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Gear Rumors

New Report Says Next Canon FF DSLR Will Be 52MP

By Anthony Thurston on December 30th 2014

It seems that 2015 will be the year of high megapixels, if the rumors are to be believed that is. The latest report coming out of the Canon camp is that the next Full Frame DSLR will be  around 52MP.


[REWIND: Canon Confirms High MP Sensor]

This is all centered on the fact that the new sensor is based on the same 4.2 micron pixel design as the new 7D Mark II. If you take that 4.2 micron pixel design, and extrapolate that into a full frame sized sensor, then you get roughly a 52MP sensor.

This would be a huge win for Canon, assuming the rumors of the Sony/Nikon sensors are correct. Those sensors are rumored to be in the 46MP range, so the Canon sensor would have quite an advantage in terms of megapixels. The real question though, is how would the Canon sensor compete in other areas, like Dynamic Range?

It is still unclear what the new camera will be, some rumors say it will be the 5D Mark IV and other that it will be something new. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

[via Canon Rumors]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Karl Beath


    Agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments.

    I used a d2x from 2006-2010, and only moved over to canon 5dii because i needed wa ts lenses, it was also way better priced than the D3X. That has changed now with the likes of the D810 which is amazing and well priced.

    However i have always preferred the nikon system having started using the F90x and F100 from around 1997 and 1999. Anyway the next few months will inform which way i go from here.

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  2. Karl Beath

    Hi Matthew

    Only having shot the normal raw on my 5dii, please could you explain how the m and s raw options give better DR, or is this only at higher iso values?


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    • Matthew Saville

      Karl, I don’t know if DR is something that can be improved by pixel-binning or down-scaling, HOWEVER the current state is that DR is HARMED when doing this on Canon’s mRAW mode. So to “improve” it would simply be to maintain the same DR as the full-res images, instead of having worse banding.

      All in all, Canon has two major, huge hurdles to overcome with their next flagship sensor, or folks will start jumping ship faster than Nikon folks jumped ship to the original Canon 5D in 2005-ish: They need to improve DR across the board, and they need to fix their mRAW / sRAW problems.

      If they can do these things, then a 52 MP sensor shouldn’t cause anyone to complain.

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  3. Ian Sanderson

    That’s an awfu ot of megapixels..!

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  4. Matthew Saville

    Lest you whiners forget, Canon has decent mRAW and sRAW capability, unlike Nikon. In fact if Canon can get around to pixel-binning perfectly with this sensor, it will deliver the most amazing ~13 megapixel files you’ve ever seen. Like, A7S-destroying files. BTW 13 MP on a 2:3 ratio sensor is enough to create 4K video I believe.

    It is very clear that Canon is going this route to make a big move to both shut up D810 / D800 users, and to answer the call of the extreme high ISO users.

    Best case scenario:

    At 52 MP, this sensor delivers D810-like image quality, including dynamic range and high ISO, …thus giving landscape shooters a reason to use Canon.

    At mRAW, say, 20-26 MP, the camera delivers the same overall IQ but with slightly improved high ISO per-pixel noise levels.

    At sRAW / 4K, the camera delivers A7S-killing video quality, and Nikon Df / D4s / Canon 1DX overall image / stills quality.

    That’s a huge wishlist, of course, and chances are Canon will drop the ball in one respect or another. But I’m optimistic so far…

    (I see that a few other folks have mentioned this, and I’m glad that others are also more concerned about dynamic range like I am, but my point here is that the resolution is simply not necessarily a bad thing. If Canon can perfect mRAW and sRAW, 52 megapixels just becomes one of the numbers, not the deciding factor.)

    (Unlike Nikon, AHEM AHEM, which has thus far left its small NEF files severely crippled when edited in Adobe Raw apps, and yet with no file size savings compared to a 12-bit lossy compressed file at full-resolution.)

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  5. Greg Silver

    Another thought came to mind…Will the current crop of Canon lenses be able to utilize all the MP from the new sensor? If not, then to really take advantage of the increased resolution, users will need to invest in new lenses.

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    • robert garfinkle

      Now here is where I need to learn. Greg, are you looking at it from a half-frame vs. full-frame perspective – it’s looking like you are saying that, just want to be informed.

