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Like all Canon dSLRs, the 5D Mark II uses mostly electronic direct-access controls. Though I tend to prefer systems with more dedicated controls--most notably, the metering switches used by Nikon and the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900--Canon's operational metaphor still makes for relatively fluid shooting.

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Mode dial

Canon's new Creative Auto mode--a semimanual mode with capabilities you can consider an advanced Auto mode or dumbed-down Program mode, depending upon your viewpoint--seems out of place on a camera in the 5D Mark II's class. But at least Canon didn't jettison a custom setting slot to make room for it as on the 50D.

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Rear controls

The best part of Canon's dSLR designs are the the tried-and-true navigational controls, primarily the large thumbwheel and 8-way joystick. The new dedicated display toggle button (top left) is essential for switching into Live View and Movie capture mode.

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To go with its movie-capture capabilities, the 5D Mark II adds a mic input and HDMI output to the standard set of connectors on its predecessor.

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