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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution, a real upgrade for eight megapixel Canon owners (EOS 20D)
  • Full frame 35 mm size sensor delivers film-like shooting experience, real wide angle
  • Very large, bright viewfinder really fills your vision
  • Very low noise even at higher sensitivities
  • About a third of a stop more sensitive than indicated
  • Very well implemented large buffer supported by fast CF throughput
  • Very well built, more robust feeling than the EOS 20D (closer to 1D build)
  • Very fast in use, short shutter lag, instant startup
  • Spot metering (wasn't available on the EOS 20D)
  • New Picture Styles make it easier to get 'ready to use' results straight from the camera
  • Wide range of image parameter adjustment (-4 to +4 for most)
  • Wide range of ISO sensitivities, ISO 50 - 3200 (with 'ISO Expansion' enabled)
  • Huge LCD monitor with great resolution, dimmer than some smaller screens
  • Soft touch shutter release
  • Proper RAW+JPEG with immediately selectable JPEG image size
  • Interchangeable focus screen
  • Remote tethered capture software for studio work (included)
  • Orientation sensor
  • Optional WFT-E1 wireless transmitter (802.11 b/g)
  • Supplied software bundle very good; ZoomBrowser EX and DPP both matured now

Conclusion - Cons

  • Edge softness / falloff / chromatic aberrations, needs good lenses
  • AI Servo (continuous AF) interference banding issue (certain lenses, high sensitivities)
  • Same old 'CF compartment door shuts camera down' issue
  • Picture Style differences between RAW Image Task/Camera and DPP
  • Picture Style tone curve not indicated in camera menu (contrast is an offset, not absolute)
  • Pretty average automatic white balance in artificial light
  • Mirror lock-up still buried in menus (should be a continuous shooting mode option)
  • No mass storage device USB mode, limited throughput (just 2.5 MB/sec)
  • No anti-reflective coating on LCD monitor
  • No GPS support
  • No built-in flash, no built-in AF assist lamp
  • Price premium over cropped sensor cameras

Overall conclusion

A lower-priced full-frame digital SLR was a logical step for Canon, the only thing we weren't sure of was how that camera would look when it arrived. Up until now if you wanted a Canon mount full frame camera you would go for the EOS-1Ds / Mark II or the now discontinued Kodak Pro SLR/c. Since the advent of the digital SLR many photographers have been looking forward to the day they could (afford to) buy a body with a full frame sensor which would mark the 'complete transition' of 35 mm photography into digital.

The EOS 5D with its sub-$4,000 price tag was introduced to a fairly rapturous reception among existing Canon owners here on dpreview as well as the two ends of the spectrum from other brand owners; everything from jealousy and incredulous dismissal. It's pretty clear that two camps have now established themselves, quite a few people have nailed their preference to the wall, being in the "Full Frame or nothing" group or the "Cropped is better" group.

The task for us in this review was an interesting one, first of all we had to review the camera in the same way we would any other digital SLR but also to explore many of the assumed advantages and disadvantages, myths and facts around full-frame. The results of our 'extended test suite' were a confirmation of what we expected (and knew), that a full frame camera fully exposes the limits of the lens used and that simply because the pixel pitch is larger we aren't automatically going to get more dynamic range and lower noise. (Remember the EOS 5Ds pixel pitch is the same as the EOS-1D Mark II).

The EOS 5D is a fantastic photographic tool which is capable of producing really excellent results. The caveat is that it takes a little more care and understanding of your equipment (especially lenses). We found resolution to be absolutely excellent with crisp detailed results straight from the camera (JPEG) and even more detail available if you shoot RAW. Different 'looks' can be easily achieved via Picture Styles (almost like changing film) and the range of in-camera image parameters has been expanded. Noise levels are essentially identical to the EOS 20D as is dynamic range, this is neither a surprise or a disappointment, it simply means consistency and the maintaining of an expectation built by Canon in the performance of its CMOS sensor.

If you want a (new) Canon full frame digital SLR the choice now is between the $3,299 EOS 5D or the $7,999 EOS-1Ds Mark II. As we have demonstrated the EOS-1Ds Mark II does deliver more detail and resolution but to the majority of photographers this advantage will be wasted (although this is unlikely to be a deciding factor for decided EOS-1Ds Mark II buyers, its advantages over the 5D are far more wide ranging). Thus to anyone looking for the 'purity' of full frame (and a Canon mount) the EOS 5D would be absolutely Highly Recommended.

