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Op ED: 7 Reasons Why Nothing Has Convinced Me to Give Up the Canon 5D Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Polaroid PL160D first impressions product photos (1 of 12)ISO 200

The Canon 5D Mk III was announced a while ago and with all the rumored build up to the newly announced Canon 6D, I’m still disappointed. As a Canon customer for five years now, my first serious DSLR purchase was the 5D Mk II with two lenses. That system grew and evolved based on the work I did (at one point even adding on the 7D) and it now comprises of the 5D Mk II, 35mm f1.4 L, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.8, and lots of flashes.

The Mk III added on some extra bells and whistles to the 5D Mk II that I really didn’t care about but that were nice. At the end of my 5D Mk III review, my Mk II’s autofocus started to act up. But after cleaning the contacts, it worked almost as well as the 5D Mk III’s. The 6D is designed to be an entry level contender in the full frame market (despite how nice it looks); and to be honest it’s still not convincing me that I need another full frame DSLR.

Editor’s Note: Available for Preorder

B&H Photo: Body Only / Kit

Amazon: Body Only / Kit

Specs Comparison

5D Mk II

Specs taken from the B&H Photo Video Listing

Imaging
Camera Type Digital SLR with Interchangeable lenses
Lens Mount Canon EF
Camera Format Full-Frame
Pixels Actual: 22 Megapixel
Effective: 21.1 Megapixel
Max Resolution 21MP: 5616 x 3744 @ 3:2
Other Resolutions 11.1MP: 4080 x 2720 @ 3:2
10MP: 3861 x 2574 @ 3:2
5.2MP: 2784 x 1856 @ 3:2
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Sensor Type / Size CMOS, 36 x 24 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MOV
Bit Depth 14-bit
Memory Card Type CompactFlash
Focus Control
Focus Type Auto & Manual
Focus Mode Single-servo AF (S), Continuous-servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M)
Autofocus Points 9
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Pentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage 98%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.71x
Diopter Adjustment - 3 to +1 m
Display Screen 3″ Rear Screen   LCD (920000)
Screen Coverage 100%
Live View Yes
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity 100-6400 (High Sensitivity Mode: 50-25600)
Shutter Type: Electronic & Mechanical
Speed: 30 – 1/8000 sec
Remote Control RS-80N3, RC-1, RC-5 & RC-6 (Optional)
Mirror Lock-Up Yes
Metering Method Spot metering, Center-weighted average metering, Average metering
Exposure Modes Modes: Aperture Priority, Auto, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority
Compensation: -2 EV to +2 EV (in 0.33 EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (White), Kelvin, Manual, Shade, Tungsten
Flash
Max Sync Speed 1 / 200 sec
Flash Compensation -2 EV to +2 EV (in 0.33 or 0.5 EV steps)
Continuous Shooting Up to 3.9 fps
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe, PC Terminal
AV Recording
Video Recording Yes
Audio Recording With Video, Stereo, Via Optional External Mic
Performance
Self Timer 2 sec, 10 sec
Interval Recording No
Date & Time Stamp No
Connectivity AV Output, HDMI C (Mini), USB 2.0
Wi-Fi Capable (With Optional Transmitter) Yes
Software Requirements Windows: 2000, XP, Vista
Mac: OS X 10.3 or later
Power
Battery 1x LP-E6  Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.2VDC, 1800mAh
AC Power Adapter ACK-E6 (Optional)
Operating/Storage Temperature Operating
32 to 104 °F (0 to 40 °C)
Humidity: 0 – 85%
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0″ / 15.24 x 11.43 x 7.62 cm
Weight 28.6 oz / 811 g

5D Mk III

Specs taken from the B&H Photo Video Listing

Imaging
Camera Type Digital SLR with Interchangeable lenses
Lens Mount Canon EF
Camera Format Full-Frame
Resolution Effective Pixels: 22.3 Megapixels
Other Resolutions: 22.1 MP: 5760 x 3840
Sensor Type / Size CMOS, 36 x 24 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MOV
Audio: Linear PCM
Bit Depth 14-bit
Noise Reduction Yes
Memory Card Type CompactFlash
SD
SDHC
SDXC
AV Recording
Video Recording Yes, NTSC/PAL
Aspect Ratio 3:2, 16:9
Video Clip Length Up to 4GB or 30 Minutes 1
Audio Recording With Video, Stereo
Focus Control
Focus Type Auto & Manual
Focus Mode Single-servo AF (S), Continuous-servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M)
Autofocus Points 61
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Pentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage 100%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.71x
Diopter Adjustment - 3.0 to +1.0 m
Display Screen 3.2″ Rear Screen   LCD (1040000)
Screen Coverage 100%
Live View Yes
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity 100-25600 (High Sensitivity Mode: 50-102400)
Shutter Type: Mechanical
Speed: 1/8000 – 30 sec
Remote Control N3-type (Optional)
Mirror Lock-Up Yes
Metering Method Spot metering, Center-weighted average metering, Average metering, Multi-zone metering
Exposure Modes Modes: AE Lock, Aperture Priority, Auto, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority
Compensation: -5 EV to +5 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (White), Kelvin, Manual, Shade, Tungsten
Flash
Max Sync Speed 1 / 200 sec
Continuous Shooting Up to 6.0 fps
Dedicated Flash System eTTL Remote Firing
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe, PC Terminal
Performance
Start-up Time 0.1 Seconds
Self Timer 2 sec, 10 sec
Interval Recording Not Specified By Manufacturer
Connectivity AV Output, USB 2.0
Wi-Fi Capable (With Optional Transmitter) Yes
Power
Battery 1x LP-E6  Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.2VDC, 1800mAh
AC Power Adapter AC Adapter Kit ACK-E6 (Optional)
Operating/Storage Temperature Operating
32 to 104 °F (0 to 40 °C)
Humidity: 0 – 85%
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 6 x 4.6 x 3″ / 15.24 x 11.68 x 7.62 cm
Weight 30.34 oz / 860 g

