Thank you to Fotocare for holding this rental for me. <-Useless plug, well maybe.
Let me get something out of the way first. Canon’s 5DS is the first Canon DSLR that I have spent any significant time with. I have shot DRebels, and A 7D Mk1, but only for a few shots, and really just a quick look with some of my various friends gears.
Having said that, the main reason why I never really considered Canon in the past was its ergonomics. I’ve held them when in stores and from friends and to me the Canon rear and front dials, for starters, just didn’t feel right. Having been able to use one of their latest bodies, the 50 MP monster 5DS just reaffirmed my reservations about Canon and its ergonomics.
First off, that dial in the back, I think it’s in the wrong spot. It’s too low and when your looking through the finder, your cheek sort of blocks it. Sure it’s useful on both orientations, but to me it’s just in a bad spot. Using it for menu navigation, however, is a lot easier than let’s say a four-way toggle. Scrolling through your photos is a helluva lot easier using the dial than any other conventional methods. I get it – Canon has had this for years, and it works for a lot of people, but it just doesn’t for me. Having the front dial BEHIND the shutter or in front of it, depends on which way you look at it, just seems freaking weird. It just did not feel natural.
Secondly, the way in which you change things like ISO speed, White balance, AF mode, that sort, is too cumbersome. Every control is biased to the right – I mean EVERYTHING. I don’t understand why each button has a dual purpose. For example, the Drive mode is coupled with WB (white balance), so for anyone that is unfamiliar with this, you press the Drive/WB button. The front dial changes drive and the rear dial changes the WB (or vice versa. Honestly, I don’t remember.) On top of that, you really have to press that button (maybe it’s just the copy I had) so as to register to the system that you need to make changes. I felt like I was going to drop the camera since I was contorting my fingers just to change these settings. Sure, you can use the ‘Q’ button and change settings via the screen which makes it a bit easier, but I still found it cumbersome. (Apparently you can customize that ‘Q’ button setting screen to your liking, kind of like rearranging your items in Resident Evil 4.)
Oh, and that power switch, why not put it where the shutter is like so many other manufacturers (Fujifilm, Pentax, Nikon, Sony to name a few), and not on the opposite side. Shutter side is more natural, and your finger will almost always be there.
Again, maybe it’s the copy I had with me but the buttons seem like you needed to press deep and hard to get them to register. The joystick nubbin in the back above the rear wheel/dial is a nice touch though. It clicked nicely and, again, I find a bit more useful than a 4-way toggle. I do beg to ask this though: rear dial + nubbin, maybe a bit of overkill. Have the nubbin as a button too so that when you press it down on center, so that it acts as the ‘set’ button as well? Maybe that’s overkill too.
Now that I got that off my chest, the 5DS is a bit lighter than my D700 (by feel and not by official numbers – but officially the camera is 930G w/ batteries, vs. the D700 at 1074G w/ batteries), and I had an easier time lugging it around even with that huge 50mm F/1.2 L. I didn’t mind carrying it at all. My Nikon F100 with the Nikkor 24-70 F/2.8 was heavier, but maybe the lens is just that heavy.
The front grip is nice and deep and is reminiscent of my Pentax K3. Handling wise, it was ok. The finder was bright and filled with the usual information, and provided a 100% field of view.
Overall, with some getting used to, I may learn to like Canon’s ergonomics, but with my limited time with the 5DS, that wasn’t going to happen. On my last day of shooting with the 5DS, I did eventually enjoy using it, but just my initial gripe with the dials and settings on this camera still bugged to the point where I bothered not to use the camera. I am hoping the next time I get my hands on a Canon, it will be easier to get acclimated.
I feel like I am giving Canon and it’s design language some flak. I am, really, but worry not – I will give Canon another shot at another date. The time I had with the 5DS was so limited that it wasn’t even funny, so I will be taking it out again sometime soon, when the weather will be much nicer, and to have more time to actually dive into its settings.
But, as far as first impressions go – well – I wasn’t very impressed to say the least. I had a better time using the Sony A7S and I hated the ergonomics on that too. I would like to add, that I have owned a Canon Powershot S95, I have bought my then girlfriend, now wife, a Canon Powershot S100, and I have gotten her sisters to buy an Canon Powershot S100, and Canon Powershot S110. I’ve also talked another relative into getting the Canon Powershot G12 some years ago and, up until recently, I was considering purchasing the Canon Powershot G7X . I’ve had various Canon point and shoot digital camera’s as well as an APS film point and shoot. So before you Canon fanboys start saying I just dislike Canon it is just untrue. I really just don’t like how Canon has laid out their DSLR controls.
Anyway, in part “the deuce” of this mini-series, I will be posting up some shots I took with this 50 megapixel body, as well as my thoughts on the Canon’s 50mm F/1.2 L. Stay tuned!
(Photos of the 5DS in this post were taken with a Pentax K3 except for the ones that were from Canon)