Deleteyourself vs. Canon 5D MKII

Posted by Scott

So I stumbled onto the deleteyourself blog the other day (same guy who runs Photololz) and in turn found his Flickr. There were some nice shots up there but what really struck me in particular was the vivid clarity and tone of the photos. So I took a look at the EXIF data and sure enough, they were all shot with a Canon 5D MKII. As you may well know, I have been trying to decide whether to stick with Nikon for my next camera or make the leap to Canon. I think that decision is becoming much clearer now; after seeing what Tim Navis did with the EOS 30D and now this, Canon is way out in front for me. Of course, he’s also using the $1500 Canon EF 16-35mm, but I suppose a camera like the 5D deserves only the best. At any rate, these shots drive home how good the 5D is at transforming otherwise mundane scenes into exquisitely detailed compositions of incredible depth and tonal range.

On a side note, that second pic looks like it was taken right around the same place I took this one, flying into Phuket Airport. I effected the hell out of mine, so it’s hard to compare the two, but I assure you that even in it’s raw form, mine was never anywhere near this detailed and dynamic. I’m not sure how much post processing he is doing with these, I’d love to know how much Photoshop had to do with the end results. Whatever the case may be, Photoshop can’t just synthesize out of thin air the kind of clarity and depth found in these shots; I would bet there’s just some simple color balancing going on. I’m also really liking the vignetting in a lot of these, can anyone out there with a similar rig testify as to whether that is a natural artifact of that particular lens or something he did in post?

43 Comments Leave A Comment


Pierre says:

March 20, 2009 at 1:23 am

The vignetting (or most of it anyway) must be done in post. I’m using the same setup and do not see vignetting even close to this.

Not that it’s wrong, I often add some vignetting in Aperture if I think it adds to the picture.

BTW, I really love the 5D mkII. I’m often struck by the film like quality of this camera. Got some pictures here:


Gareth says:

March 20, 2009 at 2:40 am

does anyone know where you can actually buy large format photos like this? is very frustrating seeing so many great photographers and not been able to hang anything on my wall.


5050box says:

March 20, 2009 at 3:44 am

@Al I think Scott does know. With me it is the feeling of NOT feeling limited and having the right tool to do what I WANT. Not just what I CAN because I feel limited.
But I have to admit that seeing these brilliant sharp picture everywhere does not help and wakens desires… I guess you have had a camera before you bought the 5DMKII and know what I mean. ;)

@Scott I am a bit torn too. I do like the handling of the Nikons and the low light behaviour of the D700. But I also love the HD(!) video of the 5DMKII. Honestly, I hope that the D700x (or whatever it will be called) comes in late 2009 with the D3x sensor and video mode combined with a reasonable price tag. That would be my dream cam… for now.


Clark Griffiths says:

March 20, 2009 at 5:12 am


I shoot with the original 5D and have a 20mm I use every now and then that produces similar vignetting straight out of camera. The vignetting in his photos may be natural.


Tam says:

March 20, 2009 at 6:54 am

Hi Scott,
I’m a fan of your blog/music/work. Anyway, I’m really interested in the Canon 5D Mark II. I’ve discussed it on Twitter with some people and turns out that one of my favorite photographers, DJ D-Nice, uses this cam. Not only does the camera take fab photos, but apparently D-Nice uses it to shoot his amazing video series, True Hip-Hop Stories. The quality is just unreal and I imagine it’s because of the HD features. You can see what I’m talking about here: and here


Daniel Carvalho says:

March 20, 2009 at 6:58 am

While I still think the most important tool for photography is the photograher and the cameras are given too much emphasis, I will say this, that thing shoots some damn nice images dude.

My director has one and even when you zoom in 100% the stuff still looks good, and you can shoot at these crazy iso’s. A dream camera for myself.


Mark Wisniowski says:

March 20, 2009 at 7:02 am

Ah yes – the Canon 5D mk2…

I’ve had many cameras in my lifetime and I made the jump to Canon for the sake of the lens selection. Bar none, Canon has the best and largest selection of glass available. This means you purchase the 5dmk2 once and keep collecting lenses for future years to come. Canon glass is so good (L series) that they never made a change to the lenses for over 8 -12 years !

Speaking of tonal range – I was SHOCKED with the dynamic range of my photos when editing the RAW files – it’s truly remarkable and it’s a HUGE leap in technology. Also this is the first camera I have used that reproduces TRUE White Balance like 120 medium format film does…just amazing.

The HD quality of the videos are truly amazing as well. Many people think the video addition to the 5dmk2 will work great with Auto settings alone, but that is not the case…As any semi-pro videographer knows, it takes work, framing, composition, correct camera manual settings, proper manual lens focus settings to get the shot – and the canon allows you to make these settings.

