Canon 5Ds 11-24f4L Review

Not long back from another great One of A Kind Adventure, this time around the North Island hutting up some spectacular spots.  Canon were kind enough to loan me their 5Ds and the new 11-24mm f4 L wide angle lens to try out on the trip.
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One of those locations we visited was the majestic Dawson Falls in Mt Egmont National Park. Its an easy walk in but we had heavy rain for the whole time we shot the falls, making it difficult to get the shot I wanted but a lot of lens wiping and shooting got me exactly what I was aiming for.
We had that much heavy rain and spray/mist from the falls I used a panoramic technique to shoot 3 frames for this, overlay them and then blend out the water drops.I love the ultra wide perspective the 11-24 gives for this, its about 20% overlap in total so the final image is 11,000 pixels wide. So much detail and resolution from the combo with the 50mp 5ds!Both the 5Ds and 11-24 coped well with the incessant heavy rain, though I did use a rain sleeve for a bit of extra protection.

The 5Ds has impressed me more than I thought it would. I’ve used a 5dmk3 several times and knew the autofocus was sweet but hadnt really shot one for a long time.

Cape Egmont Lighthouse

Got to say compared to the 6d its chunky and solid, I’ve always loved the ergonomics of the 5d series and its so simple to configure and use.

But what makes it special? Settings wise its got an awesome built in Mirror lockup mode that you can set to always happen, you can pick from 1/8th of a second up to however long you want. This gets you very stable shake free images. I usually shoot in live view mode so MLU isnt needed but often its easier to compose in the viewfinder so this is a real benefit.

And at last it has a bulb mode timer. You can dial in any exposure time you like whilst in bulb mode, no need for a remote release! Perfect for your long exposure shooting!

Also has a built in intervalvometer which I am interested in (usually use moco devices to control) but not had a chance to use yet.

But really you buy this bad boy for the files. 50 megapixels of data. Raws are up to about 90meg and so long as the idiot behind the viewfinder has done their job well enough there is so much detail in the images its incredible. Compared to my 6d’s 20mp you can keep zooming in almost endlessly it feels.

The files at base ISO are surprisingly clean too, I didnt get a chance to shoot astro with it which is a shame, wont be quite as good as a 6d but I’m sure it would be usable.

I know all the reviews will say it lacks dynamic range compared to some other cameras , I’m sure it does, but I’ve not found many situations where a couple of stops extra has made so much difference, without having to blend or use filters. It does have clean shadows you can push a respectable 2-3 stops which is usually all I need. With the Dawson falls shot I am able to push the shadows a respectable amount, not quite as much as the sony A7r but enough to be very practical.

All that and 5fps with the 5d’s stunning autofocus system, its nice having more than 1 usable point!

Lake Rotoaira

So overall I am very impressed with this absolute beast of a camera, though for me I would pick the 5Dsr for the extra detail without the aliasing filter (needed for fashion, architecture etc) . Nature doesn’t have many repeating patterns that the AA filter helps with.

So the other half of the combo.. The canon 11-24mm f4 L lens. This is the widest zoom lens you can get your hands on. Its quite a big chunky lens too, Canon have been putting out some amazing lenses recently.

Its also apolitically wide. So wide , especially in portrait orientation the first thing you notice is your feet!

Framing things with this lens at 11mm is a challenge. And that is for someone who shoots wide all the time. In the right place, like this falls above, its astounding. But it needs to get really INTO a scene and almost on top of your foreground to make the most of it.

Native Stream
Focus is interesting, for landscapes on the scale the 1M mark is right next to the infinity mark. Which means you can be very cavalier with focus as hyperfocal is almost always the case. The outlier here is when things are right at the MFD and you might need to focus stack. This stream shot above we again had rain and little time to shoot so I just guessed on hyperfocal and took a snap, absolute foreground isnt quite as sharp as I’d have liked but I was inches away from that fern!
Resolution is astounding though as is build quality. It makes use of all of those 50 megapixels of the 5ds. Contrast and colour really pop have to say I love this lens! The downside for me is filters, I love using filters and this would need LEE Filters 150mm system or the NiSi Filters 180mm systems which are huge. Though it does take rear mounted gel/wratten filters if you just want long exposures.

So overall I really enjoyed this combo, its an expensive setup and one that has some limitations but once I find the money I will be very tempted!

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