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Tuesday, 23 June 2015


My Real World is a Canon TS-E lens and 2400Ws of studio strobe. A Canon 90mm f/2.8 TS-E on a 5D3 now. Soon to be a Canon 45mm f/2.8 TS-E adapted to an M4/3 camera. As Kai Wong says: "Different strokes for different blokes."

He does an amazing job of hand-holding a 600mm lens--I'm very impressed!

Wow. My results with my new 5DS and hi-end Canon lenses are occasionally excellent--that is, they're inconsistent--but I certainly don't have Mr. Tapes' skills, and my lenses are not yet focus-tuned.

But I love my new 5DS. TYVM Michael and Michael.

This is why I will never own another dSLR.

Micro focus adjustment. Ugh. And then the AF is non-repeatable even afterwards.

Interesting video. Actual real world utility is high.

On the one hand, it shows what I've always called "Cropping Power"

On the other hand, it's in use by the sort of powerful expert who can handhold a 600mm successfully.... I'm not that good...

We've been on a journey from our home in Mexico to Philly and internet is not as consistent as I would like it.
But, we pre-ordered a 5Ds and 5Dsr. The 5Ds arrives Thursday with no word on the Dsr.
After several years with our 5d's my wife and I look forward to retiring the older Canon's and baptising the new cameras. (Unfortunately, we won't have as many opportunities to write about them as we would like due to the internet issue) but we do look forward to putting them through their paces when we can.
Only wish we had them for the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.
We'll try to report sporadically but Mike did and excellent job on this report and my thanks to both Mikes.
Love your two pesos.

Michael doesn't mention in his video whether he shot with his 600mm lens mounted on a tripod or not, but I find it hard to believe he would go to the trouble of focusing tuning it and then shooting hand-held, especially since the whole point was to maximize resolution. I have to ask: What was Michael using for support? Surely a first-rate tripod and head are an essential part of the equation.

We are all in love with our smartphones, connectivity, and mobility but no one talks about the future of large displays. Someday, wall sized LCDs will be common and affordable. Imagine a retina display stretched all the way across your living room. Or maybe it's not an LCD. Maybe it's hyper-realistic virtual-reality glasses. Either way, when that day arrives, all the talk of enough resolution for a magazine cover, or an 11x14 print will sound short sighted. I want enough resolution to recreate life one to one. I want a photo of a six foot tall man to print six feet tall, look like a man from a distance, but also, when you get up close, I want you to see every whisker in his beard. So you can keep that 16 MP mirrorless camera Kurt Tuck sold to you. I'm sticking with high res DSLRs. I'm taking photos for the future.


All shots were handheld. The specific reason that I Focus Tune my gear, is so that the camera/lens always performs nominally, and the variables such as bird movement, wind, handholding, AF anomalies, etc., are working from a normalized and "as good as it can be" AF system.

When I have a distant subject and the time and luxury to set up my tripod I do, and in those cases I try to use manual Live View Focus if the situation permits. In the shots for the review, if I attempted to set up a tripod the birds would be gone and there would have been no pictures.

For me photography is about maximizing the yield of the type of pictures that you want to take. For bird photography, a tripod can be a very limiting restriction.

So to answer your question about what I was using for support. My hands. Sometimes using my knee for support as shown in the photo of me in the video. 1 or 2 shots were from the car (getting out of the car would scare the bird), so the lens rested on the window sill. It all takes practice, but has increased my productivity and the quality of my pictures.

I am not suggesting that my techniques would work for anyone else. But when it comes to Focus Tuning, it can only help, and never detract. Just one man's opinion, based on my personal experience (and of course learning from all around me).

Michael Tapes

Impressive resolution, and impressive focusing calibration. None of it made me want to go out taking pictures though. It made photography feel exhausting and lacking in passion, which it isn't and which is shouldn't be.

@Gordon Lewis.

Actually he does state that the photos were taken hand-held (see 4:20 mark).

And he provides a photograph of him shooting with the lens hand-held (see 3:35), which, while not necessarily serving to document the technique used to take the specific photos shown in the video, serves to illustrate that he, at least sometimes, does use the lens without a tripod.

VERY impressed. Great review. Great camera. But I would not sell my EOS 70D and 1DsmkIII to own it. The 70D is capable of the same resolution as the 5DsmkIII, but in live view autofocuses at F11 or smaller, which allows for greater DOF. my 2 cents.

@ Matt Greer

I photograph because of the fun and joy of it. In the case of bird photography, there is a lot of skill, practice, preparation and attention to the gear. What is the point of going out and making photographs that do not please one. in the case of bird photography (which I just began 1.5 years ago) sharpness, and shooting with long lenses can be mandatory. Not for everyone. But just to show another side, here is a gallery of photos from a series that I did before dawn called "Crane Paintings". Nothing to do with sharpness at all. But still a lot of study and experimentation to get something that I liked. Photography has so many faces and methods, which is probably why it is so popular.



