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Canon 5D Mark II Comparison Review

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was officially introduced in September 2008 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 21 megapixel.

camera

Is the Canon 5D Mark II a good camera? The 5D Mark II has a Camera Elo of 1600. This rating puts the 5D Mark II below average of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the 5D Mark II also ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 2.5-star performance rating. – Well, the Canon 5D Mark II is more than 15 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2008.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D Mark II
Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses
21 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video
ISO 100 - 6 400 (50 - 25 600)
Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.9 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed body
850 shots per battery charge
152 x 114 x 75 mm, 850 g

Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

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Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Canon 5D Mark II vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Canon 5D Mark II vs credit card front
5D Mark II versus credit card top view
5D Mark II and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Canon 5D Mark II alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
#   Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark II 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499ebay.com
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 5DS 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 5DS R 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark III 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 6D 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 5D 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
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The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon 5D Mark II was launched in the US market at a price of $3,499. 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.

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Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

The Canon 5D Mark II features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Canon 5D Mark II among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Canon 5D Mark II sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of alternative cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
#   Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
4.
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
5.
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
7.
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
8.
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
9.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
10.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
11.
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
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Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark II indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark II can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 5D Mark II has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 98% and a magnification of 0.71x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark II and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
#   Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9/s n n
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y3.2 / 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVoptical Y3.2 / 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 7.0/s n n
4.
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
5.
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s n n
7.
 
Canon 6Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s n n
8.
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0/s n n
9.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
11.
 
Canon 5Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s n n
Note: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.
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One useful feature of the 5D Mark II is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

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Connection comparison

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 5D Mark II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
#   Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmono / monoYYmini3.0---
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVYmono / monoYYmini3.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 5DSYmono / monoY-mini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 5DS RYmono / monoY-mini3.0---
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmono / monoYYmini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 6DYmono / monoY-mini2.0Y--
8.
 
Canon 1D XYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 7DYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIYmono / ----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 5DY- / ----2.0---
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It is notable that the 5D Mark II has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Further information on the features and operation of the 5D Mark II can be found in the free online Canon 5D Mark II Manual or on the Canon support site.

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Expert reviews

While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5D Mark II in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent 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]).

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Review Scores
#    Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark II4/591/100..79/1004/5.. Sep 2008 3,499ebay.com
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....4.5/589/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV4.5/5+ +4/587/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 5DS..+..83/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 5DS R5/5+..83/1005/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 5D Mark III..+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 6D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 1D X5/5......4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III......+ +4.5/5.. Aug 2007 7,999ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 5D..88/100..+ +o.. Aug 2005 3,299ebay.com
Note: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.
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Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

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Canon 5D Mark II FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the 5D Mark II.

What technology is the imaging sensor in the Canon 5D Mark II based on?

The camera has a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.

Which image processing chip is used in the Canon 5D Mark II to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Canon equipped the 5D Mark II with the DIGIC 4 image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the Canon 5D Mark II?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Canon EOS 5D Mark II?

Canon mentions a shutter rating of 150 000 actuations for the 5D Mark II. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the 5D Mark II over, say, three years, one would have to take about 150 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my Canon 5D Mark II?

Canon embeds the number of shutter actuations in the camera firmware. You can check the number of shots that your 5D Mark II has taken up to now by using a third-party app, as described on the Canon 5D Mark II shutter count page.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with the Canon 5D Mark II for flash photography?

The 5D Mark II's flash sync speed is 1/200 sec.

Which battery does the Canon 5D Mark II use?

The camera gets its power from the LP-E6 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Is there a vertical grip available for the Canon 5D Mark II?

Yes, Canon offers the BG-E6 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities with other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Canon 5D Mark II
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2008
    Launch Price USD 3 499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 21 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5 616 x 3 744 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6 400 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 25 600 ISO
    Image Processor 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
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input No touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 3.9 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E6 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)850 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 114 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 850 g (30.0 oz)

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