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Canon 30D versus Canon 5D Mark II

The Canon EOS 30D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (30D) and a full frame (5D Mark II) sensor. The 30D has a resolution of 8.2 megapixel, whereas the 5D Mark II provides 21 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 30D vs Canon 5D Mark II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Canon 5D Mark II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 30D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 30D vs Canon 5D Mark II
30D versus 5D Mark II top view
30D and 5D Mark II rear side
Body view (30D on the left)

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 larger (14 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the 5D Mark II is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the 30D. It is noteworthy in this context that the 5D Mark II is splash and dust-proof, while the 30D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 (30D). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 30D gets 750 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the 5D Mark II can take 850 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 no 2006 1,399discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft) 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 YES 2016 3,499 latest check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 YES 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 YES 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 YES 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 no 2007 1,299discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 YES 2007 7,999discont. check
Canon 400D (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 no 2006 799discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 YES 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 350D (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 no 2005 899discont. check
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 no 2004 1,499discont. check
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 no 2003 1,999discont. check
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 YES 2005 1,699discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 30D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the 5D Mark II, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.


Sensor comparison: Canon 30D vs Canon 5D Mark II

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 30D features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D Mark II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D Mark II is 156 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 30D and Canon 5D Mark II sensor measures
Sensor size

With 21MP, the 5D Mark II offers a higher resolution than the 30D (8.2MP), but the 5D Mark II has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 6.42μm for the 30D). Yet, the 5D Mark II is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 6 months) than the 30D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

30D versus 5D Mark II MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 5D Mark II offers substantially better image quality than the 30D (overall score 20 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.5 10.8 736 59
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 30.1 6720 4480 4K/30p 24.8 13.6 2995 91
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 22.5 11.6 926 68
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.2 11.5 813 66
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.0 11.7 854 66
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 no 21.8 11.4 696 63
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.1 11.3 703 64
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 no 24.0 12.0 1663 80
Canon 400D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.1 11.0 664 62
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912 no 22.9 11.1 1368 71
Canon 350D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 8.0 3456 2304 no 21.8 10.8 637 60
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.9 11.0 721 62
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.3 3072 2048 no 21.1 10.9 571 57
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.0 3872 2592 no 22.3 11.5 583 64

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark II indeed provides for movie recording, while the 30D does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark II can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison: Canon 30D vs Canon 5D Mark II

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 30D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 30D, the Canon 5D Mark II, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 7.0 no no
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel no 8000 5.3 13 no
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 8.0 12 no
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 6.3 13 no
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 6.5 12 no
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 400D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 YES no
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 3.0 no no
Canon 350D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 1.8 115 fixed no 4000 3.0 YES no
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 12 no

Both the 30D and the 5D Mark II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, while the 5D Mark II was followed by the Canon 5D Mark III.

Review summary: Canon 30D vs Canon 5D Mark II

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 30D better than the Canon 5D Mark II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 30D:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (144x106mm vs 152x114mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2006).

Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (21 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 60%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (20 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (850 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 30D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D Mark II is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 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.

30D 05:11 5D Mark II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 30D and the 5D Mark II in practical situations. 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 table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) 87/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2006 1,399discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,499 latest check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 Rec 79/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 93/100 HiRec 84/100 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 1,299discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec 4.5/5 - - 2007 7,999discont. check
Canon 400D (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed 4.5/5 4/5 2006 799discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 350D (⇒ lft | rgt) 80/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 899discont. check
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2004 1,499discont. check
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2003 1,999discont. check
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed 5/5 - 2005 1,699discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.


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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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