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
Resolution, noise and sensitivity
While the EOS 5D Mark II is capable of resolving more detail than the original EOS 5D, it cannot quite match the performance of the 24-million-pixel Sony Alpha 900 or the 21-million-pixel Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III – but it is very close.
Canon has done a good job of keeping noise levels down in images from the new camera and at ISO 6400 the EOS 5D Mark II produces JPEG images with less noise than the original EOS 5D at ISO 3200. Even the ISO 12,800, images from the newer camera compare well.
However, when processed using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software (included) in its default settings, raw images from the EOS 5D Mark II are noisier. The best results are produced from raw files processed in DPP with the luminance noise reduction kept low. This gives high sensitivity images more texture, but they are also sharper and have more detail.
Though images captured at the highest sensitivity settings with the EOS 5D Mark II are undeniably noisy and some have banding visible in the shadows, many are suitable for making A3 prints. However, the ISO 25,600 setting is more of a ‘needs must’ option than one to be used regularly.
There has been much internet chatter about black dots appearing next to bright highlights in long-exposure images from the EOS 5D Mark II. I found this phenomenon occurs occasionally, both with and without the Highlight Tone Priority mode being used, but the offending black spots are only visible at high magnification (100% or more) and they usually take some finding. Canon is currently investigating this issue and a firmware update is anticipated.
These images show above sections of images of a resolution chart, still-life scene and a grey card. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.