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    • Greg Silver

      Robert- I’m not sure it matters where it’s full frame or half-frame (but i could be wrong). When studying lenses through, they rate their lenses with various criteria. One area is Sharpness where they rate the lens with a PMix (which stands for Perceptual Megapixel).

      For example, let’s say I put a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS lens onto a Canon 5D Mark III. The Canon 5D Mark III has a 22.3 MP sensor but according to DXOMark that specific lens on the 5DIII can only obtain a Sharpness equal to 15 MP. (losing about 7.3 MP of detail/sharpness).

      So I guess my thoughts would be that if you put that same lens (EF 16-35mm f/4L IS) on the new Canon sensor you’re still not really gaining any extra Perceptual resolution from the camera. You would need to upgrade your lenses to take advantage of the new sensor. Keep in mind the camera does play into some increased detail (the lens does work with the sensor). For example on the new 52MP sensor you still might squeeze around 20-25 MP from this lens – I’m totally guessing.

      I may be way out to lunch on this LOL – I’m still trying to learn all this stuff! But if this is indeed correct – I’d hate people thinking they will get all this extra resolution with their existing lenses.

      Ultimately lenses have to work with sensors and be able to closely match either other in terms of capturing/processing image quality. Otherwise a bottleneck will occur with the lens or the sensor.

      I’d hate to see Canon using this new Megapixel bump to coax photographers on having to upgrade their lenses – but feel this may be the case.

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  6. robert garfinkle

    and t’was to my point. Though a newbie with years of experience / challenge ahead of me (to your point). I own a D810, to which I’m happy about it – would not trade it now that I have it; yet, so what, it does not make me the photographer, does this align with Ansel’s quote?

    funny though – a professor shared a bit of knowledge with me, not sure if it was his opinion (did not sound like his opinion the way he stated it), but he said – Ansel was not that great of a photographer, he was better in the “darkroom.”

    if that is the case would it be fair to say the following –

    1. to me – it is appearing that three key elements are at play here, right? The camera, The software, and the person looking to forge an image. Equipment / Software mean bupkis (almost) if you don’t know what you are doing. and, ok, I re-state the obvious right – as this applies to anything / everything… duh! (to myself). All I’m saying is, my D810? – Great tool – it’s got low “this”, large “that”, and all the other stuff; but it’s not going to deliver solely on it’s own…

    2. it sounds like, bolstering Greg’s point – the most important part of all this, is what in the heck to do with it all…

    The manufacturers are going to compete and build it (bigger, badder, better), DXO (and others like em) will test / rate it, Ken Rockwell will put his spin on it and tell you where you can get yours, Nasim will fairly compare it, By Thom, as soon as he gets back from break will let you know what’s in his bag today, the “fan-boys/girls” of a particular mfr will love it, the pundits will critique it and shred it, and forums like this will share with you how to actually do something with it (and give you a few XP along the way… :) ) – man, out of breath here…

    enough said

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  7. Greg Silver

    “Image quality is not the product of a machine, but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression.” – Ansel Adam

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  8. Greg Silver

    My guess is that the resolution range we have now (roughly 18-36 MP) is adequate for the vast majority of printing users will do. I’m not convinced the human eye will notice any discernable difference going 50+ MP (unless your doing some in-depth pixel peeping). I’m sure people would notice better dynamic range visually than more MP.

    The only thing you’ll end up with is eating more storage space and processing/retouching larger files.

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    • Stan Rogers

      That turns out not to be the case, I’m afraid. A bump up to 400-450 PPI will be noticeable most of the time, and that puts a 50-ish MP camera into 13×19 territory (or 12×18 with a border). (See Ctein at The Online Photographer — )

      That’s just about the limit, though, for ordinary eyes and printers that people actually buy for personal use (like the Epson R2000/R3000 or the Canon Pixma Pro 1, 10 and 100). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Canon decided to scale up the 7DII sensor (the numbers are just about right for that to be the case); I think they’ve tested people’s reactions to the prints, and have decided that they’ve got a winning combination.

