Compared to...

Imagine you have between $1,500 and $8,000 to spend on a digital SLR, ok we admit, not a likely scenario, however thanks to the 'new market' position of the EOS 5D, its high pixel count and full frame sensor we had to choose a range of different SLRs for this comparison. The only other model we would have liked to include is the Nikon D200 but as we have not yet received a production unit that comparison will have to wait for its review.

Camera Body Price Sensor
Canon EOS 20D $1,499 8.2 MP CMOS (1.6x crop) -36%
Canon EOS 5D $3,299 12.8 MP CMOS (FF) -
Nikon D2X $4,999 12.4 MP CMOS (1.5x crop) -3%
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II $7,999 * 16.7 MP CMOS FF +30%

* At the time of publication the EOS-1Ds Mark II was available at $6999 from some stores

Lenses used

For these studio scene comparisons we used 50 mm lenses on the 'cropped' cameras (EF 50 mm F1.4 for the 20D and the Nikkor 50 mm F1.8 for the D2X) and the EF 85 mm F1.8 on the full frame EOS 5D and EOS-1Ds Mark II (whose images have been re-shot using this prime lens since the D2X review).

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Canon EOS 5D vs. Canon EOS 20D

Camera settings:

  • Canon EOS 5D: Canon EF 85 mm F1.8 lens, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard PS), Self-Timer
  • Canon EOS 20D: Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Parameter 1), Self-Timer
Canon EOS 5D
Canon EOS 20D
4,012 KB JPEG (4368 x 2912)
2,987 KB JPEG (3504 x 2336)

The EOS 5D carries some 56% more pixels than the EOS 20D and it really shows, it's capable of extracting far more detail from the scene than the EOS 20D (which to be fair still does a very impressive job). It looks as though the EOS 5D's "Standard" Picture Style is a good match for the EOS 20D's "Parameter 1" (default) setting, with very similar tone and color response. Theoretically of course it would be difficult to spot the difference between an EOS 20D and EOS 5D shot printed at 11 x 8 inches (300 dpi).