Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Testing / Performance
*We tested the color accuracy of the Canon EOS 5D by recording several photographs of an industry standard GretagMacbeth color chart at the camera's various settings. The files were uploaded into Imatest Imaging Software, which compares the camera’s rendered tones with the correlating ideal.
The Canon EOS 5D has a range of parameters, labeled Picture Styles, which strongly impact the look of the recorded images. Canon draws a parallel between the Picture Styles parameters and different types of film. (For more on the 5D’s Picture Styles, refer to the Image Parameters section of the review).
We tested the EOS 5D in its Standard (default) parameter, but the 5D’s Faithful parameter – which is colormetrically optimized for photos recorded under photographic tungsten lights and contains neutral saturation settings – performed far better. Thus, the color charts seen in this section were shot using the camera’s Faithful setting. The accompanying parameters were not manually altered beyond that selection, although it is important to note that users can heavily influence the camera’s rendered tones using the Picture Style options.
Below is a GretagMacbeth color chart modified by Imatest Imaging Software, contrasting the original colors of the chart with the colors produced by the camera. The inner vertical rectangle of each color tile shows the ideal color. This is in contrast to the outer square, which represents the color produced by the Canon EOS 5D. The inner square displays the camera’s produced tone, corrected by Imatest for luminance.
The same information is shown below in a more linear graphic. The circles contain the 5D’s produced tones, while the correlating squares depict the ideal hue. The line joining the two shapes illustrates the degree of error for each rendered tone; the longer the line the more erroneous the color.
This showing in the Faithful mode earned the Canon EOS 5D a 9.0 overall color score. We tested the camera in its default Standard mode as well, but its 6.52 overall color score is certainly not as impressive as the 9.0. The discrepancy stems from the Standard style's boost in saturation, over-saturating tones by 7-9%.
In Faithful mode, the tonal palate produced by the Canon 5D had a 6.7 mean error, which is quite good. The 5D slightly under-saturated colors (by less than one percent), achieving a 99.68 percent saturation score. The colors are extremely accurate, which reflects the quality of the 5D’s internal components. However, through the manipulation of the 5D’s Picture Style settings, color accuracy can range substantially. Alterations made through picture styles are rendered prior to compression, so they pose a viable option to those shooters looking to maximize their workflow.
**Still Life Scene **
Below is a shot of our glamorous plastic assemblage as captured with the EOS 5D.
Click on the above image to view it in full resolution (CAUTION: the linked file is very large!)](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=5D-StillLife-LG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness*(10.9)
*To test the sharpness and definition of the 5D’s 35.8mm x 23.9mm 12.8 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, we recorded several exposures of an industry standard resolution chart and uploaded the images into Imatest Imaging Software. The software read the imported files for sharpness and resolution. The shots were recorded using both the default Standard mode and Faithful mode at several focal lengths and apertures using a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens. The image below was shot at 60mm using an aperture of f/7.1.
Click on the above chart to view full res image](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=5D-ResCH-LG.jpg)
When utilized as such, Imatest will produce resolution results in LW/PH, which stands for line widths per picture height. The typical means for measurement is line pairs per picture height (lp/ph) and while this applies to the EOS 5D because of its full frame sensor, lp/ph is not applicable for digital sensors of varying sizes. Thus, LW/PH is a deduced measurement in the same manner of measurement as lp/ph but standardizes results for variances in imager dimensions.
Imatest detected 2281 LW/PH along the horizontal axis and 2182 LW/PH in the vertical direction.
Noise - Auto ISO* (6.99)
*If photographers should ever use the automatic ISO setting, they will be glad to know that it performs decently. The Canon 5D received a 6.99 overall automatic ISO noise score, which is pretty good. The camera produced noise equivalent to what was found in the manual ISO 400 setting. The automatic ISO setting is respectable, but the manual setting suppressed noise far better.
Noise - Manual ISO*(13.51)
*We tested the noise distribution in both Standard and Faithful Picture Styles to perceive the noise present at each available ISO setting. The Standard (default) mode’s lowest four ISO settings had less noise than the same four in the Faithful mode. However, the higher manual ISO settings in Standard mode produced more noise than those in the Faithful mode. Once the noise levels at each ISO rating and in each mode were considered and input into a regression analysis, the Faithful mode came out on top with a steadier slope and less overall noise – although they were close. Note the lowest sensitivity settings in Standard mode (ISO 50 through ISO 400) contained slightly less noise, but overall there was more noise present in the green channel when the Standard mode was used. Below is a chart showing the results from tests conducted in both modes. The Canon EOS 5D’s ISO ratings are plotted along the horizontal axis while the corresponding noise levels appear on the vertical axis.
To remain consistent in our reported scores, our overall manual noise score applies to results garnered in the 5D’s Faithful mode. We imported the individual noise values emitted by the 5D at each available ISO setting into a regression analysis to determine the overall score. The Canon 5D earned an overall manual ISO noise score of 12.01. This is quite impressive and ranks the 5D among the top DSLRs in terms of image clarity. When you consider the control offered by the camera’s flexible ISO range, running from 100 to 1600 in 1/3-stop increments, the 5D is tough to surpass – particularly in such a small, portable camera body.
Low Light Performance*(8.5)
*To evaluate the Canon 5D’s low light capabilities, we recorded a sequence of images at decreasing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. We turned on the camera’s long exposure noise reduction and set the sensitivity to ISO 1600. The camera was set to aperture priority mode and the lens was stopped down to force longer exposures. This low light test is designed to observe the impact of extended exposures on the 5D’s image quality.
Unfortunately, the noise levels dramatically increase as the amount of time the shutter is open increases. As the exposure time increased, the colors gradually lost their saturation. At 60 lux, color saturation was 107 percent; it was 105.7 percent at 30 lux, 105 percent at 15 lux, and 97.88 percent at 5 lux. Colors also became less accurate with the extended exposures. The Canon 5D recorded a 5.65 color error at 60 lux, 7.43 at 30 lux, 8.19 at 15 lux, and 8.61 at 5 lux.
Below is a graph displaying the increase in noise with prolonged exposures; the exposure duration is plotted on the vertical axis, while the resulting noise is on the horizontal axis.
Oddly, the camera did not set an appropriate exposure at 5 lux – the image was underexposed. With a maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds there was no reason for the camera to underexpose the image. We surmise this to be a result of metering difficulties at very low light levels.
**Speed / Timing **
Speed and timing tests on the Canon EOS 5D were conducted using a 1GB SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash card and a fully charged battery.
*Start-up to First Shot (9.81)
*With the shutter speed set at 1/1000th of a second, the Canon EOS 5D takes 0.19 seconds to start up and take its first shot.
*Shot to Shot (9.62)
*The Canon 5D’s burst mode shoots at an even pace of 3 frames per second as our testing confirmed a shot every 0.33 seconds exactly. This time held true for both JPEG and RAW files in the burst mode. In our tests, the 5D actually surpassed its advertised 60 max burst duration and continued for 71 JPEG shots. Canon also reports that the 5D will shoot 17 RAW files in a burst mode; however, we could only get 15.
