Having managed to avoid the urge to buy a 5D Mark II in Vietnam I found myself unable to resist 12 months later…Focus on Imaging is Europe’s biggest annual imaging show. I have visited in previous years to hear talks held by prominent wildlife and travel photographers, as well as to pick up industry tips on the use of Photoshop and Digital Asset Management software. However, this year I was going to spend – within a budget! Arriving early paid off because I was able to grab a limited stock, refurbished model that was heavily discounted but in perfect working condition.
The Canon 5D Mark II is a full frame, 21 mexapixel camera with HD video capture. I instantly loved the much improved high resolution LCD. Compared with my Canon 40D, the new screen is so much clearer making it easy to determine if a shot is in focus rather than filling a memory card with duplicate pictures as a fallback. Being full frame means that no crop factor is applied to lenses. Wide angle lenses behave as such and the perceived extra-reach given by smaller sensors (1.6x magnification with the 40D sensor) is matched by the larger file size generated by 21MP (allowing more of the image to be cropped).
From reading reviews of the Mark II several issues pop up time and again. The most notable is that Canon failed to upgrade their dated AutoFocus system (9AF points compared to 51 offered by Nikons competitor). As someone who uses the centre point in 99% of my photography I wasn’t going to let this be a deciding factor when buying the camera. Sure, I may miss a few shots when recomposing an image but the step-up in image quality, improved low-light capture, better battery performance when out in the field, and superior LCD playback were more important factors in my decision to upgrade. Another concern is that the camera is not fully weather-sealed. Well neither was my 40D or 20D before that. And they survived the humidity of rainforests, tropical downpours and the chill of Andean nights. Enough said.
My only real issue with such a high resolution, full frame camera is that you you need to have quality optics to match. My Tamron 28-75mm is highly rated but had to be sold due to vignetting (light fall-off in the corner of pictures) when mounted on the Mark II. I replaced the tammy with Canon’s now discontinued 28-70L. This lens manages the image quality of the newer 24-70L but is lighter and, if you can find one, significantly cheaper. So far I am delighted with my copy that was bought in mint condition.
If you are looking to purchase new equipment I would recommend visiting www.fredmiranda.com. It is an excellent source of reviews. And above all else, always come back to your own needs and styles. The 5D Mark II may not be the quickest camera on the market but it suits my travel and landscape priorities.