6D

Specs taken from our news post

  • 20.2MP Full Frame CMOS sensor
  • 1080 HD video capture (H.264 Codec) at 29.97fps, 25fps, 23.976fps or 720 at 59.94fps or 50fps. This is ALL-I recording formats, basically it acts like the 5D Mk III.
  • DIGIC 5+ processor
  • ISO 100-25,600 (ISO 50-102,400 w/ expansion)
  • 11-point AF w/ center cross-type point and various types of focusing just like the 7D, 5D Mk III, and 1D X.
  • 4.5fps frame rate
  • 1/180s sync speed
  • 30s to 1/4000 shutter speed
  • Shutter rated to 100k actuations
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in GPS
  • Smaller, APS-C sized body
  • Weather sealing
  • SDXC Card slot (UHS-I support)
  • Priced at $2,099 and available in December
  • 3.2 inch 102,400 dot LCD screen (Touchscreen)
  • Max shutter speed = 1/8000th Minimum is 30 seconds
  • USB 2.0
  • 6 White balance presets
  • Contrast detection from the sensor and Phase Detection otherwise like any normal DSLR
  • Face Detection
  • 97% viewfinder coverage means that you can use interchangeable screens
  • +/- 5 EV exposure compensation
  • Mono microphone
  • LP-E6 battery
  • Time lapse recording

Flash Sync Speed

The 5D Mk II has a flash sync speed to 1/200th of a second vs the 1/180th of a second that the 6D allows for. Why is that important to me? Because I use studio strobes sometimes and don’t always use Speedlites.

Granted, a 6D user might not ever use a flash (which in my opinion is the undoing of us all, there are enough hipsters and Uncle Bobs out there masquerading as photographers) but for a guy like me who loves to shoot with studio strobes and create his own light to achieve a creative vision, I very much care about this.

The only thing that could be better would be if Canon made leaf shutter lenses for a new full frame mirrorless system: then I’d be able to sync with my studio strobes to whatever speed I chose.

The AF Isn’t As Bad As It’s Made Out to Be

After spending a month with the 5D Mk III, I noticed that focusing was still slow but that the camera was able to lock onto subject better in lower lit situations. Either way though, the AF points still work out best when placed over contrasting areas.

I had to reteach myself to focus using my 5D Mk II. But in the end, it was and still is able to achieve nearly perfect critical focus when I need it.

High ISO Noise Upgrade vs the 5D Mk III is Negligible

Remember when I put the 5D Mk II against the 5D Mk III at a high ISO noise test? Almost nobody could tell which photos came from which camera. And because I own fast lenses, I don’t really need to go beyond ISO 6400 or have ever really needed to.

RAW Files Combined with the Power of Lightroom 4 = Unbeatable

Just because a camera can be considered old, doesn’t mean that its RAW files will deteriorate necessarily unless something screwy is going on with your sensor. Newer software always brings with it better algorithms to make it easier for you to bring out the most in your RAW files.

For me, Lightroom 4 is that software, though Capture One is a close second.

Extended Use with the 5D Mk II Taught Me How to Time My Shots

The Musician by Chris  Gampat (ChrisGampat) on 500px.com
The Musician by Chris Gampat

Complaining that the 5D Mk II doesn’t shoot enough frames per second?

Here’s an exercise for you: go shoot street photography. It will teach you to read body language, predict movements, and anticipate when a moment will exactly happen. Eventually, you’ll develop the muscle memory you need to never miss a shot.

And to be honest, I barely do. It’s totally possible with the 5D Mk II, many photographers have been doing it for years.

It Still Works: And I Refuse to Give Into Gear Lust

Let’s face it: we’re all sitting here just lusting over gear. Week after week I sit here or with friends often talking about what medium format film camera, mirrorless camera or full frame DSLR I might want to purchase. But when I get down to the bottom of it, I’m all set for now. And I’m from the mentality and school of thought reasoning that when I make a purchase, I should be able to make the investment back in a reasonable amount of time and keep making money off of it.

I can’t justify any of the newest Canon cameras to myself because of just how good a camera Canon created a couple years ago. And in some ways, they may have screwed themselves in making such an awesome camera.

So What Do I Want? A Modern, Digital Update to the EOS 1V

The Canon EOS 1V was their last flagship 35mm film camera. It was wonderful. I used one recently for a sidebar feature with Zeiss 25mm f2 review and for a piece I did on shooting Portra. That camera gave the user pretty much everything they would need: fast FPS shooting, weather sealing, not a lot of buttons but instead the right functions exactly where you need them, etc. The only thing it needed was more AF points.

My 5D Mk II is still a great camera though, and you can take it from my cold, dead hands.

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