Once the 5D shot its 71 JPEG files, it took 24.49 seconds to write them to the card before the camera was ready for its next burst. After its 15 RAW file burst, the Canon 5D took 21.62 seconds to write to the card. This is remarkably fast and indicates the effectiveness of the camera’s impressive 4-channel reading and DIGIC II processor.
*Shutter to Shot (9.12)
*In true single lens reflex style, the Canon EOS 5D had hardly any shutter lag at all. A quick 0.01 seconds went by from the moment the shutter release button was pressed to the time the picture was taken.
*The Canon 5D closely resembles the visual form of the Canon 20D, with some features borrowed from the 1D series. The most notable departure from the 20D's look is the 1D-style viewfinder hump. It doesn't jut out over the lens mount in part because, unlike the 20D’s hump, it doesn't house a pop-up flash. Instead, the hump looks flat-faced, with the 1D series' very smooth curves.
The lens mount dominates the front of the 5D, with its very large bayonet. The release button for it is a large rectangle on the left of the mount. Below it is the depth of field preview switch, a glossy black bead that electronically activates the lens's iris. Canon put an "EOS 5D" logo on the upper right of the camera, following the marking pattern of the 20D. The lower part of the body is covered in a leather-textured rubber material that's good for gripping, though no actual vertical grip is present, while the top portion offers a matte plastic finish. The Canon 5D's handgrip is rounded smoothly from front to back, with an indentation for the user's middle finger. The indentation is a feature it shares with the 1D series. In use, it's a tactile cue for the hand, guiding it into the right spot. The shutter release is on the top of the grip, isolated on an incline toward the front. A control dial pokes up vertically from a spot behind the shutter release. An infrared sensor window is unobtrusively placed between the handgrip and the lens mount.
*The Canon 5D has a spacious 2.5-inch 230,000 pixel LCD, which dominates the back of the camera. The LCD, along with a direct print button above the LCD and to the left of the viewfinder, is a feature that distinguishes the 5D's back from the Canon 20D's. Like the 20D, the 5D features a column of buttons that runs down the left side of the LCD. They are: MENU, INFO., JUMP, and playback, which is indicated by an icon. The delete button is below the LCD to the left, and the power switch is below the LCD to the right. The very large "Quick Controller" dial is low and to the right of the LCD, and the SET button is placed in the middle of the dial. The smaller "Multi Controller" dial is above the Quick Controller. A status light that indicates when images are being written to memory peeks out at about a four o'clock position from the Quick Controller. In the upper right corner of the camera, situated near the user's right thumb, is the exposure lock button and the autofocus sensor selection button.
*The left side of the Canon 5D features a split rubber cover for the camera's ports. One half covers the PC flash sync terminal and the remote control terminal, and the other half covers the USB 2.0 port and the analog video out port. The split cover allows the user to access one set of ports while keeping the others protected from the elements. A bit higher up on the left is the wide, beefy shoulder strap lug, which protrudes from the camera body.
*The right side of the Canon 5D features the door to the media card slot. It is very much like the door on the 20D. It unlatches by sliding back with a positive click, after which it swings open. Above the door, there's another heavy lug for a shoulder strap. On this side, the lug is recessed, so that it won't interfere with the grip. The Canon 5D’s grip is thicker than the 20D’s.
*The top of the Canon 5D is simple, and very much like the 20D. At the far right, there's a large mode dial. It differs from the one on the 20D in that it lacks automated scene modes. The 5D features a hot shoe on the viewfinder hump, and it's compatible with the long line of flashes for EOS cameras. To the right of the viewfinder, along the front edge of the camera, the 5D has the same row of buttons as the 20D contains. From left to right, they are: the display illumination button, the Autofocus/White balance button, the drive mode/ISO button, and the metering pattern/flash exposure compensation button. The top LCD panel is below the buttons. It displays shooting status data.
*The bottom of the 5D is fairly plain. A latching door under the handgrip holds the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and the metal tripod socket is just where it should be, centered on the lens axis and the focal plane. There's a small door on the left side for a button-type battery that maintains the camera's memory for settings when the main battery is out of the camera.
*Canon implemented a new viewfinder on the EOS 5D, covering 96% of the recorded frame in a 0.71x magnified perspective. The viewfinder has a 20mm eyepoint with a -3 to +1 dioptric adjustment. Some users may object to the 96% coverage, seeking the full 100% view provided by the 1Ds Mark II; however, those who have made a career shooting with 35mm bodies have likely become accustomed to the crop and have learned to work with it. Those who remain disenchanted with the 5D’s viewfinder coverage might at least take solace in the manner in which the view is altered. Unlike the 20D, which primarily took its 5% liberties from the top and left segments of the frame, the discrepancy in the 5D’s recorded frame is much more evenly dispersed. Files recorded with the EOS 5D will contain about an eighth of an inch more of the scene all around the frame, resulting in a far more accurate representation of the composition.
Thanks to the 5D’s full-frame sensor and larger prism, images displayed in the viewfinder will be much larger than those of cameras with cropped sensors. The image is considerably bigger and brighter than that on the cameras with APS-sized sensors, aiding in low light composition and providing a greater degree of perceivable detail. However, the expanded view does sacrifice space for text displays when compared to the viewing window of the cropped cameras; although, I presume this will be an acceptable tradeoff for the majority of users as Canon still manages to squeeze in a dense array of shooting information.
The display includes: a focus confirmation light, shutter speed, aperture, exposure level, AE lock, exposure compensation, AEB level, flash ready, red-eye reduction on, high-speed sync, flash exposure lock, FEB shooting, flash exposure compensation, insufficient flash warning in flash exposure lock, white balance correction, memory card full warning, memory card error, and no memory card indication. The autofocus points and spot metering zone are superimposed on the viewfinder image with the exception of the 6 supplemental AF points which are active, although only visible when viewed in the accompanying software. Canon added ISO ratings to the visible options, but this will only appear when the sensitivity is altered and its appearance causes all other shooting information to temporarily fall out of view.
Like Canon’s professional 1D series DSLRs, the 5D is also functional with multiple focusing screens to accommodate a variety of shooting situations. There are three Ee series screens that can be applied to the 5D’s viewfinder, although the Ec screens designed for the 1D series cameras are not compatible. The three focusing screens all contain random micro lens construction with varying elements, tailored to specific lens types. The 5D’s standard Ee-A screen and Ee-D grid-type focusing screen are optimized for f/5.6 lenses and slower, while the Ee-S screen offers more refined microlenses for f/2.8 lenses and faster. The interchangeable focusing screens speak of the 5D’s viability as a professional alternative. For various commercial uses, the ability to change focusing screens in invaluable, helping photographers maintain a proper workflow in varying lighting and types of shoots without having to rely on multiple bodies.
Viewfinder blackout is minimal; Canon approximates the lag to be roughly 145 ms at shutter speeds of 1/60 and faster.
