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Canon 5D Comparison Review

The Canon EOS 5D is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in August 2005 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 12.7 megapixel.

camera

Is the Canon 5D a good camera? The 5D has a Camera Elo of 1296. This rating puts the 5D below average of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the 5D also ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 2.5-star performance rating. – Well, the Canon 5D is more than 16 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2005.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D
Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses
12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video
ISO 100 - 1 600 (50 - 3 200)
Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed body
400 shots per battery charge
152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 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.

Body comparison with a credit card

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size of the Canon 5D vis-à-vis a credit card. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

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

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Canon 5D 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 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299ebay.com
2.
 
Canon 6D Mark II 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 amazon.com
3.
 
Canon 5DS 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 5DS R 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 amazon.com
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark III 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 6D 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark II 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1215 g 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D700 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon 5D was launched in the US market at a price of $3,299. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

The Canon 5D 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 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Canon 5D sensor measures

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of alternatives.

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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 Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
2.
 
Canon 6D Mark II Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
3.
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
4.
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
6.
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
10.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
11.
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2230380

It should be noted that unlike many modern cameras, the 5D does not provide the possibility to capture videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 5D has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 96% and a magnification of 0.71x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D 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 5Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s n n
2.
 
Canon 6D Mark IIoptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.5/s n n
3.
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
4.
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s n n
6.
 
Canon 6Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s n n
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9/s n n
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5/s n n
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y2.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0/s n n
10.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s n n
11.
 
Nikon D700optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One useful feature of the 5D 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.

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 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 5DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Canon 6D Mark IIYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
3.
 
Canon 5DSYmono / monoY-mini3.0---
4.
 
Canon 5DS RYmono / monoY-mini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmono / monoYYmini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 6DYmono / monoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY- / ----1.1---
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 1DsY- / ----FW---
11.
 
Nikon D700Y- / ---mini2.0---

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5D handle or perform in practice. 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 following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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..88/100..+ +o.. Aug 2005 3,299ebay.com
2.
 
Canon 6D Mark II4/5+4/580/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 amazon.com
3.
 
Canon 5DS..+..83/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 5DS R5/5+..83/1005/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 amazon.com
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark III..+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 6D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark II4/591/100..79/1004/5.. Sep 2008 3,499ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N............ Aug 2005 3,999ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II......+ +.... Sep 2004 7,999ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1Ds......+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D700..89/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 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.

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Canon 5D FAQ

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

What type of imaging sensor is used in the 5D?

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

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Canon equipped the 5D with the DIGIC 2 image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the 5D?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200.

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

Canon mentions a shutter rating of 100 000 actuations for the 5D. 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 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

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

Canon embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your 5D has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the free online shutter count finder app.

Does the Canon 5D feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

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

Which battery does the 5D use?

The camera gets its power from the BP-511A (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Is there a vertical grip available for the 5D?

Yes, Canon offers the BG-E4 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Canon 5D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2005
    Launch Price USD 3 299
    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 12.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4 368 x 2 912 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.25 μm
    Pixel Density 1.47 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1 600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3 200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 2
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 71
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1368
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Size 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k 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 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 113 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 895 g (31.6 oz)

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