First Look: Canon 5D Mark II

by Wesley Fink on 12/4/2008 3:00 AM EST


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  • wliang - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    I wonder if using IS lens for video shooting has any effect on lessen the shaking compared to non-IS lens? Reply
  • melgross - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    Yes, that's the point to it.

    Just make sure that when on a tripod, the lens turns the IS off.

    Canon and Nikon lenses usually know what to when on a tripod, but most others don't.
  • cputeq - Sunday, December 07, 2008 - link

    I'm in the process of moving from Canon (40D) to Nikon (D700), but I must say the new 5D doesn't look too bad at all. I was worried the higher density was going to ruin high ISO advantages.

    I will say - I slightly prefer the D700's noise over the 5Dmii, but really it's splitting hairs - they both look great, with usable results at 12K ISO.

    I've seen images of black dots on the right side of pixels with very strong highlights - I'm wondering if any of this was experienced?

    Oh, and Anandtech, for the love of God, get a new test shot. The side of a Nvidia box is a horrible test for any type of detail rendition, though I guess with a black color it's okay for noise.

    I'm waiting on a full review of the 5D mii, but kudos to Canon from what I've seen so far, at least from this first look. It makes me *almost* regret moving to a D700 :)
  • Zebra328 - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    Yes, first impression is not bad, but a second says that maybe it's only in resolution that 5d2 beats d700 but d700 seems to beat 5d2 in all the rest.
    Have a look for example at white labels with text on them, do you see how the 5d2 creates color blotches around letters? I noticed the same on the test pics from other sources as well.
    Would you confide in a camera which on a black and white surface creats blotches of pink, green, blue, etc.? How this camera would behave depicting the real scenery? Undoubtedly it would add such tiny colorful blotches in any contrasting boundary, adding color which does not belong there.
    People will look at the pics of 5d2, 5d and d700 and say:
    "Well, you know, that pic from the 5d2 has certainly more detail than those from the old 5d and d700, but the pics from the old 5d/d700 look more natural somehow, more pleasing to eye. I like them better!"
    Of course they look more pleasing and natural, as they do not contain those nasty tiny bloches of color in spots where they do not belong.
    And I don't only speak of high ISO's, the same problem is evident at any ISO, as it has to do with some flaws in the sensor of the 5d2, inadequate microlenses maybe, which act as tiny prisms creating colorful tinting in contrasting areas, or something else, I dunno.
    I know only that I was waiting so long for upgrading from my old 5d to the new 5d2, but now I'm starting to look at the d700 which performs impeccably in everything.
  • melgross - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    You are so wrong here, you can't even imagine.

    Right now, the Nikon D700 is considered to be out of contention when compared to the 5D mkII. The image quality of Canon's new product so far outclasses that of the D3/700 that neither comes close.

    The poor image Wesley uses has been derided for years as being useless for telling us much of anything.

    What you need to do is to look for pictures around the net from both camera families. you will be surprised. If the other "example" you tell us you've seen, is as bad as the one here, then it's useless.

    While I am admittedly a Canon user, you seem to be a Nikon one, in the closet though you may be.

    However, while the newer Nikons did pave new road in low noise, that road has been paralleled by the 5D mkII. There may be slight differences in the way the noise is presented, as all companies use slightly different techniques, but they are about equal.

    However, when prints are made at the same size between a 12 MP camera and a 21 MP camera, the higher rez model will always look less noisy as well as more detailed, as long as the noise is about the same, which it is.
  • Zebra328 - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    As I said I've got a 5d1 with quite a few Canon lenses, and I'm going to use in in future too, but at the same time I'm planning to buy a modern camera which would permit me to go into higher ISOs and, possibly, into higher resolution provided it is not achieved with a loss of other quality points.
    I haven't taken a final decision yet, and I continue to study all relevant pics that appear on the net.
    The other test pics where I noticed the same phenomenon are shown on the Imaging Resourse:">
    I even posted a couple of crops confronting 5d2 and d700 in a post which I entitled: "A Sensor is not Supposed to Add Color Where It does not Belong", here:">
    I only hope that it could be explained in some other way than I did, e.g. that it might be some sort of CA which definite lenses produce on a sensor with 20+ resolution, or something like that.
    I shouldn't be happy to change systems, believe me. But I do see that d700 behaves impeccably in all respects and has the only drawback of being a camera with 12 MP rather than 21.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, December 09, 2008 - link

    Did you take the photos used in the DPR forum post, or find them elsewhere? Without knowing what has been done to those images, the comparison is relatively worthless. That looks like regular old color noise, at something like a 5000% zoom. Without knowing what ISO this was shot at and what was done in post processing we can't tell much else about it though.

