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Compared to...

When the original 5D was released 3 years ago, it stood alone as the only 'compact' full frame camera available, and for almost 3 years was also the only 'affordable' option for users who wanted the benefits of a full frame camera without the high price of a Canon 1Ds series body.

In 2008 Nikon entered the full frame market with the D3, quickly followed by the D700. Later that year at Photokina, Sony joined the party with the A900. In answer to these, Canon finally announced the long awaited follow up to the EOS 5D in September 2008. The new camera promises to compete with the D700 on ISO performance (with a range from 50 to 25600), and with the A900 on resolution. All this in essentially the same size body as the original, and at a similar price to the Sony and Nikon cameras. There is now a lot of choice for those looking for a compact, relatively inexpensive full frame DSLR.

In this comparison we are only looking at full frame DSLR cameras. First we will compare the 5D Mark II with the original 5D, then to the EOS-1Ds Mark III, which has a similar sensor and shares the 5D Mark II's 21 million pixel count. This will give current 5D owners a good idea of what to expect if they decide to upgrade, and also give Canon users an idea of what (if anything) the extra money for the EOS-1Ds Mark III might buy them in terms of image quality. We will also be comparing it to the D700, which is currently the nearest Nikon has to a direct competitor, and to the Sony A900, which goes head to head with the 5D Mark II on resolution (with a whopping 24 megapixels) and offers a slightly different balance of features.

Before we get on to the image quality comparison let's take a look at how the 5D Mark II compares to the other cameras in our tests from a specification point of view.

Positives versus the competition

  • The only one to combine high resolution with wide range of ISO settings
  • Live-view (versus Sony A900)
  • Peripheral illumination correction
  • 1080p HD video recording

Negatives versus the competition

  • Slowest continuous shooting speed
  • No sensor shift shake reduction (versus Sony A900)
  • Least advanced auto focus system (but same as original 5D)

Compared to Canon EOS 5D and EOS-1Ds Mark III

 


Canon 5D Mark II


Canon 5D


Canon 1Ds Mark III

Price (body only) $ 2,700 [check] $2,054[check] $7999[check]
Dust removal

• Self-cleaning filter
• Anti-static coating
• Dust Delete Data

No

• Self-cleaning filter
• Anti-static coating
• Dust delete data

Environmental
sealing
• Dust proof
• Splash proof
• Sealed lenses available
• Sealed lenses available • Environmentally sealed
• O-rings around controls
• Sealed lenses available
Sensor type CMOS CMOS CMOS
Sensor size 36 x 24 mm 35.8 x 23.9 mm 36 x 24 mm
Sensor area 864 mm² 856 mm² 864 mm²
Pixel density 2.4 MP/cm² 1.5 MP/cm² 2.4 MP/cm²
Image Stabilization Lenses only Lenses only Lenses only
Effective pixels 21.1 million 12.8 million 21.1 million
Image size 5616 x 3744 4368 x 2912 5616 x 3744
Live View Live TTL display
• 100% frame coverage
• Three AF modes

No Live View • Live TTL display
• 100% frame coverage
• Manual focus only
Auto focus

• 9-point TTL
• -0.5 to 18 EV
• 6 "Invisible Assist AF points"

• 9-point TTL
• -0.5 to 18 EV
• 6 "Invisible Assist AF points"

• 45 point TTL
• 19 cross type
• -1 to 18 EV

Exp. comp. +/- 2.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV +/- 3.0 EV
Sensitivity range (boost setting) 100 - 6400 (50, 12800, 25600 expandable) 100 - 1600 (50, 3200 expandable) 100 - 1600 (50, 3200 expandable)
Shutter speed 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec
Continuous rate
(high)
3.9 fps 3.0 fps 5.0 fps
Continuous buffer • 78 JPEG
• 13 RAW
• 60 JPEG
• 17 RAW
• 56 JPEG
• 12 RAW
Built-in flash None None None
External flash • Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
Flash sync speed • 1/200 sec
• Up to 1/8000th with supported speedlights
• 1/200 sec
• Up to 1/8000th with supported speedlights
• 1/250 sec
• Up to 1/8000th with supported speedlights
Storage CF I & II (inc. UDMA) CF I • CF I & II (inc. UDMA)
• SD / SDHC
Viewfinder • 98% coverage
• 0.71x magnification
• 96% coverage
• 0.71x magnification
• 100% coverage
• 0.76x magnification
LCD monitor • 3.0" TFT LCD
• 921,000 dots
• 2.5" TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
Vertical grip Yes, BG-E6 Yes, BG-E4 Yes, Built-in
Movie Mode • 1920 x 1080, 30fps (HD)
• 640 x 480, 30fps
No No
Video output • AV Out
• HDMI
AV Out • Composite
Dimensions