For everyone else however it's a hard decision. If the EOS 5D had been introduced a couple of years ago before the availability of designed-for-digital ultra-wide angle zoom lenses it could easily have walked away with a clear lead against 'cropped sensor' models. However there are many photographers quite happy with the results they get from their current cameras, only history will tell if the EOS 5D is the start of a full frame revolution or simply the first of a new niche format.

Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended

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Total comments: 16

Still worthy 10 years on because you can shoot it at any selectable ISO in RAW and it`ll be excellent, doesn`t ever get noisy (about half a stop or less noisier than the D700 or D3S in Capture one at ISO3200) , even the DR is good - JPG engine is both dated and limited but as a RAW only camera, it stands up .. Pixel level sharpness (therefore resolution of fine details) is better the D700 or D3 due to a weaker AA filter .

Focus is fast enough , though really best seen as a centre focus only system due to the lack of cross sensors anywhere else , excellent on batteries too.


Totally agree, except for the focus part, it can be improved for that value.

Hai Ching Lee


I bought one last month for Usd500 in super good and working condition but without any lens......
I bought an L Lens 24-105mm f4 for another Usd 500...... a 50mm f1.4 for Usd350.......
After much testings around, I noticed 5D is not good at Indoor unless with the help of a Flash......However , at Outdoor I must say it is a Super duper Good Full Frame machine even though it is around 8 years old........!!!

I still feel it is a Good Investment as far as dollars and cents counts......
An FX cameras from Nikon like the D700 body will cost Usd1.3k in Malaysia......

I also own a Nikon D90 with standard kit lens 18-105mm, 70-300mm Tel lens, a Fx 24-50mm f3.5-4 and 20mm f2.8 and others...
Recently I bought an Adapter for Nikon lens to Eos FX body like 5D..........It WORKS very well but have to Manually focus......So now I can have Nikon lens on 5D body which safe me a lot for a start....!!
Used 5D MK-II is selling here at around Usd1.6k which I am looking forward to...!!


I am using a nikkon D 5100. Have the opportunity to purchase a cannon eos 5d in excellent condition for $500 with 50mm f1.8 lens. Any advantages to this camera vs what I currently have besides FF? Good investment? I currently do not own any pro lenses from nikkon.

Pascal Parvex

Well, that is a great deal. I would do it.


The 5D was and is my first digital camera. It has served me with spectacular results. It's main minus for me has been its inability to use the higher ISO's, as anything higher than 200 produces visible grain in images that I print very large on my epson 24" printer. I almost always shoot with a monopod to assure the results.
Technology has changed and improved and I am searching for a replacement. I am invested in excellent Canon lenses and want to stay with Canon. I also want a camera that is not as heavy as my 5D (I am old and am fatigued by the weight of the 5D which I affectionately call "my brick".) Price is an issue too.
Still casting about trying to find a replacement.

frosty 7

hi i jus bot a canon eos 5d from a friend am i able to record video with the camera ?


No, unfortunately you are not able to shot video, neither by installing Magic Lantern (because the camera is not equipped with live view).


Easy answer: Buy a Sony A7 mirrorless and a metabones adapter to use all Canon AF lenses.


Since you have invested in Canon lenses, I think the Canon 6D is what you are looking for, if you are still looking.


I wish you guys would do a new comparison with the 5D, would love to see it vs the newer dslr's


Agreed! In all cameras announced around that time, only EOS 5D still attracts many discussions in DPR forums. How many are still talking Nikon D200 that announced just three months later these days? If you don't print/view in very big size, EOS 5D actually withstands most today's FF cameras very well till ISO 800/1600 in IQ, no mention crop cameras.


I love my 5D.
Using the 5D with quality Canon L lenses produces images that I do not see a difference between them and those taken by a newer camera (5D II, 5D III).

If video is not needed or required, then finding a clean 5D would be prudent.
Some very well kept, used lightly by some hobbyists can be found at around a $1,000 or less.

I have no immediate plans to shell out $3,000 or more for a newer model that is not going to give me much over the 5D, in terms of image quality.

But for commercial photographers, that's a different situation.


Ditto. I could not be happier with my 5D. I'm also disappointed that the set up for image comparison keeps changing. It makes it difficult to compare any older digital camera with anything contemporary.


I just sold my trusty old 5D. I love the camera but I will not miss cleaning the sensor every other week and fixing dust spots in lightroom! That was always a royal pain in the neck. Still a great camera.

Pascal Parvex

I don't know what you mean. I own the 5D since 2006 and have cleaned the sensor only once.

1 upvote
Total comments: 16