5DmkII coming from 5D: Here's my experience ...

Started Dec 21, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Dark Adept Regular Member • Posts: 196
5DmkII coming from 5D: Here's my experience ...

Now that I've had a few weeks with my 5D mark II, what do I think? It's like an old friend, comfortable and familiar, but with very real improvements that were worth every penny in my opinion.

I'll run down the improvements but I'm glad to report that the fast, accurate auto-focus even under challenging conditions that I enjoyed on my 5D is still there. The compact form factor factor compared to the 1D series is great, and the ergonomics remain comfortable for anyone who enjoyed the 5D while feeling just a hair more solid. Of course compatibility with my existing lenses, flashes, etc. was a given and was a major factor in deciding to wait for this model.

So what's new and exciting for me?


When it comes down to it, this is what really matters. Sure, I appreciate the assistance of the camera in putting together a good exposure with the right focus but a lot of that is something I have a hand in. Once I trip the shutter, though, my job is done and I'm at the mercy of the camera body to do the rest.

Is 21.1 megapixels overkill? Not for me, thank you very much. I won't be printing every image at absurd sizes but I really appreciate the ability to crop heavily and still have enough resolution for good sized prints. I love having the choice to capture at high, moderate, or conservative resolutions. Having the extra dynamic range afforded by 14-bit A/D conversion yields a noticeable improvement over what I was used to with my 5D. Lastly, the automatic sensor cleaning gives me peace of mind that a stray spec of dust isn't going to ruin a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

I'm in heaven. More often than ever before I feel like I'm the weakest link in capturing stellar images and it's obviously challenging me to pick up my game and become a better photographer. None of the defects that get talked about with great vigor in this forum have been an issue in practice for me. Here are a few 100% crops from photos taken during a recent trip, two of them from 300mm zooms, one of those from a small boat in motion!


Between auto ISO and having the ISO visible all the time in my viewfinder I find it's easier to hit the right sensitivity sweet spot. Add in what seems to be about a stop improvement in noise levels and I feel like I spend less time worrying about adjusting ISO and more time taking keepers.

Now that the print button doubles as the live view toggle it has real honest-to-goodness uses! More on this below, but given that live view acts as a form of mirror lockup it's already a step in the right direction. Other minor tweaks to the existing controls are well considered and rank as incremental improvements. Having three custom shooting modes turns a feature of dubious value into something really useful, and the tweaks to the menu system are well thought out. In particular, I really appreciate having my most commonly-used menu items collected in one place.


Having a bright LCD that is completely usable in sunlight, and being able to zoom in on review to get pixel-level details is a godsend when it comes to ensuring that I've got motion frozen and focus spot-on. What came as a pleasant surprise is how useful that LCD is in establishing focus in the first place!

Live view isn't something I had gotten excited about when it was first introduced, but I've changed my mind in a hurry. When shooting handheld live view is awkward, but on a tripod? Suddenly contrast-detection AF gives me the freedom to define my own focus point and nail focus with more precision than ever before.

I have to admit I haven't used face detection AF yet, but perhaps I'll find a way to turn the camera into a P&S when handing it off to inexperienced bystanders. Obviously this is a very, very low priority. Creative auto might also have some value for getting my spouse comfortable with the camera, but for now it's still full auto.


It wasn't a critical part of my decision to pick up the new model and I'm still not sure exactly how I'll take advantage of it, so 1080p video capture feels like an added bonus rather than a core feature for me.


Yes, there are still plenty of things I'd like to see improved in the future. Off the top of my head? I wish for an AvTv mode with automatic exposure via ISO in addition to the full manual exposure of M. I'd settle for a custom function to allow automatic exposure in M mode. Now that I've discovered the advantages of live view I think there are times I'd appreciate an electronic viewfinder when the mirror is up.

 Dark Adept's gear list:Dark Adept's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM +1 more
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