*The Canon 5D has a 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel polysilicon TFT LCD screen that remains viewable from a range of angles. It is identical to the LCD that has been applied to the recent EOS 1D Mark II n and offers about twice the viewing area of the 1.8-inch LCD on the Canon 20D. In addition to the size advantage over the 20D’s screen, the display fixed to the back of the 5D offers roughly a 170 degree angle of view, which is far more than the 20D’s LCD, which solarizes at about 30 degrees off-center to the sides and about 5 degrees off-center vertically.
Some readers have offered responses claiming that the 20D's LCD is better – more saturated and full of contrast – but we don't find their argument too compelling. The 5D's display offers about twice the information and resolution that the 20D's does, along with an enlarged text font to make menu option far more legible. Besides, we’d expect most users purchasing a $3,000 DSLR to rely on the histogram to judge exposure rather than an LCD with varying brightness levels.
The EOS 5D offers 5 of these brightness levels to help maintain visibility in various situations. The LCD brightness adjustment is housed within the set-up portion of the camera menu. Once selected, a secondary screen comes up and displays a prerecorded frame in the center with a grayscale accompaniment along the left margin. This enables users to calibrate their camera monitor to the tonal values and illumination of the scene. The 5 available brightness levels are displayed in a horizontal line graph below at the bottom of the screen and are selected with the set button.
The reconfigured LCD on the EOS 5D and 1D Mark II n are larger than previous efforts and offer nearly twice the resolution. In general, this lack of LCD resolution is a pity since most serious digital shooters rely on their LCD to check focus and require a level of detail that most cannot stand up to. While the LCD on the 5D is definitely a step in the right direction, it too falls short of expectations. The screen does offer an impressive angle of view; however, when tested in bright conditions, the displayed image instantly washed out and became barely visible. Some under-performing LCDs contain a "sweet spot" of sorts, an obscure angle that retains visibility when the image fails to be adequate from straight on; however, we could not find one on the 5D. In low light, the screen stood up to the challenge, but its handling of bright daylight and strong studio lamps was incredibly disappointing.
There is also a rectangular informational LCD placed on the top of the 5D, to the right of the prism. The top panel LCD expands on the shooting information in the viewfinder and also includes an orange illumination lamp for reading settings in low light.
*The Canon 5D does not contain a built-in flash, which is a notable departure from the similarly-styled EOS 20D. Perhaps the absence signals the 5D's "professional" status – the top of the line 1D series lacks a built-in flash as well; however, this lack is more likely the result of engineering limitations brought on from the large prism. Nonetheless, the lack of a pop-up flash is a significant loss as the small in-camera units can often be handy for fill flash. Obviously users of the 5D can compensate for this loss by applying any EX-series Speedlite or compatible unit to the camera’s 5-pin hot shoe (all EX-series models are compatible). The EOS 5D offers E-TTL II autoflash with EX-Speedlites and contains a PC terminal for an additional wired connection; however, flashes applied via the PC terminal function like those connected with a single-pin hot shoe connection and will not be able to communicate exposure information.
The EOS 5D contains an x-sync of 1/200th of a second and a High-Speed Focal Plane Sync from 30 seconds to 1/8000th of a second. Flash exposure compensation is available in a +/-2 stop range, alterable in 1/3-stop increments. There is also a Flash Exposure lock function and Flash Exposure Bracketing setting available in +/- 3 stops in 1/3-stop increments.
As with most EOS models, when a dedicated 550EX or 580EX Speedlite is applied, multi-flash wireless TTL shooting is available and up to three groups of flashes can be controlled when ratios are manually set to create more dynamic, directional lighting. If varying illuminations are not needed, the 550EX or 580EX master can control as many slave units as are visible by the sensor.
*The Canon 5D is fitted with a metal Canon EF mount and is not sold with a kit lens. Canon's line of EF lenses is extensive, covering everything from fisheye and ultra wide angle to very long telephoto, with multiple choices of price and aperture at most popular focal lengths. Since the 5D contains a sensor equal in size to a 35mm frame, all applied EF lenses will retain their original optical perspective, enabling users to take full advantage of wide angle options. Canon's low-cost EF-S lenses are not compatible with the Canon 5D, so users considering a step up from the Canon Rebel XT or EOS 20D may need to purchase other compatible lens units.
Design / Layout
Model Design / Appearance* (8.75)
*The Canon EOS 5D bears a close resemblance to the preceding 20D, though in the areas where the 5D departs from the 20D template, the 5D picks up styling from the 1D series. The 5D's viewfinder hump looks very much like the 1D's and clearly has its lineage in the Canon EOS 1N and 1V 35mm film bodies. The prism barely overhangs the lens mount. It also has the very smooth curves of the 1D's hump. One big reason that the 5D has a smoother hump than the 20D is that it lacks the 20D's built-in flash. The flash and the swing-up mechanism add bulk and flat planes to the 20D, and the seams between the flash and the rest of the body break up the surface of the 20D. The smooth top of the 5D is much more appealing to look at, though many users would like a pop-up unit for fill and portrait catchlights.
All three digital models have leather-textured rubber on their griping areas, and a rough matte texture on the top surfaces; however, the size of the 5D’s grip falls directly between the 20D and 1D. The grip on the 5D also has a more exaggerated finger indention than that on the 20D and adds a strong visual accent.
The shell of the EOS 5D is formed of magnesium alloy, creating a durable housing that retains the feel and portability of a traditional 35mm SLR. The Canon 5D does not contain a fixed vertical grip like the 1D series models, which extends the body more than an inch, although an accessory battery grip can be applied. The effect is a camera that retains a bit of the look of Canon’s 35mm EOS 1V body, while appearing more "professional" than the 20D. However, professional shooters that are drawn to the 5D will likely appreciate its more inconspicuous appearance.
Size / Portability*(7.5)
*The Canon 5D measures 6 x 4.5 x 3 inches and weighs 31.5 ounces with its battery. It's bigger in every dimension than Canon's 20D, which is 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.8 inches and 27.2 ounces, but it's much closer in size to the 20D than either of Canon’s 1D cameras, which are more than 6 inches tall and well over four pounds. Given what's stuffed into the 5D – a full-frame sensor, and the electronics to record 12.8 megapixel RAW images to memory at 3 frames per second – the size is amazing and will really be advantageous to a range of shooters. The size and capabilities of the 5D truly make it a viable option for both amateurs and professionals alike.
*The Canon 5D is a pleasure to use. Canon's Quick Controller dial really is a quick control to operate. It falls nicely under the user's thumb, given the well-contoured handgrip. The lack of a vertical grip will bother some users, but a vertical grip would have made the camera far longer and bulkier. Canon was clearly aiming for a 20D-sized camera. We tested the Canon 5D with a 16-35mm f/2.8 zoom and a 24-70mm f/2.8. They're both big lenses, and the camera balances well with them. I found that my left hand carried most of the weight, typically from under the lens, just forward of the mount. The camera feels very much like the 20D, but noticeably larger – the grip feels bigger in particular. If the 20D feels heavy to someone, the 5D's extra four ounces would be noticeable, and might be a problem. However, for photographers used to shooting with larger "pro bodied" cameras, the 5D will be a gift. It is far lighter without sacrificing much in the way of stability. However, with the size reduction, there is obviously some sacrifice in durability. The 5D feels far more substantial than the 20D and certainly the Rebel XT, but it will not withstand the beating a 1D series camera could endure.
