Canon 5D Mark II

Good morning, you.

This weekend I had the ‘pleasure’ of getting my hands on what seems to be the most popular camera in the known universe.


Now it is plain to see that I am a Nikon man. Always have been. I believe their entry-level cameras are vastly superior to that of Canon, but I always maintained that when you moved up the spectrum to the pro-level cameras, Canon caught up.

So I was keen to finally get my hands on the 5D Mark II. It seems that everyone uses this damn thing, and now I’m just not sure why.

Before I go any further in to this little rant, I will freely admit that the image it takes are truly excellent. I have no problems with them at all. It is just being able to get these photos that baffles me. Why does it have to be so difficult?

Turning the camera on should be the easiest and most simple action ever. I also maintain that it should be able to be done with one hand. Now I have relatively big hands, but I cannot do it due to the placement of the switch. Fair enough, not sure a big deal I guess.

Switching settings should also be one of those natural, easy, fluid motions. But how can it be when the dials aren’t where your fingers are? The top mounted finger dial is ok, but it is cumbersome to use. Nikon use the front and back scroll wheel, which sits perfectly under your thumb and index finger.

Changing the focusing so that I could select the AF point got me very frustrated. I could do it on the rear LCD, or on the top panel, but not when looking through the viewfinder. Is it possible to do this? I don’t know, or care anymore. I resorted to manually focusing most of my shots because of this. Oh and on the same lines, 9 AF points? Really? I know that Nikon use 51 in their similar level cameras, which is possibly too many, but 9 just is not enough for this level of camera.

I was also quite disappointed with the viewfinder. It seemed perfectly fine, but for a full frame camera I wanted more to be honest, something brighter, and more pleasing to use.

The first big gripe I had when I got hold of this camera though, was it’s built quality. Most of it was hard and strong and chunky and fine. But the memory card door. Cheap, cheap cheap plastic that felt worse than the one on my old Nikon D50. Surely for this sort of money we should be getting more than that.

Oh and while I remember, protecting the images. It took me a long time to figure out how, mainly because I didn’t think something like that would be buried in the menu. Surely it is something we need straight away, but no.

Sorry Canon fans. But this camera is truly bad. I was hoping to really like it, because it seems ever popular for some reason. Like I said, images are excellent, and maybe that is why. Or maybe it is the megapixel one-up-manship that has taken hold of everyone.

Now it is possible that i am being too harsh. I’m sure if i were a Canon user i’d have taken this camera and simply loved it. But even when i gave the 5D to a non-camera user, along with a Nikon D300s, the instant favourite was the Nikon. This was simply because it was easier to use. However, after a few hours with it i was able to coax out the photos i wanted. And these are brilliant quality.

Anyway, enough of me. I actually took some good photos with this camera, and shall be posting something up about them soon enough.

I will also do a short write up and review about the lens i used with the 5D – the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8.



4 thoughts on “Canon 5D Mark II

  1. Hey T.

    I’m sure you knew I would bite at this 😛

    While some things may be true about the camera, a few of your issues are related to user error.
    Flickr currently rates the iPhone 4 as the most commonly used ‘camera’, followed by a Nikon D90, then the 5Dmark2.

    Perhaps the reason it is so popular is simply value for money. A full frame camera at that price point, is hard to pass up for portraits and landscapes. Sure it may be overkill for a lot of users, but hey, it’s all money on Canon’s pocket, instead of Nikons. 😉

    Did you read the manual? The menu system is different to a Nikon, hence why perhaps you found somethings difficult to find. I have small hands and have no issues using the dial on the top for shutter speed, and the thumbwheel on the back for aperture, then the joystick, points 8 directions, and presses in, bam, theres a direct link to your 9 AF points with one super quick movement.

    I agree it could do with a few more AF points, or even just those 9 spread out some more perhaps. Realistically, 51 is overkill. With regard to image protection, I’ve never found the need to use it to be fair, it’s pretty easily located in the menu, but everyone knows real pros use a 1D anyway 😉

    The viewfinder brightness has never been an issue for me, I’m not sure what more you would expect to be honest. Maybe I need to have a peek through a full frame Nikon for comparison.

    Calling it ‘truly bad’ might be a bit over the top. After all, it’s just a tool. If the user doesn’t know how to use the tool, then the expected result will most likely be truly bad.

    At the end of the day, you are taking images, so quality is what counts, and this camera delivers. All 21mp of full frame goodness is what I love for my landscape stuff. Along with the ability to shoot at high ISO’s without worry of the image being usable or not is helpful too.

