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At first glance the Mark II looks very similar to the original EOS 5D, and that's surely intentional, firstly there wasn't a huge amount wrong with the original design, secondly it's very "EOS family line" and finally it provides a clear upgrade path for 5D owners. In the recent XXD models, Canon have moved the menu and playback buttons to accommodate the rear LCD. With the new 5D, Canon have managed to keep the rear control layout almost the same, despite the larger LCD.

Design-wise there's been a squaring of the shoulders of the camera and the viewfinder chamber. The controls have undergone the same modifications we saw between the EOS 30D and 40D, with dedicated Picture Style and AF-ON buttons on the rear and a rearrangement of the function of the buttons on the top of the camera (mostly to facilitate easier change of ISO sensitivity). Apart from the obviously larger LCD monitor, the other changes are more subtle additions including the IR sensor and microphone on the front, and the ambient light sensor and speaker on the rear.

Construction and environmental seals

As you can see from the first image below the body is made up of three pieces of magnesium alloy, the only plastic elements being the sides and the base. With the advent of the Mark II Canon are finally talking about the dust / water resistance of the body, the second image below shows these seals, Canon's description: "The battery compartment, memory card door, LCD and the camera buttons are all fitted with sealing materials (indicated in red). In addition the adoption of high precision split-level alignment of the magnesium-alloy external covers, high precision dial construction and external rubber grip covers (indicated in green), has improved the camera's dust and water resistance."

Side by side

As mentioned above the differences between the EOS 5D and Mark II are subtle but enough to bring it right up to date with the current EOS design DNA. The lines from the viewfinder chamber down the sides of the lens mount, for instance, look cleaner and help to counter the slightly top-heavy appearance of the old camera.

In your hand

The 'denser' build and slightly chunkier grip on the EOS 5D Mark II does make it feel that bit more substantial than the EOS 50D, you know there's something special about it from the moment you lift it. That said it's also lighter than an EOS-1D series (obviously) and therefore is more portable for it.

LCD monitor

As per the EOS 50D the Mark II now gets the same fantastic 3.0" 920,000 dot LCD monitor we first saw on the Nikon D3 / D300, this is a four times increase in resolution (or a doubling of horizontal and vertical resolution) compared to the old EOS 5D and it really shows. The Mark II's screen has Canon's 'Clear View' multi-layer anti-reflective coating which does appear to work quite well. The other addition is optional automatic brightness control thanks to an ambient light sensor.

LCD control panel

On top of the camera is a large LCD control panel which provides a wide range of information about camera settings and exposure. The main numeric section of the panel doubles up to provide other types of information such as the 'Busy' warning, AF point selection etc. Pressing the lamp button on the top of the camera illuminates the panel with an orange light for the metering timeout period. In line with the rest of the EOS range, ISO sensitivity is now permanently displayed.

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

*1 Shutter speed / Busy / AF point selection / Card full / Card error / No card / Error code / Cleaning

Shots remaining / Self-timer countdown / Bulb exposure time

*3 Exposure level indicator / Card writing status