The grip on the 5D is larger than that on the EOS 20D, but not quite as chunky as the grip on a 1D model. However, more important to me was the increased finger indention carved into the 5D’s grip. The indention creates a much more stable feel than that of the EOS 20D and helps to balance the 5D’s additional weight. I think most users that pick up the 5D would gladly take the modified grip and extra 4 ounces. While the camera’s electronics alone are impressive, I would have to say for my grasp, the 5D is the most well sculpted body Canon currently has out on the market.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size* (8.0)
*The Canon 5D mirrors the control layout of the 20D almost exactly. 20D users who step up to the 5D from the 20D won't have to learn much in the way of interface, barring a couple of exceptions. There are no longer any scene modes on the mode dial. Canon added a print button to the back of the camera as well (yes, there is a direct print button on the 5D, but not on the 20D – seems odd, doesn’t it?). The depth of field preview is on the left of the mount on the 5D, opposite the spot where it's found on the EOS 1D Mark II n. That's a minor thing for users who might upgrade, but for photographers who shoot with two bodies, having consistent controls from body to body is a real advantage. One particularly welcome control that made its way from the 20D to the 5D is the small, rocking four-way navigation device for panning across magnified images. It's a great control, and it's unfortunate that the 1D series cameras don't have it.
Controls on the 5D also retain the 20D’s style of engagement. Users must either press a single button or do so in conjunction with rotating a dial. Unlike the 1D series cameras, the 5D does not require users to hold multiple buttons and then rotate a dial to render setting alterations. This configuration is far more simple and intuitive for the majority of users, although it will not be nearly as secure against accidental engagement as the controls and settings on the 1D models.
All in all, it would be much easier to switch between the 5D and the 20D than the 1D and the 5D. It may well be that the wedding shooters who rely on the 20D are going to have a good time combining their regular 20D shots with the 5D for higher resolution, better quality portraits, and group shots, while photojournalists and other 1D Mark II n-shooters will have a rougher time swapping between the two because of the few control discrepancies.
The other buttons and dials on the Canon 5D feel sturdy and are easy to use. They don't wobble or rattle, and seem durable. Those who have shot with any Canon SLR for a while will not require much of a learning curve to adjust to the layout of the 5D. The only major button modification from the 20D worth noting is the improvement of the jump feature. In playback mode, the button will now enable movement forwards or backwards by 10 images, 100 images, by date, or by folder. The jump feature is also functional in thumbnail and magnified views, allowing users to scroll though their recorded images while maintaining a constant viewing perspective.
*An experienced Canon user certainly wouldn't get lost altering settings on a Canon 5D – the menus are almost exactly alike. More importantly, they're easy to navigate, with color-coding, Icons, and a "Jump" feature to move through the list.
The list of menu options below is substantial, but it could have been longer. Canon tossed another 21 items into the "Custom Functions" submenu. It would be best if those buried 21 items were things that no one used frequently, but more than a few users will probably resent digging so deep for mirror lockup, ISO expansion, and front/rear-curtain flash sync.
Ease of Use*(6.5)
*To photographers familiar with Canon EOS DSLRs, the 5D will offer a seamless transition. The tendency to retain much in the way of positioning, layout, and functionality has historically been a particular strength of Canons and the 5D continues the trend.
Aside from some slight cosmetic variations, the lack of preset modes, and the omission of a pop-up flash, the 5D is virtually the same camera to handle as the 20D. However, the limited automatic options and need for an additional flash and lens does require slightly more engagement by the user. The 5D does contain a Full Auto, Program AE, and both semi-automatic Priority modes; however, the 5D certainly does not seem destined for any sort of point-and-shoot crowd. The 5D can still be used with minimal skill, but to fully realize all of its capabilities, users will have to expend some effort.
Auto Mode* (8.0)
*The Canon 5D includes both a Full Auto mode, designated by a green box on the mode dial, and a Program Auto Exposure mode. Both modes assume control over exposure; however, when shooting in Program AE mode, users retain some control over the look of the image.
Full Auto mode transforms the camera into a straight point-and-shoot interface. Once Full Auto is selected on the main dial, the camera will set the AF mode to AI FOCUS, select Evaluative Metering, and put the camera into Single Shot drive mode. These settings cannot be altered. Full Auto mode is indeed fully automatic. Users relinquish the ability to alter AF point selection, set ISO, White Balance, and Exposure Compensation; also, the camera will only record images as JPEGs.
Program Auto Exposure mode is also a fully automatic mode as far as exposure is concerned. However, users can still impose a significant degree of control over the appearance of the image. Aperture and shutter speed values are determined by the camera, but users can alter the tonal values in the exposure using exposure compensation. Users can also elect to retain the Exposure Value suggested by the camera but alter the visual effects (motion and depth of field) present in the image using the Program Shift control. This control enables users to scroll through paired aperture and shutter speed combinations without altering the camera-selected Exposure Value.
Unlike Full Auto, Program AE mode also grants users the opportunity to exert control over AF mode and AF point selection, Drive and continuous shooting settings, ISO, white balance, metering, Auto Exposure bracketing, AE lock, depth of field preview, Custom Functions, Compression, Picture Styles parameters, WB bracketing, Color temperature selection, and color space. Users will also gain control over flash settings when in Program AE: Manual flash, High-speed sync (Focal Plane Flash), FE lock, flash ratio control, flash exposure compensation, flash exposure bracketing, sync mode, and modeling flash.
As you can see, Program AE offers the auto exposure assistance provided by the Full Auto mode while enabling the user to retain control over the image. Program AE will likely be used occasionally by manual shooters who opt for a different avenue of manipulation or need to make quicker adjustments (e.g. shape exposure with the Program shift and exposure compensation). However, this is not the case with the 5D’s auto mode. It is just what it advertises – fully automatic. While an understandable inclusion, I can’t imagine too many 5D users comfortable with that level of camera reliance.
For those who elect to utilize the camera’s offered assistance, the 5D Full Auto exposure levels were impressive in practice. At times, some shots containing a lot of darker tones were a bit underexposed, but in the positive capture world of digital imaging (unlike black and white negative film), it is better to go under than over and preserve image information in the highlights. However, for the most part, exposures were right on. This was true of shots recorded with both lighter tonal values and nearly black scenes. For those who do opt to let the camera control the exposure, it will do a pretty good job.
Drive / Burst Mode* (7.5)
*Canon reports that the 5D can shoot about 3 frames per second at shutter speeds of 1/250 and above. Remarkably, it will also shoot bursts of up to 60 Large JPEGs or 17 RAW files in a burst. Considering that its RAW files take up nearly 13 MB worth of space, the 5D handles a huge datastream quite efficiently.