It’s a truly amazing camera platform for the price – I will have my 5dmk2 for the rest of my life because I will never need higher then 21MP. All I need is more lenses ;)


Adam says:

March 20, 2009 at 7:57 am

Good find, the photos are nice. I have been wanting the new 5D II for a while now too but some reason I keep deciding if I really need it at the moment.


Brian says:

March 20, 2009 at 9:03 am

Not that the 5D II isn’t nice, but you can get the same results with a 40D or 50D and some really good glass. You can’t make up for the quality of a good lens. And the wider you go with any lens, you will start to get more natural vignetting. Most professional photographers I have spoken with, actually see vignetting as more of a hindrance anyway. You can always add more in post if you like it that way.


Scott says:

March 20, 2009 at 10:03 am

of course it’s the photographer, the camera can’t walk outside and frame up good shots by themselves no matter how advanced (well not yet anyways) or how expensive. and yes, a great photographer can make great shots with a crappy camera. But with my next camera, I want to know that the gear will never be the limiting factor. I also agree with brian, you can’t make up for the quality of a great lens. Sort of like in music, yes, you can capture some great things with a $100 mic, but damned if it doesn’t sound better through a $4500 tube condenser. Perhaps you’re going for the lofi sound or look, but with photography, I already did that with the lomo, now I want something that produces the highest quality image possible and see where I can go with that.

good to hear about the vignetting. something about these shots seems more natural than some of the vignette filters I’ve seen, I’m hoping it is.

I believe it after seeing tim Navis’ stuff last week.


ian kraus says:

March 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

I went from an original 5D to a nikon d200 now moving to a d700. existing light takes on new meaning at 6400iso.

The vignette i would get with wide angle lenses on the 5d was great on rare occasions and a pita at all other times. The camera wasnt sealed either and that wasnt ideal for shooting fashion on the beach or even some of the filthy locations we shoot at in NYC.

I agree that most of those photos would be hard to tell if they where taken with a digital rebel, d40 or similar, I took some great stuff using an old canon G1 back in the day. It’s more about the composition and choice of photoshop color treatments than the camera, especially with these shots.

These are great shots and the photographer has a great eye, however to choose between camera brands based on them is a bit of a stretch.


Scott says:

March 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

got it, that’s a good point. I guess maybe I should just look into a better lens. but then again, I have a D80 and it just doesn’t have the technical chops for a lot of the stuff I want to do. low light performance is abysmal and the big ISO numbers with low noise cost big money.


wes says:

March 20, 2009 at 11:15 am

i have a 5dm2. i have a 16-35L II. the images are outstanding. but i can also say that after a couple months of use, there are little things. if you hunt around, youll find there are people having issues. i did not have the “black dot”. i do have the “focus” issue. recently, more and more, im noticing shadows have a purple/magenta cast. it is an amazing camera. but it is not flawless. and honestly at 21MP the file size can be too big. unless im shooting for something i know is going to be printed huge. i shoot at the sraw setting which is about 11MP. at full size full res—a raw image exported as a TIFF with LZW compression from lightroom can easily be over 80mgs. that is a quick way to eat up harddrive. i would not trade this camera for anything, but i do not think it wasnt machined in heaven either.


ian kraus says:

March 20, 2009 at 11:28 am

Scott –
Many pro’s wont shoot above iso 100, even with a latest gen camera iso 100 (or 50:-) still rules. (i know depending on subject eg wedding guys, paparazzi)

Try the D80 with some quality primes.
With the exception of a 12-24mm I shoot everything on prime lenes (no zooms). I personally find zooms effect the image in a negative way.
It’s also way cheaper :-) Prime lenses like F1.4 versions of 85mm 50mm and 28mm are faster and cheaper than 2.8 zooms that cover the same lengths. F1.8-f2.0 versions are cheaper still.

I would choose a good fast prime, and a wall or other object to lean on before i go up in the iso.

This might be seen as a slightly strange photo philosophy, but you’ll find many pro think the same way.

BTW. dig your blog (i’m also a synth addict acess virus ti, v-synth, dx-7 mk11, motif es, jj’s mpc)

peace !!


Nate Kinnison says:

March 20, 2009 at 11:32 am

Scott, I just bought a mark II and I’ve owned 5ds for a while. The 5DmarkII is a beast by comparison. The basic 5D was already freakin incredible, and the range and colors – even at iso6400 – straight out of the markII are off the chain and chewing ass. If you’re in the market for a $2700 camera, this is one to buy. I definitely like the out of camera files from canon better than the Nikons, and numerous colleagues who switched to Nikon (after the D3, before the 5DmarkII) agree, but will remain because of other personal preferences.

