CANON 5DSR LONG EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY TEST RESULTS

A few long exposure test results with the new Canon 5DSR to assess its potential noise performance issues

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By Joel Tjintjelaar

Copyright (c) 2015 by Joel Tjintjelaar – BWvision.com. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations in reviews.

INTRODUCTION

Just recently I updated the Complete Guide to Long Exposure photography in a very elaborate way. I included some recommended cameras, or in some cases: not recommended cameras for long exposure photography. One of the NOT recommended cameras was the new 50MP Canon 5DS/R. My recommendation was based on very few test results focused on long exposure photography. One of those test results was by renowned black and white long exposure photographer Cole Thompson whose conclusion was that the Canon 5DS/R wasn’t suitable for long exposure photography. His conclusions were accompanied by a few long exposure photos that showed very clearly the large amount of noise. Now, since I have Cole Thompson in high regard as a fine-art long exposure photographer with an objective opinion, I decided to follow up on his test results and not recommend this camera for long exposure photography. Even though I never laid hands on this new Canon myself. But the fact is that there aren’t many reviews on the new Canon 5DSR available, targeted at long exposure photographers. It’s still just a small niche.

With this article/review I’m trying to add to the small amount of available Canon 5DSR long exposure photography test results to get a better impression of the long exposure performance of this camera. Since I didn’t want to buy this camera myself, for testing purposes only, I asked people I knew who had this camera or could use this camera and are experienced long exposure photographers, to take a few long exposure photography test shots for me and send the RAW files to me.

I’m going to present the images with all the necessary relevant information below. You can judge for yourself and see if the noise is acceptable for you. I need to emphasize that this camera doesn’t have any issues with noise with normal exposure times. If you’re not a long exposure photographer I would recommend this camera without hesitation.

Although I don’t want to make a recommendation for long exposure photographers I can say that the amount of noise that I see in the RAW files, varying from very underexposed to slightly overexposed, is not worse or better than what I see in the long exposure photographs of my current camera, the Canon 5D mark III. As long as they’re not very underexposed – you will always see a large amount of noise in that case, no matter what camera you would use. I find the results from Canon 5D mk III and 5DSR are very much the same in terms of noise in similar situations. But I will let you be the judge of that yourself by presenting you the Canon 5DSR long exposure photography test results in this article.

CASE STUDY 1 – LONG EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHS BY MABRY CAMPBELL

Mabry Campbell who is an experienced long exposure and architectural photographer has provided the raw files for the test results in case study 1 on my request. I asked him to come up with a few long exposure photographs varying in exposure time from a few minutes up to 10 minutes, which I personally consider a bit too long for my taste. If you’ve read my Complete Guide to Long Exposure Photography you will know that I prefer anything between 5 and 8 minutes. But I think it will give you a good impression of the performance of the camera when exposure times are pushed beyond average long exposure times.

First some relevant info.

ALL IMAGES IN THIS CASE STUDY ARE SCREENSHOTS FROM THE ORIGINAL RAW FILES – NO CORRECTIONS HAVE BEEN APPLIED

FULL SCREEN IMAGES – OVERALL IMPRESSION

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

Full Screen shot | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 1/640s – normal exposure

Mabry Histogram 1:640s

Full Screen shot | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 330s – slightly overexposed

Mabry Histogram 330s slightly overexposed

Full Screen shot | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 295s – correctly exposed

Mabry Histogram 295s

Full Screen shot | f/11 | ISO100 | 600s – correctly exposed

Mabry Histogram 600s

Overall the full screen images look good even though there’s some noise visible in the darker areas. Please have a look at the blown up versions of parts of the images below.

100% ZOOMED IN – DARKER AREAS / RED DOOR

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

100% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 1/640s – no long exposure

100% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 330s – slightly over exposed

100% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 295s – correctly exposed

100% zoom | f/11 | ISO100 | 600s – correctly exposed

100% zoomed in. Notice there’s some noise in the darker areas and red door in the 600s and 295s version. But it’s noise that’s easy to remove with Topaz DeNoise for example.

200% ZOOMED IN – SKY AND ROOF

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

200% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 1/640s – no long exposure

200% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 330s – slightly over exposed

200% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 295s – correctly exposed

200% zoom | f/11 | ISO100 | 600s – correctly exposed

200% zoomed in on another part of the image with the sky. Some visible noise in the sky in the 600s version. But it can hardly be called disturbing.

300% ZOOMED IN – ROOF AND CLADDING

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

300% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 1/640s – no long exposure

300% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 330s – slightly over exposed

300% zoom | f/7.1 | ISO100 | 295s – correctly exposed

300% zoom | f/11 | ISO100 | 600s – correctly exposed

300% zoomed in on another part of the image with the darker shadow part under the roof. Again, some noise with the 600s exposure version. But this can easily be removed.

CASE STUDY 2 – LONG EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHS BY FAHED ALSHAHMAN

Fahed Alshahman is a black and white fine-art photographer and also experienced at long exposure photography. He lives in Kuwait and he has also provided me with the raw files for the test results for case study 2, based on my request to come up with a few long exposure photographs varying in exposure time from a few minutes up to very long. In this case more than 35 minutes which was more to see how the 5DSR performs in extreme conditions. If you’ve read my Complete Guide to Long Exposure Photography you will know that I prefer anything between 5 and 8 minutes.

