5D2 vs D700 vs 5D after 2w and 2000+ pics

Started Jan 4, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Maciej Freudenheim Contributing Member • Posts: 512
5D2 vs D700 vs 5D after 2w and 2000+ pics

(I'm cross-posting it in both forums since it's equally related)

Hi, sorry for yet another 5D2 vs. D700 comparison, but because I own D700 since it was released (and I owned a D3 for over 1 year), and also original 5D for 11 months, with many L-lenses, and recently I shot over 2000 frames with my new 5D2 over the past 2 weeks in pretty much all common possible conditions (good light, bad light, indoors, outdoors, bad "wet" weather conditions etc.)

I decided to share my thoughts with you. Please don't be offended if you don't agree with my opinion(s), but rather feel free to comment in a constructive way:

5D2 vs D700:

1. Surpisingly, the LCD on 5D2 seems better than the one on D700. Colours are richer, contrast is better. At the beginning I thought that it's just my imagination, but it hasn't changed after 2 weeks, so I guess it must be true. I'm talking about reviewing pics, the menus, info screen, live view etc.

2. Similarly, I prefer 5d2's ViewFinder. I'm using D700 either with DK-17M VF magnifier (1.2x magnification) or without, and in both cases I prefer the 5D2's VF. Somehow the colors are better through 5D2.

3. AWB (Auto White Balance) is MUCH better on D700 in an artificial (tungsten) light.

4. Everybody knows that, but D700's AF points layout is way superior to the 5D2's one. The center AF point is ok, but that's all. D700 tracks moving objects definitely better and the border points work way more reliable. I would love to have D700's AF system in 5D2.

5. LiveView works much smoother (meaning better) on 5D2. On D700 it's very jerky (I guess it's the 15 fps vs 30 fps difference)

6. Movies are a nice addition, I definitely prefer to have this feature than to not.

7. Reviewing pics is better on D700 (100% zoom to the used AF point by pressing one button, more data displayed like focal length)

8. I didn't shoot 5D2 at ISOs higher than 3200, sorry, but up to ISO1600 it's very good at full resolution, at ISO3200 it's perfectly fine at SRAW1 (10mpix). Seems like noise is better controlled on D700 at ISO3200, but the difference is minor. Noise wouldn't be a deciding factor for me if I was deciding what camera to choose. Both cameras give excellent results, noticeably better than standard APS-C cameras.

The way more important aspect here, in my opinion, are the lenses. With Canon I have about 2 full stops of light advantage with 24/1.4L and 35/1.4L which both are superb sharp and contrasty wide-open. So it VERY often leaves me in situation when I can shoot at ISO1600-3200 with 5d2 (at f/1.4) and get a very nice shoot with interesting bokeh effect, or at ISO6400-12800 (at f/2.8, because there's no faster lens at 24mm) with D700. So Canon is a winner here for me.

9. Sharpness/resolution/details: better on 5D2, but it shouldn't be a surprise. It's especially visible when I scale a correctly focused 5D2 shot down to 12mpix and compare it to the D700 shot of the same scene taken at the same time: there are more details on the 5D2 shot while noise looks pretty much the same.

Honestly after reading some reviews of 1Ds3 I was affraid that I won't be able to take advantage of 21mpix without using a tripod and MLU, but it's NOT true. I see a visible difference in my hand-held shots when pixel peeing and comparing to D700.

10. I still prefer Nikon's implementation of the Auto ISO feature. With Nikon I'm on the Av mode 95% of the time, and I'm adjusting Auto ISO parameters (I can do this with one button on D700) and aperture, while on 5D2 I'm using Tv mode in low light situations (so I'm pre-selecting shutter speed and camera chooses ISO/aperture) and Av mode when there's a plenty of light available. Honestly I prefer the Nikon way, because I like to be in full control of the aperture all the time.

11. D700 gives much brighter exposures, usually about 0.7-1EV. I'm often dialing -0.5/-0.7 EVC on D700 and +1/3 or +2/3 on 5D2 at the same time.

12. Both cameras handle very well in hands. D700 seems a bit more sturdy and "confident" but it's not a deal breaker.

13. Very subjective, but I prefer 5D2's default colours to the D700 ones. I know that I can match both outputs in PS/LR but whatever, I'm usually ending up adjusting D700 colors to 5D/5D2 ones, not otherwise. Especially true for landscapes.

5D2 vs old 5D:

1. DR is definitely better, I'm very surprised how much data I can recover from both highlights and shadows. This is the feature justifying the 5D -> 5D2 upgrade alone.

2. AI Focus mode seems to work much better. Actually I'm thinking of using this mode all the time. On my old 5D it was quite unpredictable and was giving me many OOF shots. Seems to work just fine now.

3. Three custom modes (C1, C2 and C3) simply rock. Another reason to upgrade, alone.

4. I was shooting recently while it was snowing (a "wet" type of snow) at about -15 celsius, my hands and camera got wet but it continued to work just fine. I'm now more confident about 5D2 and will not hesitate to use it again in such conditions.

5. Focuses way faster with 85LII than the old 5D does.


Generally, I think that for now I will leave my D700 for outdoor shootings of people not static portraits, but rather people in move, some actions because with the better AF and 8 fps I can get more interesting shots more easily, and choose 5D2 for everything else: night shots, indoor shots (think: 35L, 24L, 85L, 135L), static portraits, studio shooting, landscapes (because of better resolution and lenses like 135L, 200L), travel photography (the lovely 24-105L and 70-200 4L). I must admit that I love the D700+70-200/2.8VR (I love 70-200/2.8VR's sharpness, colors & bokeh) combination, but it's IMO too heavy for travel photography, especially when hiking on some mountains.

Thanks for reading!

Maciej Freudenheim

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