For those of you who have or have had a 5D Mark II. What do you not like about it?

If you have a 5D Mark II and another full-frame model, in what kind of situations you prefer one over the other?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not a terrible question, although it does come off more as a discussion. If you are actually asking a real question, I'd rephrase it a bit. If you are looking for more of a discussion, let me know, and I'll convert to Community Wiki. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 1:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ When I'm interested in buying something, after seeing the feature list, I go for the bad reviews to see what are the weaknesses of a given product. If several people complain about the same issues, there may be a problem in that aspect. The second (part of the) question is to know what are the strengths and weaknesses of different FF bodies based on you guys real world experiences \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 1:49

5 Answers 5


Here's what I would consider the main cons of the 5DmkII, compiled from my research of the camera when it was released and experience of the mkI:

  • A lot of people have complained about the colours, specifically rendering of caucasian skintones, so images require more post-processing (just search for 5DmkII skintones on google!)

  • Outside AF points are simply inaccurate even in good light. AF performance is not up to 1D/7D series in general (though you wouldn't really expect it to be).

  • Slow shooting speed/mirror movement. Looking through the mkI viewfinder when taking a photo, the mirror moves so slowly it looks like the world is sliding sideways for a moment!

Having said this they are great cameras. If you're not interested in the movie mode you can pick up a good condition mkI for very cheap compared to the mkII. The only thing you really miss will be the 22mp for shooting landscapes etc. but if you shoot mostly low light / portraits you wont miss it!

There aren't that many other full frame bodies from Canon, only the 1Ds(mk I, II, III). They don't really compare for an number of reasons, but to answer your question I have a 5DmkI and 1DsmkII. The 5D is usually a backup body but there are a couple of reasons I've used it instead of the 1Ds:

  • It's much smaller and lighter without the battery grip attached. When I'm travelling shooting for fun this matters.

  • You can stop the [external] flash from firing and still use the AF assist lamp (believe it or not you can't do this with the 1Ds as I found out when I couldn't use flash but needed AF assist)

  • It has a much bigger screen so I've preferred it occasionally when doing complicated lighting setups. Even though the 5DmkII screen is the same size as the 1DsmkIII screen, the 5D one has many more pixels.

edit: it's also worth noting that the 5D is far more descrete, looking no different to any other DSLR, wheras the 1D is going to get attention wherever it goes and this can be good or bad.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks about the tip on searching for "5DmkII skintones". I'll do some research. But, did you personally had problems with this or is it something you read or heard about? I'm asking this because if you personally experienced this problem, we may dive a little bit further into the issue. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not something I personally have experience of (I'll clarify my post!) but there was a lot of talk about this when the mkII was released. It's worth knowing that the R/G/B dyes used in sensor manufacture differ from sensor to sensor so colour rendering will allways vary somewhat. In my experience the mkI had very good colour rendering. It's more of a problem if you shoot JPEG and prefer not to edit colours in post. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 12:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ a) That's the first time I hear about that "colours / rendering of caucasian skintones" issue, and I never experienced it. Then again, I shoot RAW, I like to be in control of my W/B. b) I actually shoot with center AF point only, not outside points, but he is correct, the center point is more accurate since it is cross-type. c) if you don't shoot sports you will be fine with the shooting speed. I do shot sports occasionally, and this wasn't really an issue to me, more a blessing actually (imagine 9 times 21MP per second, ouch). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 5D2's lowlight performance is quite a bit better than the 5D. The 5D camera is nice, but the 5D2's high-iso/low-noise makes ISO 6400 a very viable option for shooting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 19:21

I've had a 5DMII for almost 2 years now, and I would be hard pressed to find something I don't like about it. Sure, after using the 7D I wish the burst rate and the focus engine were a bit better, but these (and more) will be in the 5DMIII of course. Given good lenses, I've never been disappointed by the camera. If you do intend to process videos though, it will require a really powerful computer. Of course, one thing a lot of people might not "like" about it, is that it's a lot of money :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably the only thing I would miss if I had the money for a 5D (or someone gave me one :D) would be the 6.3fps of my 50D, let alone the even faster rate of a 7D. 3.9fps is almost half as slow, though they say the 5D is not designed for action shots like sports etc, I suppose. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 0:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering the amount of data it has to move, I'd say the frame rate is pretty good. It may be hard to get better, Nikon cut the megapixel in count on their most recent FF in order to push the frame rate up to 10/second. Of course, as technology improves, I expect this to change. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you define "really powerful computer"? Just as a reference would an i7 with 8GB of RAM, 300GB of disk and WEI of 4.3 be enough? I know I'd probably need external storage, but how much? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've been seeing repeated complains about it AF. Do you have anything to say about that? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alfred Myers: 11 seconds of 25fps full HD takes 51 megabytes. \$\endgroup\$
    – che
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 13:34

