Canon EOS 5D Mark II review: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Full frame, CMOS sensor. Incredibly clean images at most ISO levels. Excellent battery life. Bright and clear viewfinder. Great image quality, as expected.

The Bad No manual overrides in movie mode. Automatic white balance isn't great in artificial light.

The Bottom Line The long-awaited successor to the 5D has arrived in the guise of the 5D Mark II. With its competent HD video functionality and excellent image quality, this camera doesn't disappoint.

CNET Editors' Choice Apr '09

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The long-awaited successor to the EOS 5D has arrived in the guise of the 5D Mark II. Naturally the most curious feature on this camera, and the one that has caused the most controversy, uproar and extreme interest, is the high-definition movie functionality on the camera. Setting that aside for just a moment, we have to remember this is still just a camera — after all, the Nikon D90 was the first to introduce movie recording (albeit at 720p).

Design

From the outside nothing has changed too much from the old 5D, apart from some streamlined areas and slight textural differences. The look and feel is quite similar to the standard Canon configuration, with buttons having the same feel and layout to the older 30D, 40D and 50D models. It tips the scales at just under a kilogram as body only, which is relatively lightweight for a camera of its class.

Features

Inside the 5D Mark II though, things certainly are different when compared to its predecessor, with a 21.1-megapixel CMOS sensor that apes the 5D's resolution considerably. The auto focus system remains the same as the 5D, at 11 points, and somewhat pales in comparison with fellow competitors from Nikon such as the D700 with 51 points and D3/D3X.

There's also a new battery supplied with the camera (LP-E6) which is purported to be around 30 per cent more powerful than the previous battery and is rated at 850 shots in normal usage conditions, 200 shots with live view activated, or for two hours in movie mode.

The camera is water resistant to an extent, meaning light splashes and small amounts of rain won't hurt the camera body too much. As is starting to become standard on many Canon dSLRs is the 3-inch LCD screen, with a 920,000-dot resolution. It's a considerable improvement on its predecessor's. The viewfinder covers a 98 per cent field of view and is lovely and bright.

As for the video functionality, it's full 1080p (1920x1080) and the camera has a built-in microphone as well as a microphone input. HDMI output is also standard, though note there is no cable supplied.

Performance

The 5D Mark II has a quoted burst rate of 3.9 frames a second, which is definitely not a speedy performer compared to some of the competition and it's a fair bit slower than the 1Ds Mark III. With continuous shooting activated, we managed to squeeze out around 3.5 frames per second shooting on full quality, and with JPEG shooting rather than RAW, the camera performed admirably in terms of buffer usage.

Even after a whopping 1400 shots, the battery still had life in it. (Credit: CBSi)

Remember how we said the battery was tested by Canon to last 850 shots in normal usage conditions? Well, on a full charge we managed to squeeze out over 1460 shots during a photo shoot, involving the use of a speedlite and continual use of the LCD screen in reviewing photos. Even then there was still a fair amount of battery life left as you can see from the status screen to the right.

Image quality

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Where to Buy

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Part Number: CNETCanon EOS 5D Mark II

Typical Price: $4,799.00

See manufacturer website for availability.