Canon EOS 5D introduction
Canon's EOS-5D is the first 'affordable' digital SLR with a full-frame sensor.
Launched in October 2005, it represented a new product category for Canon,
delivering 12.8 Megapixel resolution and the full-frame benefits of the high-end
EOS-1Ds Mark II, while enjoying a price much closer to the consumer range.
It's a unique proposition which got many photographers very
excited, while causing others to question its relevance in today's fast-maturing
digital SLR market. Whichever category you personally fall into, at Cameralabs
we believe it's a very important product which deserved an extended review
So over the last six months we've been thoroughly putting the
5D through its paces in our first long-term test, trying it out in a wide
variety of environments from hiking through the sunny Canyons of Southwest
USA to capturing the Aurora Borealis in the sub-zero temperatures of Northern
We've had a chance to try the 5D with a number of lenses ranging
in focal length from 17 to 400mm, and have also spoken to numerous existing
owners to learn about their own experiences. Our extended review period has
additionally allowed us to compare the 5D against Canon's latest EOS-30D along
with what's probably its closest rival, the Nikon D200.
But before kicking off, what exactly's the fuss about? Well
it's all down to the sensor, which by measuring the same shape and area as
a frame of 35mm film, allows lenses to deliver exactly the same field-of-view
as they would when used with a 35mm SLR. In contrast, traditional digital
SLRs with physically smaller APS-sized sensors crop the field of view, effectively
multiplying the focal length of all lenses by 1.5 or 1.6 times.
This is a big deal for many photographers, but especially those
raised on 35mm SLRs. They often have existing lens collections and understandably
want them to perform the same on a digital body. The prospect of effectively
multiplying all their lens focal lengths by 1.6 times (in the case of Canon
cropped models) has put many of them off digital SLRs so far.
Full-frame sensors deliver the solution, but unfortunately their
cost of manufacture is very high and until the 5D came along you were looking
at spending a considerable sum on one of Canon's top-of-the-range 1Ds models.
So while the 5D body at a UK RRP of £2539 can hardly be described as
cheap, it's considerably more attainable than the whopping £5000 or
so for a 1Ds Mark II. Additionally the 5D's 12.8 Megapixel resolution matches
the theoretical detail of a 3000 dpi 35mm film scan which, coupled with the
full-frame coverage, makes it a viable replacement for die-hard 35mm owners.
But while the 5D represents the holy grail for some photographers,
other have questioned the relevance of full-frame sensors in today's market.
Full-frame bodies may have been necessary for extreme wide angle coverage
a few years ago, but now ultra-short focal length lenses designed specifically
for digital SLRs have effectively counteracted the problem of smaller sensors
cropping the field-of-view. In this case, why pay through the nose for an
unnecessarily large sensor when a cropped body and ultra wide lens can deliver
the same field-of-view at a lower price?
It's certainly a compelling argument and one we'll fully address
in our review. So read on to discover if the 5D's the holy grail of digital
SLRs or the solution to a problem which no longer exists. Note: the body tested
was running firmware version 1.0.1.
NEW: Check out our Canon EOS 5D Mark II review