While some users will undoubtedly quibble about the 5D’s subsequent recording rate when contrasted with the 20D’s 5 fps continuous burst, users should keep in mind that the CPU inside the 5D is far faster than the one in the 20D. Files produced by the 5D are much larger than the 20D’s and thus require more effort to process. Those discontented readers should also bear in mind that this is nothing new for Canon and Nikon. Most high-end DSLRs are focused towards a specific parameter; some are intended for speed while others are optimized for resolution and picture quality. While the 20D may be a more even blend of the two, resulting images cannot compare to those of the 5D in terms of image quality.
Movie Mode* (0.0)
*The Canon 5D does not offer a movie mode. DSLR technology does not currently lend itself to continuous video capture.
Playback Mode* (7.5)
*Playback mode on the 5D is entered using the play button, placed to the lower left of the LCD screen on the back of the camera. Once it’s engaged, users can view prerecorded images in single frames, as an index display (up to 9 images), or magnified (1.5x up to 10x); users can also opt to protect or erase images, or access shooting information.
Shooting information includes: Shooting time and date, shutter speed and aperture values, exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation levels, file number, playback number/total images recorded, whether the image is protected or locked, file size, color space, white balance, white balance correction, ISO speed, metering mode, and shooting mode.
Single recorded images can be viewed as just the recorded frame, the image with exposure information and numbering superimposed over the file, or as a smaller shot alongside the histogram and full shooting information.
The histogram can be viewed in two ways: as a bright display or as an RGB display. The addition of separate Red, Blue, and Green channel displays is new to the 5D and was not available on the 20D. The RGB histogram offers a more focused analysis of tonal distribution in the frame and indicates the degree of detail and saturation in each of the three color channels.
The 5D also includes a highlight alert feature, often referred to as a blinker warning. This feature causes blown out highlights to flash in the playback screen, indicating a lack of recorded information.
Users can also view the utilized AF point on the recorded frame, rotate images, and jump through the recorded frames. With the 5D’s revised jump feature, users can move ahead or back by 10 or 100 images, by date, or by folder.
Playback mode on the 5D is adequate and should appease most users. The only issues arise on account of the LCD screen. When not in direct light, the 5D’s 2.5-inch screen will be a nice tool for review; however, in bright overhead light, images will be difficult to see and a check of focus will be virtually impossible. Since this is likely to be one of the main uses of the LCD, it falls short of expectations.
Custom Image Presets*(0.0)
The Canon EOS 5D does not contain any of the traditional preset modes that more consumer-oriented cameras often supply. The 5D includes image parameters optimized for Portrait and Landscapes shots, but they are not automatic modes. For further elaboration refer to the *Image Parameters section of the review.
Manual Control Options
The EOS 5D is marketed to advanced hobbyists and professionals – a group that requires control over their images. The 5D offers a hefty set of manual options to meet their needs. Aperture, shutter speed, focus, ISO, white balance metering, image size and compression, drive mode, exposure compensation, and camera setup are all available to the photographer. More advanced options are also accessible, such as color space selection, image parameters (labeled Picture Styles), flash mode, custom settings, interchangeable focusing screens, and button allotment. For most settings even the increment of alterations can be determined by the user. The Canon 5D provides users with all expected manual controls as well as the ability to customize the camera to their shooting style.
*Auto Focus (8.0)
*The Canon 5D features a newly designed autofocus system. Building off the 9-point configuration of the 20D, the 5D adds 6 supplemental focusing sites, a new AF algorithm, and new circuitry. The nine visible autofocus sensor sites are displayed in the same horizontal-diamond array within the viewfinder as the 20D and are all tightly clustered near the center of the frame. The farthest left and right sensors are still inside the middle half of the viewfinder, and the rest of them are inside the middle 25 percent. The sensors are tightly packed vertically, as well.
The nine visible sensor sites are designed to work with lenses with maximum apertures as small as f/5.6, while two of the six supplemental sensors are designed to focus f/2.8 and faster lenses more accurately. These sensors are arranged vertically, near the center of the frame. The four other supplemental sensors help improve focus of moving objects when the camera is set to AI SERVO. They're between the center sites and the intermediate ones. These additional sites are active when the camera is set to automatically select the active sensor site or when AF point selection is expanded using the custom function (C.Fn-17-1).
The Canon 5D has three autofocus modes: Single Shot focuses when the shutter release is pressed halfway, and keeps that focus until the user lets up on the release; Predictive AI SERVO AF focuses continuously, and detects motion to maintain focus on moving subjects; and AI Focus AF automatically switches between Single Shot and Servo.
There is also a setting within the custom functions to configure the selection of the camera’s AF points. The default setting requires users to hold the AF button and rotate the jog dial; however, this action can be shifted over to either the small multi-controller or large Quick Controller.
In practice, the 5D’s AF was much more adept than the 20D’s, particularly when the desired subject was a dark tonal value. When focusing on a low contrast object of lighter tonal values, the 20D’s performance was much more in line with the Canon 5D’s, though still not quite as good. In moderate lighting, AF on the 5D snapped in quickly and was almost as fast as the AF on the 1D Mark II n until the cameras were turned vertically. In vertical shots, the 1D Mark II n definitely showed its edge. However, for a potentially sub-$3000 camera, the low light autofocusing capabilities of the EOS 5D were strong. In low light scenes with high contrast, the 5D was able to pick out objects in less than 3 lux of illumination – which is impressive.
*Manual Focus (8.0)
*Like other DSLRs, the Canon 5D allows manual focus. The standard focusing screen is full of contrast and bright, but Canon offers two other focusing screens that can be interchanged by the user. See the ‘Viewfinder’ subsection of ‘Components’ for further elaboration on focusing screens.
*The Canon 5D offers a full manual mode, in which everything is set by the user. The 5D also offers Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Program mode (it can be shifted), autoflash mode, Full Auto mode, and a Custom or user defined mode.
Exposure compensation is available in a +/- 2 stop range in either 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments as well as Auto Exposure Bracketing, also offered in a +/-2 stop range in 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments.
*The Canon 5D contains the same 35-zone TTL metering system that the EOS 20D employs, but offers a more complete range of functions. Along with an evaluative metering system that links to the autofocus sites, there is an 8 percent Partial metering mode, center-weighted averaging, and a 3.5 percent spot metering mode. The EOS 5D defaults to the evaluative pattern.
Canon’s evaluative metering system produced good results in our tests and the addition of a spot metering mode (absent on the EOS 20D) will be of great assistance in scenes with high contrast or strong backlighting.
White Balance* (9.25)
The Canon 5D offers a very comprehensive list of color balance alternatives. There are six white balance presets, plus custom and auto settings. The six presets are: Daylight, Shade, Cloudy/Twilight/Sunset, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, and Flash. For custom settings, the user calibrates the camera to an image of a white card that has been previously recorded. This method may ***appear a bit more cumbersome than the instant custom set method employed by most DSLRs; however, it acts as a memory, conserving time when shooting in multiple (fixed) lighting setups. It's also possible to simply dial in a setting in degrees Kelvin between 2,800 and 10,000, in 100-degree increments. Any of the white balance settings can be fine-tuned, on a Green to Magenta axis and a Blue to Amber axis. Each axis has nine increments. The Canon 5D also offers white balance bracketing, and can combine white balance and exposure bracketing. Bracketing is available with RAW images.
