My Initial Thoughts on the Canon 5D Mark II After 24 Hours

I spent yesterday afternoon out shooting with my new Canon 5D Mark II and these are my earliest thoughts. I’ll probably do a series of short posts like this on the camera from time to time rather than any sort of formal review. I haven’t even processed any photos from the new camera yet or played with it’s video functionality so certainly more to come later.

The first thing I noticed about the new 5D is that it feels quieter to me. The sound of the shutter is very different than the old 5D, it sounds less mechanical and more muted. I like that.

The large LCD screen on the back of the camera is pretty cool. The photos feel really large as they display for the 2 seconds after you take a shot.

It is sooooooooo nice not to have to keep resetting my date/time over and over and over and over again. The internal battery on my old 5D died a while back and so every time I’d change batteries I’d have to reset the date and time. I tried taking the camera to a camera battery store but they didn’t seem to have a battery that would work with my old 5D and I was too lazy to do the research to find the actual replacement.

I find that I’m taking less shots when I’m out shooting. I think it’s more mental at this point but something about seeing only 250 or so shots on an 8 gig card makes me pause more when I decide whether or not to take a shot or how many to take. It’s not just about the room on the card, in the back of my mind I’m also thinking about the fact that larger file sizes will just be all around more difficult to work with. They’ll take longer to transfer to my Mac. They’ll take up more space on my Mac’s hard drive. Eventually they’ll consume more space on my Drobo. Bigger files are likely going to be slower to work with in Lightroom, etc. I think that this is still mostly just an early mental thing going on in my head that should resolve itself in time. I did notice yesterday though that I took less photographs in four hours than I usually do and I seemed to think more about my shots. Who knows, maybe this is a good thing too.

I like the new menu on the Mark II better than the old 5D. It seems more intuitive and you scroll through the screens easier.

A few times while working with the camera I accidentally pushed the delete button when I meant to push the play button. The play and delete buttons are pretty close to each other. I’m not too worried about this because you have to confirm photo deletion but it seemed like maybe these two buttons should be further away from each other.

That’s all for now. No real opinion on the image quality yet because I haven’t processed any images from it. I’m heading out to shoot a bit more this afternoon with it and will continue to post thoughts on the camera as I think about them.

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  1. JeffH says:

    Thanks for your quick review! Looking forward to hearing what you think about the images once you process some of them. My shooting experience has been very similar to yours. I noticed that the AF seems a little quicker and possibly more accurate when using the center focus point, which I do most of the time. I also noticed when using live view a lot or shooting video that the battery drains a lot quicker than the old 5D.

  2. William Beem says:

    I think taking fewer shots is a good thing. I’ve noticed the same feeling since getting my Nikon D700, though I’m not experiencing a major change in file size from my D200, as you are.

    Still, something about switching bodies made me realize that I want to think more about my compositions, spend more time planning than reacting, and that leads to fewer (and I hope better) shots.

  3. Justin Korn says:

    SOOO jealous! We have to meet up sometime soon so I can at least watch you play with it 🙂

  4. Rich Harris says:

    Thanks for posting some info about this and your thoughts. I just go the new 50D and am excited to eventually master it and move up to a full frame camera.

    Peace,
    Rich

  5. JeffH says:

    @Justin, I’m up for a meet up if someone wants to arrange one in the South SF Bay Area.

  6. I’m glad you finally got your mk II. I have been really enjoying mine, but I’m coming from a 40d.

    One thing you may notice is that it’s very easy to over sharpen 5d Mark II RAWs. I use both Lightroom 2 and DPP and you have to be extra careful in Lightroom. In DPP the sharpness setting ‘1’ is usually enough, I use 2 for softer photos, but beyond that things get nasty.

    Also, Lightroom 2 runs fine on my first gen Macbook with Mark II RAWs but it takes about 10 seconds per file to convert to JPG. I doubt you will have any issues with performance on your Mac.

  7. aviva5271 says:

    Thomas – long time fan, first time commenter: I went from a 1D MIII to the 5D MII (had the original 5D before the 1D) and am noticing that I’m pressing the delete button instead of play a lot – but that’s because it’s in the same place as the play button on the 1D! Thankfully it asks if you’re sure before you go deleting stuff, so that’s nice.

    I’m so happy with the images from my 5D MII – and agree with your other assessments as well….but yeah, they are BIG. I’m getting a PowerMac in ’09 (upgrading from my maxed-out iMac).

  8. Dave says:

    I recently upgraded from a 300D (the original Digital Rebel) to the 5D MkII. What an upgrade it’s been! I’ve been very happy with it over the last month or so since getting it, and have really enjoyed the learning curve involved.

    I’ll second your observation about taking fewer shots, it’s surprising how fast the card fills up if you’re shooting RAW. The increased storage space on my hard disks was definitely a consideration before I upgraded, but I ended up deciding that something is always limiting, and in this case I didn’t want it to be the camera.

    Downloading RAW files is actually much faster than what I’m used to with the old camera, something I attribute to the faster CF card and faster data transfer from the camera. On my 2.5 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, Lightroom is a bit slower generating previews of the RAW files, and exporting to JPEGs, but editing the photos seems to be about as fast as with the 300D files.

    I’m looking forward to your further impressions on it.

  9. Bernard Siao says:

    Thomas,

    The internal battery for the 5D is the CR2016.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Lithium-Coin-Battery-CR2016/dp/B0001MQUO2

    Here is an article that has a diagram of where the battery is located:

    http://www.lensrentals.com/news/2008.12.31/canon-err99

  10. I’ve been enjoying shooting with the 5D MkII quite a bit also. I’ve seen some complaints about medium and high ISO noise for this camera, so tonight I walked out to the Bay Bridge and took some test shots. I can’t see how anyone who ever shot film or the last 10 years of digital wouldn’t be thrilled by the ISO 800-1600 performance of the Mk2. Identical shots at ISO 400, 800, 1600, and 3200 are here: http://www.bstorage.com/temp/5D/IsoTest/ . I think this is a decent test of image noise (dark fog) and the black-pixel issue (bright bridge lights). I’m now able to shoot with a long lens at small apertures in low light, getting sharp, no-flash shots of hummingbirds in flight (ISO 800-1600) – this is a first for me: http://www.bstorage.com/photo/us/ca/hummingbirds/ .