The Canon 5D MKII

Posted by Scott

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Added some new images above via DPReview who have a very detailed write up of the new 5D on their site.

21-megapixel, full-frame, Digic 4, full HD video, 6400 ISO….Game over. The ridiculously anticipated Canon 5D MKII is now official and if this wasn’t worth the wait, I don’t know what is. Canon has hit each and every feature and performance threshold I was looking for in a new DSLR and then some. Expect it on store shelves by end of November with a sticker price of $2700 for the body or $3500 with the 24-105mm kit lens. Yes, that’s steep, but take a look at these features:

•14-bit conversion
•3.9FPS unlimited burst rate with JPEG using UDMA CF card, or 14 RAW (standard CF card is 78 JPEG, 13 RAW
•Four-channel readout that’s 2.2x faster than the 5D
•Lens peripheral illumination correction, like 50D, but better supposedly
•15-point auto-focus
•Creative auto mode, also like 50D
•Auto-lighting optimizer
•Three levels of noise reduction that kicks in above ISO800
•RAW, sRAW1 (10MP), sRAW2 (5MP)
•Three-inch, 920,000 dot-screen
•New and improved battery (incompatible with old one) that delivers 850 shots or 1.5 hours of video
•150,000 cycle shutter
•Magnesium alloy body
•NO built-in flash BTW

Jumping from my $2000 D80 kit to this price threshold will be a bit of a stretch, but if this new 5D lives up to it’s performance claims, it will be well worth it. I know nothing can truly be future-proof, but com’on, 21MP? That’s more than enough to make this my workhorse camera for the foreseeable technological future. I love it when a new piece of kit comes out that is so far superior to it’s rivals that it makes the decision easy for you; the 5D seems like one of those things. After my long deliberation over which DSLR to upgrade to it’s nice to see a logical conclusion. I had toyed with the idea of moving to the D90 for the HD video alone, but it’s other specs were so similar to my D80 that it just didn’t seem worth the upgrade.

In my book, the 5D MKII beats Nikon’s recently announced D700 for two reasons: HD video (which is inexplicably absent from the D700) and price (it’s $300 less than it’s Nikon counterpart). I don’t own any pricey Nikon glass, both my lenses are decidedly sub-par, but even if I did, I’d have to believe I’d still give this thing more than a passing glance. How about all you other Nikon users? Would any of you who are invested in Nikon lenses still consider moving to Canon for a camera like this?  Let us know

Via Gizmodo

34 Comments Leave A Comment


steven wade says:

September 17, 2008 at 4:44 am


i almost bought the 5D a couple of years ago, as i was sick and tired of having my wide angle lenses rendered not so wide by the non-full frame of (at the time) every other DSLR.

that said, i do have nikon glass and have used nikon for the last 17 years… but man, 21 MP? that’s unreal. i have a few friends that shoot capture one medum format digital and it’s 33 MPs, but i can’t imagine an application that 21 MP wouldn’t work for. that looks to be a great camera…and i’m really coveting it now.

processing 21 MP RAW files in photoshop seems like it would make even the fastest of computers groan a bit.


Justin says:

September 17, 2008 at 6:21 am

It looks like a great camera, but for me I’m content to wait until FF comes down below $2000.

If I was in the market for a camera of this caliber it would come down to the ISO performance of the 5DII. The D700 (and its D3 CMOS) is just such a stunner at high ISOs, and that’s a huge selling point. 12mp is plenty for most commercial work, and while HD video is kind of cool it’s not a huge selling point for me.

There’s also that rumored new nikon format coming to be early next year. That could shake things up a bit.

I just bought a D90 and I couldn’t be happier. D300 sensor for $999. Can’t beat that.


Scott says:

September 17, 2008 at 6:31 am

all good points. I think the low light / hi-iso performance is key as well. in your opinion do the comparable nikons in this range perform better than the original 5D? My friend used a borrowed 5d to take pics in some very low light settings and the results were amazing, so I can only imagine the MKII will be better. but I am curious to know what people’s experience with high end nikons and low light / hi iso settings has been. My D80 doesn’t do very well, but it is a much lower level body than say, a D3.

as for the price point, it’s a tough sell getting me above $2000 for any one piece of equipment; be it imaging, musical, or otherwise but with the D80 I learned that skimping can sometimes lead to a long drawn out bad experience with an under-performing piece of equipment leading to sub-par output and lost productivity. If I added up all the money I spent on successive Nikon models, just incrementally upgrading (coolpix 5400 on up), it would be more than enough to buy this camera. I guess my point is that if I had it all to do over again, I would have just scraped up and saved up to get the very best camera I could and enjoy years of great performance. So with a camera like this, I guess I would be looking to cut my losses and just invest in something I know I will put to work for years to come instead of the standard 2 year life cycle of my last few cameras, all the while enjoying markedly better output.