These images are positively post produced. The vignette is not a native artifact of that lens, but I like it in post. I’m no purist. There is also a good bit of mild post processing using plugin filters and software – my bet (i recognize it). The same toning effects can be achieved by using a solid color adjustment layers, and using channels with adjustments in the red and green.

All in all these are beautiful, and fantastic examples of what the 5DmarkII can do.


jdh says:

March 20, 2009 at 11:57 am

I’ve never really been interested in the SLR format because I’m more about street photography, but new projects are going to necessitate a SLR pretty soon. I feel like a D90 or 50D (I have no brand bias yet) is plenty sufficient, but I’d rather futureproof my purchase as much as possible — oh, and I may need video capabilities or large prints. I’d rather be limited by my own talent or my clients than by equipment.

I can justify the $2700 on the body, but I’m scared of how much I’ll have to spend to get a usable system. Memory cards, at least one versatile lens to start, battery grip, etc. for what I need to be able to do. There’s a lot to like about that new Panasonic GH1 for the pricetag…

Anyone have any thoughts? I’d love the wisdom of the crowd. I need to purchase A camera soon and feel like this is the one, but it’s a big spend. I still need a new travel camera too, but that’s another story (DP2?).


NAVIS says:

March 20, 2009 at 11:57 am

In one of my Powder magazines, they had an interview with a photographer who said it best, “Nikon or Canon? Canon or Nikon? I get asked this question often. It’s not the brand, it’s your brain. One year Canon has the best model and the next it’s Nikon’s turn. Just go with one and stick with it.”

I obviously use the 30D. I want to upgrade to the 5D so I can have 1) more mega pixels for larger prints and 2) Full frame. The 5D does have this film like quality to it. Going from cropped to full frame just opens up a whole new ball game.

The only thing that bugs me about my camera is that it’s really grainy at any ISO above 200 (Nikon def. has the upper hand here) and that the focus can be whack. I shot with my neighbor’s 50mm f1.2 L glass a few times and that was a dreeaaaam. It’s a $1500 lens and it was amazing. The colors are beautiful. It’s super fast and quiet and feels like you’re driving a Bentley. But when you have an f/1.2… who needs a high ISO setting? haha

I’d say just get the original 5D. It’s a lot cheaper than the MKII and a solid camera. You’re going to find things you don’t like about any camera you buy. Unless you plan on utilizing the 21mp and HD Vid. on the MKII… there’s no reason for it (imo – but Mark’s post is pretty convincing to get the MKII). I’d also drop the money for an L series lens with a 5D. Maybe you should just rent a Nikon and Canon for a day or two and play with them and see which one suits you best.

If I get a chance, I’ll post some unedited photos of my stuff. I try to not to tweak them too much. I try to keep them as natural as possible. Even unedited, they’re still great photos.


Scott says:

March 20, 2009 at 11:58 am

thanks for the info, I had been thinking of getting a 50mm fixed, I might have to borrow one and see how I like it.

I would bet you could get similar results with a similarly spec’ed nikon, but yeah, I wish the lenses were interchangeable, sucks to have to pick one platform or the other.


Nate Kinnison says:

March 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Scott, the canon 50mm 1.4 is a killer lens. It’s not the 1.2, but I shoot with it often and love it. The L series glass is great, but if you aren’t in that market, the 50 1.4 is a must – and it’s in the $350 range.


ian kraus says:

March 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Jayson –
dont feel to bad at all.
reasons i personally prefer nikon.

1. Build quality and weather sealing. I drop my camera too often. I shoot in dirty environments and bad weather. My 5D was a PITA and felt cheaply made vs nikon in this regard.

2. Shadows. Nikon and Canon deal with shadows differently and i prefer the more tone neutral shadows of nikon.

3. Noise. I personally find nikon noise much more like film grain than Canon noise.

4. Skin tones. In the studio I prefer skin tones from nikon.

5. Auto focus + metering consistency. see google.

6. Cheap second hand primes. – Nikon used to be the pro standard back in 35mm days and you can pick up great deals on former pro lenses second hand. Like my F1.2 55mm.

These are my personal preferences and what i finds works for me. I totally respect a different photographer may well prefer the Canon for their own shooting needs.


ian kraus says:

March 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

while both nikon and canon 50mmm f1.4 are around $350+ the F1.8 versions are only about $100 new and give up very little image quality. I honestly only choose the 1.4 because I was able to expense it on a job. ( already have a F1.2 )

Composition and lighting skills are far more important than the small differences between the two brands. Canon was first one with a really useable image quality and i’m sure over the next decade the top performance will swing back between the brands. Meanwhile some kid with a holga or $100 casio will be taking the shots we all admire.


