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

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:
AWB Colour:


Canon EOS 5D Mark II review


Price as reviewed:


Our verdict

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is an extremely capable camera, but it lacks some of the refinements and customisation options of Nikon’s top-end models. The AF system, for example, is competent, 
but it isn’t as versatile as that of the lower-priced Nikon D700.

A key reason for those who own an EOS 5D to upgrade will be the high pixel count and excellent image quality. The integrated sensor-cleaning system is also a huge bonus as the original 5D’s device requires regular attention. Some photographers still regard Live View technology as unnecessary, but it is extremely useful for the slower, more thoughtful fields of photography such as still life, landscape and macro work. While I suspect that it will be mainly professional photojournalists who are seduced by the video recording technology, most enthusiasts will regard it is a fun added extra.

Although the images produced by the EOS 5D Mark II at ISO 25,600 are not perfect, I am impressed by the results that are possible. The highest sensitivity settings mean freedom to carry on shooting when light levels fall and you don’t have a tripod, or when subject movement needs to be frozen. Anything that allows you to take usable shots instead of packing up 
has got to be a good thing.

“A key reason for those who own an EOS 5D 
to upgrade will be the excellent image quality”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II – Key features

AF adjustment
Canon was the first to introduced the ability to calibrate a DSLR’s AF system with the EOS-1D Mark III. EOS 5D Mark II users can apply the same adjustment to all lenses or they can store up to 20 settings, each for specific lenses

AF points
While there are nine visible AF points, a further six assist points are present within the centre circle marked in the viewfinder

The EOS 5D Mark II has three sizes of raw file available: the standard raw (RAW) image is 5616×744 pixels (21MP); sRAW1 is 3861×2574 pixels (9.9MP); and sRAW2 is 2784×1856 pixels (5.2MP). The largest option will inevitably be the most frequently used; images can always be downsized post-capture

Wireless flash
For wireless flash capability, users must invest in the optional Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 (around £125), which can control up 
to two groups of Speedlite flashgunsPeripheral illumination correction
The EOS 5D Mark II can automatically correct the vignetting on 26 Canon EF lenses, but expect to see an increase in noise levels in the corners at high sensitivity settings

Upgraders be warned: the EOS 5D Mark II uses a different battery and charger from the original model




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
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
  1. 1. Canon EOS 5D Mark II at a glance:
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. White balance and colour
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. Viewfinder, LCD, live view and video
  10. 10. The competition
  11. 11. Our verdict
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