*The Canon 5D's basic ISO range is from 100 to 1600, in 1/3-stop steps. It offers a range down to ISO 50 and up to 3200 in extended mode. The 1/3-stop incremental range offers precise selections and enables users to control noise in the shot. It is certainly appropriate for a professional DSLR.
Shutter Speed* (9.0)
*The Canon 5D's shutter runs from 30 seconds to 1/8000th of a second. It also has a Bulb option for longer exposures. The 5D can sync external flashes at up to 1/200 of a second.
*The Canon 5D is not marketed with a specific lens; the available aperture range will be dependant on the applied lens.
Picture Quality / Size Options* (9.0)
*The Canon 5D records RAW and JPEG files, with a full resolution of 4368 x 2912 pixels. RAW files can only be recorded at this full resolution, but JPEGs can be recorded at full (called Large on the 5D) as well as lower resolutions. Medium is 3168 x 2112 and Small is 2496 x 1664. JPEGs can be recorded in either "Fine" or "Normal" quality. Normal files take up about half the space in memory that Fine files do.
Picture Effects Mode* (9.0)
*The Canon 5D offers the same Picture Styles as the EOS 1D Mark II n, and both cameras can accept new styles, which are available for download from Canon. Each style is a group of settings for sharpness, contrast, color saturation, and color tone. Monochrome replaces saturation and tone with "filter effect," which replicates the effect of colored contrast filters on black and white film, and "color toning," which gives a tint to the final image much like a toned black-and-white print.
The Picture Styles appear in a table in the 5D menu. The styles – Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful – show up in a column at the left, while their image parameter settings – Sharpening, Saturation, Contrast, and Color Tone – appear in columns to the right. Each parameter shows a numerical value in the table, but strangely, all of the settings in all of the styles appear to be Zero, except for sharpening in Standard, Portrait, and Landscape. This is deceiving, because saturation, contrast, and color tone vary among the styles, the "0" merely indicates its starting point, not a neutral designation.
Portrait, for instance, "adjusts" color in the yellow, red, and magenta range, while decreasing sharpening. The user can make further adjustments with the color tone setting, pushing skin tones toward yellow or magenta. So the "0" setting in color tone in Portrait doesn't indicate that the color tone is untouched; it just means that it is set to the Portrait Style's default.
Likewise, Landscape pumps up greens and blues and contrast, while the menu indicates that they are set to default – that's the Landscape Style default, not the camera default.
The Neutral Style shows zeros for every setting, which is essentially accurate. It also happens to produces images that match the default output of the EOS 1D Mark II, the predecessor to the EOS 1D Mark II n. Photographers who shoot new and old cameras can use the setting to make sure their images match.
Faithful's parameters look identical to Neutral, but the manual says Faithful is set up to reproduce colormetrically accurate color under 5200K lighting. Both Neutral and Faithful make good images for post-processing, because they don't sharpen or boost saturation, leaving more detail in the image.
Canon's first three downloadable styles are "Nostalgia," "Clear," and "Twilight." Nostalgia lowers color saturation for everything except yellow. Canon's samples give an impression of 30- or 40-year-old prints from color negatives. Clear reduces haze, punching up contrast in long telephoto shots. Twilight nudges deep blue sky toward purple, though Canon cautions that it is less effective with pale skies.
It's possible to edit the settings for each style, and to create and save user-defined styles.
The Canon 5D's parameter controls for sharpening, saturation, contrast, and tone are very powerful: at their maximum settings, they give unnaturally bold results (not always a bad thing) but since they can be adjusted in small steps, it's possible to tailor their effects.
The in-camera effects are applied before the image is saved as a JPEG, so for JPEG workflows, it has a clear advantage over post-processing – the changes are made on an uncompressed image. Canon also touts the styles for RAW workflows, noting that they should be timesavers in image processing.
Connectivity / Extras
***Software (8.25) *
The Canon 5D comes with Digital Photo Professional, an integrated browsing and editing application. Digital Photo Professional can sort images and work as a viewer, with options for adjusting color and sharpness, and cropping and rotating images. It opens and edits Canon RAW files, offering controls over white balance, brightness, and sharpening. Digital Photo Professional is integrated with EOS Capture, a program for operating the 5D via a Macintosh or Widows OS computer.
It's likely that some photographers will be interested in using the 5D in tethered mode in studios. The controls available via computer are: exposure mode, white balance, ISO, metering pattern, file size, exposure compensation, and white balance fine-tuning.
It would be convenient to be able to change the focusing mode or autofocus point in tethered mode. Burst shooting isn't available in this mode either, though it's hard to think of a use for tethered burst mode on a 3 fps camera. Bulb is also not available, which is more of a notable omission – tabletop shooters might like a Bulb mode to allow multiple pops of their flashes. There are no locks for autofocus or exposure. The program includes an intervalometer and timer. The intervalometer will only take pictures every 5 seconds – perhaps the limit is intended to make sure that the images can be transmitted to the computer properly.
Canon also includes Image Browser, a consumer-level browser and editor that is packaged with Canon’s PowerShot cameras, and PhotoStitch software for creating panoramas. PhotoStitch is fun, and may serve as a point of entry into panorama shooting. It's easier than Photoshop's integrated panorama maker, but not as flexible.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (8.75) *
The Canon 5D features a USB 2.0 port for connecting to computers and printers. It also offers analog video out, PC-cord flash sync, a 5-pin hot shoe, and a wired remote control.
*Direct Print Options (8.0)
*The Canon 5D offers direct print options. The Direct Print button above the LCD permits quick access to the printing interface.
*The Canon 5D is supplied with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a charger. The battery, which is similar to the unit in the Canon 20D, fits in a compartment in the handgrip via a latching door on the bottom of the camera.
Lithium-ion cells have given the best performance of all the battery types we test, and they are lighter than other common types to boot.
While our testing confirmed assertions that the 5D does not shoot as long as the 20D between recharges, it is not altogether a surprise. Running a full-frame sensor and writing 12.8 megapixel files clearly takes extra power.
The Canon 5D does not have any built-in memory. It accepts CompactFlash cards, and given the size of the files it writes, bigger CF cards are better.
Other Features* (6.5)
Mirror Lock up –* Accessible through the custom settings, the 5D offers a mirror lockup feature to reduce vibrations stemming from the mirror. This is generally useful on longer exposures, macro shooting, or when using a long telephoto lens.
*Depth of Field Preview – *There is a depth of field preview button fixed to the body of the 5D, just below the lens release. Pressing the preview button will stop down the lens aperture to the selected F-stop and display the planes of depth within the composition.
*Adobe RGB – *Canon included multiple color spaces on the 5D. One of these is Adobe RGB, which is generally reserved for commercial printing, although it can also be used for effect.