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  9. David Blanchard

    Just what the world needs: Another camera for rich pixel-peeking photographic dilettantes. The number of photographers that can make productive use of a camera with this many megapixels is miniscule. Mostly what you will see as output from these cameras will be highly detailed drivel and cliches like you see from MUCH cheaper gigapixel systems.

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  10. robert garfinkle

    right – are megapixels just designed for larger prints? or, am I of the illusion that a larger set of megapixels breed finer details – i.e. the D810’s 7360 x 4912 = 36.3 MP see this

    I suppose the question would be, does a 16MP camera, or 24MP (i.e. D750) still have the ability to show the same detail as the link I provided above, if so, then larger print theory wins, but if not, then a 52MP should, in theory capture 1.4x detail than a D810’s 36.3, yes? or are both correct, larger prints and details…

    It’s funny though, and not a direct apples-to-apples comparison product-wise, but a 36.3 MP as it is, renders an almost 8k television width already, a D750 a tad bigger than 6k tv (if it existed), and essentially a 52MP roughly would span nearly a 10k tv in width – WOW!!!

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    • Greg Silver

      My guess is that the resolution range we have now (roughly 18-36 MP) is adequate for the vast majority of printing users will do. I’m not convinced the human eye will notice any discernable difference going 50+ MP (unless your doing some in-depth pixel peeping). I’m sure people would notice better dynamic range visually than more MP.

      The only thing you’ll end up with is eating more storage space and processing/retouching larger files.

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    • Stan Rogers

      Detail you can’t see doesn’t count. You can print at higher rez, of course. There is actually a visible difference printing at, say, 400-450 PPI, to most people, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it, and the truly sharp-eyed — a category which does not include most people — can see a difference at 600 PPI at normal viewing distances on paper that can handle it. After that you actually start to lose resolution because there won’t be enough tone levels available at each pixel; printers can only make the dots so small and can only cram so many of them into a small space. So for most people, the difference will be visible on an A3+ (13″x19″) print viewed up close, but not in anything significantly smaller (like an 8×10 or an album page). And even the A3+ improvement will be one of those “I don’t know why, but…” things (and then only if the image is immaculate enough to make the acutance make a difference).

      On-screen, once you’re at the device’s resolution, there is no more gain to be had. At typical web and slideshow sizes, my old 6MP D70 is overkill, though 4K and 5K screens will put it out of business soon. (The “syncs at all speeds” talent of the 6MP Nikons is keeping it going for now — it can do things with one or two speedlights in bright daylight that would require Joe McNally’s speedlight collection or ND filters and studio-type flash with a “real” camera. For cheap web work — who am I kidding? it would only be “cheap” if I actually charged for that stuff — I’d just as soon be using a cheap solution.) At 24 camera MP, you’d need an awful lot of screen pixels before anyone could see anything, unless you allow pannable 100% images for gearheads to gawk at.

      There is a benefit still, inasmuch as it can make high-end retouching better and easier (given enough computer horsepower, of course), and cropping is less of a tragedy, even if you never use the large or extremely high-rez print, but you won’t notice any other gain you couldn’t have gotten with careful processing of a 20-24MP image unless the image is big enough to see it. (You may convince yourself that you can, having spent the money to get MOAR, but that’s your brain and not your eyes talking.)

      But with the profit in the print, and the ability to make 20×30-inch luster prints that can stand up to nose-to-the-glass scrutiny (300 PPI) and *huge* canvasses — keeping in mind that customers will buy what you show them, not what’s on the price list, and they’ll be looking for reasons not to spend money — there’s gold in them thar pixels. And remember that huge transparencies that people are going to be standing right beside are the order of the day at point-of-sale displays, too. You can get faves on Flickr with a lot less camera, but it’s awfully hard to sell big prints that look like you enlarged them a little too much.

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  11. Greg Silver

    Pass… I can honestly say high megapixel cameras are not pursuading me right now.

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  12. Rafael Steffen

    How many people order prints the size of their houses?

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  13. Scottie Nguyen

    If the dynamic range is still crappy in the range of 12 eV and under which I have a feeling thats where it is even the 52 MP wont be anything impressive. I have been wanting to switch to Sony and Nikon for some time now. This is last hope on this new sensor to shine or ill be a nikon convert.