Adam says:

September 17, 2008 at 6:36 am

I’m picking up a D90 later this week, I think they arrive on Friday here. The 5D sounds awesome, but my investment in glass and the 5D being slightly out of my price range(although the 21MP is so appealing) is telling me the D90 is for me. I’m going from a D70s so thats a huge step up for me at $999.
I’ve been kicking a long with the D70s for awhile now waiting for something to really stand out. The video was a huge selling point for me. I can’t wait to mess around with it.


George says:

September 17, 2008 at 6:51 am

So so tempting. Thats £1500 if I bought it in the US, which is inviting for its features, but £2200 in the UK??? Thats $3,952!!!

Canon and adobe seem to be in the same boat as far as charging extortionate prices in the UK compared to US.

Bitching aside, you should buy it. I should expect it to work well in low light/hi iso not having a built in flash.


Agustin says:

September 17, 2008 at 7:56 am

I was really excited to see this announced this morning.

I have a 40D that I’m quite pleased with, but thing is like a dream.
I’d wait until real world uses and tests and tweaks happened before buying it, but it looks to be a gorgeous piece of hardware, yielding effortless results.


Scott says:

September 17, 2008 at 8:57 am

I’m not basing this off of MP….sure, 21MP is great, but I want to upgrade mainly for more points Autofocus and low light / hi ISO performance. HD video doesn’t hurt either. If I get this cam I will certainly get a great lens to match, would be a shame to waste such a machine on a cheap glass.


Daniel says:

September 17, 2008 at 8:59 am

You almost got me – but I go with Adam and I think he nailed it with the lenses. You certainly do not buy a great body and cheap glasses, do you? The 5D is tempting but I would not want to switch brands and spend about 5000 bucks for a decent equipment.
21MP… What job couldn’t be done with 12MP or even less? (Yes, I know there are some but not for me. Not yet. ;))
FullHD… I am mainly interested in new possibilities like low light and DOF. The small HD resolution is still fine for me.


neil says:

September 17, 2008 at 10:22 am

Um. YES PLEASE. I am a Nikon user and have stuck with my D70 for 3 or 4 years now, while secretly harboring a desire to buy the 5D for years now. This updated version might push me over the edge.


Ramune says:

September 17, 2008 at 10:57 am

You just made my day! I am insanely excited about this. When I heard about the new Nikon cameras I was just waiting for what Canon would show next. I better start saving up!


NAVIS says:

September 17, 2008 at 11:18 am


That’s all I have to say. I’m going to start saving all my pennies now. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a 5D for a while now. I have the 30D and while it’s a decent entry level DSLR, it’s very limiting. Wish I would have just purchased a 5D to begin with. Thanks for posting this and making me feel even more broke! ha.


gustaf says:

September 17, 2008 at 12:40 pm

oohhh. very nice. Very curious about the HD video. If the price/performance ratio is anywhere near my Digital Rebel from a few years back… that should be one dynamite camera! And by dynamite I do mean DY NO MITE!


yatir says:

September 17, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Don’t forget that the body is only the begining, you’ll have to invest a lot more on external flash, good glass, maybe grip and more and more…
at the end you will find yourself paying a lot more than you thought you will.
“if i have such a great body i’m sure buying some L lensess….”.
it’s never ends, there will always be a newer model.
it’s too hard to say no to the newest coolest gadgets…


Shaun says:

September 17, 2008 at 3:17 pm

“In my book, the 5D MKII beats Nikon’s recently announced D700 for two reasons: HD video (which is inexplicably absent from the D700) and price (it’s $300 less than it’s Nikon counterpart).”

