5D Mark II is here!!!

Finally after waiting for nearly 2 months, Canon EOS 5D Mark II reached me today. This is from the first lot of camera to reach Indian shores. It still has Firmware 1.0.6 (I did not test for back dots nor banding which now we know can be easily resolved using firmware 1.0.7). Here is my brief review. I know the web is inundated by reviews and controversies surrounding this milestone camera. Here is my bit to that knowledgebase. Remember I just used it for less than 3 hours, so my conclusions might change.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Ok… so its new – and I have been using Canon EOS 40D till early December 2008. But after using the 5D2 I just love the 5d2 photos more – I don’t know if its the full frame and added DOF with same framing or the image quality… I cant pick it but i really do think its a bit of both… so on that note – the 5D2 really is a stunning performer.

Video
Video from this camera has stunning quality. I am not praising for it being the first dSLR to give 1080p quality video. I run the clip on my Athlon AM2 3GHz, Windows 7 Beta x64, 6GB RAM, NVIDIA 8800GT, Dual Dell 20″ Monitor + all the bells and whistles… it chugs on full HD. I have no output ability for HD so am crunching all my clips down to a measly crappy DVD Quality. I need a Monitor with HDMI now and Bluray player. I think a lot of people will be disappointed with the video for the fact its massive and they really will need new PCs if they want to make HD movies. This stuff is 6x bigger per frame than DV quality AVI’s. A 3min clip took me 30min to render (arghh 10x) (hq with 2 passes) need to have a play with my output settings. It crunches at 300 mb/min. Original Movie clip will play with complaint on Media Player Classic. But plays nicely on Windows Media Player 12 which comes with Windows 7 beta & with Apple Quicktime, provided that you have good video card.

Good

  • IQ basically identical to $8000 cameras like 1Ds3 and maybe even D3X.
  • Movie mode IQ insanely good in decent light.
  • Movie mode usable in lower light where very few other video cameras would be.
  • AF actually good IMO, provided you stick with the center point or are in decent light–don’t forget vertical- or horizontal-only points must have the proper type of detail to work, don’t blame the camera for that (I understand you’d like all cross sensors, but you don’t have it so if you just work with what you’ve got it’s actually not bad at all)
  • Very solid feel.
  • Menus are pretty and easy to use.
  • Direct print button is no longer totally superfluous! (Activates live view.)
  • High ISO performance incredible, despite what you might hear to the contrary, provided that you use DPP, and NOT Lightroom!
  • Superior high ISO performance means you can stop your lenses down for even better lens performance. Or you can use faster shutter speeds to freeze action. Or get even lower noise.
  • Screen is just as good as people say it is and if you zoom in all the way, the full size embedded JPEG allows you to test for sharpness at the pixel level
  • Silent mode very nice to have (especially Mode 2)
  • Live view allows zooming for fine adjustment manual focus–critical focus can be achieved every time in this manner
  • sRAW1 indeed beautiful. Sharper than any native 10-12MP camera. (Just leave HTP off per Canon’s recent announcement regarding banding & update to firmware 1.0.7.)
  • Viewfinder is amazing. Older cameras now feels like looking through a keyhole.
  • Best of both FF and APS-C worlds because you get the wider field of view of FF but you have the same pixel density as many of the crop cameras (except 50D) for extra telephoto reach.

I’m sure there’s more I haven’t thought of yet, but that should get you started!
Bad

  • Spot AE still can’t link to all AF points
  • No built-in flash for urgent use
  • Auto ISO in ‘M’ mode always set to ISO 400
  • Movie mode no control of aperture, shutter speed, or ISO, but you do have +/- 2 EV of exposure compensation at least, as well as exposure lock
  • Movie mode AF slow, you pretty much have to use MF
  • Movie mode appears not to do much noise reduction (if any) and low-light movies would certainly look better with some chroma NR (I understand that this is probably a computational limitation, wait for Digic V perhaps?)
  • Movie mode picks up all camera operation sounds, including IS, AF, MF, exposure compensation, need an external mic for serious work
  • Live view AF (also applies to movies) sometimes very accurate, but sometimes totally off
  • It would be nice if My Menu was scrollable allowing more than ~6 items (or however many it is)
  • If you use Lightroom, you will feel like you’ve been gipped after seeing all the noise at ISO 6400 and above
  • Camera seems to underexpose, perhaps to avoid blowing highlights at any cost
  • No control over embedded JPEG thumbnail size in sRAW files (always 21MP) but not a big deal really
  • HDMI cable not included
  • Picture style button a little superfluous IMO but maybe JPEG shooters like it?
  • Files huge of course (but unavoidable)

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