Canon EOS 5D

      Photo Review 9.5

      In summary

      Top features and functionality in a relatively portable camera for professionals.Canon’s 12.8-megapixel EOS 5D is in a class by itself and likely to remain unique for some time. Combining the best features of the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS 20D models, it has a compact magnesium alloy case, stainless steel internal chassis and a mirror box of high-strength engineering plastic. Its control layout is very similar to the EOS 20D but its body is slightly bulkier. . . [more]

      Full review


      Canon’s 12.8-megapixel EOS 5D is in a class by itself and likely to remain unique for some time. Combining the best features of the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS 20D models, it has a compact magnesium alloy case, stainless steel internal chassis and a mirror box of high-strength engineering plastic. Its control layout is very similar to the EOS 20D but its body is slightly bulkier.

      The 5D sports the same 35-zone metering system as the 20D but its AF system is faster and more accurate. Although burst capture rates are slower (3fps against 5fps for the 20D), the 5Ds buffer memory is larger and will hold up to 17 RAW images. Top flash sync is slightly lower (1/200 sec against 1/250 sec) but the monitor is significantly larger than the 20D’s, and provides a clearer view of both menus and played-back images.

      Twenty-one Custom Functions cover 57 settings but there are no Personal function settings and you can’t save camera settings to a CF card, although you can ‘register’ some shooting and menu settings in the Set-up menu for quick recall. Up to 9999 image files can be stored in a designated folder, a big improvement on the 100-shot limit on the EOS 20D.

      Compared with Canon’s 20D and 350D models, the asking price for the EOS 5D is high. Yet against Canon’s other ‘full frame’ sensor camera, the EOS-1Ds Mark II, it’s remarkably low. The 5D is also about 35% smaller and more than 40% lighter, which is a big plus. Of course, it lacks the full environmental sealing of the professional model as well as some of the more sophisticated functions, and there’s no Firewire interface (High-Speed USB 2.0 is provided). The 5D’s shutter mechanism is rated for 100,000 cycles (half that of the 1Ds Mark II), whereas the 20D’s isn’t rated.

      The new camera introduces some exciting functions, most notably the Picture Style system that replaces the Processing Parameters and Colour Matrix features of previous EOS cameras. Users can choose from six presets (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome) and three user-defined styles, depending on the subject, shooting conditions and photographer’s recording intentions. The Standard setting replaces the Processing Parameter 1 on the EOS 20D, while the Neutral setting delivers natural colour reproduction, low sharpening and ‘moderate expression’ (whatever that means) and the Faithful setting reproduces a colour temperature of 5200K. Both sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces are supported in-camera.


      Of the current DSLR manufacturers, Canon stands alone in developing and manufacturing the entire camera system – including the sensor – and the ‘full-frame’ CMOS sensor in the EOS 5D is a genuine ground-breaker in several ways. With 12.8 million effective pixels (3.9 megapixels less than the EOS-1Ds Mark II) and a pixel size of 8.2 microns square (the largest currently available) this sensor is equipped with a Bayer RGB filter, high-efficiency microlenses and a low-pass IR filter, and produces a maximum image resolution of 4368 x 2912 pixels. The captured 12-bit RAW files are just under 13MB in size and high-res. JPEGs are approximately 4.6 MB.

      To the new sensor, Canon has added a new second-generation on-chip noise reduction system with a choice of two modes: ‘Auto’, which activates noise reduction when noise is detected, and ‘On’, which engages noise reduction for all exposures of one second or longer. DIGIC II imaging engine technology is also part of the image processing system.

      EOS 5D users who require JPEG files at point of capture can select from three image sizes (large, medium and small) and two quality settings (fine and normal) and any JPEG setting can be combined with RAW file capture – although not in the Auto shooting mode, which we suspect serious photographers will avoid. And serious photographers won’t miss the scene mode settings Canon provides on its consumer DSLR mode dials. On the 5D’s mode dial you get auto, P, Tv, Av, M, B (for Bulb) and C (for the user’s registered settings) – and that’s your lot! That’s all knowledgeable photographers require (we reckon Canon could have dispensed with the full auto setting as well, as it restricts access to many key controls).

      The ‘full frame’ sensor places some constraints on lens compatibility, namely that Canon’s EF-S lenses cannot be used. However, it allows all EF lenses to be used at their designated focal length ratings, liberating photographers from the need to make focal length conversions and greatly expanding their wide-angle capabilities for digital capture. You lose a bit at the tele end of the range but the sensor’s high resolution provides plenty of scope for crop-and-enlarge tactics.

      Other Features

      The 5D sports a totally new AF system with nine AF points arranged in a diamond around the central sensor. In addition, there are six ‘Assist A’ points located in two lines of three just above and below the centre point. You can’t see them – and they can’t be selected manually as the other AF points can – but they work with the centre AF point to improve subject tracking performance.

      Another re-designed feature is the viewfinder, which has a 20mm eyepoint, dioptric adjustment of -3.0 to +1.0, and shows 96% of the image captured by the sensor. Canon supplies the camera with the standard Ee-A (Precision Matte) screen but it will also accept the Ee-D grid and Ee-S manual focusing screens. The viewfinder’s data display is the same as the 20D’s, with the addition of a flash exposure lock indicator.

