Canon 5D Mark II – First impressions

After spending a day with the 5D Mark II, I can share a few initial comments. The camera handles very similarly to the original 5D. A few of the controls have been rearranged…changing ISO with the top control dial will take a little getting used to. I’d like to see a custom function that would move it back to the quick control dial. The build quality feels very good overall, although the power switch is a new design and seems to have some extra play that makes it feel a bit less robust.

I’m glad that Canon added a dedicated AF-On button. This is my preferred method of focusing, and now I can keep my AE lock button as well. As expected, the new high resolution LCD screen is great for checking focus. However, my initial impression is that has a bit too much contrast and saturation compared to the actual images. Maybe it’s displaying the embedded preview from the RAW file…I need to do some more tests to see exactly what’s going on.

Image quality looks to be very good so far, including some impressive results at high ISOs. For now I’m stuck using a different RAW converter, so it’s hard for me to make comparisons to the 1Ds Mark III and original 5D. Once Lightroom 2.2 is released later this month, I should be able to get a better handle on it.

Finally, I’ve spent some time playing with the video mode. I’ve already found some tricks for controlling exposure. In general the image quality is great, without obvious compression artifacts. However, I’ve already seen some instances of the moire that was reported on the RED user forums. I’m working on a separate post with some frame grabs that show the problem.