Canon EOS 5D Mark II Review

Review Date: December 4th 2008
Author: Mark Goldstein

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Conclusion


Ratings (out of 5)
Design
4.5
Features
5
Ease-of-Use
4.5
Image Quality
5
Value for Money
4.5

The high-end prosumer DSLR market is an interesting place right now, with three cameras - the Nikon D700, Sony A900 and the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II - all fighting it at a similar price-point. Your 2000 / $3000 purchasing decision is made much harder by the fact that all three cameras are quite different to each other, with the 12 megapixel D700 putting the emphasis on continuous shooting speed, the 24.5 megapixel Sony A900 on sheer resolution, and now the Canon EOS 5D Mark II throwing video into the mix.

The ability to shoot full HD video with a DSLR camera has gained the 5D Mark II a lot of press coverage in the weeks leading up to it shipping, fuelled by the release of some jaw-dropping video footage from independent film-makers. This is the key phrase - "film-makers" - that you need to consider if you're attracted by the 5D's video functionality. Experienced videographers will no doubt be chomping at the bit at the prospect of being able to use all those different lenses in combination with such a high-quality sensor, but for the rest of us mere mortals, it may actually prove more frustrating to get some decent footage of the kids than by using a dedicated video camera. The SLR format just doesn't lend itself very well to shooting video handheld, really requiring a sturdy tripod to achieve good results, which obviously limits where you can take the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and what you can achieve, plus the inability to auto-focus quickly and effectively using the contrast-AF system will frustrate most casual users.

Much more successful, and I think where the real strength of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II lies, is the amazing combination of high-resolution images with low-light performance. The new 21 megapixel CMOS sensor and expanded ISO range thankfully haven't compromised image quality in any way, quite the opposite in fact. There's virtually no visible noise at all from ISO 50 all the way up to ISO 3200, with even the three faster settings of 6400-25600 producing perfectly usable images. Canon seem to have matched the low-light performance of the Nikon D3 and D700 whilst substantially increasing the resolution. We haven't reviewed the Sony A900 just yet, but we hear on the grapevine that it starts to get noisy at around ISO 800, which means that the Canon EOS 5D Mark II would seem to offer the best of both worlds. All other image quality aspects are up to Canon's usual high standards, so top marks go to the 5D Mark II in this department.

In terms of other key features, the comparison between the 5D Mark II and its main competitors is a little less clear-cut. The design of this new version hasn't substantially changed since the 3-year old original 5D, which could be viewed either as a testament to a winning design, or a desire to reduce manufacturing costs. The 5D Mark II doesn't stack up too well in terms of continuous shooting speed or autofocus points when compared to the Nikon D700, and viewfinder coverage to the Sony A900, so you still need to carefully consider what you'll be mainly using the camera for. It definitely offers more than enough new features and handling improvements to tempt original 5D owners to upgrade, substantially refining what has proven to be a big hit for Canon. Whilst not perfect, the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II ultimately strikes a great balance between resolution, quality and performance, offering a fantastic all-round package that just deserves our highest Essential rating, even if you're not all that interested in the headline-grabbing video mode...

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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