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Life with a 50 Megapixel Camera

I’ve got 2,149 clicks on our new 50 megapixel Canon 5DS-R. So, what’s life like with a 50 megapixel camera?

50 Megapixels Rules!

  • I always know that I’m getting the sharpest image possible out of my¬†lens and technique. I get more sharpness out of my existing lenses, even when they’re not optically perfect.
  • My primes become zooms, and my zooms become deeper. I get the pixel density of an APS-C camera with¬†all the benefits of full-frame. If my 400mm lens is a¬†400mm lens is a 640mm lens on my APS-C Canon 7D Mark II (with a 1.6x crop factor), it’s a 400-600mm lens on my 5DS-R, because I can choose to crop in post.
  • I can zoom a 1080p timelapse 550% (see the video at the top of this page).
  • I can increase the noise reduction in Lightroom and trade some of that detail for a cleaner image (and still be sharper than other cameras).
  • Even 11×14″ images are sharper. Technically the 22 megapixel 5D Mark III is 350 DPI¬†at 11×14, but in practice, all¬†lenses & techniques are imperfect, printed images are always cropped, anti-aliasing filters reduce sharpness.¬†The visible DPI of an 11×14¬†from a 5D Mark III is closer to 250 DPI… and I like to make 20×30″ prints, and larger. At that size, the 5D Mark III is at about 140 visible DPI, while the 5DS-R is above¬†200 visible DPI.

50 Megapixels Sucks!

  • The CR2 raw files are¬†55-75 MB each. Converted to DNGs, they’re 45-60 MB each.
  • Flaws in my technique become obvious. The reciprocal rule¬†works OK for a 24 megapixel camera, but at 50 megapixels, I need a faster shutter.
  • Even on a tripod, I¬†benefit from mirror lockup¬†and¬†a heavy tripod. As a result, I’m now more often using (and carrying) a tripod.
  • Lightroom will take 2-3 hours to import and render previews for the raw shots from a typical wedding.
  • Switching between pictures in Lightroom takes 2-5 seconds, even with 1:1 previews rendered.
  • Working with multiple images is exponentionally more painful. I wrote this entire article while waiting for¬†Photoshop to blend about 25 images (median averaging to remove people from a scene), and my PC is the fastest you can get.
  • Basically,¬†all intense processing requires planning. You’ll be saying things like,¬†“I’ll start processing this panorama before I leave for lunch.” and “I’ll be in bed in a minute, I just have to start rendering these 1:1 previews.”

To be clear: 50 megapixel images always¬†look better than the lower resolution images, even when technique isn’t perfect. But it does make your technique flaws more obvious, and no matter your budget,¬†you simply cannot buy a computer that can process the images at a reasonable pace.