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February 2015

Inside story: the man behind the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R

CPN recently got the unique opportunity to meet and talk to Tsunemasa Ohara - Senior General Manager of Camera Research and Development at Canon Inc. - who is the key man behind the development of the revolutionary 50.6 Megapixel Canon EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R DSLRs. In an exclusive interview he reveals how he came up with the concept for the cameras and how and why some of the key technologies contained within them were developed...

Canon Professional Network (CPN): Who came up with the idea and vision for EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R?

Tsunemasa Ohara (TO): “It was my idea to develop this product as I knew from my past research that more megapixels could be achieved from the EOS 5D Mark III sensor. Once I advised that such a product would be achievable I brought together a team to work with me, many of whom were the same people who had worked with me before on other EOS DSLR projects.”

Tsunemasa Ohara (pictured above with an EOS 5DS) of Canon Inc. had the vision for a high-megapixel DSLR and led the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R development team.

CPN: What are the key technical advantages of the cameras compared to existing competitor high-resolution DSLRs and medium format cameras?

TO: “In terms of megapixels, the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R are almost the same as a medium format camera and offer the same levels of image quality too. The key advantage from an EOS perspective is that handling and mobility is much better than a medium format camera. This is a major advantage with our product because it is smaller and lighter and can be used in a wider variety of situations.”

CPN: What criteria did you place on developing this new sensor?

TO: “The first criteria – as with all EOS cameras – was high image quality. To achieve this was our first priority. From a development point of view it was possible to increase the megapixel size even more but, from an image quality perspective, to do that alone was not good. Therefore achieving the optimum balance between high megapixels and high image quality was our most important objective at all times.”

CPN: Will this significant sensor advance and technology be limited purely to EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R, or will it find its way into more EOS cameras during the next few years?

TO: “To achieve this high-megapixel CMOS sensor we developed many new technologies for this sensor to be used in the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R bodies. We can’t reveal what we will do next, but certainly some of the technology will find its way into future cameras.”

CPN: The Dual DIGIC 6 processors make these very quick cameras in terms of image processing. But how far can you go with DIGIC architecture in terms of speed?

TO: “We have not reached the end of the development of the DIGIC processor yet. We are aiming for higher levels of processing speeds all the time and continue to do so.”

CPN: Please explain how you arrived at this version of a low-pass filter on the EOS 5DS and why did you choose to deploy a cancellation filter on EOS 5DS R?

TO: “Our main camera is the EOS 5DS which, like all EOS DSLRs, has a low-pass filter fitted to avoid moiré. As you know, [the] EOS 5DS is a high-megapixel model and to use this sensor we had to find a way to use it most effectively to prevent moiré. Of course if we remove the filter, then moiré appears in pictures of certain subjects and this is not good for image quality. But, on the other hand, in some cases where the subject has no patterns or straight edges then moiré does not appear. For these cases, we developed the EOS 5DS R with a low-pass cancellation filter which allows for the ultimate in resolution for organic subjects.”

CPN: The crop ratios are an interesting feature. Why did you feel the need to offer these in-camera?

TO: “We realise that certain photographers shoot in a certain style, or with a certain crop, and knew that our new CMOS sensor would allow for these crop ratios to be utilised in-camera. We feel that by adding these, it increases [the] EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R functionality and usability.”

CPN: There is some superb micro-engineering here, especially the Mirror Vibration Control System. Please explain why and how this was developed?

TO: “We developed this system originally for the EOS 7D Mark II and have re-designed it slightly for the larger sensor and mirror combination of EOS 5DS. The difference in sensor size between the APS-C and the full-frame sensor means we have to control the mirror differently because it is bigger. Using cams to operate the mirror means we can control, much more precisely, its operation with the objective to cause no vibration in the camera.”

CPN: We are curious as to why the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R cameras lack headphone sockets when they can record HD movies… Why is this?

TO: “We ran out of room! By equipping the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R with USB 3.0 – which was important to transfer such high levels of image data – unfortunately we didn’t have any space left for headphones in the existing EOS 5D Mark III body shell used for these cameras.”

CPN: What do you see as the potential future for Canon high-resolution cameras? Where might the technology be in five years time?

TO: “There is a demand for high-megapixel [cameras] and high-resolution and, of course, we will continue on this quest in the future and to try to satisfy this demand. As you know, in August 2010, we announced a 120-million pixel APS-H CMOS sensor... so we have shown that we have the technology to produce even higher resolution sensors, but we must also focus on high image quality, too. So DIGIC processing, and all the other algorithms that contribute to high image quality, we need to work on too. It is the overall package that makes Canon EOS digital cameras so successful.”

Biography: Tsunemasa Ohara

Tsunemasa Ohara

Tsunemasa Ohara joined Canon Inc. in 1979 after graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering degree from university. In his first years at Canon he worked as an engineer on the development and design of an electric driving system for SLR cameras. In 1984, at the start of the development of EOS System, he took charge of the design of the AF system, which is the basis of today’s EOS System. He was involved in the development of all EOS-1 series cameras and established the professional department which has led to the establishment of major Canon SLR technologies, including AF systems, as well as ensuring reliability and easy operation. In 1999 he was named as the chief of the ‘EOS Digital Project’, which led to the development of key technologies for digital SLRs. His efforts to combine the traditional EOS technology with the new digital technology brought the success of EOS-1D series; delivering reliability, high image quality and quick response to satisfy the needs of professional photographers. He has also been Chief of the ‘EOS-1D X Project’ and Chief of the ‘EOS Professional Business Project’.