Canon 5D Mark II - Follow up

Have I mastered the 5DmkII yet?

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM - 3 frames combined - "Anatomy of Laughter"

The Learning Continues - Samples of my results

I should say that I still haven't mastered the Canon button/menu layout. On a scale of one to ten I'm
probably at about a 6 on using all the camera features, and doing it out of habit or instinct. For about
two months going back and forth in the middle of a shoot between the two paradyms used by Canon
and Nikon was driving me crazy, but now it seems natural. It is beginning to feel like a tool, and not
a technical exercise to use my 5DmkII. Instead of concentrating on a bunch of technical aspects, and
photos of hardware - I thought I would show the results I have obtained over the last six months using
sample photos interspersed with my thoughts.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM - "Seeing Eye to Eye"


Like Canon's Legendary 85mm f1.2L II USM Lens Well, I have shot tens of thousands of frames with
the 5DmkII and my opinions have changed some. First, the extra megapixels do make a huge
difference. The level of extra detail that can be gleaned from a properly focused 21 megapixel
image is simply amazing.

5dmkII + Nikon AFD 85mm f/1.8 + AF Confirm adapter - "Tulip"

This may sound contradictory, but my Nikon D300, and D2X usually outperform the 5DmkII in sharpness,
and detail. This is mainly due to lens selection. As good as the 24-70 f2.8 L is - it is no match for the Nikon
primes I use. I purchased an AF confirm adapter so I could use my Nikon glass on the 5D mkII, and the
results are stunning. I imagine that a Canon prime would be equally good at getting the most out of the

5dmkII + Nikon AFD 60mm f/2.8 micro + AF Confirm adapter - "Dipped in Champagne"

Thus my one Canon zoom has lost a bit of luster in this photographers eyes. At times it produces
prime lens sharpness, but it usually is much softer. If I can make enough money - I will add some
Canon primes to my kit. I am particularly interested in the 85mm f1.2. but that is too expensive at
this point.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM - Paper Series "Light and Dark Angles"


In the past, my eye liked Fuji Velvia printed on Ilford's Cibachrome polyester. Which is to say - I have
a bias for a little too much saturated color, and strong contrast. My impressions on color are much
the same as my initial impressions, but in one regard they have changed. Skin tone on fair skinned
people has a much more pleasing tone on the 5DmkII than my Nikons. The grays look more neutral
from the 5DmkII as well.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM - "Golden Flow"

Shooting side by side for shoot after shoot has given me the experience of seeing this difference.
Out of tens of thousands of frames the Nikon wins 2/3rds of the time. In all my shoots, the Canon
never quite got to 50% of the total shoot in the keeper category. (comparing like setups shot with
both brands) The lion's share of this difference is because of technical reasons related to lenses.
The Nikon's win quite often due to a primes versus zoom lens IQ differences.

5dmkII + Nikon AFS 300mm f/4 + Nikon 1.7 TC + AF Confirm adapter - "Land Pearls"

HOW Canon's IQ has changed me

I find I use noiseware much less on both my Nikon and Canon files. Usually it is a weaker setting,
and then applied selectively using Photoshop's history brush. I think the Canon files have trained me
to look at grain differently. Consequently, I seek something between what each manufacturer brings to
their default approach to IQ. I have saved about a half a dozen "weak" noiseware settings, because
the effect of the default setting - particularly on the 5DmkII files - is too strong.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM - "Reclining Pepper"


The 5DmkII has three times in 6 months - for no apparent reason - produced horrible cross hatch
banding. The first time was 3 frames out of a 6 frame burst in the studio...within a 300 frame
session. The second time was about 10% of a similiar session. And the third was again a handful of
frames. I have no idea why, or under what conditions it occurrs, but they all have been studio
sessions. (where I mainly use the 5DmkII). It has put a small chink in the confidence that I place in
the 5DmkII. The other oddity is the default action to get to the focus selecting joy stick. Whenever
I hit the selection button it always went to shutter speed. After connecting the camera for the first
time to my comnputer and inputting my copyright info via the EOS now defaults to the AF
point select. That was a major bonus, and is helping me very much to compose and shoot simultaneously.
I didn't save any of the cross hatch noise pattern frames...they ruin the frame completely.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM - "When I was Hungry (Charity)"


This is hardly news, but the 5DmkII has a weak AF system. The laundry list is long. The coverage is
too small, and the outer sensor points aren't very effective compared to the center sensor AF point.
The AF system is slow compared to both the D2X and D300 of Nikon. It is really easy to out pace
the 5DmkII's AF system; particularly if you move while you shoot. Missed focus for me happens
about 10-15% of the time.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Sometimes AF is "Gone with the Wind"


Each system has it's own highlight/shadow Dynamic Range enhancements. Canon's is called the "lighting
optimizer", and Nikon's is call "D-Lighting". In general, the Canon version is too heavy handed, and negatively
effects IQ. Nikon's works better in the shadows, but Canon's preserves the highlights better. Somehow Nikon's
doesn't negatively effect IQ. The ultimate would be to have the Nikon system with Canon's highlight preservation
added in. I do use this feature on my Nikon's, but I do not use it on the 5DmkII. Thus, total DR is better on the
Nikon system - IMO.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L - "Contemplating Moonlight"


I am of the opinion that the extra megapixels make a greater difference in image quality
than I had at first thought. It becomes even more important the quality of glass you use
with such high megapixel cameras. I've grown to appreciate Canon's color, and the
menu/control system is less and less foreign to me. I do think Nikon's menu system
works better, but I expect that the more I master the 5DmkII - the less of an issue this
will be. The image quality is simply superb. Canon files seem able to take more aggressive
sharpening than Nikon files, but are less tolerant of noise reduction. The AF system is
unimpressive, and seems out of place on such a capable camera body. To have the
almost $1000 less in cost Nikon D300 completely out class the 5DmkII in AF performance
is a bit much to swallow...however, to get almost the same full frame high megapixel image
quality for $5300 dollars less than the Nikon D3x more than makes up for it, and is why I
decided to add Canon to my kit....YMMV

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L - "Red Meets a Sharp End"

I am very impressed with the 5DmkII, and my impression is growing day by day. I would
recommend this camera to anyone. I am hoping that showing you what you can produce
with this body will prove it's mettle. Importantly, the Canon 5DmkII is a great value in today's
teetering economy.

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L - "Framed Reflection"

5dmkII + EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L - "M"

RETURN to 5DmkII Review Page 1 >

RETURN to Photomatter Home Page >

RETURN to Photomatter Review Home Page >