.3 megapixel, whereas the 5D Mark IV provides 30.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark IV

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 5DS and the Canon 5D Mark IV is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 5DS – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark IV
Compare 5DS versus 5D Mark IV top
Compare 5DS and 5D Mark IV rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5DS and the Canon 5D Mark IVare of equal size. However, the 5D Mark IV is slightly lighter (4 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 find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 5DS gets 700 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the 5D Mark IV can take 900 images on a single charge of its LP-E6N power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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)
Canon 5DS» 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5D Mark IV 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark IV

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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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 IV sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5DS offers a higher resolution of 50.3 megapixel, compared with 30.1 MP of the 5D Mark IV. This megapixel advantage translates into a 29 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 5.36μm for the 5D Mark IV). Moreover, it should be noted that the 5D Mark IV is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 6 months) than the 5DS, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

5DS versus 5D Mark IV MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 5D Mark IV has a markedly higher DXO score than the 5DS (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.1 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 5DS» Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Canon 5D Mark IV« Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 5D Mark IV provides a better video resolution than the 5DS. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the 5DS is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark IV

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5DS and the 5D Mark IV 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 IV in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera 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))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 5DS»optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark IV«optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y

Both the 5DS and the 5D Mark IV are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The 5D Mark IV replaced the earlier Canon 5D Mark III, while the 5DS does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark IV

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5DS and the Canon 5D Mark IV? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5DS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (50.3 vs 30.1MP) with a 29% higher linear resolution.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2015).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1040k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (900 versus 700) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 6 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 5D Mark IV is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 2 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

5DS 02:09 5D Mark IV

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5DS and the 5D Mark IV in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 5DS»Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV«HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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