5d Mark II User Review Part 1

5d Mark II Review

Part I

sorry for my bad typing right now — ive got a finger injury and it’s a lot easier to ignore grammar and punctuation. but what follows is my 5d mark ii review. fyi, ignore the date stamp in the url. this was written dec 20, 2008. if you want to see more of the gear i use, check out my amazon store. if you’re interested, amazon’s got the body only here and the kit with the 24-105 IS in stock as of 12/28/08, at regular retail prices. I have noticed the kits go in and out of stock (from Amazon itself) several times a day, but you can get it while it’s hot.

now that that’s out of the way, let me issue a disclaimer: i’m a long-time canon user, but for no particular reason other than i started with canon at a young age. i have no allegiance one way or another to nikon or canon, so this 5d mark ii review isn’t going to be tainted by that.

anyway, to read the rest of this review, please show some support and +1 us on google! thanks!



Rick - Thank you very much for a solid initial review. I look forward to hearing your impressions on the printed images. I too am looking at the 30″ size. This and the hope for better high ISO performance were my primary desire to upgrade. I think it is fair to say from your assessment and others, we are looking at a 1/2 stop at best if you want to keep the resolution.

The sRAW example is interesting, and congruent with several other opinions I have read. I think this points to a separate possibility. That this is a hi-rez camera (21mp) at iso 50-1600 and a high ISO camera (sRAW) at iso 3200-12,800.

Thank you for your thoughts and review

Mark Dennis - Thanks for the info and for taking the time to post. Useful stuff to know. After producing the 1DS III one would think they could hopefully produce a more ‘budget’ sensor to replicate their success with the original 5D compared to the 1DS MK II.

I’ll watch your blog with interest.

Kind regards and a happy Christmas to you & your family.


Scott - Thanks for taking the time to make these tests and post them. As a lifelong Nikon shooter, I purchased the 5D II for landscape, commercial and architectural work. I thought I’d give Canon a try and ordered it with the 24-105(BTW I love this lens,wish Nikon had something similar). Anyway, I too did a series of tests and was also disappointed. Not only did I immediatly encounter black dots but also severe banding and sensor pattern noise. I was shooting in RAW and also using Lightroom as is my normal workflow. To be honest, I was not impressed at all with the image quality and the huge 30MB 14bit files really take up space on the computer. I also found the af focus sluggish with af points in wrong places and not enough of them. There are other minor things too like the histogram being too difficult to read outdoors in bright sun and having to press the playback button before being able to zoom in and the info menu cycling forward in one direction during playback and not enough customization with buttons. Unfortunately, I’m sending the camera back for all these reasons. I really wanted to like this camera and was planning to make a serious investment in Canon lenses, but those plans on hold for now. Not trolling, just my honest opinion.

Richard - I am on my way to purchasing the new 5D, so I can’t respond from personal experience, but in that first photo, in the 100% view, I can clearly make out “Honeywell” on the thermostat, and cannot do so with the 5D. That is a clear and convincing difference. Sum up that difference picture-wide, and you are talking the difference between a consumer lens and an “L” or Leica lens in resolution, ie. noticeable to the discerning eye. As for noise, generally speaking, it’s a matter of signal to noise in the sense that well exposed areas have high signal to noise ratios whereas the shadows have much lower signal to noise ratios. In other words, the bad noise is found in the shadows, not the well lit areas. Looking at the shadowy areas and black items, I notice a distinct difference between the two in favor of the 5DII. If I were a wedding photographer, I would certainly appreciate that difference, as many dramatic photos include significant areas of shadow, and a trend towards natural light is in place (in fairly poorly lit venues to boot.) While you may be satisfied with your poster sized output from the 5D, the ability to creatively crop simply cannot be underestimated. That is a huge advantage, even if you end up with the same number of pixels in the end as the 5D1.

Nonetheless, nice effort. Thanks mucho.


Jay - I’m not sure I totally agree but only time will tell. The extra .9 frames per second is a good measure for the amount of “improvements” that were introduced. I really have not noticed the extra bump in shooting speed. The video is cool but not useful to me. The self-cleaning sensor is nice but I never really had a problem with the original 5D or, 5D Classic as I prefer to say. The ISO sensitivity issue should be tested and shown in real low light situations with faces. The week I got my new 5D Mk II, I spent a few days on Capitol Hill shooting for a news outlet and was able to shoot both cameras side by side and was pretty happy with the low light capabilities of the new body. I shot up to 4000 ISO and it looked pretty good. I had to process my files with PS and ACR and have not, to this date, tried to use LR. It is also worth mentioning that I have not tried the full RAW file setting. I have only used sRAW. I am not convinced that we have been duped by Canon but am also not confident that the new camera is much more than a tease. We shall see. BTW, focusing with Live View is pretty cool if you have time and want to check critical focus at say f 1.2 or 1.4.

Thanks for the posting and have a great holiday.

Fred - I think you might be jumping the gun a bit. Software updates and firmware fixes will come along soon enough, I suspect. I see more range and detail in those Mk2 pics. I’ve seen plenty of high ISO sample pics around the web which suggests with the right post processing the images are definitely a considerable improvement. Based on your shots though, I’m not sure I’d use anything above 6400 seriously (and I don’t use 3200 on the Mk1), but they are probably usable as snaps (in very low light), and might even make good smaller prints? I’m not trolling either, I just upgraded from a 30D to a 5D Mk1 and realise what I’ve been missing, so I’ve been thinking along the lines I’d really like to upgrade again a bit sooner. I can’t afford to do that yet, but I will keep an eye on developments.

Tim - Adobe failed to get it right first time with Lightroom when the 40D was released and also the 50D (I have both cameras). It required a subsequent point release of LR, for each camera, before it could compete with DPP on IQ. in particular noise/grain was the most obvious deficiency with the early LR releases. Remember the bruhaha over the RPReview of the 50D, where they started out with a beta ACR release on then retested with the first live release. I’m afraid they should have waited for the second live release in order to be fair to the camera. I would not be surprised to find that LR support for the 5D2 improves in the next release of LR. I doubt very much then any such improvements will be documented in the public release notes.

I also find that the choice of camera profile makes a considerable difference to the results. Prior to LR 2.2, I was experimenting with the beta camera profiles and settled on “Camera Standard” as my prefered starting point. Now that LR2.2 is delivered with the production/live profiles included I am finding that “Adobe Standard” is my profile of choice and now set as my default when importing raw files.

photographer tip tuesdays | “The Switch” | week one | Colorado Springs Portrait and Wedding Photographers: Real Photography Blog - [...] – There are other minor things that annoy me, like the new battery (more expensive and not compatible with the 20/30/5d batteries that we already had in spades), battery grip (which doesn’t take an extra battery like the old 5d grip), and the lackluster high ISO performance. [...]

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