So the Canon 5DS is here. Delivering just over 50 mega pixels in a DSLR, with rumours that Sony are set to launch a 46 mega pixel A series camera soon too.
For some photographers perhaps this result of the megapixel race is irrelevant, though the success of the Sony A7R would seem to indicate that photographers do appreciate the possibility of extra detail.
Possibility? Yes you read right, possibility.
I have been shooting with large sensor, high megapixel cameras in the shape of Phase One cameras for some years now and getting the best quality from them, or any other big sensor high megapixel camera is not a given.
Let me explain, when you have a sensor which can deliver such detail you really have to modify your technique, being meticulous when it comes to focus and being very sure you have the camera as stable as possible.
In fact if you have been shooting on the current crop of DSLR cameras of around the 20 megapixel mark and you think you want to venture into the brave new world of 50 ish megapixels these are the 5 things you will need to get the most out of your camera, and believe me it isn't going to be cheap.
1.Superb lenses. If your glass is not up to the job you simply will not see anything like the resolution or potential from your new acquisition that it is capable of. Establish which lenses you use most often and seriously consider upgrading these to the very best. I'm looking forward to trying out the Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4 and Otus 85mm F1.4 on a Canon 5DS. You might recall the mini test I did with them on my 6D with a mere 20 megapixels - the results were pretty staggering. With 50 megapixels the results will be out of this world.
2.A first grade tripod and head. If your camera is not rock steady once again you will not be getting anything like the resolution you could from a 50 megapixel camera. My go to tripod of choice is the brilliant Gitzo 5562LTS which is rock solid and yet fits in a back pack with a GH5381SQR it is perfect for long lens work.
3.A lens specific focusing screen. When you have this much detail it will show up any poor focus mercilessly. Autofocus is not always the answer and autofocus is not always as accurate as it might be when it comes to fine focus. This is one very big advantage I expect the forthcoming Sony to have, with its option of in viewfinder magnification, over the Canon 5DS. Canon missed a trick when they only made it possible to switch out the focusing screen on the 6D for the fast lens specific Canon Eg-S focusing screen and but bafflingly not the 5D MkIII. Let's hope you can switch screens on the 5DS.
4.A faster computer. Be it a Mac Pro, an iMac with a i7 processor or some tricked out PC you will NEED a computer capable of processing raw images efficiently. Your current computer might be OK when it comes to processing speeds but when you start dealing with these monster size files your computer could turn to something like custard.
5.Storage. It goes without saying but your storage needs are going to go through the roof....possibly even doubling. Storage has never been more affordable but I believe if your storage needs are increasing you will be best advised to look at a server of some kind. I use the excellent QNAP TS859 in Raid 10 array for speed and redundancy.
So there you have it.
If you want to get the quality which 50 megapixels promise from a high megapixel Canon or Sony buying the camera will be the tip of the expense iceberg.