August 2009 - Updated to reflect the additional manual control over video exposure introduced with firmware 1.10.

Back in August 2005 Canon 'defined a new DSLR category' (their words) with the EOS 5D. Unlike any previous 'full frame' sensor camera, the 5D was the first with a compact body (i.e. not having an integral vertical grip) and has since then proved to be very popular, perhaps because if you wanted a full frame DSLR to use with your Canon lenses and you didn't want the chunky EOS-1D style body then the EOS 5D has been your only choice. Three years on and two competitors have turned up in the shape of the Nikon D700 and Sony DSLR-A900, and Canon clearly believes it's time for a refresh.

So here is the 5D Mark II, which punches high in terms of both resolution and features, headlining: 21 megapixels, 1080p video, 3.0" VGA LCD, Live view, higher capacity battery. In other words, a camera that aims to leapfrog both its direct rivals, either in terms of resolution (in the case of the D700) or features (in the case of the DSLR-A900). Full detail below.

Key features / improvements

  • 21 megapixel CMOS sensor (very similar to the sensor in the EOS-1Ds Mark III)
  • Sensor dust reduction by vibration of filter
  • ISO 100 - 6400 calibrated range, ISO 50 - 25600 expansion (1Ds Mark III & 5D max ISO 3200)
  • Auto ISO (100 - 3200) in all modes except manual
  • 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting
  • DIGIC 4 processor, new menus / interface as per the EOS 50D
  • Image processing features:
    • Highlight tone priority
    • Auto lighting optimizer (4 levels)
    • High ISO noise reduction (4 levels)
    • Lens peripheral illumination correction (vignetting correction)
  • RAW and SRAW1 (10 MP) / SRAW2 (5 MP)
  • RAW / JPEG selection made separately
  • Permanent display of ISO on both top plate and viewfinder displays
  • AF micro adjustment (up to 20 lenses individually)
  • Three custom modes on command dial, Creative Auto mode
  • Image copyright metadata support
  • 98% coverage viewfinder (0.71x magnification)
  • 3.0" 920,000 dot LCD monitor with 'Clear View' cover / coatings, 170° viewing angle
  • Automatic LCD brightness adjustment (ambient light sensor)
  • Live view with three mode auto-focus (including face detection)
  • No mirror-flip for exposures in Live View if contrast detect AF selected
  • Movie recording in live view (1080p H.264 up to 12 minutes, VGA H.264 up to 24 mins per clip)
  • Two mode silent shooting (in live view)
  • New jump options in play mode
  • HDMI and standard composite (AV) video out
  • Full audio support: built-in mic and speaker, mic-in socket, audio-out over AV (although not HDMI)
  • IrPort (supports IR remote shutter release using optional RC1 / RC5 controllers)
  • UDMA CompactFlash support
  • New 1800 mAh battery with improved battery information / logging
  • New optional WFT-E4 WiFi / LAN / USB vertical grip
  • Water resistance: 10 mm rain in 3 minutes