Canon 5D Mark II - Initial Impressions

A great value in super mega pixel DSLRs


What follows is subjective. I am reserving judgement on many aspects of the differences between both
manufacturers until I have used the 5D mk2 more. This is merely my initial impression with the added
bias of coming from decades of Nikon use. It took me some time to look though a camera and focus on
composition, and do much of the technical aspects without thinking. It will take time for me to master the
Canon 5D as it did all my cameras.


The Canon 5D Mark II is an interesting camera. The basic shape is fine, but the feel is another matter.
First, and very disconcerting to me is the balance. With the 24-70 mounted the body feels front heavy.
With my Nikons I have to mount the 70-200mm f2.8 AFS VR to get anything approaching the same
sensation. The D300 with a 400mm Sigma, or 300mm f4 afs still feels like it has a very centered balance.
I can't explain how this is possible, because the bodies of all these cameras are light in comparison to
the lenses I mentioned. Yet the camera and lens feel like they want to topple out my hand front lens
element first. Looks like I will have to use the neck strap which I am not in the habit of doing.

The next "feel" item that bugs me is the thin plasticy feel to the body. It feels very hollow, thin, and fragile.
About a year ago I had the chance to hold and shoot a 5D, and the 5D Mark II is better than the original,
but it just feels cheap. However, it doesn't look cheap. I know this isn't much help, but it is hard to explain
the difference in feel between a Nikon prosumer body, and Canon prosumer body. The sound of your
hand sliding across the body produces an almost echo sound as if the plastic is paper thin, and very brittle.

Another View

Rear View

Canon could learn a lot about button layout from Nikon. Most all the same settings are available, but they
seem harder to get to, or find on the Canon body. I realize I am coming from years of Nikon use where I
change settings constantly, and unconscieniously as I am shooting. Then I expect the Canon 5D Mark II
will cause me to slow down, and become deliberate in my shooting style. Since my intended use for the 5D
mk II is studio work I expect this won't be too much of an issue.

This has been a sore point that I have had with Nikon. I don't think you should have to pay extra to get
decent software to image proprietory files created by a camera you have purchased. ViewNX is too
limited, but Canon has done this right, and the software (ddp) isn't half bad. I wish it was more advanced
- or had an advanced user interface for those that choose to use it. However, it is fast and works well.
Nikon's Capture NX v1.3 was unusably slow on my old computer - though it did amazing things to
Nikon's Nef files + it's user interface is simply weird. It runs much better on my new computer - though,
and the u-point technology is superb. Canon's Digital Photo Professional seems to be about at a
sophistication level between Nikon's ViewNX, and CaptureNX.

5D AUTO FOCUS SYSTEM - or the NEW Better AF Canon 7D (Body Only)
IMO, Nikon has Canon beat big time on auto focus in prosumer camera bodies. The focus point coverage
is small in the 5D Mark II. This will be the biggest thing I will miss in the 5D Mark II compared to Nikon
bodies. My shooting style is to use a single focus point and move it around the frame as I compose the
shot simulatenously. I'm finding this difficult to adjust to the differences in focus point layout controls.
To be fair - my Nikons focus points are laid out over a DX sensor, and Canon's over a full frame sensor.
But, I still wish the coverage was of more of the frame.

Time for another photo

It appears the 5D Mark II doesn't synch at its rated speed. All my shots at 1/200th of a second show
vignetting caused by the shutter or mirror not getting out of the way. I will try and synch at slower
speeds to find the cameras true synch speed. The sound of the shutter is too loud, but the worst
effect of shutter release is the view finder going blank for what seems a long time in comparison to all
my Nikon experiences. Even the Nikon D50 has almost instanteous shutter blink (for lack of a better
term). After further testing I can synch at 1/160th of a second. Not too bad, but I really wish both
Nikon and Canon had a faster synch to studio strobes.

The colors are a bit different between the two manufactures. In a nutshell I like the neutral grays, and
reds better on the 5D mk II, and I like the yellows, and oranges better on the Nikon. The greens
seem to be wash in my opinion. These samples were shot in manual mode - color set to 5600K.
There was no post processing except resizing.

Nikon D2X straight out of the camera

Canon 5D Mark II straight out of the camera

There are two parts to this section. First, the sensor produces wonderful images, with good color,
and sharpness. Canon's approach to IQ is different than Nikon's. Gone is the film like grain of
Nikon files, and instead there is a clean yet detailed image. I have to admit - I do like this
difference, though I still like Nikon's IQ - The Canon files have been growing on me the last few
weeks. I can see advantages to both.

The second part is concerning the 24-70mm f2.8L. I don't have the Nikon equivalent to this lens, but
wow - what a great lens. It close focuses amazingly close, and the sharpness approaches prime
lens quality. I feel very lucky to have snagged such a great lens after reading so many
negative comments in online forums/reviews about Canon's lens quality control.

Wonderful Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L Lens

Another View

The ability to shoot at such high megapixels is really great, but in reality 12 megapixels will be
enough for most work. It is really more about the differences in image quality than the resolution
that have me very interested in mastering this new camera body. I can see where I would
alternate between the two depending upon the subject. I have to explore these strengths and
weaknesses more before attempting to write down what basically is my subjective opinion. Just
as the Nikon D300 and D2X had differences - I still appreciate that all these bodies are
really fine instruments - the tools of my trade. Thus, at the moment I don't have a favorite. I intend
to use them all! Here is a parting image shot with the newest member to my toolbox - the 5D Mark II.

So red and juicy it makes you think - Wheres the shortcake

PART II of the Canon 5DmkII Review Page 2 >

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