Review of the Canon 5D mark II

lou smith camera, Reviews

What is it about the Canon 5D Mark ll which photographers just love? Let’s find out…

When the 5D Mark II was launched in the UK it went on pre-order. I waited about 6 months to finally get mine. Upgrading from a 40D it was fantastic to get a full frame DSLR with an impressive 21 21 megapixel CMOS sensor.

I waited for Canon to launch the new 5D Mark II as the original 5D full frame was outdated with the older style body and menu systems. In the interim I bought a 40D as I knew that a new model of 5D would be developed. When the 5D Mark II was launched it outstripped the competition; the D700 in terms of resolution and the A900 in terms of its features. Brilliant, a camera to get hold of!

I got hold of one and have never let go…


5D mkII with 25 - 105 L lens

5D mkII with 24 – 105 L lens


The first impression of the 5D Mark II is that the body is large but easy to grip and hold steady in your hands. A bonus is that it is also lighter than Nikon’s D700.

What is truly impressive about the 5D is the image quality. Wow! Sit back from your monitors as these images are large, crisp and full of detail. I never tire of looking at my shots at full size. The details are a joy to see. This is an impressive camera with a sensor which demands high quality lenses. In fact, the 5D will show up imperfections in lenses. I use L series lenses to get the best from the sensor. Some of these lenses now need an upgrade from Canon if they are to match the quality of fantastic new sensors.

The 5D Mark II is a flexible camera, great for using in the studio and outdoors too. You see immediately that it does not have scene modes. By the time you are at the level to use a full frame camera, scene modes are a definite thing of the past. The shooting mode dial has the favourites, P, TV, AV, M, B.

It also has 3 custom menus, C1, C2, C3 where you register your settings for shooting a particular scene, eg. Landscape, portrait, and fast moving action. Each custom menu can have the shutter speed, aperture, focus, white balance etc. settings that you want to use. With the turn of the dial your DSLR is set up and ready to go when the scene changes. This makes the 5D a fast camera suitable for all shooting conditions and locations.


The 5D also has 9 focus points and 6 assist AF points. Not as many as Nikon cameras which can have up to 56 points. But hey, if you achieve focus – you have sharp shots.

I am no longer afraid of high ISO with this full frame. Shoot in raw and process noise out. On grey London days I regularly use 2000-4000 ISO to achieve the shots I want. The results are good. If noise shows too much, I convert images to black and white which gives a retro feel to the photo.

My 5D will be in my hand for a long time. It is a joy to use.

5D Mark II Specifications.

  • 21 megapixel CMOS sensor (very similar to the sensor in the EOS-1Ds Mark III)

  • Sensor dust reduction by vibration of filter

  • ISO 100 – 6400 calibrated range, ISO 50 – 25600 expansion (1Ds Mark III & 5D max ISO 3200)

  • Auto ISO (100 – 3200) in all modes except manual

  • 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting

  • DIGIC 4 processor, new menus / interface as per the EOS 50D

  • Image processing features:

  • Highlight tone priority

  • Auto lighting optimizer (4 levels)

  • High ISO noise reduction (4 levels)

  • Lens peripheral illumination correction (vignetting correction)

  • RAW and SRAW1 (10 MP) / SRAW2 (5 MP)

  • RAW / JPEG selection made separately

  • Permanent display of ISO on both top plate and viewfinder displays

  • AF micro adjustment (up to 20 lenses individually)

  • Three custom modes on command dial, Creative Auto mode

  • Image copyright metadata support

  • 98% coverage viewfinder (0.71x magnification)

  • 3.0″ 920,000 dot LCD monitor with ‘Clear View’ cover / coatings, 170° viewing angle

  • Automatic LCD brightness adjustment (ambient light sensor)

  • Live view with three mode auto-focus (including face detection)

  • No mirror-flip for exposures in Live View if contrast detect AF selected

  • Movie recording in live view (1080p H.264 up to 12 minutes, VGA H.264 up to 24 mins per clip)

  • Two mode silent shooting (in live view)

  • New jump options in play mode

  • HDMI and standard composite (AV) video out

  • Full audio support: built-in mic and speaker, mic-in socket, audio-out over AV (although not HDMI)

  • IrPort (supports IR remote shutter release using optional RC1 / RC5 controllers)

  • UDMA CompactFlash support

  • New 1800 mAh battery with improved battery information / logging

  • New optional WFT-E4 WiFi / LAN / USB vertical grip

  • Water resistance: 10 mm rain in 3 minutes

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