Canon EOS 5D Mark II review

January 17, 2009

Overall Rating:


Canon EOS 5D Mark II

  • LCD viewfinder:
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Price as Reviewed:


At last Canon has upgraded the camera that first made full-frame digital photography possible for many enthusiasts. Will it enable the company to regain the top spot in the DSLR market? We review the Canon EOS 5D Mark II


Canon EOS 5D Mark II at a glance:

  • 21.1 million effective pixels
  • Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 3in, 920,000-dot LCD screen
  • Live View
  • Full HD (1080p) video recording in 12-minute bursts
  • Street price approx £2,250

Canon’s EOS 5D was the first camera to make full-frame photography possible for many enthusiast photographers. As such, it enabled them to use their existing Canon EF-mount lenses and see the same composition in the viewfinder as they do with their film cameras.

Combined with the fact that it is capable of producing excellent images, the Canon EOS 5D was an aspirational model for many photographers. It has been the camera of choice for numerous photographers, from the serious enthusiast to the professional.

However, it seems this success may have gone to Canon’s head, as the company appears to have been resting on its laurels and letting the competition catch up. Nikon, for example, now has three full-frame DSLRs, with the relatively recent 
12-million-pixel D700 being the 
most obvious competitor for the EOS 5D, and Sony has released the impressive 24-million-pixel, full-frame Alpha 900 with an enticing street price of around £1,700.

New technology, such as in-camera sensor cleaning, dynamic range optimisation and Live View, has also come along, appearing in the rest of Canon’s DSLR range as well as many of its rivals’ cameras.

This has left the EOS 5D looking rather dated, and for many months a replacement was expected with each photographic trade show being the anticipated launchpad. Now the waiting is over and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is here. Could it help Canon win the DSLR market crown back from Nikon?

  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1 dioptre
  • White Balance: Auto, six presets, plus one custom setting and Kelvin adjustment
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Memory Card: CompactFlash (inc UDMA)
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane
  • Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism
  • Output Size: 5616x3744 pixels
  • Field of View: Approx 98%
  • LCD: 3in TFT with 920,000 dots and 170° viewing angle
  • AF Points: Nine points selectable individually or automatically in reflex mode (plus six assist 
AF points), roaming-point in Live
  • White Balance Bracket: Three exposures with blue/amber or magenta/green bias
  • Sensor: Canon CMOS with 21.1 million 
effective pixels
  • Focal Length Mag: 1.0x
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/200sec default or 1/8000sec with compatible EX series Speedlites
  • Exposure Modes: PASM, Creative Auto and three custom modes
  • Weight: 810g (without battery or card/s)
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery LP-E6 (supplied)
  • File Format: 
14-bit raw, JPEG (three levels 
of compression available), 
sRAW1 (9.9MP), sRAW2 (5.2MP), 
JPEG + raw simultaneously, MOV (video)
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec in 1⁄3,1⁄2 or 1EV steps plus B
  • Compression: Three-stage JPEG
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: 
Single, continuous (3.9fps for 78 jpegs or approx 13 raw files), mirror lock-up, Live View, video
  • Exposure Comp: ±2EV in 1⁄3 or 1/2EV steps
  • RRP: £2, 299.99 (body only)
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF (not EF-S compatible)
  • ISO: 50-25,600 in 1⁄3, 1/2 or 1EV steps
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, One Shot AF, AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, contrast detection AF in Live View mode
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Dimensions: 152x113.5x75mm
  • Metering System: 35-zone evaluated, centreweighted, partial (8% at the centre) and spot (approx 3.5%)
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Tested as: Very good

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