Canon 1D vs 5D Mark II
The Canon EOS-1D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2001 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D) and a full frame (5D Mark II) sensor. The 1D has a resolution of 4.1 megapixels, whereas the 5D Mark II provides 21 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D and the Canon 5D Mark II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D Mark II is notably smaller (30 percent) than the Canon 1D. Moreover, the 5D Mark II is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the 1D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 5D Mark II) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (1D). You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the 1D gets 500 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the 5D Mark II can take 850 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 5D Mark II, Canon provides the BG-E6 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 1D||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1585 g||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|8.||Canon 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|10.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|12.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|15.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|16.||Canon 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|17.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 5D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 46 percent) than the 1D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D features an APS-H sensor and the Canon 5D Mark II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D Mark II is 58 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the 5D Mark II uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the 1D (DIGIC), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 21MP, the 5D Mark II offers a higher resolution than the 1D (4.1MP), but the 5D Mark II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 11.56μm for the 1D). Yet, the 5D Mark II is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 11 months) than the 1D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 5D Mark II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5D Mark II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 28.1 x 18.7 inches or 71.3 x 47.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.5 x 15 inches or 57.1 x 38 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.7 x 12.5 inches or 47.5 x 31.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D are 12.5 x 8.3 inches or 31.7 x 21.1 cm for good quality, 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.9 cm for very good quality, and 8.3 x 5.5 inches or 21.1 x 14.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|6.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|8.||Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||24.3||13.0||2155||85|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|10.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|12.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|15.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|16.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|17.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 5D Mark II indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1D does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark II can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D and the 5D Mark II are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 1D offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 5D Mark II (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the 5D Mark II has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D, the Canon 5D Mark II, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 1D||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||8.0||n||n|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|15.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|16.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
|17.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1D and the 5D Mark II write their files to Compact Flash cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D and Canon EOS 5D Mark II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 1D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 1D C||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|15.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|17.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D and the 5D Mark II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II, while the 5D Mark II was followed by the Canon 5D Mark III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1D better than the Canon 5D Mark II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D:
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/8000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2001).
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (21 vs 4.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 125%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.55x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 120k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (152x114mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 735g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (850 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (46 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 1D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 5D Mark II is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D and the Canon 5D Mark II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1D or the 5D Mark II perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499|
|2.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||..||+ +||5/5||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||4/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|8.||Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|10.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|11.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|12.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|14.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|15.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|16.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|17.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D vs Canon 1D X Mark II
- Canon 1D vs Canon M100
- Canon 1D vs Fujifilm XQ1
- Canon 1D vs Leica CL
- Canon 1D vs Panasonic GX80
- Canon 1D vs Pentax K-1
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon G5 X Mark II
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Leica X Typ 113
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Olympus E-M5
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Olympus E-M5 II
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Sony NEX-6
Specifications: Canon 1D vs Canon 5D Mark II
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2001||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 3,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4.1 Megapixels||21 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2496 x 1662 pixels||5616 x 3744 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.56 μm||6.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.76 MP/cm2||2.43 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC||DIGIC 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||11.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1815|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||120k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||3.9 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||850 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
152 x 114 x 75 mm
(6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1585 g (55.9 oz)||850 g (30.0 oz)|
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