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:



Traditionally, Canon and Nikon’s approach to the pro market was to have one model built for speed and one for cold, hard resolution, though the advent of highly-specified offshoots at a cheaper price point means that this concept isn’t as defined as it used to be. Canon users may now have the resolution of the 1Ds Mark III in a smaller and much cheaper body, but it’s clear that the similarities end there. Rather than being a straightforward derivative of its pro sibling, the 5D Mark II has its predecessor as its template, but with its 50D sibling as a strong influence. As such, the newer model may not be expected to perform to the same ‘pro’ standard as the 1Ds Mark III, and its specifications, to a degree, reflect this.

For speed, responsiveness and high-sensitivity shooting (and at the moment, price, too), it’s clear that Nikon’s D700 still maintains a comfortable lead, and it’s no surprise that many pros have defected that way. However, much as comparisons are drawn between the two, it’s perhaps more sensible to look towards Sony’s A900 as a direct competitor, whose spec sheet and price more closely resemble that of the 5D Mark II. Both these models are suited to their applications almost equally, though Canon’s extensive support system is something that will no doubt swing the ball very much in Canon’s favour – particularly for the professional.

On the issue of movie recording I remain enthusiastic, and I completely side with Canon on having included it in the 5D Mark II. After all, the 5D Mark II isn’t designed necessarily for the average person with £2000 burning a hole in their pocket, but for the professional who is likely to call upon it as required. A photojournalist or wedding photographer with the ability to record video – even if compromised by a number of limitations – is without question a much greater asset than one who cannot. Purists will argue otherwise but no-one’s under any obligation to use it, and its future development could potentially lead to benefits outside of its use, such as with advances in sensor cooling.

Perhaps critically, we not only get the best EOS image quality yet, but at less than half the price of the existing 1Ds Mark III. Nikon and Sony are hardly taking this lying down, but they certainly have a fight on their hands, because in our estimation the EOS 5D Mark II is, all things considered, probably the best ever Canon DSLR.


White Balance:Auto, 7 presets, Custom
ISO:100-6400 (extendable to 25,600)
Lens Mount:Canon EF
Built-in Flash:No
Shutter Type:Focal-plane shutter
Memory Card:CF I/II, UMDA
Exposure Comp:+/- 2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 increments
Cable Release:Optional
Compression:6-stage JPEG, 3-stage Raw
Output Size:5616 x 3744
Viewfinder Type:Pentaprism
PC Socket:Yes
LCD:3.0? Clear View TFT, 920K dots
Colour Temp Control:Yes
Field of View:98%
White Balance Bracket:+/-3 levels
AF Points:9-point AF (plus 6 Assist AF points)
Sensor:22MP (21.1MP effective) 36x 24 mm (full frame) CMOS sensor
Max Flash Sync:1/200 sec
Focal Length Mag:1x
Dust Reduction:Yes
DoF Prview:Yes
Built-in Image Stabilisation:No
Metering System:Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Centre-weighted
Exposure Modes:P,A,S,M, Creative AE, 3x custom
Live Mode:Yes
Connectivity:USB 2.0, mini HDMI, Video Out (PAL/ NTSC), Mic input, Extension system terminal (for WFT-E4)
Power:LP-E6 Rechargeable Li-ion
File Format:Raw, sRaw, JPEG, Raw and JPEG
Dimensions:152 x 113.5 x 75mm
Shutter Speeds:30 - 1/8000 sec., bulb
Focusing Modes:AI Focus, AI servo, One shot
Drive Mode:Single, Continuous L, Continuous H, Self-timer (2s, 10s)
Colour Space:Adobe RGB, sRGB
  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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