Canon EOS 5D Mark II In-depth Review
Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.
As we've noted in most recent reviews there is now a fairly consistent response across all competing models and the 5D Mark II is no exception. Canon has now standardized the output of the entire EOS range using Picture Styles, and as you can see by choosing any recent model from the Compared to drop-down menu below, the results are remarkably similar from the top to the bottom of the range.
|Canon EOS 5D MK2||Compare to:|
Artificial light White Balance
The EOS 5D Mark II's automatic white balance performance is fairly similar to that of its predecessor (and basically every other current EOS DSLR). It is very good in natural light, almost acceptable in fluorescent light, and rather poor in incandescent light. Even using the incandescent light preset does not help much. It is worth carrying a gray card around for those times when tungsten lights are around.
Incandescent - Auto WB
|Incandescent - Incandescent Preset WB
Red:8.0%, Blue: -12.4%
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 5.4%, Blue: -8.2%
|Fluorescent - Fluo Preset WB
Red: 4.7%, Blue: -4.2%
Long Exposure noise reduction
The EOS 5D Mark II has the usual 'dark frame subtraction' noise reduction for exposures of one second or longer, enabled or disabled via C. Fn II-1. Dark frame subtraction NR works by taking a second equal exposure immediately after the first but with the shutter closed, any hot pixel noise in this second exposure can then be subtracted from the first to produce a cleaner image. Our 30 second exposure in this test produced no visible hot pixels.
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 30 sec, F14||ISO 100, 30 sec, F14|
|(Brightness boosted by 50% in these crops)|
Auto Lighting Optimizer
The 5D Mark II has the Auto Lighting Optimizer feature that is present in virtually all current Canon cameras. In real use and in the studio this feature is very hard to provoke into doing anything worth commenting on. Here is an example of a very high dynamic range situation, and the effect of having ALO off and switched on to 'strong'. Looking at the detail inside the tunnel, there is a difference, but it is subtle. We have only included the off and strong settings here, as the standard and low settings have such a subtle difference that they are almost indistinguishable from off.
|Auto Lighting Optimizer Off||Auto Lighting Optimizer Strong|
|ISO 200, 1/60, F8||ISO 200, 1/60, F8|
|50% crop||50% crop|
Highlight tone priority
The EOS 5D Mark II features the same 'Highlight tone priority' option that's found all current generation EOS cameras. It is activated by C.Fn II-3 and according to the user manual "Improves the highlight detail." The measured effect on dynamic range (in our studio) is about 2/3 to 1 stop. In the real world it produced a subtle improvement, allowing the user to retain some detail in highlight areas where they would otherwise have been lost.
|Highlight tone priority off||Highlight tone priority on|
|ISO 200, 1/25 sec, F4||ISO 200, 1/25 sec, F4 (Highlight tone priority)|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The 5D Mark II has the same pixel count and the same sensor size as the flagship 1Ds Mark III. While it lacks some of the more robust professional features from the 1Ds, such as weather sealing and the more advanced AF system, it gives up little in terms of image quality. Images up to ISO 3200 retain plenty of fine detail and the high ISO performance is actually slightly better than the older 1Ds Mark III. With so much resolution to play with, it's quite easy to get usable images even at the higher ISO settings, as long as you're not looking to produce poster prints.
Images at lower ISO settings are typical Canon; punchy, and very clean, and the increase in resolution over the original 5D is obvious once you start to enlarge the output. There's no doubt that 5D upgraders will be more than happy with the improvement in image quality. Viewed at 100% the images are a little soft, and you may be surprised how much sharpening raw files need, but there's plenty of detail in there if you use a good enough lens.
The matrix metering on the 5D Mark II gets it right most of the time, but in bright backlit situations it can have problems, with clipped highlights not unusual. Here is an example where the highlights in the hair and some of the stone in the background are completely overexposed. In this case, even when working from the RAW file it was not able to recover the lost detail.
In other conditions the matrix metering behaves much like any other camera, requiring positive compensation in mostly white conditions, and negative compensation if mostly black subject matter is being photographed. In low light and indoor situations, the 5D Mark II tends to underexpose slightly, which is the same as the original 5D. In challenging lighting situations, the use of spot metering would be the best solution, as the spot meter is very accurate.
