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Timings & File Sizes

The 5D MK II sees some performance improvements, thanks in part to the use of the newest Digic IV processor, increasing the continuous shooting speeed to 3.9 fps (from 3). This is still not as fast as the rest of the cameras in this class, but is a lot closer.

The original 5D didn't feel slow in use, thanks to its relatively slow continuous shooting speed and good buffer - so you rarely hit any card write delays, but it wasn't exactly a speed freak either. The 5D Mark II improves on the 5D by adding more buffer, which coupled with the faster transfer speed means that the 5D Mark II can shoot up to 17 RAW images in a row (the specifications say 13, but we managed with achieve the higher figure with a UDMA card), or unlimited JPEGs. What this means in use is that the user will hardly ever hit the buffer limit, and the limiting factor in shooting speed is usually not the camera but the photographer.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 5616 x 3744) JPEG Fine (approx. 3,526 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 8 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card
  • 8 GB Lexar Pro 300x UDMA CF card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(8 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(8 GB Lexar)
Power Off to On   0.0 0.0
Power Off to Shot *1   <0.2 / 0.3 0.2 / 0.3
Sleep to On   0.0 0.0
Power On to Off   0.0 0.0
Activate Live View   1.9 1.6
Exit Live View   0.3 0.3
Record Review *2
RAW
1.4 1.4
Record Review *2
JPEG
1.2 1.3
Play *3
RAW
0.7 0.7
Play *3
JPEG
0.7 0.7
Play Image to Image *4
RAW
<0.2/0.5 <0.2/0.6
Play Image to Image *4
JPEG
<0.2/0.5 <0.2/0.6

*1 The first number is with auto sensor cleaning turned OFF, while the second number is with auto sensor cleaning turned ON.
*2 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*3 Unlike the original 5D, the 5D Mark II does not need to buffer images. New or old images are displayed within the same time frame be they RAW, JPEG or RAW+JPEG images.
*4

When scrolling from one image to the next the time delay is almost non existent, but if fast scrolling though many images very quickly, the image is slightly zoomed out and then displayed in full on the screen. The first number represents the time taken scrolling consecutive images, while the second represents time to display full image when fast scrolling.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure, ISO 100. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

The 5D Mark II uses the new Digic IV engine to process images and write files to the CF card. It is a good thing that there is a new processing engine as the file sizes have almost doubled, with RAW files in excess of 20 Mb each. While Canon quoted 3.9 fps as the fastest continuous shooting speed, we were never able to quite get there. The fastest we could achieve was 3.8 using a Sandisk Extreme III CF card (new version with 30 Mb/s speed rating). The Mark II really benefits from the use of a UDMA card.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was 3.7 - 3.8 fps
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)'
  • Write complete - How long after the last shot before the CF compartment light goes out

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Extreme III CF
8 GB Lexar
Pro 300x CF
Frame rate 3.8 fps 3.7 fps
Number of frames unlimited unlimited
Buffer full rate NA NA
Write complete 2.1 sec 2.0 sec

Burst of RAW images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Extreme III CF
8 GB Lexar
Pro 300x CF
Frame rate 3.8 fps 3.7 fps
Number of frames 14 17
Buffer full rate 0.7 fps 1.5 fps
Write complete 17.7 sec 7.5 sec

Burst of sRAW1 images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Extreme III CF
8 GB Lexar
Pro 300x CF
Frame rate 3.8 fps 3.7 fps
Number of frames 17 18
Buffer full rate 2.7 fps for 16 frames then 1.4 fps 2.9 fps
Write complete 15.7 sec 6.3 sec

Burst of sRAW2 images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Extreme III CF
8 GB Lexar
Pro 300x CF
Frame rate 3.8 fps 3.7 fps
Number of frames 25 24
Buffer full rate 2.9 fps for 32 frames then 1.7 fps 3.2 fps
Write complete 15.2 sec 2.3 sec

Burst of RAW+JPEG images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Extreme III CF
8 GB Lexar
Pro 300x CF
Frame rate 3.8 fps 3.7 fps
Number of frames 7 7
Buffer full rate 1.7 fps for 6 frames then 0.6 fps 1.7 fps
Write complete 19.1 sec 8.9 sec

While the 5D Mark II has a higher frame rate than the original 5D, it would never be mistaken for a dedicated sports camera (the pedestrian AF tracking puts that idea to bed anyway). Having said that, it can still be used in fast-paced situations as long as you don't rely on the machine gun approach to shooting. Notice the extra speed shown with the UDMA-enabled Lexar CF card. If you want to get the highest speed out of this camera in a continuous shooting situation, use a UDMA-enabled CF card, shoot JPEG or both. One thing to note is the large speed penalty for shooting RAW and fine JPEG; if you need RAW files, shooting only RAW is a much better choice speed wise.

sRAW1 and sRAW2 are new settings in the 5D Mark II. When used in continuous shooting situations, the sRAW1 setting offers significant benefits, and would be a good option when the highest resolution is not required.

To demonstrate the 5D Mark II shooting in continuous mode, we have included a recording of the 5D Mark II shooting in RAW mode using a Lexar 8gig Pro 300x card. Note the transition from 3.7 fps to a slower rate when the buffer is full. The file is in mp3 format (Click on the graphic to download).

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity indicator beside the storage compartment went out. The activity indicator light comes almost as soon as you press the shutter release, this either means that the EOS 5D Mark II begins writing immediately or that Canon is masking the delay to write. Writing continues 'in the background' and doesn't affect any camera function. Media used were the same as above. If the card door is opened during writing, and indicator shows the amount of images still to be written to the card and continues un till the operation is complete. A very welcome change.

Image type
Time, secs
(8 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(8 GB Lexar)
Approx.
size
5616 x 3744 RAW + JPEG *1 2.9 2.0 25,101 KB
5616 x 3744 RAW 2.5 1.6 21,575 KB
5616 x 3744 JPEG Fine 1.2 1.1 3,526 KB
5616 x 3744 JPEG Standard 1.1 1.0 1,228 KB

*1 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together.

The UDMA-enabled Lexar performs better than the Sandisk in this test. Write times are actually faster than the original 5D, which is quite impressive considering the almost doubling of file sizes. Compared to the EOS-1Ds Mark III these speeds are a little slower, even though faster rated cards are being used for testing the 5D Mark II. This is one area where the extra engineering (and cost) of the 1 series shows benefits.

USB transfer speed

To test the EOS 5D Mark II's USB transfer speed we used twelve standard images (six RAW, six JPEG) totaling 144 MB and transferred them from a SanDisk Extreme III 8 GB CF card via three different methods. The camera transfer speed of the 5D Mark II shows a huge improvement compared the original 5D (more than 600% improvement in fact). This will translate to a very noticeable improvement for users who shoot tethered to a computer, and makes using the camera as a card reader a feasible prospect (though not a very practical one).

Method Transfer rate
EOS 5D Mark II USB 2.0 * 16.0 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader 16.8 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV Firewire 800 card reader 29 MB/sec

* Via CameraWindow (ZoomBrowser EX), normal WIA connection does not provide for transfer of RAW files.

Battery life

The EOS 5D Mark II uses the new LP-E6 battery pack. The battery is almost identical in size but provides 1800 mAh - a 33% increase in capacity. In use we did not notice the battery depleting very fast, in fact you are much more likely to run out of CF card space than run out of battery power. The increase in battery capacity also helps with the increased power needed by the video recording function. Canon's specified battery life is approximately 850 shots at 20°C.

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