Canon 5d Mark 2 and Canon 70d

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Tannin Senior Member • Posts: 1,383
Re: Canon 5d Mark 2 and Canon 70d

The 5D II is a very peculiar camera, a unique mix of very, very good and pretty damn bad.

First the slightly bad. It's old, it's a bit clunky, it doesn't have some of the minor bells and whistles we mostly take for granted now. Example: there is no electronic level. Example: the custom functions are fewer and more limited than you might expect - the one that particularly bugs me is the lack of a way to set the dial functions sensibly in manual exposure mode. (For reasons never clear to me, Canon insists on setting the top dial and the back dial up backwards ex-factory in all its cameras, meaning that the top dial which normally does aperture (in Av mode) suddenly starts doing shutter speed when you switch to manual, and the aperture moves down to the back dial. Drives me spare! But at least they now make this very easy to fix. Sadly, the 5D II was built before they realised the error of their ways.)

Next the really bad. The AF system is woeful. It's accurate enough, don't worry about that, it's just amazingly primitive for a camera of that era. The 5D Mark 1 had many virtues but had an only-just-OK autofocus system. There was nothing actually wrong with it, it just didn't improve on the other cameras that Canon made at the time, and was (if I remember correctly) slightly inferior to the then-current but soon-to-be-replaced 20D crop model.

Years later, Canon replaced the 5D Mark 1 with the 5D Mark II. They had been working on a spiffy new AF system for the Mark II, but it wasn't ready on time and, in the end, they released the new model with the old 5D Mark 1 focus system carried over more-or-less unchanged. It's perfectly reliable insofar as it gets good sharp focus when it focuses at all, and reliable insofar as you know when it's going to work and when it isn't. You soon learn that there are some scenes which it won't cope with, and learn to work around that (often just a focus and recompose is all you need). But AF on the 5D II is never fast or thought-free. You can't just point and click the way you can with pretty much anything else (such as your 70D). You have to take your time and work at it.

I use my 5D II exclusively for landscapes, and almost exclusively with a 16-35/4. It copes just fine with that task load, though I have to do a lot of focus-recompose. I wouldn't dream of using it for wildlife or action.

Now the good, and it's really good. The 5D II sensor was way out in advance of anything else made when it was introduced, simply the best camera sensor on the market, and it stands up well even today. Yes, sure, the 5D IV and the EOS R have better ones, so do models from the other makers, but the old 5D II sensor is much more like the modern sensor in (say) an EOS R than it is like the old-school sensors in things like the 5D I and the 20D. There was a big, sudden jump in sensor technology ten years or so ago, and the 5D II is on the right side of it. It offers lots of detail (plenty of pixels) even by today's standards, and excellent noise performance for its day - perfectly usable even now.

I love the 5D II's sensor, hate the AF system, and the rest of the camera is basically standard Canon, similar to a 20D or a 70D.

If you can live with the AF, it's a screaming bargain.

 Tannin's gear list:Tannin's gear list
Canon G9 X II Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark IV +11 more
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