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Testing the Canon 5DSR on Lone Peak

PHOTOGRAPHED & WRITTEN BY MIKEAL BELAND

There has been a lot of conversation about sensor and pixel production lagging behind rival equipment lines, but Canon’s 5DSR is their first attempt at a digital medium format, high definition shooter. In other words, the first affordable option for mainstream commercial photographers and enthusiasts. Paired with the Canon 24mm f1.4 L and SIGMA 50mm f1.4 L, I wanted some quality glass to test the camera and lens abilities in a unique setting.

I was fortunate enough to go on a camping adventure on top of Lone Peak in Big Sky, Montana. Rising to over 11,000 feet, Lone Peak is the ascent of the largest ski area in America (over 8,000 acres). During the summer months, a tram takes visitors to the Lone Peak Expedition at the very top. I had an in with the lift operators and was able to camp on top for one night during the August Supermoon of 2015.

I have come across many equipment review articles that were informative, but focused on the numerical metrics of each design detail. The accompanying photos didn’t fully vet the equipment or its capabilities. I wanted to see how the Canon 5DSR, 24mm 1.4L and SIGMA 50mm 1.4 A handled portraits, wide angle, low light, video, long exposure, and what other shooting situations might arise.

The Art lens’ reputation is deserved. SIGMA 50mm 1.4 A had a quick, crisp, sharp handling and beautiful brokeh that set everything perfectly. The focus assist was consistent, and the weight and materials felt like it was a performer. This was also part of its high maintenance handling when climbing or doing anything other than tripod assisted shots. I might not feel too great after long hikes with this system hanging from the neck, but the results made it worth it. Some of my favorite photographs came out of this lens.

The sensor quality at low ISO enabled me to blow up pictures beyond 60″ prints with clarity. I like my prints big and this puts the 5DSR outside the reach of Sony’s A7R II and Nikon’s D810. The detail can be striking, but not necessarily sharper than results I found with SONY at high ISO and low light.

I knew that capturing long exposures of the milky way would be epic. I was a little disappointed with the performance at 3200 ISO, and this picture did not blow up as easily as others. I’m still looking for the perfect astrophotography system.

The SIGMA delivered my favorite portrait I’ve ever taken. The moon had just gone behind some clouds in the right position. The wheat grass was lighting up on the sides, and the fire poi prop was a perfect light painting tool. I am partially photoshopped out of this image, but the results exceeded my expectations. That’s a great feeling when you get that mostly in camera.

Because the high ISO was an issue for long exposures, the film results with minimal editing were also somewhat disappointing. The SIGMA had trouble holding focus, though I discovered later you could program a face recognition assist. Without higher ISO video quality, I wouldn’t be able to get the same results as I would the SONY A7S. The resulting video was still good enough to make a video. For 2 days it’s certainly did the job.

Overall, I give the photo quality 4 1/2 and ease of use 3 1/2 stars. I may recommend this camera for studio setups, but the portability of other systems makes me not want to use this heavy system on top of a mountain again.