152 x 114 x 75 mm

152 x 113 x 75 mm

150 x 160 x 80 mm
Weight (no batt) 810 g 810 g 1205 g
Weight (inc batt) 905 g 895 g 1385 g

Compared to Nikon D700 and Sony A900

 


Canon 5D Mark II


Nikon D700


Sony A900

Price (body only) $ 2,700 [check] $2500[check] $2999[check]
Dust removal

• Auto / Manual
• Dust Delete Data appending
• Self-cleaning sensor unit

• Self-cleaning filter
• Dust-off image

• Static-resistant anti-dust coating
• CCD-shift dust reduction mechanism

Environmental
sealing
• Dust proof
• Splash proof
• Sealed lenses available
• Splash proof
• Dust proof
• Sealed lenses available

• Splash proof
• Dust proof

Sensor type CMOS CMOS CMOS
Sensor size 36 x 24 mm 36 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
Sensor area 864 mm² 860 mm² 861 mm²
Pixel density 2.4 MP/cm² 1.4 MP/cm² 2.9 MP/cm²
Image Stabilization Lenses only Lenses only Sensor-Shift
Effective pixels 21.1 million 12.1 million 24.6 million
Image size 5616 x 3744 4256 x 2832 6048 x 4032
Live View • Live TTL display
• 100% frame coverage
• Three AF modes
• Yes
• Up to 1:1 pixel view
• Contrast detect AF
• Mirror flip AF
No Live View
Auto focus

• 9-point TTL
• -0.5 to 18 EV
• 6 "Invisible Assist AF points"

• 51 point
• 15 cross-type
• -1 to 19 EV

• 9-points
• Center dual cross types
• 0 to 18 EV
• 10 Assist AF points

Exp. comp. +/- 2.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV +/- 3.0 EV
Sensitivity range (boost setting) 100 - 6400 (50, 12800, 25600 expandable) (100), 200 - 6400, (25,600 expandable) (100), 200 - 3200 (6400 expandable)
Shutter speed 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec
Continuous rate
(high)
3.9 fps 5.0 fps (8.0 fps with battery grip) 5.0 fps
Continuous buffer • 78 JPEG
• 13 RAW
• 100 JPEG Norm
• 17 RAW

• 105 JPEG
• 11 RAW

Built-in flash None • Manual pop-up
• Guide no. 12 (ISO 100)
None
External flash • Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
Flash sync speed 1/200 sec 1/250 sec (1/320 sec reduced Guide no.) • 1/250 sec
• 1/200 sec (with SteadyShot INSIDE on)
Storage CF I & II (inc. UDMA) CF I (inc. UDMA) • CF I & II (inc. UDMA)
• Memory Stick DUO
Viewfinder • 98% coverage
• 0.71x magnification
• 95% coverage
• 0.72x magnification
• 100% coverage
• 0.74x magnification
LCD monitor • 3.0" TFT LCD
• 921,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 922,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 921,600 dots
Vertical grip Yes, BG-E6 Yes, MB-D10 Yes, VG-C90AM
Movie Mode • 1920 x 1080, 30fps (HD)
• 640 x 480,30fps
No No
Video output • AV Out
• HDMI
• AV Out
• HDMI
• AV Out
• HDMI
• 'PhotoTV'
Dimensions

152 x 114 x 75 mm

147 x 123 x 77 mm
156 x 117 x 82 mm
Weight (no batt) 810 g 995 g 850 g
Weight (inc batt) 905 g 1075 g 895 g
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