The weather sealing in the 5D Mark II, while not as good as some other cameras in its class (the Nikon D700 is better, for example), never presented a problem in use. We used the 5D Mark II in moderate rain and for 3 hours with snow falling continuously, and while the photographer was pretty miserable, the camera did not miss a beat. The biggest problem in adverse conditions is keeping the snow and rain out of the viewfinder and the front of the lens. In daily use, it is unlikely that the 5D Mark II will have problems due to its lack of true weather sealing.
|This image illustrates the kind of snow conditions the 5D Mark II survived without any problems.|
We did not get an opportunity to shoot any sports or fast moving action with the 5D Mark II, but it seemed to have the same issues as the original camera, in that it was more accurate and faster using the center focus point than the other non-cross type ones. In low light conditions, with any lens F2.8 or slower, the camera had difficulty focusing with anything but the center focus point. But overall the focus system felt the same as it did in the original 5D - hardly surprising since it is, as far as we know, unchanged in this model.
We did spot a touch of mild banding at ISO 25,600 (and only at that setting), though it was neither prevelant nor strong enough to be considered an issue (and you can more or less get rid of it entirely using chroma noise reduction when working from raw. The examples below show the extent of the problem (you'll need to download the full res files to see it):
|ISO 25,600, 1/30 sec||ISO 25,600, 1/80 sec|
Only the best glass will do
Full frame cameras (or more accurately, lenses) tend to have more problems with edge sharpness and chromatic aberration towards the edges of the frame than crop sensor cameras, something that becomes more and more of a problem as the resolution of sensors increases. The 5D Mark II is no worse than the 1Ds Mark III in this regard, but if you want to get the most of the sensor, you'll need to use high quality primes, or 'L' Zooms.
Canon has wisely continued to offer the 5D Mark II in a kit with the EF 24-105mm F4.0 L IS USM (introduced with the original 5D). This lens does suffer from distortion at both the wide end and the long end, but resolution and sharpness-wise it is very well matched to the 21 Mp sensor (not to mention that it has a good range and is perfect as a everyday standard lens). Canon has in the past had problems with wide angle lenses on full frame cameras, but have addressed the situation in the last couple of years with the introduction of the EF 16-35mm F2.8 L II USM, the EF 14mm F2.8 L II USM and the EF 24mm F1.4 L II USM. One of the strengths of the 5D Mark II is the wide range of both high quality (and expensive) 'L' lenses, and of more moderately priced and lighter lenses that cover most applications.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Specifications
- 3 What's New
- 4 What's New
- 5 Body & Design
- 6 Body & Design
- 7 Body & Design
- 8 Operation & Controls
- 9 Operation & Controls
- 10 Displays
- 11 Displays
- 12 Menus
- 13 Menus
- 14 Performance
- 15 Features
- 16 Features
- 17 Features
- 18 Features
- 19 Video
- 20 Software & Raw
- 21 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 22 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 23 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 24 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 25 Photographic tests (DR)
- 26 Vignetting/Shading
- 27 Photographic tests
- 28 Compared to
- 29 Compared to (JPEG)
- 30 Compared to (JPEG)
- 31 Compared to (JPEG)
- 32 Compared to (JPEG)
- 33 Compared to (RAW)
- 34 Compared to (RAW)
- 35 Compared to (RAW)
- 36 Compared to (RAW)
- 37 Compared to (sRAW1)
- 38 Compared to (High ISO)
- 39 Compared to (Resolution)
- 40 Conclusion
- 41 Samples
"With only a few hundred of these lenses still in existence, and the inability to get them serviced and repaired if damaged, one can only assume that finding one of these will only become more and more difficult as time goes on..."
Google's Pixel 2 might have the 'world's highest rated smartphone camera', but the phone's display is causing serious headaches for the company. From 'dull' colors to reports of burn-in and blue tint, some troubling reports are haunting the tech giant this week.
The WiBotic PowerPad is a three-foot by three-foot landing pad that, according to its makers, is capable of charging almost any drone wirelessly.
Hear what Adobe director of product management Tom Hogarty and Lightroom product manager Sharad Mangalick have to say about the new Lightroom CC, and the future of Lightroom Classic CC.
