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Canon 5D Mark II first impressions

My first day with the 21.1 megapixel Canon EOS 5D Mark II (“5DM2”) afforded only snapshot handheld shooting, even at night (and my time is limited for a few more days). I intend to cover the EOS 5D Mark II in DAP, though it certainly will take more time than the D3x did, as the holiday break afforded far more study time than this new year will. Quality coverage takes numerous hours to shoot, cross-check, and write, it can’t be rushed.

iPod field trip to MacWorld?
Canon 5D Mark II + Zeiss ZE 50mm f/1.4 Planar, ISO 50, 1/400 sec @ f/5.6


My first impressions of the 5DM2, all preliminary based on very limited shooting—

The smaller size and lighter weight are a welcome relief over the D3x and Canon 1Ds Mark III. It’s a heck of a fun little camera to shoot, and I like the rear LCD better than any LCD I’ve seen before—bright and clear.

Live View mode works really well, far better for handheld shooting than the brain-damaged Nikon implementation (the numerous issues I detail in my D3x review in DAP).

Same mid-grade 5D build quality in the 5D Mark II, with the cheesy battery compartment door and sliding compact flash cover. This is a solid camera, but it just isn’t in the same league as a Canon 1 series or Nikon D700/D3/D3x. So get one for less money and be satisfied.

The viewfinder is not nearly so nice as the 1Ds Mark III or the Nikon D3. Check the prices and don’t complain! The stock screen is difficult for manual focus.

I love the balance and feel with the Leica 90/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH (using an adapter). The Zeiss ZE 50/1.4 Planar is also a very nice match in size and balance.

Noise is much harder to characterize, one reason I think “by the numbers” noise measurements are useless—the character of noise has visual effects.

Moscone Flags
Canon 5D Mark II + Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH, ISO 3200, 1/25 sec handheld

I did some night shooting in San Francisco. The Canon 5D Mark II handles noise very differently than the Nikon D3/D3x (at least using Capture NX2 and DPP), and once I run a proper A/B test with the same lens, this area will be explored in detail. But my first impression is that In some ways the 5D Mark II looks very good for noise, in others ways it’s distracting noise (hot pixels, streaking), as well as a lot of chroma noise. I also observe the widely-reported “black dots” problem using the as-shipped firmware 1.0.6.

NIght walker
Canon 5D Mark II + Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH, ISO 3200, 1/100 sec handheld

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