Camera User Setting –* On the 5D’s mode dial, the user defined setting is marked with a "C" centered within a square. Using the "register camera settings" option within the menu, users can customize this mode to their desired preferences. Both shooting and menu settings can be customized.
*Sensor Clean – *There is a Sensor Cleaning option within the menu that will lock up the mirror and open the shutter curtain, enabling users to manually clean the 5D’s CMOS chip.
*At $3300, the Canon 5D is a remarkable value. Its unusual advantages – a full-frame sensor and a 12.8 megapixel native resolution – have commanded much higher prices until now. Based purely on the market price for the technology it offers, the 5D is more than competitive: it's a bargain. The only other full-frame DSLR currently on the market goes for more than double the price of the 5D.
The full-frame sensor offers two advantages: it maintains the angle of view that most lenses currently in circulation were designed for, and it allows for larger photoreceptors on each pixel. Maintaining the maximum angle of view is particularly important for photographers who use wide angle lenses. Users who shoot wide-aperture wide-angle lenses may find this advantage reason enough to buy a 5D.
The other issue is equally important, though: a 35mm-format sensor is about twice the area as an APS-format sensor, so its pixels can be far larger. Bigger sensors mean lower noise, so the Canon 5D should appeal to photographers who want the best quality they can get. By packaging these capabilities in a camera body that is basically the size of conventional 35mm SLR, the 5D is sure to appeal to a broad range of photographers.
The Canon 5D is slow, though. At 3 fps, it won't compete as a sports camera. Its autofocus mechanism is not the best Canon offers, either. Getting action shots would be much easier with the EOS 1D Mark II n, Canon's very fast, 8.5 megapixel do-it-all pro body. While this is obviously not the market the 5D is after, it does reveal some limitations.
Nevertheless, for photographers seeking professional capabilities in a portable body, the 5D is as good as it gets right now. Assuming the price quickly dips below the $3000 mark in time for the holiday rush, the 5D will undoubtedly be tough for retailers to keep in stock.
*Canon EOS 20D -*Many of the new Canon 5D’s features are borrowed from the 20D, its similar body size being the most notable. The 20D is slightly more compact at 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.8 inches and 24.2 ounces. The 20D has an optical viewfinder with 95 percent frame coverage; the 5D improved this to 96 percent. The 20D also has a pop-up flash and picture icons on the mode dial that distinguish it from the new 5D. The Canon 20D has a 1.8-inch LCD screen with 118,000 pixels. The 5D improves this to a 2.5-inch screen with larger menu fonts and 230,000 pixels. The 5D also has a larger viewing area of 170 degrees, whereas the 20D’s is only about 80 degrees. One very notable physical change is the lens compatibility. The 20D accepts Canon EF and EF-S lenses; the 5D cannot accept EF-S lenses because of its large sensor. The Canon EOS 20D has a smaller sensor with 8.25 effective megapixels and 22 percent smaller pixels on it; the 5D has pixels that are 8.2 microns compared to the 20D’s 6.4 microns. The larger pixels produce richer colors and increase the dynamic range of the camera, so this is one area the 20D will miss out on.
Many of the functions are similar in these cameras, except the addition of scene modes on the 20D. The 5D makes improvements on a few other aspects of the 20D, including the ability to record JPEG and RAW simultaneously, the addition of a spot metering mode, an ISO 50 extension, and upgrades in the auto focus system. The 20D and 5D share a nine-point auto focus system, but the 5D adds six supplemental points that are not visible from the viewfinder. While both cameras have the predictive auto focus feature, the 5D uses a different algorithm than the 20D. The 20D and 5D both have many custom setting options, but the 5D has three that the 20D does not have: a setting to match the utilized focusing screen, a setting to choose which button will return users to shooting, and a setting for the center focal point in the AI servo auto focus mode. Another big difference between the 20D and 5D is the burst mode. The 20D shoots 5 frames per second for 23 JPEG shots, while the 5D shoots at 3 fps for 60 Large JPEGs or 17 RAWs. The Canon EOS 20D is also geared for the consumer end of the market with its $1,499 retail price.
*Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II –*As the only other full-frame DSLR on the market, the 1Ds Mark II is dressed in a more durable magnesium alloy body than the 5D. The 1Ds Mark II has similar manual functionality with the same shutter speed range, ISO, etc. Some physical differences include the body size, which is much larger, and the smaller 2-inch LCD screen – although it does have the same 230,000 pixel resolution as the 5D’s screen. The 1Ds Mark II has an electronic viewfinder similar to the 5D’s; however, the 1Ds Mark II has 100 percent frame coverage instead of the 5D’s 96 percent. The 1Ds Mark II accepts SD cards as well as CF media and uses a different battery pack than the 5D. The 5D uses 35 zones for metering, while the 1Ds Mark II uses 21 zones. The 5D has nine auto focus points while the 1Ds Mark II has 45. Perhaps one of the biggest differences between these two SLRs is the speed. The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II can shoot 4 frames per second for 32 consecutive shots at its smallest resolution. The 5D is a bit slower at 3 frames per second, but can shoot Large JPEGs for 60 photos straight. Another major difference is the resolution. The Canon 5D has 12.8 effective megapixels on its CMOS. The Mark II includes 16.7 effective megapixels on its ever-so-slightly larger CMOS plate and retails for $7,999.
*Canon EOS 1D Mark II n -*This new release from Canon is touted as the "world’s fastest digital SLR" with its 8.5 frame-per-second burst rate. The speed is backed by endurance too; the Mark II n can shoot for 48 frames at that speedy rate before pausing to record images to memory. With 8.2 megapixels, the EOS 1D Mark II n combines its CMOS sensor with the same DIGIC II image processor that is on the Canon 5D. The 5D does have an overall larger image sensor with 12.8 effective megapixels, but can’t match the 1D Mark II n’s speed as the 5D can only shoot 3 frames per second. Canon’s 1D Mark II n can shoot in JPEG, RAW, and RAW+JPEG formats like the 5D. The 1D Mark II n can also record the same image to CompactFlash and SD cards simultaneously, which the 5D cannot do as it only accepts CF cards. The two DSLRs have very similar feature sets and control options, with only minor changes here and there. The 5D has nine auto focus points, while the Canon 1D Mark II n has 45. The 5D does have a predictive auto focus mode, which the Mark II n does not have. The 1D Mark II n uses 21 zones for metering, while the 5D uses 35 zones. These digital SLRs do share Canon’s new Picture Styles menu, which groups image parameters like sharpness and contrast together. The Mark II n’s body is constructed from the same materials as the 5D and the Mark II n even comes with the same large 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel LCD monitor. However, the 5D is much smaller than the Canon 1D Mark II n’s 6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1-inch, 43-ounce body and not nearly as durable. The bodies have the same viewfinder, but the Canon 1D Mark II n’s has better coverage at 100 percent, whereas the 5D has only 96 percent. With speed as its main selling point, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II n retails for $3,999.
