Canon 5D Mark II: Improving an Already Fantastic Camera

Mar 30, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Solid camera, full frame sensor, HD video, and usability

Cons:It isn’t cheap.

The Bottom Line:

Impressive and easy to use DSLR camera, with a lot of new useful features over previous models

I've been using the Canon 5D ever since it launched, and recently purchased the new 5D Mark 2, and have to say it was well worth the cost. The camera truly is an upgrade from the previous model. It has gone from a12.8 megapixel full-framed sensor to a 21.1 megapixel sensor. And the continuous shooting rate has gone up slightly from 3.0 fps to 3.9 fps. They also added the ability to shoot both RAW and/or JPG files at the same time, and select multiple sizes for both.  
When it comes to weight and size, I've found the 5D to be about perfect. The textured grip holds well in the hand, and it's easy to adjust the shutter speed and aperture with minimal finger movement. The camera is solid and has some weight to it, so as to let the user know they are using a high quality camera.
Canon has stayed consistent with the top buttons near the LCD and how they function. I've always felt these were easy to figure out and well laid out. Hit the appropriate top button, and what's being adjusted is easy to view on the top LCD. The top left of the camera has a dial that can be used to change shooting modes; auto, shutter priority, manual, and some pre-programmed options for beginning users. I tend to accidently hit the shooting mode dial by accident on all my Canon DSLR’s. I couldn’t say if this is a flaw in the camera that makes it so easy to do, or a flaw in the photographer not paying attention to what he is doing.  It would be nice if I could turn this off instead of turning off the aperture wheel.

They made some changes to the menu of the camera. Instead of going into the menu and scrolling down through options, you now scroll right and down. This is an obvious attempt at making changing the settings easier. And after a few times of shooting to get used to it, I agree. Although it would be nice if every time I bought a new camera from the same manufacturer, I didn’t have to learn the menu again.

The camera has a sensor shake option for dust reduction. One of my biggest complaints about the old 5D is how easily dust got on the sensor. The Mark 2 does a much better job of sealing the camera overall, and having the sensor shake helps me go that much longer in between sensor cleanings. The camera now offers a 21.1 megapixel sensor, which is fantastic for those super large prints that most users won’t ever need. The image quality is greatly improved as well, which can be seen in the color quality. Keep in mind the larger image files take a lot of space on a computer.

The camera does not come with a pop-up flash light many cameras. I think Canon figures anyone using this camera is also going to purchase a high quality attachable flash as well. I don’t know if I agree with that decision, as having a little pop-up flash available might come in handy in emergency situations.

Live View and Video:
The camera supports Live View shooting as well as Live View HD videos. Live View allows the user to compose the image with the display on the back of the camera instead of having to use the view window. The Mark 2 is the first Canon camera to allow full HD video shooting, capable of shooting clips almost half an hour long at full 1080p resolution depending on the memory card being used. Not a feature I use all that often, but have used at times and found the video quality to be excellent. The built in microphone can be augmented by attaching an external mic to improve quality.

Overall I've been very happy with the improvements made to this camera. The additional options and improvements to image quality make this camera an upgrade worth having. For a photographer who knows how to use this camera to its full potential, this camera will provide a valuable asset and worthwhile investment. The amateur photographer who shoots everything on auto, might want to consider a lower cost and easier to handle camera.

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