Canon 5D Mark II / First Impressions

Posted by Alex

I did it. I am now a very proud owner of the Canon 5DMKII. It took months (years) of deliberation (pretty much since Scott wrote this article) and I finally pulled the trigger. I know the rumors are swirling about Mark IIIs and the etc, but once I heard about the upcoming 24fps firmware update I decided it was time. No more waiting. I’ve been shooting on a Nikon D40 since I started school and it was definitely time for an upgrade. (Though I still love the SB 600 flash — took the photo above)

As soon as I pulled it out of the box I was in awe. People say that Canons feel cheaper due to the construction materials, but I disagree. This thing feels like it could level a small village if thrown at the proper angle. Pair the body with the kit lens (24-105) and you have one serious piece of machinery. I purchased through Adorama because they seemed to have the best package deal. Just about everyone sells the body for $2499 at the moment; Adorama throws in a shoulder bag and a 16GB card. (Update: Or at least they used to…it must have been a temporary special price because now that package is listed higher. Keep an eye out in case it comes around again.)

My shots so far have been decent. Honestly I’ve only had it for a few days and have yet to really take it for a photography spin. I’ve mainly been experimenting with the HD video feature (a large part of why I bought the camera). After numerous videos of my shoes and other random subjects I decided to test it out in a music video scenario. Nothing crazy, just a acoustic performance like I usually do on Youtube (till now I’ve been shooting on an embarrassingly old MiniDV camcorder that is almost twice the size of the Canon). You can view the result here.

An unexpected issue with the completion of that video was the post-production file format mess. Apparently Canon had no interest in making things easy on us (although that looks like it will change this month). I ended up following the steps outlined here on Vincent Laforet’s blog with great success. I imported to the desktop, converted H.264 to Apple Prores (tanked my drive space), imported to Final Cut, sent to Color and back, exported using Quicktime H.64 compression, then uploaded to Youtube. Kind of a long roundabout process, but things went smoothly. As is true for the still shots as well, you immediately notice how much more control you have over the image in editing mode. Edits that used to crunch up image quality or produce unwanted noise no longer do so at all. The picture is so clean that you can tweak away to your heart’s content without ever losing the integrity of the image.

As I said, I’m just getting my feet wet with this thing and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it once I field test it a lot more. I’ll be going to Japan in May and am looking at that trip as a great opportunity to take thousands and thousands of pictures and crash my hard drive with absurd amounts of footage. As I continue to experiment with this wonderful object I’ll put together a more complete review. In the meantime, for my sake, cross your fingers Canon *doesn’t* come out with any shiny new cameras anytime soon.

25 Comments Leave A Comment


Jefta says:

March 9, 2010 at 4:10 am

congrats with the camera man! i’ve been working a bit with the 5d for some video assignments and i wouldnt want to use anything else. The post production is a bittle of a pain indeed, but video is an exact science so i kinda expected it too.

When it comes to the feel: i’ve been working with a rig for video (which i highly recommend) but as soon i got it off the rig and started to take pictures, it just felt awesome. Weird to have that feeling just holding a camera.

i just cant wait to own one!

oh, and try to use the canon 24 1.4 on it.
it’ll blow your mind.


Oink says:

March 9, 2010 at 6:10 am

How about audio? I’ve seen these things around and I find it funny that we may be back to the old days of clappers and DAT recording, then syncing up in POST. Any word as to thoughts on audio enhancements?

Great looking video, BTW. What a great test.


Cornelius says:

March 9, 2010 at 6:14 am

Welcome to the club Alex. These are the lenses I use (and that I couldn’t do without)….

Canon 50mm F1.4
Canon 24-70mm F2.8L EF USM
Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM

Currently saving for a 17-40mm super wide.

It truly is an incredible piece of kit, I came from the Nikon D90 and as far as video goes it’s not even comparable. i have to say I’ve eaten my words with regards to saying anything that is achievable on a Canon is achievable on a Nikon, it isn’t. There is just something about the tone and range of the images that is irrefutably better.

Good luck with it man, I am sure you will absolutely love it.

*cue Scott getting one within the month….


Cornelius says:

March 9, 2010 at 6:17 am

Oink the Magic Lantern firmware hack allows Manual gain control with no AGC. So all is good on the 5D with regards to audio. :)


Jeremy Brooks says:

March 9, 2010 at 8:02 am

Congrats on the camera! This really is an amazing piece of machinery. I think you’ll grow to love it the more you use it.

I’ve had no problem importing the video it produces into iMovie (I don’t have FCP). Import/edit/export, no problem.


mza says:

March 9, 2010 at 9:59 am

These seem to be the new gold standard for skate videos. There are a few dudes who use them with glide-cam rigs and weird mic attachments and the results are amazing.
just saw a pic of the mic attachment on
also check out some of imperial productions (vinny minton) edits with the glide-cam.

color me coveting.


AH says:

March 9, 2010 at 10:33 am

I think the pricing changed because Canon brought out a new Rebate on Sunday pairing the 5DII and lens.

I -think- Abes Of Maine, for example, pushed up the price of their 100mm 2.8L to offset the rebate a little.


WAcreative says:

March 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

So jealous… I can do alot with my FujiFolm S9000, can’t imagine the freedom I would have with the 5D… Anyone want to donate one? lol


Dan Rowan says:

March 9, 2010 at 11:26 am

Awesome mini review. I’ve been wanting to get a Canon 5dmkII for a while now, especially after seeing test footage and multiple reviews. This is just another one to add to the list.


