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40 megapixels, monochrome sensor, minimalist controls.

Canon 5D Mark II at B&H $1799 — Discussion

This Canon 5D Mark II deal for $1799 is worth discussing. It is a deal for some, and perhaps not for others, depending on circumstances.

UPDATE: the price on the Canon 5D Mark III + 24-105/4L bundle has dropped by $349 to $3749, making the 24-105 lens cost only $290! (Normally $969 for the 24-105/4L by itself).

The new (May 2012) Canon 5D Mark III is priced at about $3459, but is the 5D Mark III better than the 5D Mark II? Yes, at high ISO and in certain other incremental ways. But at low ISO, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. Is it $1650 better? No way, unless some specific new functionality matters to you (like apparently much improved autofocus).

Given that Canon has no high resolution DSLR to compete with Nikon’s D800/D800E, a brand-new Canon 5D Mark II might be a good way for a Canon shooter to bide his/her time until that high-megapixel Canon option arrives. But I don’t see a reason for most shooters to spend a premium for its much more expensive 5D Mark III sibling at this time; let Canon sort the line out as Nikon continues to gain market share in DSLRs. The Canon 5DM3 simply does not represent a good value at present.

This is simply guidance for the context as I see it; every reader has his/her own needs and goals to consider.

Which brings us to the Nikon vs Canon question. Unless you’re a Canon shooter and want to remain a Canon shooter, the about $2050 Nikon D600 is only slightly more, but is 24 megapixels and with a cleaner sensor with wider dynamic range and superior color rendition. If you’re looking for a full-frame DSLR and don’t have a Canon investment to preserve, I can’t see the point of not spending another $250 and going for the D600. Or its D800/D800E sibling. Because by the time lenses, batteries and accessories are added, the difference in price becomes quite small in the perspective of the overall system cost.

Canon 5D Mark II

Bruce Z writes:

While I do not disagree with you on any of your points comparing the 2 5D's, there is one glaring omission most reviewers make when comparing the MKlll to the MK ll ... AUTOFOCUS.
Agreed. Hence my comment "unless some specific new functionality matters to you."

If you are going to rely on the autofocus system to focus your lenses, such as in theatre, sports, or reportage photography, where you can't possibly use "Live View" then not only is the MK lll worth the upgrade, it actually makes the Mk ll a totally useless camera to use under fast paced imaging. I was stunned at how sharpe my long standing "go to" lenses were once I started using the Mk lll. It's as if I was using a new prime lens as opposed to a zoom. It actually took my 24-105 f4 to a whole new level.
CPS keep checking my lenses and Mk ll and confirming that the autofocus was working within Canon's tolerances, yet, I could never rely on the system to guarantee me a pin- sharpe image more than 1 out of 10 times. (on average, 5 images were acceptable in focus, 5 were unusable, one was pin sharpe.)

My point is, if all other things being equal, then get a Mk ll, but if you need the best Autofocus system Canon has ever made, then the Mk lll is worth every nickel ... and I have yet to have an Art Director, or client look at a Mk lll image and say, "Geez man, too bad it wasn't shot on the new Nikon 800E". (which I personally would have bought over the Mk lll if not for the investment in my glass collection. Oddly though, I don't miss what I do not have in image quality, the Mk lll is very good, in and of itself.)

I know you rated the Mk lll's autofocus very favourably when it first came out, so this is not an indictment against your attention to detail. It's just that in the 5D comparisons, autofocus is not mentioned, and it is for some photographers, paramount to getting "the" image.

DIGLLOYD: Agreed, I probably should have spelled it out, this falls under what I meant by “unless some specific new functionality matters to you”.

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