    FWIW, the Nikon image appears to show sharpening halos at that magnification, but again I wouldn't put much into that without knowing how it was processed.
  • melgross - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    I'm not quite sure what the first link is supposed to show, what with all the images there.

    But I'd like to know more about the second.

    A small amount of chrominance noise removal would eliminate that. ACR uses 25% chrominance as normal for noise reduction, with 0% luminance. I've found that doesn't detract from the sharpness at that level of setting.

    Nikon is known to use a fairly high noise removal on its files, whereas Canon, on it's semi pro and up models, uses little. That is very likely the difference you see there.

    However you do it, the 5D mkII will have much greater detail at the same print size, and the ability to go larger, or to crop. This also allows one to use stronger noise removal, which is needed for every camera to some extent, without losing as much detail.

    At the same print sizes, the Canon will have less apparent noise because of the smaller pixels in the print.

    By the way, showing images on the NET isn't the best way to see what the real world results will be. Noise tends to appear less severe in a print than it does in either PS or on a web page at 100%.
  • melgross - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    I forgot to mention that the Nikon image is much mushier than the one from the Canon. lower contrast as well, though that could just be the settings. Reply
  • CEO Ballmer - Sunday, December 07, 2008 - link

    ... until the ZuneCam!">
  • stefan - Saturday, December 06, 2008 - link

    Thanks for this great comparison!!

    I would love to know how the noise of the 5D II and D700 compare at long exposure times (30 s) at 3200 ASA. That is what I would need for landscape nightshots including a sky full of stars.

    Do you have experiece with this?

  • Wineohe - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    Maybe someone else has already beefed about this, but I never shoot JPEG's with my 5D. I doubt anyone does. My photos always get post processing, either in DPP or more recently Photoshop. In this category of camera RAW comparisons should somehow be the default method of comparison. Couldn't you just import them to Photoshop and save them to a Jpeg without any post processing. At least they would get the same treatment. This would be a more likely scenario among anyone spending this kind of money on a camera. Throw me a bone here, what am I missing. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, December 05, 2008 - link

    ACR by default does different things to different camera files, so "no post processing" is not the same for each camera's files.

    I too always shoot RAW, but as Wes said the fact that they have samples up already compensates for the fact that they are not perfect.

    And the 5D had a print-share button, so obviously Canon thinks somebody is going to shoot JPEG.
  • golemite - Friday, December 05, 2008 - link

    lets face it, Anandtech camera coverage is strictly from a consumer point of view, until they step up their game, its only useful for a first look or teaser of what to expect. And it's unforgivable that the Sony already exhibits such noticeable noise at such low ISOs. Besides the megapixels, that looks almost like Point and Shoot performance to me... Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, December 06, 2008 - link

    Actually some evidence is accumulating that the 5D2 may exhibit best performance in JPEG mode. Some users are saying Canon 5D2 in-camera JPEG better controls noise than any current RAW processing software. That is similar to my own experience with the 5D so it does not come as a surprise. has just posted a complete set of RAW files for the 5D2. They can be compared to the D700/D3 and A900 in their comparometer. You may need to download and resize the 5D2 images to properly compare the D2 12.1MP to the Canon 21.1MP.

    I have looked carefully at the data posted ar IR and find they basically support what I have already posted in this review. Multiple confirmations are always good.
  • strikeback03 - Monday, December 08, 2008 - link

    Hopefully the noise suppression software catches up then. The advantages of shooting in RAW are too great. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, December 06, 2008 - link

    Obviously we are talking about the D3, not the D2. Edit would be handy here. Reply
  • Wineohe - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I have the 5D which I always thought was among the best at higher ISO. The Mark II seems to blow it away. No more Talls or Grandes. I'm going to start saving my money and brewing my own so that I can replace my 5D. Reply
  • Roy2001 - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I used to trust DPR but they are biased against Canon which I don't like. Thanks for post. Cannot wait for a full review. Reply
  • Roy2001 - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I used to trust DPR but they are biased against Canon which I don't like. Reply
  • n4bby - Friday, December 05, 2008 - link

    > I used to trust DPR but they are biased against Canon which I don't like.

    huh? i don't think so at all... i think they are pretty fair. they have always rated Canon products favorably when deserved, but remain critical enough to give relatively impartial opinions. if they say Nikon does some things better, it's because they do - Canon is not perfect, and there are a few things Nikons have always done better. (and no, i am not a Nikon user - i have only Canon gear.)
  • n4bby - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link


    > It is not the wide ISO wonder of the 5D2 or the D700, but it is definitely the highest resolution image at lower ISO ratings.

    i'm not sure how you came to this conclusion. looking at the ISO100 images, the 5d2 seems to resolve every bit as well the Sony, and with the much lower noise levels i can actually make out a little more detail. in any case, you would need a resolution chart to really determine - did you shoot one?