Zach says:

March 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I had the opportunity to play around with 5DII this past weekend and I really loved it.

It’s funny but everyone I’ve spoken with that has one says some slight variation of the same thing…roughly: “This is the first digital camera I’ve owned that I felt like I got ‘film quality’ images with.”

Granted these are not professional photographers, so the comparison there isn’t to mark II’s or III’s, but I think everyone is just relieved/elated to feel like they can mimic film with a digital camera they can actually afford.


Kristian says:

March 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm

// From Gizmodo

Nikon’s D400 supposedly made an appearance on Nikon’s German site. And the specs are just what you’d expect.

It’s got a 15.3-megapixel sensor with a standard ISO range of 200-6400, 6FPS bursts, and yes children, full HD video recording, which would make it Nikon’s first to shoot in 1080p. //

No doubt Canon’s take superb photos, it’s just there build quality which whilst not being bad, just never seems to match Nikons and for some reason has always niggled me. I love the amount of detail Canons pick up.


DavidLang says:

March 20, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Scott, you are way too obsessed with camera makes and specs, and not interested enough in the act of photography itself. Most current-generation DSLRs could take the photos above, it’s the photographer’s eye and post-processing that makes them what they are.

Canon or Nikon – there is no difference.


Scott says:

March 20, 2009 at 5:56 pm

I guess I don’t really buy into that way of seeing things. I mean of course — like I said above — the photographer is the most important part of the equation, the camera doesn’t take pictures by itself… but I have used different cameras in identical scenarios with the same settings and some gave me results that I felt were more readily usable. yes, if you give a great photographer a disposable camera, they are going to take great pictures. but at a certain point I don’t just want great looking pictures. When I am shooting products, for instance, I need a lot more than just good framing and lighting and a good eye for composition, I need a camera that can accurately capture the subject in a technical respect…as in the best possible reproduction of reality, not something that will hang on my wall. I am sure you could work out the kinks of either platform in post, but I am interested in a camera that places the fewest roadblocks between what I am shooting for and the finished product.

I guess it’s like guitars or synthesizers. people always come over and ask why I have so many of each, they think if they all do the same thing then why do you need more than one? yes, to a certain degree they all do the same thing, just slightly (or not so slightly) differently, each with their own character. I have experienced that the same is true of cameras and lenses. Since I am not a professional photographer, I need to make sure that I get the setup with a character that best suits me, because that’s the only one I’m getting.

anyways, you’re right, I’m sure I would be happy with either setup, but for that kind of money I’m not just going to leave that to chance, hence the obsessive discussion of details and specs. But if you’re trying to say that I should be taking the same quality pictures with my D80 and tamron budget lens as with a 5D and some high end lens, I would have to disagree. I literally sat a 5D next to my D80, set both up exactly the same and shot the same subject, the 5D , of course, produced a much better image. not better as in “this is now magically a work of art all the sudden because I bought a 5D”, but better in that it had truer color reproduction, tonal range, clarity, etc.


yann+ says:

March 21, 2009 at 6:23 am

Lots of good comments here ! I also have a D80 and 5 lenses and wanted to do the same as u but decided to first just try out D700 or wait for the next upgrades. I’d say that video takes quiet some life out of the sensor so . . post production can do a lot of magic, maybe upgrade that knowledge also. I also like this cam comparison –



Jess says:

March 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I shoot with an original 5d and use a range of prime lenses and 2 zooms for weddings. I usually get a smooth vignette when I shoot wide open: less than f/2.0 with a prime and f/2.8 with a zoom. It definitely looks natural above, maybe slightly enhanced by adding a little black in post, say in Lightroom.


James says:

March 22, 2009 at 7:31 am

This is my current set up –

Nikon D90 body (came from D80 and I have to say Scott it is a very noticable difference, especially with the AF system, IQ and low light noise levels).

Nikon 50mm F1.8 Prime – amazing, just amazing lens. Amazing for heavy DOF shots. Portraits, product shots, abstract shots and in particular compliments the D90 HD video beautifully as it’s really easy to manually focus when ‘running and gunning’. Best £100 I ever spent.

Sigma 17-70mm Lens – absolutely superb bit of kit. Don’t bother trying to use in MF mode as it’s a bitch to MF but so responsive in AF mode it doesn’t matter. I can take anything from beautiful wide angle landscapes to macro shots of insects with this bad boy. Will focus on subject matter around 1inch from the lens no problem.

Sigma 15mm Fisheye – great for landscapes, quirky urban shots and again works great with the HD video mode for skating vids etc.