*Nikon D2Hs -*This DSLR has a faithful following of professionals such as newspaper photographers who need speed but not necessarily a massive megapixel count. The Nikon D2Hs has a much smaller sensor than the 5D. The Nikon also uses a CCD sensor rather than a CMOS. The D2Hs has 4.1 effective megapixels and can shoot 8 frames per second for 50 consecutive JPEG shots. The Nikon camera body is a lot bigger at 6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 inches and accepts Nikkor AF-S, DX, VR, D, and G-type lenses. While the Nikon D2Hs and the Canon 5D flaunt manual functionality, there are a few differences in their specs – not to mention the way they are manufactured. The Nikon has an 11-point auto focus system and more range in its exposure compensation scale. The Nikon offers exposure values from +5 to -5, while the Canon offers the standard +/-2 range. The Nikon D2Hs has a wider shutter speed range as well. The Canon 5D offers 30-1/8000th of a second, while the Nikon offers a faster speed of 1/16000th of a second. The Nikon D2Hs has a relatively truncated ISO range with 200-1600 options as opposed to the Canon’s broad 50-3200 range (when expanded). When speed is not an issue, the Nikon D2Hs has vast self-timer options of 2, 5, 10, and 20 seconds – compared with the 5D’s selectable 2 or 10 seconds. Both the Canon 5D and Nikon D2Hs have 2.5-inch LCD screens, but the Nikon’s has 2,000 more pixels of resolution on it. The D2Hs cannot simultaneously record JPEG and RAW images to its CompactFlash or Microdrive media, but it does sport wireless capabilities that allow users to send photographs to a computer or sync with a GPS tracking system. The Nikon D2Hs retails for $3,499.
Nikon D2X - This model will be the closest competition from Nikon in terms of megapixels. The D2X sports 12.4 effective megapixels on its much smaller DX CMOS image sensor. With typical Nikon compatibility, this DSLR accepts AF-S, DX, VR, D, and G-type lenses onto its 6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4-inch camera body. A similar 2.5-inch LCD monitor is located on the back of the D2X, but it comes with 235,000 pixels. The Nikon DSLRs have similar functions such as an exposure compensation range of +/- 5, an 11-area auto focus system, and self-timer options of 2, 5, 10, and 20 seconds. The Nikon D2X differs in its shorter shutter speed range, which is the same as the Canon 5D’s. The Nikon D2X also has a shorter ISO range from 100-800, as compared with the Canon 5D’s extended 50-3200 range. Both Nikons have HI-1 and HI-2 options for higher ISOs, but those still don’t equate to the 3200 offering on the 5D. The Nikon D2X offers compatibility with not only CompactFlash Type I and II cards, but Microdrive as well. It can shoot in RAW, JPEG, and TIFF modes, unlike the Canon 5D, and can also record monaural audio clips. The Nikon D2X also has wireless capabilities to sync with computers. This Nikon can shoot 5 frames per second for 22 consecutive images at full resolution or 8 frames per second in lower resolution. The Nikon D2X retails for $4,999.
Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro - The S3 Pro has a similarly sized 5.8 x 5.3 x 3.1-inch camera body, but this model is a very different animal. With 12.3 interpolated megapixels, its CCD sensor offers more dynamic range than other digital SLRs in this section. The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro seems more designed for studio shooting, as its burst mode is terribly slow for a DSLR. It shoots 2.5 frames per second at its fastest – and only for 7 consecutive frames. The S3 Pro offers compatibility with CompactFlash, Microdrive, and xD-Picture card media; the camera can shoot in RAW and JPEG formats, but not simultaneously like the Canon 5D. The Fujifilm S3 uses a 5-area auto focus system, which is also a bit inept for a digital SLR. This camera has a Nikon F mount on its polycarbonate body, as well as an electronic viewfinder and LCD. The viewfinder isn’t as accurate as the one on the 5D. The Canon 5D’s gets 96 percent frame coverage, while the Fujifilm S3 Pro gets 93 percent vertical and 95 percent horizontal coverage of the field. The S3 Pro comes short in its 100-1600 ISO range and its 30-1/4000th of a second shutter speed range. It does not have the vast expanse of fine-tuning available in the white balance mode; there are no Kelvin color temperatures or bracketing settings. This model has a liquid crystal display that is smaller than the 5D’s at 2 inches, but it offers more resolution with its 235,000 pixels. One of the extremely unique aspects of the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro is its power source. It runs on 4 AA batteries unlike the 5D and many other digital SLRs that run on battery packs. The S3 pro retails for around $2,500.
**Who It’s For **
Point-and-Shooters - Though the Canon 5D has a completely automated mode – you can point and shoot with it – it's really not the right camera for that. It lacks scene modes, which are useful to people who don't have insight into exposure variables. The camera is large and heavy, compared to compact cameras. The images are large files on disk. And of course, it costs about $3,000 more than you need to spend to get a decent point-and-shoot.
*Budget Consumers - *The Canon 5D is a great camera for budget consumers with enormous budgets, and I’m not being facetious. The 5D is the cheapest 12-plus megapixel DSLR on the market by a couple thousand dollars, and it's the cheapest full-frame DSLR by a wider margin.
Gadget Freaks - Gadget freaks should run out and buy at least one Canon 5D. The sensor size, mechanics, and throughput are cutting-edge, and it's quite compact for what it does. And with the file sizes the 5D produces, gadget freaks will feel justified buying CF cards in cutting-edge large capacities.
Manual Control Freaks - The Canon 5D isn't any more manual than other upper-level DSLRs, but when you consider that image quality motivates most manual control freaks, the full-frame sensor is probably very important to this segment. It indicates that the camera should produce low-noise images. Manual control freaks will probably consider the 5D carefully, and many of them will be very happy with it.
Pros / Serious Hobbyists - Serious, careful shooters are the target market for the Canon 5D. Its unusual advantage, a full-frame sensor, is only currently available on one other DSLR – the $8000+ Canon 1Ds Mark II. More than a few photographers will buy it just to get the most out of their existing wide angle lenses. Its 12.8 megapixel resolution is also currently rare, and only available elsewhere for thousands of dollars more.
**Following our period of evaluation with the Canon EOS 5D, we can fully confirm that the camera is indeed all it’s slated to be. Images produced with the camera’s 35.8mm x 23.9mm 12.8 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor were sharp and contained low noise. While the camera is not meant for speed, its 4-channel readout and DIGIC II processor handled volumes of large files with ease – processing 15 RAW images in under 22 seconds. However, the biggest surprise was the effectiveness of the newly implemented Picture Style settings. While it is slightly deceiving at first (since "0’s" are not equal to other "0" settings), the amount of control provided by the parameters was enlightening. Colors can be made to accurately reproduce the scene or slightly embellish the look and saturate the tones nicely, adding vibrancy. The design of the camera made it easy to handle and it fit my hands better than any Canon DSLR released to date. Other than a disappointing LCD screen and limited x-sync, the EOS 5D is about all consumers can ask for at a retail price of $3299. Currently, the 5D is truly without competition.
Specs / Ratings
Get Reviewed email alerts.
Sign up for our newsletter to get real advice from real experts.