Ken Rockwell has posted his review of the Canon 5D Mark II. Whether you think Ken’s posts are useful or useless, you can’t deny that he does have a review of the 5DMkII on his website.
And, being Ken, he starts right off with some… let’s say… odd statements:
Now that I’ve had my 5D Mark II for the past ten days, it’s easy to proclaim it as Canon’s best digital camera ever, along with the SD880. Since the 5D Mark II has the same or better image quality, the old $8,000 1Ds Mark III can be tossed out, saying sayonara to its hideous little LCD and too much weight. (Of course if your a sports or bird pro, you’ll live with it for the frame rate.)
I’m not sure if he really means to say that the compact Canon SD880 point and shoot digicam is better than every Canon DSLR besides the 5D Mark II or not. It probably doesn’t matter, I’m sure somewhere on the Internet someone has already flamed him for that, as well as his 1DsMkIII sayonara remark. As well as every other thing he wrote in his review.
As for the meat of the review, he says:
- The battery life is phenomenal
- The resolution is so high that you need the best lenses you can get, and Canon doesn’t make any wide zooms that are good enough for the 5DMkII yet
- Huge improvement in LCD over the original 5D
- Excellent auto ISO, better than Nikon’s, except that you can’t adjust it: if it’s on, it’s on the way it wants to be on. But it’s definitely smart, automatically choosing a decent shutter speed based on the current focal length, which Nikon’s auto ISO doesn’t do (you need to manually adjust the minimum shutter speed you’ll accept in the auto ISO menu as you adjust focal length.) Canon’s isn’t great for moving subjects, though, since the minimum shutter speed it picks will get rid of blurring from your hands moving, but can still easily blur the subject if its moving. I’m tempted to consider a 5DMkII just for this feature, which has always been sorely lacking in Canon DSLRs.
- The rear info panel is excellent, and the easiest way to change settings.
One of Ken’s complaints is that the 5DMkII’s menus have some fading transition effect as you switch between menus, which annoys him and which sounds ridiculous and annoying to me as well. Who wants to wait for some graphic effect transition between menus? I don’t know anyone who’d choose that over instantly moving from one menu to another, like every other camera out there. Hopefully that can be turned off and he just didn’t notice where that’s done. Anyone who owns the camera want to comment on that? Seems like a very stupid design decision to me.
He actually has a list of 20 things he doesn’t like about the 5DMkII, which should at least be considered by anyone who’s thinking of buying one. Or maybe you can just grab Ken’s old 5D when he throws it away:
The original 5D now tops the pile in the digital dumpster of history. I won’t shed any tears when mine drops into the blue collection bin at my local Goodwill. The images from the original 5D are extraordinary, especially for color, cleanliness and detail, but the old LCD was atrocious. Shooting the old 5D was like shooting film: the results are awesome, but you can’t use the LCD to help see what you got before you get home.
I can’t believe the 5D’s LCD was any worse than other DSLRs that came out around the same time, and surely much better than the kinds of poor LCDs we got on the earliest digital cameras. Clearly, calling it atrocious and completely unusable are hyperbole to get the flames coming in from the Internets. I’d be tempted to join in, but he can’t trick me. Unless this paragraph was enough time wasted on it to count as trickery. In that case, curses! Foiled again.
Ken gives an interesting lens quality summary in the middle of the Canon 5DMkII review, which, while slightly out of place, is still interesting and helpful:
For instance, with the sharpest zoom I’ve ever used, the 70-200 f/4 IS L, it’s obvious, shooting at infinity, that the optimum aperture is f/8 at al focal lengths. Use a so-so lens, like the plastic EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 III, and you’d better stop it down to f/8 ~ 11 and not use it at longer than 135mm.
The 50 1.4 USM is great, but again, optimum at f/8 and f/11.
The 28-135mm IS is OK at 50mm at f/8-f/11. At 28mm you have a lot of lateral color fringes, and it gets softer much longer than 70mm.
The original EF 14mm f/2.8 L has loads of lateral color, and is optimum at f/11. This will be greatly improved if DxO makes a module for it. Don’t buy a 5D Mark II for the original 14mm; it’s not sharp enough to make it worth your while.
The excellent 15mm fisheye is very good. It has some lateral color, and is optimum at f/8.
The 16-35mm II can look awful, since it, like the 14mm lens, has never been as sharp as normal and long lenses. It’s best at f/11. I discovered that I get much better results using just the one center AF sensor, since using all the AF sensors at the same time giver poorer results. This had me chasing the forbidden AF tweak controls, until I realized that I probably was chasing a field curvature issue instead.
The 17-40mm is as good as the 16-35mm II. It’s not pretty if you’re looking too close. Best aperture is f/8~11.
It just might be time to shoot Nikon (or Zeiss) manual focus lenses on the 5D Mark II if you’re a tweaker. I popped on a Nikon 105mm f/4 AI-s Micro-NIKKOR with a kludge adapter, and it worked great, without any of the alignment issues of AF lenses caused by mechanical slop.
So, there you go. A Canon 5D Mark II DSLR review. Read it, enjoy it. Buy me one so I can give you my own unbiased opinion. Thanks in advance!