    But, each to their own I guess. What works for some, won’t always for for others.

    • Hey Josh.

      I didn’t know if you’d bite, but i’ll bite back.

      Well the D90 is excellent, but it seems all the ‘pros’ now use a 5D 2.

      Value for money – yes, it is excellent. But the Nikon D700? Pretty same price point, and just better in many ways (except resolution!).

      I didn’t use the manual, as i only had it for the weekend. I did spend a long time in the menus, and have used Canons before, so it wasn’t all foreign to me. The AF selection annoyed me most, i got it working, but it seemed too difficult, and although 51 is overkill, the Nikons can be toned down fewer points using the menu – something Canon need to include.

      Definitely get your hands on a Nikon D3s/D700 and look through the viewfinder. It is amazing, and made looking through the 5D a bit disappointing really.

      Yes it is just a tool, but surely a tool should allow the user to do their job in the simplest and easiest way possible! I bet i would come to like the camera, and i have said the images are excellent, but it is just not user friendly compared to Nikons.

      The quality of the images was excellent, and the 21mp resolution came in handy with a couple of photos. If the D700 had a higher resolution it would be THE perfect camera. However, you can’t argue that Nikon have superior ISO handling, and i missed this when i was shooting fireworks on the Friday night.

      Each to their own indeed. But i am afraid i am missing something here. The 5D 2 is such a popular camera, is it purely for the images it produces, or is it because people bought in to the Canon system and this was the best of the bunch. Is my Nikon tuned mind getting in the way of my judgement – probably. Would i ever own a 5D 2 – maybe, for the resolution alone. Shame that to get those sorts of megapixels i’d need to jump to the top of the Nikon tree.

  2. Thanks for the reply!

    I think its difficult to compare the D700 to the 5D2 as to which is better. Perhaps it is better suited to, which one is better for me.

    The 5D2 is slower, sure, but it needs to process a few more megapixels than the D700. ISO noise is difficult to compare though. Down size a 5D2 image to 12mp and it’ll blow the D700 away. At native resolution the D700 will come out on top, as it has less pixels on the sensor, resulting in a cleaner image.

    Perhaps issues with the Canon were also related to you expecting certain things to work the same as per your familiar Nikons.

    The 5D2 has loads of custom functions so it can be set up to how you like it. Thus enabling the things you use more often, i.e. lock protection, to be more accessible too. This also enables you to set the tool up the way you like to use it, to make shooting images as efficient as possible. Something you would have played with had you had the camera for longer.

    User friendliness is also difficult to compare. Mac vs PC, everyone has their preferences.

    The newer Canon’s have the ability to de-select focus points, or groups of focus points, or change focus points based on camera orientation. The 5D2 AF system is almost archaic, and such, lacks all that.

    You freely admit you are a Nikon man, and are not a fan of Canon’s. So I’m sure that is affecting your feelings toward the camera too. I’m not sure why it’s such a popular camera though. I bought one because I don’t need a fast camera, and I wanted resolution in a full frame body. This is coming from someone who previously owned a 1D too.

    I realise giving a review on a camera you have used for merely a weekend is difficult, but I think you were a bit quick to cast judgement, based on your bias to Nikon.

    • I guess both cameras excel in their own ways. I’m sure if resolution were matched it would be a completely different story. (It was also make choosing my next camera a no-brainer).

      I have no doubt that given more time with the camera i’d have come to like it more, and would have been able to use the features and functions fairly easily. But like i said, even giving both to a non-camera user, there was a clear favourite for instant use (although this is obviously not a valid point considering these are pro cameras).

      I also have no doubt that my feelings towards this camera are some what hazed. But i was somewhat disappointed, as i maintain that higher end Canons are well up to speed with similar Nikons. Given that this camera is so popular, i think i was setting myself up to completely fall in love with it too.

      The 5D is definitely perfect for your needs, as landscapes are a slow process, and resolution is key. The resolution appeals to me a great deal, and it is really sad that Nikon don’t really match this in a competitor model. However i feel, the 9AF points would be an issue for portraiture. If put in to a shop with no camera experience and told to choose between the 5D2 and the D700, i think i’d struggle. Now if Canon and Nikon learn from each other here, the 5D3 and D700s (or whatever they will be called), will be incredible.

      As for giving my opinion after only a weekend, that’s what the interwebs are for! Giving opinion on something you barely know.

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