April 5, 2023

Canon 400MP camera for free

Would you like a free Canon 400-megapixel camera for free? If you own a Canon EOS R5, then you can upgrade to get just that!

I bet if I asked you if you’d like a Canon 400-megapixel camera for free, you’d bite my hand off! Well, if you own a Canon EOS R5, you can download the latest firmware update, and you’ll be able to shoot massive files. There has to be a catch, right? Well, yes. The Canon R5 has a 45-megapixel sensor, so unless you change the sensor, it isn’t possible to take a single photo bigger than that. However, the 1.8.1 firmware update has added new functionality to Canon cameras called Pixel Shift. How good is it?

How do you get the update?

If you read last week’s blog, you’ll know that the Canon Camera Connect App now has the ability to apply updates. You can also use the traditional method of downloading the update from Canon’s support pages. To view these new files, the notes from Canon state that you can only view the photos using the latest versions of either Digital Photo Professional or EOS Utility.

Once you have applied the update to your camera, there is a new option on page 5 of the Shooting menu. By selecting the option IBIS High resolution shot, you can either switch it on or off. There are no other options for you to worry about.

What is pixel shift?

The new option uses a technology that has been around for a while on cameras from Sony, Fuji and Panasonic. This is the first time we have seen it on a Canon camera. At a very high-level. The camera takes several images, with each one moved by a tiny amount to a new position. By combining the images, it should be possible to create a photograph with a higher resolution, better colours and less noise. You can read a more technical explanation on the Wikipedia page for Pixel Shift.

How well does it work?

I wanted to try and give this new technology a real test. As pixel shift involves combining multiple photos, there could well be issues when part of the photos is moving. I chose a location with moving water and the potential for cars driving by. However, there would also be static things in the shot, such as buildings. To ensure that comparison images were similar, all the shots were taken on a tripod.

The first noticeable difference is the size of the file. The image taken in RAW format without Pixel Shift switched on is 45.84MB and has dimensions of 8192 pixels x 5464 pixels. The pixel-shifted image can only be output in JPEG format. Despite this, the image is 167.74MB and has dimensions of 24576 pixels x 16384 pixels. As promised, Canon has delivered a 403-megapixel image.

Looking at the two images above, there is definitely an improved intensity of the colour of the sky in the photo, which used the new functionality.  It also looks like the combination of the nine images taken has smoothed out the water. A nice added bonus for a photograph that has been taken without an ND filter. Based on this view, it looks like we do get some improvements from this new technology. However, if we are shooting at a 400-megapixel resolution, we should see a massive improvement in the photograph as we zoom in to the shot.

A closer look

To decide how good the new technology is, I’ve taken a small portion of the images to see if the final output is significantly better than the original RAW file. We are going to dive into the world of pixel-peeking and look at things like street signs to see how well they have been captured. It’s quite difficult in Lightroom to match the crops, however, the juxtapose image below shows a similar area of the images.

In the image on the right, anywhere there is text looks like it has been overly sharpened rather than enhanced the pixels. The stone walls also seem less natural than in the 45-megapixel photograph. The benefit of a higher resolution image should be that you can print it larger and have more detail. Comparing these two images, I am afraid that this first implementation of pixel shift in Canon cameras has failed. I would much rather print the image taken using the standard Raw file with (only) 45 megapixels than the memory-hogging 400-megapixel image. I am sure that Canon will improve this technology, but for now, it’s not something I will be switching to use.

Please give us your feedback.

If you’ve got any questions or comments, leave them below. You can sign up for the Edinburgh Photography Workshop monthly newsletter, where you’ll get regular updates on exciting things happening in photography and some great tips. Sign up by clicking here.

About the author

As well as running Edinburgh Photography Workshop, Rich Dyson is a professional photographer. His photographs are regularly used in newspapers such as The Times, Guardian and Daily Telegraph. He also had two solo exhibitions and was featured in a members-sponsored exhibition in the Scottish Parliament. You can see and buy his photography at richdysonphotography.com.