    > The 5D2 is close in resolution, however - much closer than the D700/D3.

    with half the pixels i wouldn't expect the Nikons to be close.....
  • pinto4402 - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    Wow. I'm in love. After three years, Canon finally produces a camera which is worthy of replacing my beloved 5D. I fear, however, that the images produced by this camera will kill my hard drives for sure. I only photograph in RAW mode, saving the images in TIFF.

    Wesley, I enjoy reading your reviews, but for the love of God, please use something else other than that Nvidia box for your test images. It's time to make a clean break, consistency be damned! The thing with noise I worry about it how it affects key facial features (eyes and lips). Your test setup is not as helpful as could be. A feasible alternative is a good quality mannequin head. I hope you will consider it.

    Also, are you going to be doing any comparisons of the leading noise reduction programs?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I will be replacing my test setup with something more useful. However in the interest of bringing you the first real comparison published in just one day after buyers began receiving production 5D2s, I used the setup I already had used for all the compare shots.

    I hope readers will forgive me. Reshooting everything with a new setup would have added several days to the review time and I suspected you wanted this comparison fast.
  • melgross - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I would like to see the same reduced sized samples when compared to the D3/700 with both the Canon and Sony. I'm also of the opinion that it is more useful in showing a real comparison, print size to print size.

    Also, why were the images of the Canon so much denser? That will also affect the way the noise looks.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    Our A900 review "Sony A900: A Closer Look at 24.6MP Resolution and Noise" contains image area adjusted A900 images that match the 12 megapixels of the D700 and the 5D. You will find the review by clicking on the Digital Cameras tab above. Reply
  • melgross - Friday, December 05, 2008 - link

    Yes, I read that review when it came out.

    I mean the new 5D mkII compared to the a900, and the Nikon, with all three (or four, if including the 1Ds mkII) shown at the same size.

    What about the exposure?
  • Lord 666 - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    Agreed that this review was a much improved effort and found it informative as well. Reply
  • tonyeck - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I am very happy with my 5D mkII apart from one thing - a stuck pixel! It's fine for photographs, and it's almost expected with 21 megapixels... However, with video, stuck pixels show up like crazy!

    Have a look at this still from a video I took:">
  • Milleman - Friday, December 05, 2008 - link

    That dead pixel looks not good at all. Can't you have the sensor replaced by warranty? I mean, this is not a El Cheapo camera you just bought! Canon should have a replacement policy for dead pixels. I'm glad you bringning this up, as I'm about to buy a 5D2 myself. I will certainly try the video and look for dead pixels.

    Could be a good point if Anand, Wesley Fink, looks att dead pixels and the manufacturers policy with this issue. The more pixels, the bigger the chance. It's the same problem as the LCD screen buyers have. Would be an interresting article indeed.
  • BORUP - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

  • brokensoul - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    dxomarks for the canon should be up in a couple of days, and the 5DmkII seems to do really good... Reply
  • randfee - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link


    we've been discussing this elsewhere. The new camera has a feature called "Higlight Tone Priority", which seems to be turned on when it ships. If that was turned on, the noise levels presented are actually worse than they could be:

    HTP choses a lower ISO setting and then underexposes to frame. It later applies a curve to increase exposure again but through that process increases noise since dark areas are being boosted!

    Can you verify if that was on or off?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    I just checked and C.Fn II: Image 3, which is Highlight Tone Priority, is disabled. I don't recall if it was on by default, but it was disabled before for the test shots.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
  • KnIgHtCoM - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    That's the real selling point here. 1080P shooting on L glass. *drool* Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    You are certainly right. For some the 1080p video with full AF on L glass will be the most important feature. We plan to cover that more fully in the more detailed review.

    There is only so much you can do in a review in just one day, so we targeted Resolution and Noise since those were the largest unanswered questions from a production 5D2 for most readers.
  • KnIgHtCoM - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    Haha, no worries. Just giving you guys a hard time. I'm looking forward to your review on video. As a event videographer, I'm really excited to get my hands on one of these bad boys. Reply
  • plonk420 - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    too bad it's "just" 1080p30 (not 24/25) ... at least last i'd heard. the petition seemed to be going places, but not sure if Canon was listening.

    i can't stop whoring out this short film shot on it (with no post production other than audio and titles):">

    Nikon HD video on-camera what?
  • shangshang - Thursday, December 04, 2008 - link

    AT has become Ritz Camera galore. I can't remember the last time I actually took a meaningful picture. Reply

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