Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The long awaited Canon EOS 5D Mark II is the successor to the nearly legendary Canon EOS 5D which has been around, and setting standards, for over three years … a virtual eternity in terms of consumer electronics generally and digital photography in particular. The 5D is credited with being the first full frame digital camera that was affordable and lightweight, though those are admittedly very subjective terms. Weighing in at around two pounds, depending on the lens used, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is pretty heavy compared to the ubiquitous compact digital cameras and other point-and-shoot models used by most people. And while no one is likely to refer to this as an inexpensive camera, its spectacular attributes actually make it a notable bargain in the realm of professional DSLR cameras.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II professional DSLR camera is genuinely a camera that just about any professional photographer or photojournalist could use with confidence and it certainly has its share of features that are specifically aimed at the pros. Still, its comprehensive set of electronic wizardry and full acceptance of digital advances make it a fantastic professional DSLR camera that could nicely be used by very serious amateur photographers.


Much is written these days about the explosion in the number of pixels that make up a digital camera’s sensor. Indeed, for many lesser cameras, the actual number of pixels has expanded to the point that it exceeds the other capabilities of the device to the detriment of performance because as the number of pixels increases, the size of each one has to be diminished. Happily, that’s not the case with regard to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II professional DSLR camera which takes best advantage of every one of its massive 21.1 megapixels. That’s in great measure a result of the also large single-plate, full-frame CMOS sensor. It measures 36mm x 24mm making it the same size as a frame of 35mm film so light strikes the light sensors, or pixels, at precisely the same angle that they would hit the film. That’s the magic of fully utilizing the full value of the 21.1MP.

Processing this much light information requires an equally impressive image processor, the digital brain of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. That task is accomplished by the Canon DIGIC 4 processor which has the requisite speed to process all of that optical information from the sensor in a manner that improves color reproduction and photographic detail. The processor’s speed also improves functions such as Face Detection Live mode and HD video recording.

The EOS 5D Mark II is Canon’s first professional DSLR camera to incorporate full HD video recording capability. The combination of the large, sensor, fast processor and 30 frames per second shooting can result in truly stunning footage. The user is able to take individual or continuous still photographs without interrupting the video filming. Audio is recorded by an integrated mono microphone or by stereo external microphones, not included, that can be connected.

Being a DSLR, true through the lens viewing is available for framing the best shots but there’s also a 3.0-inch, high resolution LCD screen that Canon calls Clear View. It boasts 920,000/VGA resolution for a superior viewing experience. The screen brightness automatically adjusts to ambient lighting conditions which both enhances the photographer’s view and saves battery power. There’s also a Live View function which switches views to display a real-time image on the screen. Live View also allows for 5x or 10x zooming to aid in composing the photo. Focusing modes include Quick, Live and Face Detection Live.

To provide dust free images, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II includes an advanced cleaning system specifically designed for the full-frame CMOS sensor. The low-pass filter at the front of the sensor automatically shakes off dust with ultrasonic vibrations. Any micro-dust particles that might still remain can be erased with a feature of the Digital Photo Professional software. This programming can even be calibrated creating Dust Delete Data which will subsequently and automatically erase the dust spot from future photos.

ISO speed is manually adjustable from 100 – 6400 or automatically 100 – 3200. Increased sensitivity up to 25,600 is available making shooting in near darkness possible. Exposure controls include Program AE, shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE, creative auto, full auto and manual. Image processing types include auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten light, white fluorescent light, flash, custom, color temperature settings and automatic white balance.


Frequently, updated products represent little more than minor modifications of the original, especially in the case of a phenomenally successful predecessor. This is not the case with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II professional DSLR camera. As capable and ground-breaking as the initial 5D was, Canon has made notable improvements with this model. Deservedly, the bulk of attention will be given to the enormous sensor and super-fast processor but many other improvements including HD video recording and the outstanding LCD screen warrant praise. This is, without question, a very high end professional DSLR camera that will fill the needs of all but the most specialized professionals but still is a great choice for accomplished amateurs who can stand the price.

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