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Canon 5D Mark II
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5D Mk II Review  Specs  Performance  Compared  Usage  Recommendations

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Cutaway 5D

Cutaway 5D Mark II (32 oz./907g with battery and card, but no lens). enlarge.


May 2010    Canon 5D Mark II Review       More Canon Reviews


Finder      top

98% coverage.

0.71x magnification with 50mm lens.

21mm eyepoint.


Canon 5D Mark II viewfinder view.


Canon 5D Mark II Finder Readout


AF Points      top

9, just like 50D and 5D.

There are 6 hidden AF points as well, just like the other cameras. There's fine-tuning for AF offset, new to the Mark II version of the 5D. Here are Canon's guides to what sensor is doing what. Remember, we only see and can control nine of them; the other six in red below are invisible to us.

AF Points


And here are which points are sensitive in what directions and with lenses of what minimum speed:

AF Points


Meter      top

35-zone evaluative, center-weighted, 9% loose spot and 3.5% spot.

Like all Canons, the 5D Mark II's meter is blind to both color and to distance. Nikons see both.


Shutter      top

1/8,000 to 30 sec., Bulb.

150,000 cycle "durability." Canon does not define their use of the word durability.


Maximum Shutter Speed with Flash (sync speed)


Supports the trick FP high-speed mode, which is mostly just a trick mode.


Sensor      top

24.0 x 36.0 mm, 21.0 MP CMOS.

It's the same size and resolution as the 1Ds Mk III.

Sensor Cleaner.

New fluorine coating claims better dust resistance.


Image Sizes      top

5,616 x 3,744 pixels, native.

Canon lies: 5,616 x 3,744 = 21.0 MP, not 21.1 as advertised.

Also 4,080 x 3,744 and 2,784 x 1,856 pixels in JPG, and 3,861 x 2,574 and 2,784 x 1,856 in raw.


ISO      top

AUTO, and ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

ISO 100 - 3,200 is the range selected in AUTO ISO.

If you use Highlight Optimization, ISO starts at a minimum of ISO 200 in manual and auto ISO setting.

ISO 100 through ISO 6,400 come up in 1/3-stops, or full stops as I prefer if set in a menu.

The extreme ISOs come up only as L1 (ISO 50), H1 (ISO 12,800) and H2 (ISO 25,600).

Although the same resolution as the 1Ds Mk III, Canon claims a new output amplifier and a "more advanced color filter that improves light transmission while retaining excellent color reproduction" allows faster ISOs. Not really; the 5D Mark II is much noisier than the 5D in the shadows at the same ISOs.

ISO Comparison

ISO Comparison among 5D, 5D Mark II and1Ds Mk III.


Color Spaces      top

sRGB, the world's standard, and Adobe RGB.


Image Tweaks      top

White Balance is trimmable in 9 steps each towards amber or blue and towards green or magenta.

Contrast and saturation adjustable up or down by four steps in each direction.

Hue, called "color tone," likewise adjusts in four steps up or down.

Sharpening adjustable from none to +7.

These four parameters can be saved and recalled.

Shadow lightening is called "Automatic Lighting Optimizer," and selected in a menu. It is not adjustable; it's either on or off.

Highlight recovery, called "Highlight Tone Priority," is likewise selected in a menu and is either on or off. When on, the minimum ISO is ISO 200.


Frame Rate      top

3.9 FPS.


Buffer Depth      top

Using a fast (UDMA) card, it's essentially unlimited in JPG, since the 5D Mark II can spit images out to your card faster than it can shoot them.

Canon rates it as 310 LARGE FINE JPGs with a fast UDMA card, and 78 with a slower card.

The buffer is only 13 or 14 deep for raw, and if you shoot raw + a LARGE FINE JPG, only 8 deep.

Even an 8-deep buffer is plenty deep for anything I shoot. Unlike the LEICA M9, I just can't shoot faster than the Canon 5D Mark II can handle.


Video (as of v2.0.4 firmware)      top


File on your card.

Type C mini HDMI connector.

3.5mm stereo jack for analog audio and video.


File Format

.MOV format, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 variable bit rate video compression.


Image Format

1920 x 1080 (16:9 HD) at 29.97, 25.00 and 23.976 fps, which are the correct rates for teleproduction. The menus erroneously list 29.97 and 23.976 as 30 fps and 24 fps.


640 x 480 pixels (VGA) at 29.97 and 25.00 fps, the correct rates for teleproduction. The menus erroneously list 29.97 as 30 fps. Warning: broadcast TV is not 640x480; that's a computer standard. NTSC broadcast TV, when digitized, is 720 x 483 non-square pixels at 59.94 interlaced fields per second, not 30 or 29.97 sequential frames per second.


Data Rates

1920 x 1080: about 330 MB per minute, for all frame rates.

640 x 480: about 165 MB per minute, all frame rates.


Maximum take duration

The maximum length of a take is 4 GB.

The file sizes vary with subject detail, and Canon says 4GB will get you about 12 minutes in HD or 24 minutes of regular definition.

If you have less detail in your subject, you can run as long as 29 minutes and 59 seconds if you can do it without hitting 4GB first.

The 5D Mark II gets hot as you shoot video. Page 13 of the USA users guide (CT1-1028-002, January 2010) says, and I quote, that the 5D Mark II can cause "slight skin burns."


Audio with video

Linear PCM audio, uncompressed.

A mono mic is built in right below the "5D" label on the front, and there's an external 3.5mm stereo input.

Manual level adjustment, with meters, is available in the menu system.


LCD      top


High 640x480 pixel resolution (920,000 RGB dots).

Canon 5D Mk II back

Canon 5D Mark II. enlarge.


Live View

Yes. I never use it.

If you use it for extend periods, the 5D Mark II can get hot. Page 13 of the USA users guide (CT1-1028-002, January 2010) says, and I quote, that the 5D Mark II can cause "slight skin burns."


Battery and Power      top

LP-E6 Battery

LP-B6 Battery.

LC-E6 Charger

LC-E6 Charger.

LP-E6 battery and LC-E6 charger.

These are not interchangeable with the BP-511A battery and charger of the original 5D.

CR1616 for clock backup.


Data Storage      top

CF card, one slot.

I have no idea of the maximum capacity rating; I use a Lexar 600x 32GB CF card, and it holds 10,000 large JPGS!


Data Communication      top

Slow USB 2.

I'd forget about it; use a fast card reader.


Size (rated)      top

6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0"

152.0 x 113.5 x 75.0 mm.


Weight      top

32 oz (907g) measured with battery and card, but no strap, caps or lens.

Rated by Canon as 28.6 oz. (810g), stripped like it was left out in the Bronx overnight.


Announced      top

17 September 2008.


Shipping Since      top

Canon promised it by the end of November 2008, and that's when they started to ship.


Price (USA)      top

Box, Canon 5D MArk II

Box, Canon 5D Mark II.

5D Mark II body

$2,499, January 2010 (first price concession, just after Christmas)

$2,699, September 2008 - December 2009.


5D Mark II with 24-105mm f/4L IS

$3,199 January 2010 - .

$3,499 September 2008 - December 2009.


Canon Item Number



More Information      top

Product Data

Canon's teaser: The new 5D

Canon USA's page on the 5D Mark II

Canon USA's 5D Mark II specifications



Firmware v2.0.4. This firmware makes the 5D Mark II a totally different and better camera from the original v1 firmware.

Canon 5D Mark II Firmware updates


Users Manuals

Canon's 5D Mark II Pocket Guide

Canon's Full 5D Mark II Users Manual


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