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Commercial photographer and Canon Explorer Eberhard Schuy was one of the first to use the recently launched 50.6 Megapixel EOS 5DS DSLR. In an exclusive CPN interview and film we find out his thoughts on how Canon’s high-resolution DSLR cuts it in the studio...
The life of a studio photographer is rarely pressured by time. In a controlled environment there shouldn’t be a need to rush and German still-life expert Eberhard Schuy believes in a considered approach, one that is perfectly in keeping with the highly detailed results he manages to achieve in his Cologne studio in western Germany. For him, the more a camera can do itself, the less time he needs to spend in front of a computer screen. And achieving that vision the moment the shutter is pressed is – for him – absolutely key.
He explains his approach in more detail: “My vision is that the more accurately a camera reflects what we photograph, the less we need to make corrections in post-processing. I often have to work with small things such as jewellery, rings, sparkling water, beer with foam and so on. These things have a special dynamic and [this] must be shown very well in the details [in the picture]... and getting that detail is all down to the camera.”
This intense devotion to precision is what best defines Eberhard. When Canon asked him to try a pre-production EOS 5DS he jumped at the chance. Finally for him, here was a camera that would deliver medium format quality and yet with the speed of a DSLR. But there’s an even bigger reason why Eberhard likes the camera so much, and it’s a much more mundane – yet highly pertinent – reason: cost.
“So far I’ve only used medium format cameras and lenses on loan, depending on the job,” he explains, “and only when this quality was absolutely necessary. That was always a question: how to calculate [the cost of] a job. Now, with the EOS 5DS, the camera can be integrated into my studio and I think it will fully replace medium format photography. It is absolutely comparable.”
He continues: “If we buy a medium format system, we have to buy new lenses, new bodies and so on. Now it’s possible to work with the EF lenses that we already own and to work as we do in our daily job.”
Eberhard’s delight at the EOS 5DS’s image quality was evident when he examined the first images he took with it. “Honestly, after hearing about all the new opportunities this camera offers, I just couldn’t wait to take it with me to the studio and photograph small details,” he admits. “This is my daily challenge and I wanted to know whether capturing those details would be possible. The first exposures I made with the EOS 5DS convinced me absolutely: it could.”
Eberhard cites an example of how the EOS 5DS impressed: “When shooting the girl with the metal powder on her lips (see image at top of article) I shot RAW and JPEG images and checked the JPEGs straight from the camera shot with the Fine Detail picture style. I was very pleased indeed.”
But it wasn’t just the exceptional image resolution of the 5DS that impressed Eberhard. It’s a fast piece of kit, too. “OK, so apart from the quality, the speed of this camera is one of the most important features,” he states. “In my case, with still-life photography, I work mostly from a static location and always with a big studio tripod. But nevertheless, there are times when small drops of water will run down a glass or the foam on top of a glass of beer will change shape, so we have to control these details quickly. The best way for this to work is to be able to shoot and download the results quickly. And with the EOS 5DS’s SuperSpeed USB 3.0 fast transfer, this makes it a dream come true.”
This aspect of workflow is hugely important when dealing with such large files (the EOS 5DS produces 60Mb RAWs straight from the camera). To be able to download and review in double-quick time is really important, especially with a client leaning over your shoulder…
“With USB 3.0 it is possible to proof the pictures immediately and without delays,” Eberhard reveals. “And thanks to the Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software I can use the camera for tethered shooting, which is a good way to integrate the customers in the studio during our work; it is perfect for them to see the pictures directly after they are shot.”
Eberhard loves how the EOS 5DS fits straight into his existing workflow, and how easy it is to use too. “What also impressed me was the handling of the camera,” he reveals. “In terms of working with it, there is absolutely no difference to my other EOS 5D cameras and even my EF lenses can be used too. Now we photograph in a new and higher level, and yet still in a very familiar way.”
He continues: “We worked with my usual EF lenses, which I use the most. These are the 100mm macro lens and the 90mm tilt and shift lens. Both allow me to work with a well-defined point-of-focus. I have tested both lenses and, yes, I was very happy about the quality. Of course, only the best lenses will get the best results from this new camera so we will have to look at whether the EOS 5DS will reveal shortcomings in my other lenses, but it’s still going to be cheaper than investing in a brand-new camera system.”
He explains: “Of course, it is a new body but it works just like a normal 5D Mark III. The new features were quickly tried out and can be taken directly into my workflow. For example, the possibility to work with Picture Styles is great. I often have to do quick pictures for layout purposes and now, with the Fine Detail Picture Style, I can deliver perfect pictures without [any] additional treatment in a RAW converter or other software.”
On the subject of medium format competition, Eberhard is very frank. “This camera has no disadvantages to medium format cameras,” he states. “The most important thing is what quality the files are. When I need really large files it’s important to have something in reserve. With over 50 Megapixels we have all sorts of possibilities. With this sensor we can produce pictures for every kind of use, including big prints for advertising. So, in the future we will work with just one system in my studio, and that’s the 5D system. Depending on the nature of the job we can chose the EOS 5D Mark III or the EOS 5DS. And because we can use the same lenses, this not only saves time but also a lot of money!”
Eberhard Schuy is based in Cologne, Germany, and specialises in advertising and industrial photography for wide variety of international clients. After training as a photographer, he worked for several years as an assistant before completing his degree as a master photographer. For four and a half years he was a studio manager of an international advertising agency and it was this valuable experience that prepared him for running his own business. Eberhard believes in doing as much creative work in-camera as possible. Many of his images employ traditional techniques such as double exposure and filters over the lens – and by doing so it keeps post-production time to a minimum. Eberhard is the author of several books on training and product photography and joined the Canon Ambassadors Programme as an Explorer in June 2013.