      Also new are the direct print button on the rear panel and an orientation sensor that automatically tags image files so they display right way up on the camera’s screen and in Digital Photo Professional software (see below). The white balance system is essentially the same as that on the EOS-1Ds Mark II with six manual pre-sets, Kelvin adjustment from 2800-10,000 K, manual measurement and white balance bracketing in blue/amber and magenta/green. The histogram is also similar.

      Three noise reduction settings are provided: Auto, On and Off. In Auto mode, the camera applies noise reduction to exposures between one and 30 seconds if it detects excessive noise. With the On setting, noise reduction is applied to all exposures longer than one second. Interestingly, this doesn’t lock-up the camera for double the exposure time as the camera’s buffer memory is used for some of the processing.

      You can connect a remote trigger to the EOS 5D via a dedicated socket but if you want to use the WFT-E1/E1A wireless transmitter you must use the USB terminal. No facilities are provided for voice recording or downloading GPS data to the camera.

      Bundled Software

      Supplied with the EOS 5D is a new software application, Digital Photo Professional 2.0, which has a redesigned RAW image converter interface that allows Picture Style settings to be applied to RAW image data captured by most EOS digital cameras from the EOS D30 on. Capable and straightforward to use, it includes sharpening adjustment, a Stamp tool similar to the Healing Brush in Photoshop and some new viewing/sorting facilities, such as the Quick Check tool that provides faster image previews and a 1, 2, 3 Checkmark function that enables photos to be ranked. However, although it’s the best bundled RAW file processor on the current market, it’s no substitute for Adobe’s Camera Raw!

      Transfer to Photoshop is available both in and outside of the Batch processing dialog and accessed via the Tools menu. Five colour spaces are now available: the standard sRGB and Adobe RGB; Wide Gamut RGB; Apple RGB; and ColorMatch RGB, and you can simulate both Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric in the CMYK profile preferences.

      Canon also supplies the latest versions of ZoomBrowser/ImageBrowser, EOS Capture and PhotoStitch along with a set of PTP, WIA and TWAIN drivers for photographers with Windows PCs.


      We tested the EOS 5D with three lenses: the EF 100mm f2 USM and the two zoom lenses reviewed in this issue. For every parameter we looked at, both with Imatest and through our subjective evaluation program, the camera delivered top-notch results. Images were uniformly sharp, detailed and colour-accurate, regardless of the shooting conditions and lens used. Even long exposures at high ISO settings met these criteria – which is very impressive.

      Capture lag was negligible, averaging less than 0.2 seconds over 10 test shots and shutter lag was too brief to measure accurately. The burst mode recorded high-resolution JPEG images slightly slower than the claimed rate of 3fps, but RAW files were bang on target. The camera powered up and shut down almost instantaneously and shot-to-shot times averaged less than 0.3 seconds.

      While some readers may be disappointed by the 5D’s comparatively slow burst rate and lack of full environmental sealing or a pop-up flash, professional photographers looking for an additional body, wedding and portrait photographers seeking newer technology and higher resolution, and affluent amateurs who want top features and functionality in a relatively portable camera should find their needs met by this exciting new camera. [26]






      Image sensor: 35.8 x 23.9mm high-sensitivity, high-resolution, large single-plate CMOS sensor with 13.3 million photosites (12.8 megapixels effective)
      Lens mount: Canon EF mount (except EF-S lenses)
      Lens multiplier factor: 1.0x
      Image formats: JPEG, RAW (12bit) and RAW + JPEG
      Shutter speed range: 30-1/8000 sec. (1/3- and 1/2-stop increments), bulb X-sync at 1/200 sec.
      ISO range: Equivalent to ISO 100-1600 (in 1/3-stop increments) with expansion to ISO 50 and 3200.Full auto: ISO 100-400
      Dimensions (wxhxd):152 x 113 x 75 mm
      Weight: Approx. 810g (body only)
      Focus system/modes: TTL secondary image registration, phase detection AF with 9 AF points plus 6 Assist AF points; One-Shot AF, AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Manual focusing modes.
      Exposure metering/control: 35-zone TTL full aperture metering with evaluative, partial, spot and centre-weighted average modes; Full auto, program AE (shiftable), shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE, manual exposure, E-TTL II autoflash modes.
      White balance: Auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten light, white fluorescent light, flash, custom, colour temperature setting; +/- 9 stops of correction/bracketing in full-stop increments.
      Sequence shooting: Max. 3 shots per sec. for 17 RAW files or approx 60 large/fine JPEGs.
      Flash: Hot-shoe provided for EX-series Speedlite (E-TTL II autoflash enabled)
      Storage Media: CompactFlash/Microdrive slots (no card supplied)
      Viewfinder: Eye-level pentaprism (approx. 96% coverage), 20mm eyepoint, -3.0 to +1.0 diopter adjustment
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch colour TFT LCD with 230,000 pixels.
      Interfaces: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (Print/PTP, PC connection selectable), Video output (NTSC/PAL
      Power supply: BP-511A, BP-514, BP-511 or BP-512 battery pack.





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      • OVERALL: 9.5