Canon's new 21 megapixel full frame digital SLR offers the same resolution as its EOS 1Ds Mk.III but for less than half the price. With the Nikon D700 and Sony Alpha a900 snapping at its heels what does the 5D Mark II have to say for itself?

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Image Quality:95%
Overall score:92%


  • Excellent image quality, good noise control, colour rendition, great LCD screen, usable video


  • ISO 25,600 unusable, banding at high ISO's, chromatic aberrations fail to be removed, users may have preferred faster burst rate and/or more advanced focusing system to the inclusion of video mode


Canon EOS 5D Mark II Review


Price as reviewed:




The menu system’s architecture will be familiar to EOS users, though a handful of additions have been made to support the camera’s expanded specifications. As with its feature set the new camera shares many commonalities with the EOS 50D, with the processor allowing for a more fluid transition between menu options than on previous EOS models, tying in nicely with the enhanced resolution of the LCD screen. Colours are a little bolder and the typeface has also changed, but the general idea has remained the same.

In contrast to the annoyingly long, all-inclusive list format seen on the 5D, the menu’s structure has adopted the tabulated format seen on most recent EOS models. The power switch is a little more defined and easier to quickly click into position, while the mode dial – which has been made slightly taller and easier to operate – now fits in three custom settings for access to pre-determined sets of shooting parameters, as well as the Auto and Creative Auto settings, and staple PASM modes. Long-exposure enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that, as with the 5D, the option to access the camera’s bulb setting has been given equal consideration, nestling between the manual and custom options on the dial.

At its default setting, the 5D Mark II shares a trait found with its predecessor of having a relatively dim LCD screen, though, of course, this may be brightened to taste. The top plate LCD, meanwhile, sees its lamp button sneaking over to the other side of the screen, and it’s much more recessed into the body than on the 5D – an odd move considering it’s the first button you’ll be fumbling around for in the dark. Also, the dual-function controls which sit beside these – for metering, AF etc – have had the functions they’re twinned with changed. Canon claims this is so that the most frequently used controls are closer to the mode dial, though this would probably prove an initial inconvenience for upgrading EOS 5D or 40D users.

New view

The camera’s pentaprism viewfinder sees a marginal 2% coverage increase over the 5D to make 98%, and while it doesn’t quite match the 100% coverage offered by the competing models (Sony A900, et al), it nevertheless presents itself with good clarity and is thoroughly bright. It also appears a touch more neutral in colour than the slight yellow tint seen through the 5D’s viewfinder, though this is only noticeable by comparison. Both the full frame and exposure information may be seen concurrently, and information regarding ISO settings, black and white shooting and white balance adjustment is also visible, should you forget to change any settings from a previous shot.

I’m just as impressed by the camera’s dimensions and weight, which have been kept identical to those of the 5D. With no integrated vertical grip the body is significantly smaller than the current 1D and 1Ds duo, and at 810g without its battery and any accessories it weighs in lighter than both the Sony A900 and Nikon D700, without feeling any less solid because of it. A stainless steel frame is encased in magnesium panelling, though rather than the matt finish of the 5D, the Mark II is finished in the same satin coat seen on the 1Ds Mark III. The body has been sealed to resist any dust and moisture incursion, and as with the grip and a panel on the side of the lens release, much of the rear has been rubberised for comfort and security. Internally, the shutter has also seen its life span extended to 150,000 cycles.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Features Page 2
  4. 4. Design
  5. 5. Performance Page 1
  6. 6. Performance Page 2
  7. 7. Image Quality
  8. 8. Verdict
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