Build and handling

Canon EOS 5DS R controls

The body is covered in buttons and dials, placing all key settings at your fingertips

While the EOS 5DS R is based on, and physically near-identical to, the 5D Mark III, its core design can be traced back a decade to the original EOS 5D. With multiple generations of refinement since then, it has evolved into one of the best-handling and most rugged cameras on the market. It is festooned with buttons and dials to place all the key shooting controls at your fingertips, and many of them can be customised to suit your preferences. The result is a camera that works really well, and never gets in the way of shooting. Anyone who’s used a high-end Canon DSLR before should feel immediately at home.

Exposure settings are controlled using two twin electronic dials, one under your index finger and the other under your thumb. The focus point can be easily moved around the frame using Canon’s excellent multi-controller, and there’s a dedicated AF-ON button on the back of the camera that can be used to initiate autofocus, for photographers who prefer to separate this from the shutter button. The rear dial can be set to work as a touch-sensitive silent four-way controller for video shooting, and a sliding switch on the camera’s back locks the dial against accidental operation.

A row of buttons on the top-plate gives quick access to drive, focus and metering modes, along with ISO and white balance, and the new viewfinder overlay means these can now all be easily changed with the camera to your eye. A column of buttons beside the LCD predominantly deals with playing back your images.

Canon EOS 5DS R back

The onscreen Q menu gives quick access to a wide array of functions

Less-used functions are easily accessed from the quick-control screen, by pressing the Q button on the camera’s back. There’s also a second, customisable Q screen, but its usefulness is limited as almost all the 21 available functions that can be added are easy enough to set already. The main menus are huge, but attractively designed and relatively logically laid out. As with other Canon cameras, you can add your most-used items to a ‘my menu’ section, which now allows multiple named tabs to satisfy the most of avid of tinkerers.

At 152×116.4×76.4mm in size and 930g in weight, the 5DS R is one of the largest and heaviest full-frame DSLRs on the market. It is robustly made with a magnesium-alloy body shell and extensive weather-sealing, meaning that it should survive almost anything you can throw at it. Of course, it’s highly advisable to use weather-sealed lenses to match, which includes most of Canon’s professional L-series optics.

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