Some relevant info.

ALL IMAGES IN THIS CASE STUDY ARE SCREENSHOTS FROM THE ORIGINAL RAW FILES – NO CORRECTIONS APPLIED

FULL SCREEN IMAGES – OVERALL IMPRESSION

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

Full Screen shot | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 241s – slightly underexposed

Fahed Histogram 214s f16 - slightly underexposed

Full Screen shot | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 358s – slightly underexposed

Fahed Histogram 358s f16 - underexposed

Full Screen shot | 45mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 2222s (37 mins) – very underexposed

Fahed Histogram 2222s f16 - very underexposed

Overall the full screen images with exposure times in the ‘preferred range’ from 5 to 8 minutes, look good even though the two images are slightly underexposed, which should make noise more visible. Despite the slight underexposure the noise level is very acceptable in my personal view: this is the type of noise I always see in my Canon 5D mkIII camera. The image with a 2222s exposure time is very underexposed and the noise is too extreme to be usable. Note that 37 minutes exposures are not within the normal range of daytime long exposure photography. I would recommend anything in the range between 5 and 8 minutes.

100% ZOOMED IN – DARKER AREAS AND SKY / WATER

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

100% zoom | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 241s – slightly underexposed

100% zoom | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 358s – slightly underexposed

100% zoom | 45mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 2222s (37 minutes) – very underexposed

100% zoomed in. I couldn’t detect any disturbing noise at 100% in the slightly underexposed images of  4 and 6 minutes. There’s too much noise however in the 37 minutes dramatically underexposed version. That image is not usable. But again 37 minutes is not within the normal range of daytime long exposure photography.

200% ZOOMED IN – DARKER AREAS PIER

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

200% zoom | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 241s – slightly underexposed

200% zoom | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 358s – slightly underexposed

200% zoom | 45mm | f/16 | ISO100 |2222s (37 min) – very underexposed

200% zoomed in. Also, zoomed in at 200%, I couldn’t detect any disturbing noise in the slightly underexposed images of 4 and 6 minutes. Noise will always be visible more easily in the darker parts of the image, in this case the dark supporting structure of the pier. I haven’t seen any noise there. The 37 minutes dramatically underexposed version again has too much noise.

300% ZOOMED IN – PIER AND BACKGROUND WITH BUILDINGS

Right click on image to open in new tab and see them full screen and to zoom in.

300% zoom | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 241s – slightly underexposed

300% zoom | 50mm | f/16 | ISO100 | 358s – slightly underexposed

300% zoom | 45mm | f/16 | ISO100 |2222s (37 min) – very underexposed

300% zoomed in. Same impression as for the 200% zoomed images: 4 and 6 minutes exposure test shots have no real noise issues and the bit of noise you can see is easy to remove with Topaz Denoise. The 37 minutes exposure shot is not usable.

CONCLUSION

The reader and interested photographer should be able to draw his own conclusions right now, based on the images shown here. I don’t have a real explanation why Cole Thompson’s test results differ dramatically from my test results. For what it’s worth: in very similar situations I don’t see significantly more noise in the new Canon 5DSR, if any, if I compare this with my current Canon 5D Mark III camera. I’m seriously considering purchasing this camera based on the long exposure photography test results in this article.

5 replies
  1. D Bartram
    D Bartram says:

    I’ve just bought a 5DSR, and I must admit I’m a little underwhelmed with the long exposure performance – I’ve got a 480 second exposure of a waterfall, which is a good minute or so longer exposure than it really needed, and the noise at 50% scale is quite visible. The water at the base of the falls is quite noticeably blotchy in places, and far more concerning is a red blob that is visible when fitting the entire frame on a 17″ monitor! The pixel almost looks like a dead pixel, however isn’t there in later shots. I have long exposure noise correction set to auto, and the shot was at 200ISO f5.6 on a 24-70mm f2.8 II lens.

    Reply
    • Joel Tjintjelaar
      Joel Tjintjelaar says:

      There are a lot of different experiences with the 5DSR. Besides the review posted here I also have a 5DSR and did many tests with it after this review (with another camera than the ones reviewed in this article) and my results were in line with the results here: no noise at all with exposures varying from 4 minutes up to 7 minutes while it was hot outside (34c / 93F). No other strange artifacts either. But a photography student of mine also bought a 5DSR recently and I’ve seen the results and they were terrible! So much noise. I have no idea why some 5DSRs seem to have fantastic results (the results in this article and my recent tests) while others have experiences similar to yours.
      It almost looks like a QC issue that can result in completely different results. But I can only guess now.

    • Joel Tjintjelaar
      Joel Tjintjelaar says:

      No, but I like what it can do so perhaps I might get myself one. But at the same time I’m also interested in a Medium Format Digital camera. I’ll post a review once I have one.

  2. jtjintjelaar
    jtjintjelaar says:

    A test comment – feel free to post comments now comments option has been activated.
    Joel Tjintjelaar – BWVision.com

    Reply

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