NAVIS says:

March 9, 2010 at 11:38 am

Yeah… well… I have a Hasselblad 500cm.

*huffs and puffs away completely jealous*

Awesome camera. I want I want I want. 24 fps though!? Holy crab apples.


John says:

March 9, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Beautiful camera, but I don’t think your worries should be aimed at the next newest camera from Canon. I’d be concerned with the purchase of a better lens. If anything, the glass has more impact on IQ than the camera itself does.


Jay Williams says:

March 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Alex, please don’t post stuff like this. It might just push me over the edge and force me to buy it.

Ok, in all seriousness, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the 5D MKII, so please do post more!


Nate Kinnison says:

March 10, 2010 at 10:18 am

Hey Alex, been a blog stalker and fan a while. I’m a professional photographer with a music degree – go figure. Really nice video and the cover is outstanding. I love the 5DmarkII, I was an early adopter after the original 5D. I love the mark II. The video at 24 is going to be nuts – supposedly paired with enhanced audio control in the firmware update that’s coming down the pike.

Can you expand on what you did for audio in the video? I see the standard Shure mic, but what was the rest of the setup with the acoustic, and actual recording – was it in camera?

Again, impressive and inspiring.

Best, Nate


Led Fu'ard says:

March 10, 2010 at 11:27 am

I can imagine how your fingers twiddling around to an air 5d when you go to bed, happy for you Alex :)

Had been following Scott and iso50 since 2006 and i have to say, i’d stopped buying newspapers since.

Anyways, i’m in production and worked on TVC’s, corporates and music videos. from HVX200 P2 to RED and early last year I found my aged-defying Nikon FMII, that pretty much kick start me back with my compact passion again.

Did some test on 5D for a HSBC commercial early last year, it was amazing but at the same time scary because we knew, the post work is gonna, work us. Which it did on FCP and we went 5d workflow hunting on the net.

And the result was stunning.

Then 7D came out, i have to say, from the test i’ve seen, it is stunning too, with 25fps, that would certainly work well with my personal machine. But i haven’t put my finger on a 7D so i wouldn’t know the quality compare to 5D.

Which brought me here today posting for the 1st time :)

Any hands-on in sights guys? 7D is cheaper and smaller, but at the end its the quality we want as end result.

Cheers guys and happy hunting Alex!


thebaldprofessor says:

March 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

get a better lens… a nice camera with a crappy, kit lens is like a mcintosh amp with a pair of audiovox speakers…


Nate Kinnison says:

March 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

The 24-105 4L is still an L series lens. It’s no 18-55 cheapo. On a separate note, I thought they just came out with the FCP patch for easier DSLR import?


Fred says:

March 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Check out used camera shops, there are some beautiful manual lenses from the 70’s that will work with the right adapter. There are also plenty of meticulous reviews of vintage gear on the web.

If you plan to shoot allot of video smooth manual controls might be more useful than zoom or autofocus.

Right now I’m trying to track down a Minolta Rokkor 58mm f1.2 to adapt to my 5d.


Frames Per Second says:

March 12, 2010 at 10:21 am

I read you got this because you are excited about the video. I think there is a major miss understading on your part about what these cameras can do vers lets say a true HD video camera. sure these cameras can shoot well and you can shoot some pretty good video with it .to the comsumer reading the ratios your stoked!!!is Lets take a step back and look at this for a sec. The Canon 5D Mk2 has a rolling shutter so it is still subjected to the skewing problem with fast movements. Resulting image quality that is crisp but no better then DV.

These cameras dont eve use the whole sensor when in video mode witch will not help you while shooting progressive because you need the whole senser to really capture the image with the setting full potential. I hear allot of talk about how good this camera is for this and that from consumers who know nothig about video and this. They clame this can shoot progressive…but the results i have seen are poor.

do a test.. i shoot allot of stuff for clients on this camera. but i would never say it shoots good video. Because it doesnt. if you are making home videos??? cool, this will do.. The footage is a crisper version of DV.

Take a Canon 5D Mark 2 and pan real fast while in video mode. You will see the result real quick that i am talkig about here.

I would do some research about this before writig a whole post on it like this.. I know allot of DPs out there that laugh at things like this. such as my self.


Mark says:

March 13, 2010 at 6:23 am

I just got one recently too..and I’m already in LOVE! I can’t wait, just like trick out all the features.

Happy Shooting!


ha! says:

March 14, 2010 at 7:39 am

“I would do some research about this before writig a whole post on it like this.. I know allot of DPs out there that laugh at things like this. such as my self.”

I laugh at frames per second’s use of grammar and spelling: miss understanding, allot, my self, talkig, vers, lets, your/you’re, witch, senser, etc…

Really, can you trust a “DP” who can’t spell “sensor”?


Marquis Mosley says:

March 16, 2010 at 4:56 am

The 5D footage looks beautiful… I’m currently looking at Panasonic’s GH1 which already has 24p and looks just as stunning. Again, the codec they chose seems to create post production nightmares, but for the price ($1,200) you can’t really complain. It’s a micro 4/3 Camera, but with the right adapter, you can pretty much use any lens on it. It’s smaller/lighter, and comes with an ok lens too (14-140mm). The flip-out LCD is really great for low angle shots as well. Either way, you can achieve beautiful shots with these cameras. I can’t see how anyone would think otherwise.