When I first learned about the Canon EOS 5D, it sounded like just the right upgrade for someone like me, who is a longtime Canon EOS D60 and Canon EOS 20D user. I was right. In fact, I felt right at home with the 5D because the menu system, weight and functionality are very similar to those two cameras (but closer to the 20D). Then I started shooting with the camera, and I was immediately hooked.
Out of the box
After shooting with many of Canon‘s other pro digital bodies, such as the 16.7-megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark II, I was very surprised (and pleased) at how light, yet sturdy the EOS 5D's body is (just under two pounds with a battery). Speaking of batteries, the 5D takes the same battery as the Canon EOS D60 and EOS 20D, which is great news for those who want to bring a backup camera without having to carry two sets of batteries and chargers. I tested the camera near my home, during two model photo shoots, and on a trip to Southern California, and I used three different Canon EF-mount zoom lenses for testing (the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L, 24-70mm f/2.8L and EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS).
The 16-35mm 2.8L was an absolute joy to use with the 5D. The full-frame sensor gave me back the wide angle view that I lost with smaller-sensor DSLR cameras. and the other lenses also performed extremely well. I was particularly pleased with the sharpness of the EF 28-135 IS (see captions for more info). The EOS 5D‘s viewfinder is larger and brighter than the EOS 20D, which made manual focusing much easier in low light.
A closer look
The camera‘s 230,000 pixel 2.5'' LCD is fantastic. For the first time, I was able to really get a sense of whether my images were sharp, and scrolling through photos with a client was much more effective than with a smaller LCD. The wide angle of view also made it possible for two people to easily see the screen clearly at the same time. Hooking it up to a TV via its NTSC/PAL video output was also easy, and it provided a quick and sharp look at the images.
The camera‘s navigation system is very intuitive; Zooming, panning and scrolling through images is very fast.
The 5D’s shutter release is extremely responsive, with no significant shutter lag. I don’t recall ever having to wait to get a shot, even when shooting at a fast pace. I measured how many RAW bursts I could shoot with a SanDisk 1GB Extreme III, Lexar 1GB 80x and SanDisk 8GB Ultra II, and I had virtually the same results with all (16-17 frames in a row without a pause). Then every second or two, another shot was possible.
Image quality under just about every condition was excellent. Skin tones rendered very smooth and natural, and I found noise levels were very low up to ISO 800 (see Fig. 3, above), and good in most light up to ISO 1600. When I pushed the camera to ISO 3200 (in the expanded mode), noise became much more apparent, but the noise did not look artificial. At ISO 1600, noise was quite monochromatic (like film grain), and the color noise at ISO 3200 can be reduced by editing in ACR or an image editor.
The EOS 5D‘s combination of features, plus its reasonable price makes it a very good choice for photographers who specialize in everything from weddings to sports. And in case you‘re wondering, I‘ve added it to my holiday wish list! DIT