I do have to disagree. The 5D MKII did not in fact trump the D700, and is only a small improvement over the original 5D. When comparing two cameras, your 2 factors, namely HD Video and a price difference of 300 doesn’t sufficiently justify the underlying technology, and of course ultimately how good a camera is.

and to add to that, neither do mega pixels. I would prefer Nikon’s D700’s 12 mp any day. Just imagine the work flow you’d have to go through with 21mp files! High MP count is just something to attract people who don’t know better. After all, many of us wouldn’t even need such a high MP count, unless you’re doing large commercial work. In that case, a medium format camera would suit you better. Nikon’s 12 MP sensor has a pixel pitch of 8.45. This means low light performance is greatly improved. What canon did to achieve a whoppin’ 21 MP is to squeeze more into a full frame sensor, making a pixel pitch of just 6.8.

Just a short breakdown:
AF points Canon Vs Nikon: 16 Vs 51
Pixel pitch Canon Vs Nikon: 6.8 vs 8.45
FPS Canon Vs Nikon: 3.9 Vs 5 (or 8 with Battery Grip)
Nikon has built in flash, Canon doesn’t
Nikon has AF fine tuning, not sure about the new 5D

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but some of the factors that i feel are wayyyy more important than having HD Video or a high MP. HD Video is a cool function to have, but I’m a photographer, not a videographer. When choosing cameras, HD Video wouldn’t be the one that helps me decide. One thing that the 5D MKII has done better in is having ISO 50, while Nikon only goes as low as ISO 100.

To sum it up, the 5D MKII to the 5D is very much similar as the 30D to the 20D. Not a huge step forward, but there are some noticeable improvements. Waiting 3 whole years for a much overdue update to their very successful 5D, Canon could have definitely come up with something more substantial.



spence says:

September 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm

What a camera indeed. 21mp at 14bits is enough for anything I could see doing with it. I think sharp outstanding prints at 20×30 is really doable. s


Scott says:

September 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm

yes, I understand the finer points of gear acquisition, but that all goes with the territory. a couple good lenses and the body would do it for me, just like with my D80. It’s not going to be cheap, but I can stagger the wide angle purchase a bit to offset the initial sticker shock.

you make a lot of good points, but everyone has a different idea of what features are important. In the last few posts I’ve done about cameras, any time anyone talks up high megapixel counts or video capabilities, a lot of people come out and say “you don’t need more than 12MP” or “this isn’t a video camera, it’s a DSLR, you can’t factor in the HD features.”. Well, for me at least, Megapixels is a very, very big deal. I continually run into walls dealing with my 10MP D80 when trying to use it’s output in large format posters. When I’m going for the really big stuff, it falls short in the resolution dept. True, all the megapixels in the world are worthless if the image quality is poor, but all things otherwise being equal, I will take all the MP’s I can get. And as for video, to me, that’s a huge deal. I guess I would call myself an aspiring videographer. I travel a lot and have to bring a lot of gear. with today’s airline policies every little thing counts and it’s just downright convenient to have two pieces of kit in one like this. So yeah, if I can get a decent performing HD video included in the price and package of my next DSLR, that’s a big benefit to me. Sure, it’s not going to trump a dedicated video camera on quality (although that is somewhat arguable depending on the model) or features, but having that capability in the same piece of kit that I always have along anyways (my DSLR) just makes it that much easier and more likely that I’ll get the good video shots when I come across them.

All that aside, this camera was just announced, there is still much to be learned before any hard decisions are made. As you know, specs are just specs; the true test of any camera is it’s real world performance. I intend to rent the D700, the 5DMKII (and whatever other comparable cams are out when these become available) and put them through their paces before making any decisions.


Grace says:

September 17, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Wow, I shoot the 5D and now I’m bloody lusting after this new one. Before it was rumored to just have a 17MP jump not 21! But that long lasting battery and high ISO noise reduction are definitely perks as well. Also, the price didn’t go up from the previous 5D.


Andrew J. says:

September 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm

I love how it seems like you’ve seriously considered buying, at different points in time, all the new dSLRs coming out at. Don’t worry…it happens to all of us!
only joking hehe


Scott says:

September 17, 2008 at 7:18 pm

yeah, for real. it’s sad but each one that comes out seems to one-up the last guy. I’m just glad I’ve held out this long. just a bit more and I think there will be a really nice field to choose from.


Jefta says:

September 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm


i mean, like, ISO6400!!!!

but i cant really imagen how that should look like considering grain and stuff… So far Nikon has been kicking Canon’s butt when it comes to iso. And as a person who loves not-to-flash this iso6400 is almost heaven.