Tamron 55-200mm Zoom – cheap, versatilve, lightweight zoom lens. I don’t really require much need for a zoom lens but this does the job on the odd occasion I do.

I have to say that the shots you have posted are all possible using my set up, IMO. The tonal range you see is certainly not because it’s a 5D MKII, it’s because he’s messed about with his curves alot. Most SLRs will capture that range of tone, you just have to bring it out! I have used the 5D and I have to say when you put the shots side by side with a D90 there is not a hell of alot in it.

The D90 video mode definitely has alot of problems but considering it’s essentially a nice little add on I absolutely love it. I am also glad it shoots in 24p mode as opposed to the Canon’s 30fps. Makes for far more cinematic shots (even if it is only 720p as opposed to Canon’s 1080p).

Here is a little test film I made a couple of weeks ago….

Turn HD OFF, otherwise it crashes around 4 minutes. Feel free to turn it on to see the quality though!

Anyway seriously Scott I understand the want to switch to the 5DMKII as I had a D80 and got a little annoyed by certain things, but don’t use photos like the ones you have posted as an indicator, they are without a doubt possible with the D90, no problem at all. My 2 cents!


Daniel Weisser says:

March 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

Hi Scott, if you want to save money you can easily replay the Canon EF 16 – 35mm f2.8 L with the (cheaper, but still amazing) Canon EF 17 – 40mm f4 L.

Hope you are well!

best wishes,


Christof says:

March 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Not unlike yourself, I am also in this dilemma (albeit a slightly different one). I have been shooting with a decent Sony A100 setup since Sony bought Konica Minolta, but I’ve been longing for an equpment upgrade. Simply put, the question is: do I really want to jump on the Canon bandwagon, abandoning $3.5k worth of accumulated Sony/Minolta gear? I’m currently a second year student at UBC (Canada), so I don’t have a huge surplus of green lying around my dorm to dish out for the 5D mkII; but perhaps I can afford the not-yet-obsolete 12.8MP 5D once I sell off my current equipment. I’ve always found the idea of a full-frame DSLR intriguing and have generally only heard good things about the 5D. I’ve been on the fence between upgrading with Sony and making the leap to Canon for quite some time, but after reading this thread, the Canon front is gaining considerable weight and it’s looking increasingly likely that I will make the jump after final exams are over. I found a very enticing deal on a Canon 5D with a vertical grip and a couple of extra batteries that I will likely pursue.

On another note, I don’t exactly remember how I came across your blog, but it’s becoming harder and harder to accept the fact that there was a time during which I didn’t have it bookmarked. Your music, digital design and photography, among other things, have been a great inspiration. I love the unparalleled, unique way that you combine raster and vector graphics with more physical, organic artifacts to create such visually stunning artwork. I can only hope that I will one day be able to model some of your amazing innovation in my own digital endeavors.

I wish you all the best with your Nikon/Canon predicament, and look forward to reading about your decision in the future.



Deleteyourself (mike) says:

March 23, 2009 at 4:55 am

Hey Scott, thanks for the kind words…I’m actually sitting under 3 of your posters!

I almost never use photoshop when post-processing my photos. Everything is done in Adobe Lightroom, and most of the “effects” you’re referring to are just changes in white balance and in some cases upping the exposure and contrast. Of course all of that is done with RAW format.

Oh, two of the photos up there were taken with a 30D and a 10-22mm glass and one was with a measly old Digital Rebel! That being said, the 5D completely changed my photography game mostly due to the camera’s inherent image quality and also it’s crazy ISO. Sometimes I’ll put it in Auto-ISO and be indoors in low light and it has NO problem taking great, noiseless photos. It has saved a lot of possibly blurry and crap photos and made them awesome.


Jayson says:

March 23, 2009 at 7:14 am

I agree that you have to have the equipment capable of doing what you want. In 2004 I was shooting a ‘prosumer’ Nikon Coolpix 8700, it was what I could afford at the time. I started a new job in 2005 and began to use a D200 then. I ended up realizing I needed to make the jump to SLR and shoot a D40x now (again, what I can afford). Sometimes a particular camera or lens can’t take the shot you want.


Shawn Parkinson says:

March 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

We just got a 5D MKII at my work and it’s amazing. Pair it with lightroom 2.0 and you’ve got yourself a lot of camera.


Scott says:

April 6, 2009 at 2:36 am

thanks for the reply… good to know. I definitely need to look into lightroom, have been all photoshop until now. also started working with RAW, loving it. oh, and nice to know about the different cameras… hearing that you go those with the lower end stuff makes me ever more interested to try out a canon rig.