My initial description of the EOS 5D when compared to the EOS 20D was 'chunkier', and I still think that's a fair comment. It's actually not that much larger than the EOS 20D, about 8 mm (⅓ inch) wider and taller but thanks to a remolded and grip (which now has a finger hook) and its extra weight (125 g / 4.4 oz) the EOS 5D does create the impression that it is both more substantial and more robust. Other than this the EOS 5D does look remarkably similar to the EOS 20D, even the control layout on the rear of the camera is virtually identical. The intention of course is to tempt existing EOS 20D owners to upgrade with the least amount of fuss.

Side by side

Below you can see the EOS 5D flanked by the eight megapixel EOS 20D and the sixteen megapixel EOS-1D Mark II. The 5D is just a little larger than the EOS 20D and quite clearly smaller than the EOS-1Ds Mark II (although add the battery grip and overall dimensions are similar). Weight wise (including battery) the EOS 5D is 125 g (4.4 oz) heavier than the EOS 20D and a wrist saving 640 g (22.5 oz) lighter than the EOS-1Ds Mark II.

In your hand

As I mentioned above the hand grip on the EOS 5D is slightly larger than that of the EOS 20D, there's also more space between the tips of your fingers and the lens mount. There's no "nail file" effect on the side of the lens mount on the EOS 5D as Canon has now covered that area with rubber. The support areas of the camera (front and rear) are covered in a rubber material which provides good grip although isn't as soft as that used by Nikon on the D2H/X.

Design changes compared to the EOS 20D (animated)

Place your mouse cursor over the image below to compare the design of the EOS 5D to the EOS 20D. This makes it easier to visualize the difference in size between the two cameras, most noticeable is the increased size of the viewfinder prism and the significant increase in the size of the LCD monitor.

LCD Monitor

The EOS 5D features a large 2.5" LCD monitor which thankfully has good resolution (230,000 pixels), this makes for detailed image review as well as attractive clean and easy to read menus. The LCD also has a very wide viewing angle which means you don't have to be holding the camera straight on to see it. On the downside the screen isn't as bright as I would have liked, you will find yourself turning up the brightness setting, and there's no anti-reflective coating.

LCD Panel

On top of the camera is a large LCD panel which provides a wide range of information about the current camera settings and exposure. The main numeric section of the panel doubles up to provide other types of information such as the 'Busy' warning, ISO setting and processing parameter set when these are being changed. The panel has an orange backlight which is illuminated by pressing the backlight button to the top left of the panel, the backlight stays on for approximately six seconds.

A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagrams below.