David says:

September 19, 2008 at 5:28 am

Am I the only one who thinks that 21 megapixels is a ridiculously high number for 35mm? I mean, high end DSLR’s used to be at like 10-12 megapixels, and now suddenly 21? Doesn’t that ring any alarm bells? Mere logic tells you that they can hardly pump up the pixelcount like this without cutting back in other quality aspects. This is what an Canon engineer says:

“I am hugely disappointed because once again Canon engineers are dictated by their marketing department and had to keep up with the megapixel race. They have the technology to blow the competition away by adapting the new 50D sensor tech in a full frame format and just easing off a little on the megapixels. Although no formal testing has been done on the new model yet, judging by the spec and technology used, it just seems to be as good or as bad as the competition – not beating them by a mile (which we used to).”


Bill says:

October 1, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I am in agreement with David. I have mostly Nikon gear now, and have been curiously waiting to see what the new 5D would bring. I was disappointed the moment I saw that the chip has been cranked up to 21MP. If they had used the new 50D sensor technology and maybe 14 or 15MP, then it may have been very interesting. I just don’t see how you can double the pixel count with the same surface area, and not loose something in the way of IQ. You can process all that noise out, but at a cost. Short-sighted approach.

May just have to ‘settle’ for the old 5D with adapter rings for my Nikon AIS wide angles, or get the D700.


Guy says:

October 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm

“I just don’t see how you can double the pixel count with the same surface area, and not loose something in the way of IQ.”

What they did was redesign the pixel lenses to let in more light. I have no doubt the IQ will be better by far than the existing 5D.


Grav says:

October 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

I’ve done the math. Linearly, you have 168 pixels per mm on the sensor with the 5d mk II. This is almost the same pixel per mm resolution of the 20d. Granted the new mk II has a much better processor than the old 20d, but as a rule, if the glass of your lens resolves sharp details at 100% crop on the 20d, then in theory, it should should resolve sharply at 100% crop on the 5d. This does not figure in resolution fall of on corners of full frame course. It also does not account for the built in lens accomodation software for autofocus and fall off that is part of the 5d mk II.


Pete says:

January 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm

I just got my 5d mkII, and yeah, the 21 MP is great, but I find myself using the 10 MP setting more often. Hell, 10 MP in raw is enough for most applications. the main thing is lenses. canon just plain has more lenses than anyone else. period, point blank, the end. can you get a tilt/shift lens from nikon? I rest my case.


Agi Pinteaux says:

March 19, 2009 at 3:09 am

Nobody seems to mention the differences of the AF system on the two cameras as a point. I have spent few days reading about the two cameras 5d Mk II and the D700. People criticised the HD capability as a half way house because there is only manual focusing capability. The other sticking point is the AF point system, Nikons AF system over Canon’s 9-point system seems to be the winner for many. Horses for courses as they say, but the Nikon D700 would be in effect better for me because I shoot lots of kids portraits and in low light. But I love my 5D! I love my glasses. Whether the improvements are worth the upgrade to 5D MkII, I do not know!
I would love to have the noise reduction capability of the say D3. 21 mp also seems to be too much information. I would need a good NAS device, throwing another £900 after this potential upgrade. I think looking at the price tag and the improvements, unless money would be no object, I would wait until Canon came out with another jot of improvement on the Mk II, more sophisticated AF system + great noise reduction for instance. I am not bothered about the HD capability. Would be a nice extra but not worth specifically my money.
All in all, I am still not convinced that the 5D Mk II would warrant the extra £2000 for a body only.
And finally, this is for a good reason that the UK is also known as rip-off Britain!!!


Agi Pinteaux says:

March 19, 2009 at 6:09 am

Late note:
I also read that the weather sealing on the 5D Mk II does not reach the quality of big sisters’, the 1D’s. Also, it seems the Mk II still has difficulty following quick action, the frame per second firing rate being near the same as on the 5D, that has been long criticised after it came out.
It seems to me that Canon could have put up a better fight and for photographers like me, the improvements just do not justify the swap.
So there is much room for improvement and Canon’s priorities should lie with the improvement of the above mentioned characteristics. Maybe this time they just trickled the improvements just a little bit too slowly? Maybe they did not want to give us too much in one go and blow Nikon out the waters too much, after all they have to keep us consume and upgrade fairly regularly to worth their while, but in this economic climate people are looking for more enduring and solid investments. I know I will be waiting out to see next move.