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    • Tanner Zachem

      same here

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    • robert garfinkle

      ok, the number one factor – first thing I look at, is dynamic range (the sensor’s ability), period. Now, having said that, and not really having any “true” first-hand experience over a quantified period of years – good enough to make personal judgment, I look at a site called DXO ( (I’m sure everyone knows about it), which rates sensors based on their tests, yes?

      Before I continue w / my thinking, if anyone wishes to send me a personal message about DXO, not to bash, but to inform me that DXO mat not be a definitive and / or other resources have a different / better testing platform – please let me know.

      To Scottie, as you can see I would agree, not by experience mind you, but here is what I think, and more speaking about Sony (for the moment), based on DXO’s findings, customer reviews, and what I consider to be a logical thought pattern, that, if DXO lists a high dynamic range capability I honor that first, followed by tested ISO latitude which suggests (or proves) that the sensor’s perceptible noise-free range is quite good. And in Sony’s case, for example, using an older unit alpha 77, where it’s “on paper range” was quite high, but it’s latitude before noise was quite small, to share some real numbers here, the alpha 77 only had a 100 ISO to 800 ISO range before perceptible noise. And I asked myself why would I ever want that – with the assumption that, in the case of the alpha 77, it was an in-camera “math” game at best, followed by trust in 3rd party software to do the rest of the corrective measures, and if the user did want to keep within the “usable” range of that camera, they’d be forced to buy very expensive low-light / fast lenses, and that did not sound reasonable…, is my thinking jaded here? again, send a message and let me know what the real-deal is… and not whacking Sony across the head here on purpose, but if DXO is a decent base / honest appraisal based on actual tests, and looking at the numbers, when I see, with the exception of the A7R, Sony not even ranking in the neighborhood with Nikon, where Nikon cameras are nicely clustered at the top (for the most part), it says something does it not…

      But, back on to dynamic range, I pattern that thinking similar to ISO, and if in the end, the camera provides a beautiful base, where if you do not have to worry about “correcting” it so much / very little after the fact – which lends itself to be “more natural”, then so be it.

      It’s all about usability / capability and not so much the BIG numbers like pixels, or astronomical ISO top end, like the A7S’s 409,000, which by the way is rather impressive, and I do know an owner who had taken pics in just about virtual darkness on that thing, his head he said was spinning with his jaw dropped.

      And to be fair, I would have picked a different camera, other than the D800(e) or D810 series, if in fact the numbers / tests were better followed by user testimony. for example, if a Sony (or Canon) with less megapixels were statistically better followed by user reviews backing the tests I, again, would have been all over it…

      as a matter of fact, the D600 / D610, according to DXO, has a great dynamic range, followed by a better ISO latitude than the D800 family (even ranked better than the D750), yet, again, the dynamic range in the D800 family is in fact better – it should be for the price, right? and that’s what I based my choice on…

      I have bigger fish to fry, like learning the basics of photography as well as even knowing how to use Lightroom, to which I own, but don’t really have a clue. At this moment I have about 1000 hours experience as a novice, yet made what I thought was a best choice, not so much for the money, so that as I mature in my experiences, I have a camera in hand who’s best attributes are sensor ability / d-range etc…

      and so it goes

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  14. John Cavan

    Seems like the megapixel wars are heating up again… As a D800 shooter, I do like having the elbow room that 36 MP gives me, but I also think that it can’t be at the expense of dynamic range and low light performance. I’ll be curious to see how it does should it come out.

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    • Stan Rogers

      Depends how they go about it. 52MP binned by quads (in hardware, the same way that PhaseOne does it) would leave a clean 13MP at the flick of a switch, and that’s well within the useful range for the wedding/event crowd. You’d still have the option of the huge print (a good 50MP should yield a 40×60 that looks impeccable from a pace away) when you’re more in control, but for the double-nought-spy PJ stuff that’s going into the album and smaller prints (A3+ and down), you’d get a couple of stops more of useful ISO and shadows you can dig into. Or they can do it all wrong, both in implementation and marketing, and scare off all of their customers.

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  15. Herman Knudsen

    Maybe this is the beginning of the Canon 3D ;)

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  16. David Hall

    Wow… that’s a lot of Megapixels. That should fill up a hard drive pretty quickly.

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