I fit in the category of owning a 5D2, and having used a 1Ds3 - so I have some experience with both the full frame offerings from Canon. I chose the 5D2 over the 1Ds for a number of reasons:

  • The 1Ds is a lot heavier, which doesn't suit the photography I do - I'd imagine that would be less of an issue if you were using it for work in a studio.
  • The 1Ds is about twice the price
  • The 5D is the only Canon full frame body to offer video support (at time of writing)

As it happens, the person I borrowed the 1Ds off of does a lot of safari photography, and found that the autofocus wasn't fast enough for him.

I remember the editor of one of the photography magazines once saying to me that he'd rather use his 5D (back in 2006) when out and about than use a 1D, as he also found it more comfortable on the neck.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How about comparing their weather sealing? What are the kinds of things I could do with 1Ds3 (or other bodies) that would be risky doing with 5D2? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 11:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alfred I cannot find a figure for the weather sealing on the 1Ds, however the 5D2 can apparently withstand 10mm rain/hour. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 11:24

I don't qualify to answer it really, as I can only give the perspective of 5D Mark I owner about why I haven't yet switched to Mark II. My knowledge about Mark II is based on Internet and the annoyances I mention about Mark I come from actual usage. The reasoning:

  • Same and not very good autofocus
  • Same amount and layout of autofocus points (yes, you can recompose, but what's the point in having multiple points then; also very problematic for tripod/macro work)
  • There is no easy way to switch between histogram and photo-fills-the-LCD mode (semi-transparent histogram overlay on full frame would be even better)
  • Amazingly slow playback time (1,4 seconds from releasing shutter to the photo appearing on LCD), same with both 5Ds
  • Some complain about the lack of internal flash, same with both 5Ds
  • Same power/exp. compensation switch that will easily change it's position when rubbed against clothes
  • More pixels are usually considered better, but I would happily trade it to even better high ISOs (more personal issue is the need to upgrade my computer along with doubling pixel count)

It might sound like I think both 5Ds were a bad cameras - actually it's the contrary. It's just the question was about downsides so I won't list the upsides (although there are many).

  • \$\begingroup\$ That exposure compensation control only works when the power switch is turned to the correct position - it does nothing if just set to "On", so I'd suggest that would be an unfair downside \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 8:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I search stackexchange for the upsides and if i don't find anything I'll post a separate question. Thanks for your answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 10:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rowland - it's not a problem that I accidentally set exposure compensation, it's rather a problem that I can't do it. When I'm out shooting, it's set so that I can compensate, but it has happened many times that when I raise the camera to my eye, it's either turned off or in the position where it's on, but exposure compensation is disabled. \$\endgroup\$
    – Karel
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 11:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ On MkII I can switch from histogram to full-screen photo display by magnifying the view. \$\endgroup\$
    – che
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @che - that's good trick, I'll try it on my MkI too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Karel
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 13:27

I have 5D Mk II since last February.

  • Effectively no AF when shooting video
  • AF point coverage matches APS-C sensors, so they are kind of clustered in the middle.
  • Shooting mode dial changes position too easily and I sometimes switch it involuntarily.
  • Chroma noise when I pull contrast and inspect individual pixels (although this isn't really a problem and I haven't been able to produce straight-from-camera JPEG where I could convincingly show this)
  • My sample of 5D2 has thrown Err 20 (unable to shoot) error under certain circumstances in the month I bought it. I could get the camera to work again by turning it off and on again or removing the battery for a while. I brought it in for repair and they got it back saying they couldn't reproduce it. The error didn't show up for more than a year. When it came back this summer even removing battery didn't work, so the service center was able to diagnose and repair it. The good side of this experience is that I know I have to bring backup equipment for important shoots.

Overall, I'm quite happy with my 5D Mark II.


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