Phase One has released a new, 15-preset Film Styles Pack for Capture One users that gives you a total of 45 different analog 'Styles' to choose from—33 in color and 12 in black & white.
"Everyone was wearing essentially the same outfits, doing the same poses, and felt like they needed 37 versions of each pose. As irritated as I was by this, it wasn’t what annoyed me the most."
With features like full-sensor-width 4K recording, Nikon has made its most video-friendly DSLR to date in the D850. That said, there's a difference between offering a feature and implementing it well.
If you're set on investing in a seriously capable compact, no doubt these two cameras will be on your list. Here's how they square up.
Adobe's experimental Project 'Deep Fill' is an incredibly powerful and impressive, AI-powered version of Content Aware Fill. Watch the demo to see this amazing tool in action.
LEE has released a new series of Reverse ND filters that are most opaque in the middle and become progressively clearer towards the top. This makes them ideal for capturing scenes where the sun is close to the horizon.
A former New York Times photographer is suing both the newspaper and its photography director Michele McNally for over $500,000 for age discrimination and unfair classification as a freelancer for nearly a decade.
"CPS Platinum members will now enjoy next-day service, with equipment serviced and shipped the business day after an estimate is approved. For repairs that will take longer, Canon will offer next-day loaner equipment."
Irix is introducing a new filter system called the Irix Edge 100. The ultra-light, ultra-thin system is build specifically for wide angle lenses like Irix's own 15mm F2.4.
After conducting a series of safety tests, the FAA is recommending that all airlines ban cameras and other electronics with Lithium Ion batteries from checked baggage. The agency believe the risk of a catastrophic fire and explosion is too great.
The Pixentu jackets keep you and your gear warm and dry, offering useful features like lens and tripod pockets, in addition to some quirky ones like an extended hood to protect your camera from the rain.
Adobe gave the audience at MAX a sneak peek at some exciting new technology its developing. It's called Adobe Cloak: a highly capable Content Aware Fill-like feature for video editors.
Earlier today, Flickr moved its photo book printing service over to a third party services, and stopped offering any wall art options entirely.
The patent details a flipping rear LCD screen so large, Canon has had to hide the rear dial and several buttons underneath.
We've added a selection of extra images to our Nikon D850 gallery. As part of the process of rounding off the review we made sure a number of us had shot the camera in a variety of situations, we've added those shots to the gallery to give a broad cross section of how the camera performs.
Wiral LITE is an affordable, easy-to-use cable cam system that can do things a portable slider simply can't do, and go places no slider would dare go.
Not happy with the recent demise of Lightroom as a stand-alone, subscription free service? Macphun's got your back... or they will in 2018.
Once connected to a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone, Pholio automatically searches through the device storage and backs up all images and videos—complete with auto-tagging and intelligent search capabilities.
The 360 Round uses eight horizontally positioned camera pairs and one upward-pointing single lens to capture and livestream panoramic 4K 3D content.
Introduced just three years ago, the Samsung NX1 was both a technological tour-de-force and a great camera to use, earning one of the highest scores we've ever awarded and winning our 2015 Innovation Award. But its short-lived run in the photo world leaves us wondering what could have been.
The Fujifilm X-E3 is styled like a classic rangefinder, but features a built-in touchscreen, AF joystick, and electronic viewfinder – truly an old school meets new type of camera. Lay some eyes on our sample gallery to see how it performs in the real world.
Like it or not, Adobe is embracing a cloud-centric, AI-rich future with the introduction of Lightroom CC. And that's a great thing, though you may not see it now, argues Rishi Sanyal.
The announcement of a more cloud-integrated Lightroom product sees the death of the company's standalone version. This need to make payments in perpetuity (whether you choose Lightroom Classic or CC), chips away at the idea that your Lightroom library is a long-term solution, argues Richard Butler.
The XPro-C 2.4GHz wireless flash trigger that Godox released for Canon users last month now has a Nikon equivalent—the aptly named XPro-N. Sony, Fujifilm and MFT versions are in the works.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, camera and lens maker Sigma is extending its standard product warranty to cover damage caused by these three natural disasters.
The F4 Plus can can capture 360° stills, videos and broadcast livestream footage at 8K resolution... that's 7680 x 3840 pixels!