Dave, If you were referring to me (Kirk not "Kurk") then you have been misinformed. I don't sell cameras. I do enjoy using them, even the 16 megapixel mirrorless ones, but I wouldn't bring a sharpened stick to a gunfight; I also have a Nikon D810 sitting around just waiting to make those enormous images you imagine for your wraparound television. And for those extra special clients looking toward the future we also still have an 8x10 view camera around here somewhere too.

@Matthew_C - "This is why I will never own another dSLR. Micro focus adjustment. Ugh. And then the AF is non-repeatable even afterwards."

Hugh?!? The whole point is that LensAlign fully corrects each lens focus to that sensor. What's there not to like?

In the video, Mr Tapes is settled into a stable, 3-point, bone-on-bone shooting stance as taught by the military. That must help a lot with hand-holding a 600mm lens. It's not just muscle power!


Micro focus adjustment helps, but dSLR off-sensor AF is inherently inaccurate. Much easier to see that these days with high resolution digital sensors and 100% pixel viewing.


I can assure you that it is not just muscle power! I have a 65 year old physical body, and it was not strong even when it was young! Muscle power. Hah! Thanks for the good laugh. But of course your point is completely correct. It is training and practice. I would have never thought that i could do it. Here is a 1:1 crop handheld with the 600mm + TC 1.4X from a rocking boat:



@ Michael

Thanks for the response. I hope I didn't suggest you lacked passion. It's horses for courses, I guess - extra pixels is a feature that's lost on me.

I enjoyed the examples that you shared; they show an artfulness that I personally find to be generally lacking in bird photography. I found it to be a great antidote to my personal mass-pixel doldrums . Thank you for that.



I guess the lesson here is that although you care enough about resolution to focus-adjust your lenses, you're not so obsessed with it that you'll sacrifice the ability to produce the types of images you want. Smart choice. I'd rather look at your birds than razor-sharp test charts any day.

@Matt Greer
No worries. But I did kind of mis-interpret your post. Glad it is straightened out now :>) ...and thanks for the kind words.

@Mathew C
"Micro focus adjustment helps, but dSLR off-sensor AF is inherently inaccurate. Much easier to see that these days with high resolution digital sensors and 100% pixel viewing."

I was hoping that the video would show how much Canon has made improvements in their gear such that photographer "can" depend on the AF system, which has not been true on the past and still not true for most Phase detect systems. If any camera could show the inaccuracies of the AF system, the 5DsR would bt it, as you pointed out. So my point in the video, was to show such images relying only on the AF system (and under handheld conditions), and displaying them at 100% to show how good the current Canon AF system really is.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I went out for 2 quick shooting session, and returned with tack sharp images from highly cropped frames. It is not that I have picked the sharpest photographs from months of shooting.

The horse is clearly dead now, so I will stop. Thanks for your feedback.


Hi Michael!

I wasn't intending to rain on your parade. Everyone I know Who is familiar with micro focus adjustment has stated that your tool is the best on the market, and for long lens photography MFA makes a big difference.

I have found with fast normals and wide angles, DSLR autofocus is extremely frustrating. If Canon has found a way to square that circle, more power to them.

@Mathew C

Not feeling any rain. Just sunshine:>)



Hi Michael,

Thanks for this review. It honestly and clearly answers the question of handheld-ability of the 5Dsr. And that's big. Your pictures are amazing and so is the quality and degree of cropping of this camera. Agree about critical micro-adjustment with glass like yours and of course with shorter fast lenses with f<2.8. APC shooters should not be confused too much though if they use f/3.5-5.6 glass as there seems to be some concerns lately in web discussions.

Visited your crane painting gallery. Love this. Some are work of art in my eyes. Indeed, photography doesn't stop at vivid, crisp, super-sharp stuff... Cheers!

Hmzz, I threw my Olympus OM-D out of the door in favour of a Canon 550D....329 euro's including lens. And instantly I can operate the contraption (without even looking at the manual). Now I use Blender (being famous for a learning curve shaped like a fuse of the Eigen North Face and the Mount Everest), but the userinterface of the OM-DEM-5 kept illuding me (even after 2 years) and that seriously took the phun out of photography!. I've got an inkling that when my 3D work takes off and I really need my humongous resolution backplates (in one shot) I'll shop around for this baby. Until then an old 550D just gets the job done (it even integrates into my 3D scanner) and is great with Agisoft....much faster focus (and more consistent as well).

Greets, Ed.

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