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Scott's Column
More on the New Camera Possibility

June 1, 2016
By Scott Lewis

If you are following this site you are aware I am impatiently waiting to buy a new camera. I think I want the upcoming Canon 5D Mark IV (5D4). But I have some reservations, and it is still vaporware.

Quick background... I am an "automotive enthusiast photographer." I do studio style photo shoots of cars for clients, as well as track day events. Ultimately I need a camera good in a studio environment (on a tripod, high resolution for large prints), and good for sports (capture fast moving cars on a track).

Those requirements are kind of in conflict with each other. A good, high resolution studio camera does NOT have to be fast. Quite the opposite. And a good, action sports camera needs a fast shutter and good high ISO (low light) capability, which is in complete contrast to the studio camera.

So what's a photographer to do? If I were making a better living at this I would just buy two cameras, one for each type of photography. I would really rather not do that. I just assume buy one camera that is good enough for sports, and high enough in resolution for large studio prints.

Canon has the 5DsR. This is a 50 MP camera. I mentioned it last time. It is a studio camera. It has a number of features that are specific to it being on a tripod and used in a controlled lighting environment. For example, it has a special mode for the mirror that minimizes vibration INSIDE the camera (since the tiniest movement could be seen by 50 megapixels of resolution). It is a great landscape camera where you mostly use a tripod.

The upcoming 5D4 should be able to shoot at at least 7 fps (frames per second). This betters the 5DsR's 5 fps, but is still short of a good sports oriented camera, like the Canon 7D Mark II (7D2) with 10 fps.

But cars on a track are an interesting sports subject. You can see them coming, and they take predictable lines. Plus they come by lap after lap. So if the goal is to get a cool shot of a car as it goes by, 7 fps should be more than enough. Is 5 fps enough?

If you were shooting for a ball oriented sport (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, etc). 5 fps is NOT enough. You could easily miss seeing the ball in the shot. You ideally want to capture that shot of the football just next to the fingers of the player making that dive to catch it. If you miss it you can't wait for the next lap.

I bring all this up because I was given the opportunity to take photos with media credentials at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). This is a world class race track in Austin. With the media pass I was able to gain access to the access road BETWEEN the big fence and the little fence... the "service" area if you will. Here they have numerous cutouts in the inner fence specifically for point cameras through.

For this event I rented the Canon 5DsR. So, is 5 fps fast enough for the kind of photography I do?

Let's see......

Here is a full 50 MP image (click to see it full size):

And another full 50 MP image:

Here are some cropped images (though still quite large):

     
             Cropped to 18 MP                                      Cropped to 28 MP

     
              Cropped to 17 MP                                     Cropper to 29 MP

Even cropped all the images above are still significantly high in resolution for printing. Any of these could go into a motorsports magazine or into large prints for clients to display on a man cave wall.

So... yes... 5 fps is enough for my needs. Which leads to the important question....

Do I buy the 5DsR, or continue to wait for the 5D Mark IV?

I believe I could buy the 5DsR and not need a backup camera. I did manage to get about 10 minutes at a volleyball game while I had the 5DsR. The 5DsR was faster than my Canon T2i (3.4 fps), and the ability to massively crop in afterwards allowed me to get a couple of good shots. Unfortunately, I was in an awkward location, and had too long a lens on the camera. If i spent the time to switch lenses I would not have gotten anything.

The ISO performance (low light capability) from the 5DsR was quite good, very acceptable at this indoor sports event and much better then my T2i.

I am NOT saying the 5DsR is a good camera for sports, particularly indoor sports. What I am saying, is that if a friend asked me to take some pictures of their kid playing a sport, I would feel comfortable doing that with the 5DsR. Having said that... it is NOT fast enough. Many shots would be missed by the slower shutter. This is why they make the 7D2 (10 fps) and 1Dx2 (12-14 fps).

Conclusion

Do I want to buy the 5DsR? Yes. Do I want to wait for the 5D Mark IV. YES!!!

The most recent rumor I heard (remember, previously I heard the 5D4 was going to be 24 MP) said the 5D4 will be a 32 MP camera with a 24 MP "mode" (whatever that means).

With a 32 MP Camera on the horizon I am going to wait and see. The deciding factor to wait is because of one missing feature in the 5DsR... WiFi. I really want built-in WiFi.

So, we wait, and wait, and WAIT!!!

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